Tag Archives: Toronto Pig Save

Making Animals Visible Again

I’ve been out of a job for nearly three weeks now and the upside of that is it’s allowed me the chance to do more activism.  I had a job interview on Monday and though I’m still actively looking for work, I’ve welcomed this time to get out there and do some of the things I couldn’t do when I was working full-time. One of those things was attending slaughterhouse vigils with Toronto Pig Save, an animal rights group here in Toronto.

I don’t want to assume everyone knows what vigils are so here it is: vigils consist of standing outside slaughterhouses, on public property, and watching the animals marked for slaughter come in on trucks. The purpose is to document what is happening to them with photos and videos, and to also raise awareness by holding informative signs visible to the public driving or walking by. Inspired by the writings of Leo Tolstoy, “bearing witness” to the suffering of another living being is a powerful act: it is upsetting, yes, but when you see it with your own eyes, and happening in your own city, it does push you to do more. The pain you feel from seeing suffering up close also becomes the force that drives you to keep going. A double-edged sword, to be sure, but one I feel honoured to carry. Continue reading

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“What Difference Does It Make?”

The title of this blog is in quotes because those are the words that someone yelled at us last week at a vigil in front of Maple Leaf Foods, a chicken slaughterhouse here in Toronto. Actually, his precise words were, What FUCKING difference does it make? but I decided to edit that part out since it doesn’t make for as strong a title. The man who yelled at us was an employee and it was after two truckloads of chickens – about 7,000 birds per truck – had been driven onto the property and were being held in an area prior to slaughter.

This is only the second vigil with Toronto Pig Save that I’ve been to.  The first was in 2015 when I joined in one held at Maple Leaf Foods, St. Helen’s Meat Packers and Ryding Regency Meat Packers, all three which are located very close-by to one another (both St. Helen’s and Ryding slaughter cows, calves and lambs, Maple Leaf slaughters birds).  Although nothing can ever prepare you completely, I was more mentally ready this past week and had at least some idea of what I was going to see.  And smell.  Even just standing outside of a slaughterhouse on a chilly night in November, the smell of blood and feces and raw flesh hangs in the air. It’s an unmistakable stench and all the Styrofoam, refrigeration and plastic wrap in the world could never make me forget it.  Continue reading

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Willful Ignorance is the Real Crime

Yikes – it’s been nearly three months since I’ve written a blog post. There’s been no good reason for it, although I did start a new job two weeks ago so my schedule has changed quite a bit.  Mainly my lack of writing has been a combination of procrastination and feeling overwhelmed. One thing I am never far from as a vegan is the awareness of animal suffering. It’s everywhere – in ads, in movies, in conversation, and yet their suffering is made invisible through euphemisms (e.g., “pork” and “beef”) or conveniently ignoring animals as the original victim despite humans often claiming to know how it feels to suffer as they do (e.g., “we were treated like animals”).  Sometimes I go through bouts of not being able to process any of it at all, feeling completely incapacitated by the sheer scale of the issues surrounding animals and their current place of value and low priority in our world. Continue reading

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The Fear of Change

You may or may not know this (I didn’t until I was vegan) but all animals are considered property under the Criminal Code of Canada.  That means that if I had a neighbour who had a dog that they left outside in all kinds of weather and was clearly neglected, if I took that dog out of their yard and gave them food and shelter, I could be charged with property theft or mischief under $5,000.  In that scenario, because the animal was a dog, I would likely have the public on my side and may even avoid charges. But were that a farm animal – good luck.  Anita Krajnc of Toronto Pig Save is currently facing the latter charge for giving water to a pig on a hot truck destined for the slaughterhouse. Though Canada does have animal cruelty laws in place, they also reside under the Property Section of the Criminal Code and not much has been updated since 1892.  Yes, you read that correctly – not 1992. 1892.

Provinces all over Canada have been looking to change that, for several years, and I wrote briefly about Alberta’s efforts back in 2014 to move animals out from under the property section of the criminal code. This would allow for tougher sentencing and/or fines to those who willfully abuse and neglect animals and would allow for the welfare and treatment of animals to be better represented under the law, especially since animals can hardly represent themselves when they’ve been harmed or violated. Continue reading

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Slaughterhouse

Frances Moore Lappé, author of many books but perhaps most famous for her book, Diet for a Small Planet, describes how she felt when first learning about U.S. agriculture in late 1969: “Like the little boy in the fairy tale who cries out, ‘The emperor has no clothes!’” After realizing that, “over half the harvested acreage goes to feed livestock and only a tiny fraction of it gets returned to us in meat on our plate,” she, “could barely believe what I was learning, because it flew so totally in the face of conventional wisdom.”   Continue reading

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