No One Has Ever Bought Oat Milk By Mistake

Recently, someone asked me, “Why do vegans make their foods look and taste like meat if they don’t want to eat meat?” Quite simply, it’s not the food product itself many vegans eschew, it’s the torture, suffering and death of sentient beings we don’t want to support.

I know many people who chose to go vegan, not because they didn’t like meat itself, but because they understood the industry’s vile methods of food production, and didn’t want to participate in it. Once you’ve truly been awakened to the reality of the animal agriculture industry, once you have bore witness at a slaughterhouse, once you have learned of the tortuous practices of farmers, transportation companies, and processing plants, the thought of eating meat is stomach-turning.

And yet, we might still crave that pizza…

What to do, what to do – right, let’s take our food and nutrition knowledge, our technical expertise, and our flair for creation and make a plant-based food that emulates our old favourites, so we can enjoy the flavours we love without the blood on our hands.

Seems pretty straightforward, and I’m not sure why non-vegans don’t get this. Even if they don’t get it, what difference does it make – it’s literally harmless to them or anyone else.

Or is it?

This is a debate currently in front of various bodies of government in the US and EU: more specifically, the labelling of plant-based foods using traditionally meat-centric names. It appears the animal agriculture industry and their cohorts, which includes some politicians (surprise!) take issue with plant-based products using meat-centric names because it might cause people to be confused and buy the wrong thing. This would accidentally subvert profits from the animal agriculture industry, upsetting the status quo and causing consternation about misleading the public.

I kid you not.

So what I take from this is these big multi-billion-dollar industries think you, the general public, are TOO STUPID to realize a veggie burger is NOT a meat burger. Or that soy milk is not from a cow. For realz.

Meanwhile, as stated in the following article from Euractiv.com, ““Only one in five consumers say that these terms should never be used on plant-based products. On the other hand, we have one in four consumers who said that they see absolutely no issue with the use of these terms,” Camille Perrin, senior food policy officer at  BEUC, said during a EURACTIV event on Thursday (15 October).”

As an Animal Rights Activist (ARA) there is no shortage of meat-eating dolts out there who are uninformed and uncaring about the drawbacks for consuming meat, both from a health perspective and a humanitarian perspective. I see them all the time at protests, driving by yelling, “I love bacon!” and “For every animal you save, I’m going to eat two more.” Yeah, real bright sparks. Quite frankly, if they are the one per cent who get fooled and buy plant-based burgers by accident, I’m just going to laugh. Clearly, their intelligence levels are below par, and therefore, no amount of labelling will help them. But the majority of people will be able to discern, simply by reading the name, that a veggie burger is not a beef burger.

And let’s talk about this naming conundrum shall we? Speaking of burgers – a hamburger is NOT made of ham. A hot dog is not made of dog meat. A sausage is simply food product minced into a cylindrical shape and inserted into a casing. The dictionary meaning of filet is “1 : a ribbon or narrow strip of material used especially as a headband. 2a : a thin narrow strip of material. b : a piece or slice of boneless meat or fish especially : the tenderloin of beef.” It describes fabric FIRST, then applies that meaning to a piece of meat.

If you really want to get down and dirty with labelling, how about this: a hamburger is “ground animal flesh shaped into a patty”; cheese is “ruminant breast milk fermented with the stomach lining of a baby cow”; Hot dogs would be “pig feet, snouts, ears, anuses and other off cuts minced into a smooth paste and shaped into a cylinder”.

I mean, I’m just sayin’.

And all of it is made by abusing and torturing sentient beings who did not ask to be here, and simply want to live their lives with their babies in peace – much like you and I….in fact, EXACTLY like you and I.

The fact is the plant-based food industry is growing in leaps and bounds, even non-vegans partake of plant-based foods for health or just a change in diet now and then. And animal agriculture is a sore loser. They don’t like it. So rather than get on the bandwagon, concede defeat, and diversify into plant-based products, anticipating a solid future in that industry, they are fighting hand to hand and down and dirty to discredit, disrespect, and disparage their plant-based counterparts in the food industry.

They are currently focusing on such inanities as labelling an item, and when that falls flat, they will find something else, but we know the industry is on a solid decline as more and more people are becoming awakened and want change.

For me, I enjoy my burger, patty, disc or whatever it’s going to be called because it tastes great and no one died. However, I have a feeling the industry is going to end up “eating their words” on this one. Pun intended.

#banhorsecarriages #notl

So, maybe you’re a fan of horse racing! Maybe the thought of a fairy tale carriage ride fills you with romantic notions. Maybe you love to watch skill and show of strength with rodeos. There are many ways horses and humans have interacted over the years, but usually it was more of a display of mastery than mutuality; control rather than connection.

Humans have made a definite division between species, with them being at the top of the list, and lesser creatures following, all with their own levels of importance as it relates to humans. (This is an important point. Their level of importance in what humans consider to be the grand scheme of things, not God or a higher power or even nature itself.)

Due to the fact we have this imaginary commodity ladder, we in the west have applied arbitrary rungs of prestige. While it is ok to eat a pig, cow or chicken, eating a dog or cat is taboo. Most of us in the west hold horses to that same class. It would shock us to see horse rump roast in our grocery freezers, and I suspect there would be much wailing and gnashing of teeth as a result. Not so much in Asia or the EU, but guess where they get much of their horsemeat from?

Yep. Canada.

The horsemeat industry in Canada is flourishing. It’s actually a multi-billion dollar industry here which feeds people over there. Quite literally.

More than 54,000 horses were sent to slaughter for horsemeat in Canada in 2016 to the tune of $31 million. Since 2017, Canada has not released any new stats – apparently, the last two slaughter plants functioning are owned by one family, the Bouvry’s, who cite privacy concerns.

The Bouvry’s own multiple feedlots: two in Alberta and one in Montana, at least. There is little governance regarding animal care, and starvation, lack of shelter and illness are rampant and have been well documented over the years at Bouvry’s many sites.

So having established from where the Asian and EU markets receive their horsemeat: Canada – we should examine where the industry gets its horses.

Horses sold and shipped for horsemeat are typically cast offs from other segments of the horse breeding industry. They could be race horses, trail horses, pack horses, circus horses, rodeo horses, family pets, farm horses and carriage horses. Any horse cast out from wherever it was situated, any horse no longer needed, wanted or able to serve its original “purpose” will be auctioned off. Here, horses are displayed and inspected and hemmed and hawed over until a financial agreement is reached, at which point, they are off to their new situation. If they are lucky, they will be forced into a life of servitude elsewhere, if they are not, they are sent to slaughter.

Therefore, oppressive industries such as carriage rides, horse racing, and breeding are direct contributors to the abhorrent horsemeat industry.

When you ride in a horse carriage, you are forcing that horse, that being, to pull you and a 1,000 lb cart through heavy and noisy traffic, in heat and cold, on pavement not meant for hooves, breathing in exhaust, and deafened by blaring horns. All so you can, what….look cool? Feel special? See the sites? Well, now, you can also go about your day knowing you used someone without their permission, of which the physical activity will contribute towards their eventual ill health, which will then result in them going to Alberta to be slaughtered for meat. As a commodity, the owners will want every last drop of value that product has. And you just helped seal that deal.

By riding in the carriage, you are telling the carriage ride owners and all the people around you, horses are not as important as you are. They are deserving of only an existence in servitude, answerable to human superiority only. And eventually, that viewpoint results in that horse’s death – and countless others as well.

You can argue there is no “mistreatment” of the horses pulling carriages, and maybe that’s true. Maybe their “owners” love them, groom them, feed them, and provide veterinarian care regularly – maybe not – but maybe they do. Does that negate the loss of their freedom? Their right to choose how they want to live? Do you think horses PREFER to be hooked up to 1,000 lbs and drag it around all day, to be controlled, told when to move, when not to, yanked around by metal bits in their mouths? Or do you think this life of subservience is tolerated because having been born into this oppressive system, that is all they know? Somewhere in their life they have been taught to disobey is to be disciplined. Much like a beaten dog will grovel to it’s “master”, so will any animal do what is expected of them when the consequences of disobeying have been made clear. And after all this, after years of working in whatever capacity they were in, after years of earning money which the business owners lived on, the final insult is to go to auction, because in the end, they are a commodity and every last penny they can earn must be achieved.

The horse carriage industry is, in and of itself, also a dangerous business. The following is an excerpt from PETA, and is not completely current and is only U.S. related.

July 19, 2020/Charleston, SC: A horse
pulling a carriage for the Old South Carriage
Company took off running and sustained
serious injuries. He was euthanized.
February 29, 2020/New York, New York:
A horse was euthanized after collapsing in
Central Park.
February 4, 2020/New York, New York:
According to NYCLASS, a horse took off
running after stepping on an electrical plate
and receiving a shock. The horse ran for
several blocks before crashing into a pole
and collapsing.
February 2020/New York, New York:
According to news reports, a pedestrian
witnessed a carriage horse running loose
for several blocks before crashing into a poll
and collapsing. The horse had apparently
stepped on an electrical plate and the driver
lost control.
December 27, 2019/Charleston, South
Carolina: Two horses pulling a carriage for
the Palmetto Carriage Works company took
off and damaged several cars. One
passenger jumped out of the carriage.
December 24, 2019/Aspen, Colorado: The
driver of a horse-drawn carriage, who was
standing outside the rig, sustained a broken
leg after an SUV ran into her and the
carriage.
December 14, 2019/Highland Park,
Texas: A driver reported that he was
attempting to get between two parked cars
when a horse-drawn carriage carrying eight
to 10 people tried to do the same and they
struck each other.
In a separate incident, a woman reported
that two horses pulling a carriage took off
running and slammed into a concrete wall.
One of the horses reportedly sustained a
fractured skull and a broken back.
December 1, 2019/Riverside, California:
Two horses pulling a carriage at the city’s
Festival of Lights became unhitched, ran
“full speed” down the street, and hit waterfilled plastic street barricades. Both horses
incurred “road rash.”
August 11, 2019/Clinton, Maine: A
carriage crashed after one of the horses
pulling it apparently became agitated when
bitten by an insect. The carriage hit a
telephone pole, a car, and then another
telephone pole before coming to a stop. All
four passengers were injured, and one was
airlifted to a hospital in critical condition.

Niagara on the Lake, ON is no exception. Although accidents have been less frequent than in larger cities, there is still an inherent danger to horses being in traffic, no matter the size of the town.

This particular accident was considered minor, with no charges laid, and yet, the potential for serious injury and death was there. However, rather than questioning the unviability of having horses pulling carts in the 21st Century in a busy tourist area, rather than recognizing not only the dangers but the moral ethics of horses still pulling carriages in this day and age, rather, questions were raised about removing vehicular traffic from tourist areas, in order to prevent future accidents.

Nobody had the forethought to consider “maybe we shouldn’t have these beautiful beings pulling lazy tourists around to see the sights” in all weathers and traffic conditions. Nobody wondered if maybe having horses in our city streets – in any streets – was even a sensible idea in the first place. Nobody thought of the horses’ well-being at all.

Niagara-on-the-Lake is a tourist area rich in history, architecture, and landscaped beauty. With the titanic Lake Ontario beachfront area, parks, hotels, shops, the traffic is dense during tourist season. At that time, it is not reflective of the slow pace of a small town. It is as chaotic and bustling as any large city’s downtown core. No traffic lights mar the old-timey façade, rather a series of 4-ways graces the main street, depending entirely on an individual’s sense of timing. With so many things to see, so much hustle and bustle, so many pedestrians, a proliferation of old and antique cars honking and blaring music, the potential for a missed cue is great, and it’s only a matter of time before an accident causing death occurs.

Let’s put horses where they belong: in pastures, and leave the streets to the vehicle traffic, for which these streets were designed. The options for alternate means of a quaint and enjoyable sight-seeing tour are endless: electric carriages, bicycles, pedal carriages. All viable and sustainable options which free horses from their archaic roles, respecting their life and individual needs as we like ours to be respected.

Let’s stop supporting these oppressive industries so the bank of available horses for the horsemeat trade is also depleted. If you ride horse-drawn carriages, you are a direct contributor to the horsemeat trade.

Do you want that on your conscience?

I Got A Ticket – Bill 156

So I got a ticket, peeps. This makes me a real, card-carrying activist!

I was bearing witness at Fearman’s Pork, in Burlington, ON with the group New Wave Activism, and The Ag Gag bill, Bill 156, was only halfway approved at the time. We were still figuring out what the new do’s and don’ts were, and we wanted to comply with the law while still exercising our Charter Right to gather peacefully and demonstrate. The cops advised us we could cross the streets only when the light indicated pedestrians could safely cross. No touching trucks, no touching pigs, no giving water to the pigs. So that’s what we were doing.

The police were in their usual spot, observing us and pretending to “protect” us whilst scrutinizing us for any minor infraction of the law, yet “not seeing” others commit these same minor infractions….but I digress…and we walked across all four crosswalks regularly with our signs. When a transport truck arrived loaded with pigs, we held up our signs and crossed, legally, wherever we were at the time so passing traffic could draw a correlation. Sometimes that was in the crosswalk in which the truck would be turning – but as we all know from the Highway Traffic Act, all vehicles must yield to the pedestrians’ right of way in a legal crosswalk.

No one stopped us. No one warned us. We had our instructions and felt within our rights to do what we were doing well within the parameters of the law.

And then a few weeks later, quite a few of us were approached and ticketed for an October 1 infraction of Bill 156 – “attempting to interfere with transport of livestock”….what the actual fuck??

To say were were gob-smacked is an understatement.

Apparently, according to the District Attorney’s department, security video taken at the scene showed us attempting to interfere with livestock transport by simply crossing legally in the crosswalk where the truck was slated to turn.

Again, what the actual fuck?

Somebody found the time to extract the video and take it to the DA to examine and determine if any laws were broken for which we could be charged. Who paid for that? Who pays for the no less than two and often four police officers who sit near where we peacefully protest twice a week for anywhere from two to four hours each time? And the all-consuming question: when did pedestrians’ right of way become moot?

And most importantly of all: WHY? Why do they care if we cross the crosswalk and occasionally slow a vehicle down? I can cross any street in this country, at my own personal speed, and cars are supposed to yield to me. It slows them down, sure, but I’m not interfering in their activities in any way, and they in turn, know I have this right.

But apparently, Fearmans’ Pork does not want people to have that right on the crosswalk in front of their property. Again, why? Why does it matter to them if a livestock truck takes three minutes to reach the parking spot where they have yet another hour to wait for off-loading? What’s the rush, guys? And what are they trying to hide? Why don’t they want us to be able to see into the trucks? The trucks have holes in them so the pigs get fresh air (breathing in their own feces, vomit, and exhaust is as fresh as they are going to get at this point), and as a result. we can see in the trucks to take a picture of the conditions, but for some reason we are not allowed to do that anymore. That is now in direct violation of Bill 156, the Ag Gag bill. Whatever is going on in those trucks is a SECRET. You, the consumers, are not allowed to see where your food comes from and what happens to it anymore. YOU have to now simply believe the propaganda when the commercials say “organic, grain fed” “pasture raised” “non GMO” “no hormones” “happy, laughing” etc. You have to believe it, because Big Agriculture says so.

And you, by your silence while Bill 156 was pending, gave them permission to do this to you. Thanks to Sam for documenting this travesty and allowing me to post the video.

Behind the curtain

Language has a very powerful effect on our perceptions. This is nothing new, of course, but in this age of instant video and streaming images, it often seems we are more connected to visuals than words. And for many, this may be true, but there is still a lot of power in a word, and words are the foundation of communication.

As a writer, words are my thing, my “thang”, my vibe, my feelz; I’m very conscious of grammar, spelling, and context, how a message is delivered, how it is received. I was the kid who read the cereal box in morning while having breakfast. I didn’t just read it, i read it in DIFFERENT VOICES!

Ok maybe that’s not something you need to know….

What I have noticed as an ARA (Animal Rights Activist) is words really define our relationship to others. ARAs think of non-human animals as persons equal to themselves. That’s the basis of our credo in veganism: no one life is more important or less important than another, especially based on species. In other words, (pun noted), all living beings are equal and deserve the right to live their life as they choose, not be subjugated and oppressed and used by another species.

So simply calling the pigs on the trucks he or she, rather than “it”, emphasizes their equality to us. The same way we call our pets – dogs, cats, etc. our fur babies, our children; the same way we identify to our pets as their mama or papa; the same way we call our different species pets “siblings” to others in our homes, all this brings their legitimacy as family members, not animals, into societal norms. And we’re ok with that – everyone does it. Even non-vegans.

It stands to reason, then, the same would happen with so-called livestock animals or wild animals or marine animals. Humans in general want to keep that demarcation line in place differentiating higher consciousness creatures from alleged lower consciousness creatures so we can justify using them for our own gains. We’d never put our human sister on an auction block when SHE became too old to work; but it’s ok to do that to a horse because IT is a different species. Notice one is a SHE and the other an IT. That is the inherent power of words.

And with great power comes great responsibility, as Spiderman’s Peter Parker Principle states (say that three times fast!)

As ARAs, we make a concerted effort to use appropriate labels on non-human animals, as we do on human animals: he, she or the binary “they” for some. It’s respectful to acknowledge an individual’s personhood, how they identify, who they feel they are; as citizens of the world, most of us wholeheartedly acknowledge these identifiers and label them appropriately.

However, words can also prove to emphasize the emotional disconnect we experience too.

We use words like rapiers, cutting away reality and carving out a whole new perception with only an infinitesimal connection to the original meaning because it’s less offensive, less stark, more PG, just more pleasant. We don’t like nasty stuff. That’s for horror movies on Saturday night, something we can pretend is not really there because we can shut it off before we go to bed.

Really, we are just pulling the wool over our own eyes.

The fact is, we can call it what we want, it is what it is.

Case in point: I’ve noticed an increase in interest in small-scale farms: considered more sustainable, ethical, moral, and beneficial in many ways. Certainly, one could argue at least with regards animal welfare it’s an improvement over factory farming. I mean not much of an improvement but still….it is the latest argument popping up for proponents of eating meat. The animals live pleasant lives in a homey, small farm setting, with fresh air, blue sky and gently rolling hills to meander before they are harvested and processed by the farmer…..wait, what?

What does that mean? Harvested and processed. “We raised Millie the cow from 3 months old, she was basically a member of the family! and my 5 year old son and i just took her to be processed so we can have steak all winter long!”

What the fuck?

The google meaning of processed is:

perform a series of mechanical or chemical operations on (something) in order to change or preserve it.”the various stages in processing the wool”

It doesn’t mention stunning the animal with a stun gun, hanging her up on a hook by one leg, slitting her throat, then chopping her into tiny pieces. THAT’s what actually happened to Millie. Yet, the whitewash perpetrated on the butchering of a “family member” has to take place to keep the small scale farm ethical and humane. A neutral, vanilla term such as “processed” keeps the reality hidden from view, so everyone can wander around singing the praises of small scale farms.

In actuality, a sentient, loving girl, (maybe Millie, maybe someone else) was raised alongside other animals, felt connection, safety, security and belonging, only to wake up one day to be horrifically betrayed, terrified, hurt, and ultimately killed in as bloody a manner as is possible, to return home in little brown paper wrapped parcels, only flesh and bone chunks, so her family can chow down on her body with little to no thought about her feelings.

But by using the words “harvested” or “processed” the actuality is glossed over quite effectively to better assuage the conscience of the farmers AND the general public who think purchasing “grass fed” “organic” and “homestead raised” is a better and more humane way to eat meat.

Better or more humane for whom?

The animal still dies a bloody death and what’s even worse, she has been lulled into thinking she was safe, loved, part of a herd, protected. She was oblivious to the fact that the human animals who were raising and protecting her didn’t care about her at all as an individual, but only in so much as what she could provide for them.

Calvin – Black Goat Farm & Sanctuary, Smithville, ON

So I have a word for you. For all of you who use words like “processed” or “harvested” in order to justify supporting an industry replete with cruelty, abuse, murder, and inhumanity; for all of you who try to hide behind the pretty flounces of the curtain of the English language to avoid having to think unpleasant thoughts, who employ the trappings of word magic to effectively eliminate any culpability for the pain and suffering of millions of creatures here on earth.

LIARS.

New Wave Activism: Press Release #1

Animal rights activists say they are not being given the same opportunity to speak out on Bill 156 as other organizations. Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020 will prevent activists from accessing and exposing abusive treatment of livestock in farms, slaughterhouses, and transport vehicles by both staff and production processes.

Members of New Wave Activism say this bill effectively terminates their ability to “bear witness”: drawing close to the side of the trailer, documenting the condition of the animals, and offering some water, which the animals may not have had for up to 40 hours. It’s an action which is crucial to the movement’s vigils in the area, and all over the world.

New Wave Activism bears witness multiple times a week at Fearmans’ Pork, Harvester Road in Burlington.They hold signs, do outreach, and try to raise awareness as to what happens to animals destined for the slaughterhouse. . However, their most important activity is stopping the trucks to bear witness to the pigs.

Julie Brar, long-time member of NWA., said, “Bearing witness means offering to the animal what may be the first compassion they’ve ever received. For a sentient being, compassion is a fundamental right.”

In order for activists to bear witness, trucks need to stop, which often happens at red lights, but which can also be done voluntarily at a drivers’ and his company’s discretion. However, Brar noted many of the truck drivers are uncooperative, and many activists have reported increasingly aggressive driving, with trucks breaking traffic laws regularly, while police look the other way.

“We have footage of trucks accelerating through the intersection and running red lights in full view of police, who look the other way,” Brar said. “Its giving us the distinct impression that the police are not neutral participants.”.

It’s gotten worse, Brar said, since the death of local activist Regan Russell, a native of Hamilton, who was killed June 19 by a transport truck at the gates of Fearman’s Pork, while she was walking through the crosswalk. Many of the group witnessed the tragic event, and agree, the truck drivers are becoming much more aggressive with Bill 156 looming.

Of Bill 156, Brar said the public needs to understand what activists do is not “tampering” or interfering with their business – the trucks don’t stop running altogether – but maybe for a brief moment, the animals in transport might feel some measure of comfort. It also allows activists to get close enough to determine the condition of the animals, which would go a long way to keeping welfare checks and balances in place for the animals and ensure transparency within the industries. In fact, some drivers, those who tend to cooperate with the activists and stop for them voluntarily, have said since they have to wait for a while inside the gates to be off-loaded anyway, it could just as easily be for those few minutes outside the gates.

“We just want a chance to make our message heard. This bill is designed to obscure the industry from the public’s purview,” she said, adding she wondered what they were trying to hide.

“Forget transparency. You think you know what you are getting because they have to put ingredients on packages, but that doesn’t account for what happens to the animals themselves from birth to death. Their treatment has a huge impact not only on the animals themselves, but also consumers,” Brar said. “With this Bill, it will all be swept under the rug.”

The Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act, which came into effect January 1, 2020, which the industry offers as a viable tool, offers protection for all animals with basic care, food, shelter and transportation – but lists certain exceptions, which could be applied to livestock.

“Basically, they are considered commodities not sentient beings who deserve life as much as we do,” Brar said.

“Two minutes is all we ask to compassionately commune with these living sentient beings. It’s not too much to ask when the end result, their egregious death, is forever.”

.

Plants vs Flesh Eating Zombies

“Plants have feelings too. So if we eat plants, why can’t we eat animals?” At first glance, this seems a legit statement. Science HAS proven plants have “feelings” – of a sort, and well, we all know non-human animals do, so where do vegans go from here? Vegans decry taking a life for our useage, so what the fuck are we supposed to eat based on this rationale?

Most of us understand non-human animals have feelings: they have consciousness, think, feel, have babies with whom they bond, live in communities in which they bond, recognize faces and scents, communicate, and have individual personalities. They are not automatons designed for our personal use and to do our bidding; they are beings in their own right.

this would be your “free range” chicken…..

Plants have been scientifically proven to sense their environment using hormones and sensory ions: they lean into the light for food production, many close up at night when there is no sun to produce food, enabling them to retain moisture. Plants also sense beneficial fungi and work underground through the root systems to connect with plants of the same type to send signals and nutrients back and forth. There is no doubt nature is amazing. However, does this mean the plant has the same sentience as an animal? Science has shown that answer is No.

The main consideration for feeling pain is a central nervous system. Human and non-human animals share this attribute. Plants do not. Plain logic shows animals and plants sentience is different: animals scream, cry and bleed when cut; plants do not. Certainly, modern research has shown plants do have a reaction to being pulled from the earth or off a stem, it is an automatic sensory reaction to a change in their environment. It’s not a feeling of pain or fear, it’s more a chemical reaction to what’s going on in order to adapt to their environment. This has been proven scientifically.

A plant’s life goal is to procreate – that’s it; that’s all. So having a blossom or fruit plucked from a plant, where the seeds will be disseminated elsewhere and germinate and grow to fruition is exactly what it wants. The area where the fruit is plucked from becomes the focus of the plant as it sends enzymes to promote quick healing so it’s food production can be sent to further it’s goal of procreation. That is its reaction to being eaten. Not fear, not bleeding, no screaming.

All this to say: plants want to be eaten! Since pollination, seed dissemination, root upheaval, etc are all vehicles for a plant procreation, being eaten is the fulfillment of their life goal.

Now, they are obviously not rubbing their hands together in glee, chortling at the success of building the prettiest fruit and being chomped on by someone to further their ends of world domination, umm no. Invasion of the Body Snatchers aside, if a plant is eaten, it has fulfilled its raison d’etre – its reason for being: spreading its seeds.

Conversely, non-human animals do NOT want to be eaten. We can tell this, quite simply, by their body language, no science needed. Rolling eyes, crying in terror, running physically away, shaking, vomiting, defecating where they lay/stand – all very obvious signs of fear and distress. Their life goal is NOT being fulfilled by being eaten, because their life goal is to LIVE. Killing an animal will not cause it to spread seeds around the earth to continue life. Science has proven non-human animals do feel the same as us; they have a central nervous system which allows them to feel the excruciating pain of suffocation in gas chambers or the sting of a bloody blade. This is NOT a natural process for them.

selecting a pig for slaughter

We don’t want to die. Humans sometimes die in car accidents, work accidents, through illness; we devise laws and methods to protect us and heal us so these events are fewer. Animals don’t want to die either, but rather than putting measures in place to protect their lives, we condone their death and we justify it by saying it fulfills the “circle of life”.

No. A plant being eaten fulfills the circle of life. An animal being killed ends it.

“Get A Job!”

It’s a cry I hear frequently while protesting. It’s directed at those of us who are taking time out of busy schedules to bear witness to the suffering and cruelty of the animal agriculture system and other forms of speciesist control and oppression.

And I wonder: why do these people think we don’t have jobs? Why do they assume we are all dirty hippie layabouts, who do not contribute to society and don’t pay taxes? I mean do they think we mooch off of society, hanging out in our communes wearing Jesus sandals and dashikis, clouds of questionable smoke wafting around our heads?

Time management: heard of it?

Sure, we are obviously not at work at that moment in time; some have days off, some have later shifts. Some of us are retired, having spent our lives working, contributing and paying taxes (and still are) and are now enjoying free time but choosing to do something positive with it. But there we stand, at our corners, with our signs, peacefully bearing witness to beings destined to end up at slaughter mere moments later, and all around us the hue and cry “Get a job!” echoes around us continuously.

I saw comments on a thread on Facebook a few days ago, and someone posted the “get a job” remark, to which I replied, “Why do you assume they don’t have jobs?” And you know what he said? He replied, “Well they obviously they have too much time on they’re hands.” (sic)

So there it is, peeps. If you have spare time after work, and decide to do something constructive with your time, such as exercise your Canadian Charter Rights and Freedoms, then YOU HAVE TOO MUCH TIME ON YOUR HANDS.

Apparently, to be a legitimate contributing member of society, you must work all day and night, with only enough time to get a few hours sleep in between shifts. If you have extra time on your hands, and maybe go shopping, or to the library, or lounge in your backyard, or protest something you feel strongly about, then YOU HAVE TOO MUCH TIME ON YOUR HANDS.

I kid you not. This is a thing.

Then I noticed something: the opposition had protesters too. Morning, afternoon, evenings, whenever we were there, they were too. Did they all quit their jobs to keep up with us? They must not realize they now also have TOO MUCH TIME ON THEIR HANDS, and so it might be helpful if we yelled “Get a job!” at them now. I mean, if we are there, and they are there, WHO’S WORKING?? Who is keeping our economy going, paying the taxes, supporting medicare and social programs? Because now we all HAVE TOO MUCH TIME ON OUR HANDS!

I don’t know if our country can ever recover from this.

Basically, the phrase “Get a job!” directed at activists infers our cause is unimportant and should therefore be abandoned in pursuit of more productive tasks. But who is the arbiter of what’s important and what is not? Who decides which task qualifies as important to society and which impedes it’s advancement?

Rosa Parks, MLK Jr in background
Stock Photo

I understand we have opposition: people who disagree with us. Maybe even hate us. There is a fundamental belief out there that those who shake up the status quo are bad, troublemakers, malcontents, maybe even criminals. It appears it has never entered their heads that protesters are the people who bring about change; who bring issues to the forefront of awareness in society. All the things in this world that we have accepted now as the norm were all once issues which were fought over, with many, many dissenters. Emancipation, desegregation, the vote for women, abortion & bodily autonomy, child sexual abuse, Indigenous rights, corporate glass ceilings: all these issues drew blood in society. People died to bring about these changes, and we’re still fighting for them today in many cases. Who are these people who fight for these improvements?

Us. Activists. And it has ever been so since the dawn of time.

And what’s important to realize is we don’t have to be activists to make ourselves heard. There are many ways to bring about change. Activism can be as simple and as quiet as living a certain lifestyle with conviction: no fanfare needed. Lead by example.

But there are some of us who like to make a little noise, shake things up, challenge the “man”, plants seeds and just generally kick society in ass and get some discomfort going to fertilize those seeds of thought. That doesn’t make us bad; it doesn’t make us toxic; it doesn’t make us unemployed layabouts, either. It does however, scare people.

Humans historically feared the unknown.; We burned witches, despite the fact they healed the sick; we oppressed different cultures, even while appropriating goods and actions within their communities – because it was unexplainable. As cave dwellers, we didn’t travel far from our homes – to do so was to challenge our survival. Predators, extreme weather, starvation, murderous rogues from other tribes: these were our enemies and being away from the cave put us in jeopardy. Routine was familiar, safe. Introduction of some new element or being meant things were different, unknown, and it created rampant and widespread fear, because our and our tribe’s safety was dependent on knowing the who, what, when, where, and why’s of our environment. Changes are rarely welcomed with open arms, and even today, that is still typical . Despite all our advancements and technology, we are still animals and we still have a need for security for our survival.

So activists with radical ideas and loud voices threaten not only everything we hold dear, but our very existence! Obviously, most people will oppose the new ideas and are fearful of the strident message: it challenges the margin of safety we have put around ourselves. It introduces elements of the unknown and we sure as heck can’t have that!

One of the arguments against protests I hear from people is that we “disturbed their peaceful, lovely day.” Well, duh. That was our intent! They weren’t going to hear our message magically with feathers and sparkles blown in by a gentle breeze a la Disney stylez. People don’t sit up and take notice of quiet, pretty messages floating by on clouds of inconspicuousness. You send someone a message like that, where does it end up? Still floating – forever and ever. And ever.

Captain Paul Watson, Canadian Citizen and founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

No, the way to catch attention, make people sit up and think, is to be loud and maybe even obnoxious. Activists want to disturb you; they want to interrupt lovely days; they want you to hear their message. It might be the only way you will actually HEAR it. Once you hear it, it stays with you, and you think about it. And you may disagree, in fact, as history as shown, you probably will disagree – emphatically. But eventually, as you continue to hear the message over time, in different ways, some subtle, some not so much, your opinion might change. And that seed of thought, that bud of transformation is how we as society grow and progress from cave dwellers to a civilized society.

We in Canada have an unalienable right to civil disobedience. It’s in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We are allowed to gather in public, peacefully – but not necessarily quietly. We are allowed to express our views publicly by any way we choose – yelling, talking, leafleting, creating dramatizations, marches, public spectacles, signage, speeches. We are allowed to disturb your peaceful day. We are allowed to disrupt traffic, to agitate. We are allowed to ROCK YOUR WORLD.

That is our job.

As Ghandi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Out With The Old…

Three years ago, I was wielding a spatula, slinging spices, and rocking a carving knife, making some delish meat-centric meals for my family. All this whilst brandishing a dry pinot or three in a tipsy waltz across the kitchen.

My favourite shows were Master Chef, Hell’s Kitchen and Dinner Party Wars. I watched them almost exclusively, over and over, as I drained bottle after bottle of dry white.  I seemed to have a penchant for anything creative all my life, writing, sewing, painting, and eventually that evolved to include cooking.

 All the recipes revolved around meat, which I didn’t actually like much. All my life I have had issues with eating meat: the stringiness, the fat, the cartilage, the gelatinous textures, the smell of bones. So I rarely ate it myself, but I was a “feeder”: I cooked for everyone else. And I mean everyone!

Every kid on the block stopped by for breakfast, lunch or dinner. My kids would call their friends and say “she’s making spaghetti” and BING! someone would magically arrive at my door just in time, and naturally, I made them up a plate. My daughter’s friend would ask his mother what they were having, and then contemplate one second before stating “I’ll see what Carol’s making.”I didn’t mind one bit; I enjoyed it. But I rarely ate it. Turkey at Christmas; a hamburger at a bbq, pepperoni on a pizza, but steak? nope. Chicken on the bone? Nope. Chops? hell no. 

Then I changed a few things in my life. I left an abusive ex; the box of pinot stopped gracing my counter, and I started thinking about my health. ME. My health. My life. Things I wanted. Not anyone else. Just me. What a revelation. 

I didn’t want to eat flesh. I didn’t want to eat animals. I didn’t want any part in an industry that commodifies sentient beings and reduces them to “cuts of meat” in a supermarket. I had spent years doing it in order to please others, to follow the status quo. I did it because doing what I wanted was not an option, and in truth, I didn’t know what I wanted because all my time was spent catering to what others wanted. I had become a non-entity in my own life. I was no better off than the animals bred into the agriculture industry. I followed “the herd” because that’s all I knew and all I was allowed.

And then I deleted the negative and inserted ME into the equation. 

Better late than never, eh?

And as most vegans say: I wish I had done it sooner!

Empathy for animals has to go beyond our pets: cats and dogs. It has to go beyond wild animals hunted or trapped for fur or other products. It has to go beyond animals threatened with extinction. These issues are understood around the world as being legitimate concerns which even non-vegans will support. 

But it also has to include agricultural animals: horses, cows, pigs, goats, sheep. It has to because it’s plain logical. Why protect some animals and not others? What is the difference? Non-vegans will say “well they are bred for food.”These animals which were bred to fill a human concept: that it’s easier to go out into the field and kill a cow for food than hunt it. So agricultural animals were bred out of human LAZINESS and greed. Nature didn’t breed domestic animals, humans did. So they are not natural to this world, but now they are here, why do we think it’s ok to abuse them and not dogs (which we also bred)?

We are disgusted at the Chinese Yulin Dog Meat Festival but celebrate ribfests all summer long. We think it’s horrific that some Asian cultures eat live octopus, but really enjoy slugging back that raw (read ALIVE) oyster. And this year, we were horrified that due to a Chinese delicacy of bat soup, we ended up locked down in our homes hiding from a zoonotic novel coronavirus, but we conveniently ignore H1N1 outbreaks because “mmm bacon”.

Oh believe me, I ignored the facts too. I’m guilty of all of the above and then some. But when I made the change and stopped eating meat, I also started reading and researching, and I opened my mind to thoughts and ideas about which I previously had not heard. I went back to my nature spirit roots and had some serious conversations with my soul. I did a lot of housecleaning in my mind, opened up a few musty windows and gave that space a new coat of paint. 

I like where I am now. I like me. I have goals. I have a purpose. I have drive. I’m connecting with a new tribe and I love how that feels. I’m tapping into my creativity, my spirituality, and my imagination and it’s looking up as never before. And it’s all because I stopped using other sentient beings for my own selfish needs. I recognized we are all animals: some human animals, some non-human animals, but animals just the same. We all deserve to be treated with respect; we all deserve love; we all deserve life.

Won’t you consider this concept too?  

That Day I Changed My Mind

So I did a thing yesterday, peeps. I’d been wanting to do it for a while, but even as a vegan, I was kind of in two minds about it. I have to admit, I had to figure it out for myself.

I attended an action to protest the use of horses pulling carriages for tourists in Niagara-on-the-lake, Ontario. The reason I was in two minds is because I love horses and horse-back riding. I always have, even as a child. I always wanted to own a horse so I could leap nimbly onto his back, lean into his strength and ride, swiftly and smoothly, across fields and meadows. I wanted to fly over country fences, turn corners perfectly on the inside leg, feel the majesty beneath me, and bond with a beautiful animal spirit in the process.

Yeah I watched a lot of Disney.

I was in two minds because I watched a family member battle a grievous disease by taking horseback riding lessons, which helped strengthen her, calm her, and heal her simply by being able to connect with the lovely soul of a training horse; by learning how to care for it as well as ride it, she grew stronger and more capable to handle tasks elsewhere.

Obviously, I had a deep respect as well as love for these amazing creatures. So why would I want to abolish horse-carriage rides, remove the opportunity for others to enjoy and benefit from horses too?

I needed to find out what all the hullabaloo was about.

(NB: I’m now vegan for 3 years, but admittedly at 59, it obviously took most of my life to get there, despite the fact that I am and always have been an animal lover. I don’t really know why it took so long, but all this means is that I do not have the right to judge someone else for being slow to awaken, even though I often do. #sorrynotsorry see that post here.)

We did some marching, made a lot of noise on a quiet, Sunday afternoon, waved our signs, signaled our thrill when passers-by supported us, and generally took the small, quaint town by storm. Not gonna lie, it was fun.

not sure who took the pic, but this is the group of activists I marched with in NOTL on Sunday, with Adam Stirr in the lead with the megaphone.

People were pissed, man! And I kinda understood why: here they were for a holiday stop after a harrowing spring with covid19 dogging everyone’s heels. All they wanted to do was eat over-priced, overrated meals, shop in over-full stores with over-inflated rents, flash over-used credit cards around, and just generally enjoy a long over-due break from every day life, letting over-worked horses drive their over-weight asses around in over-the-top record heat….wait….what was that?

You heard me.

Ok, so why exactly were they pissed we were there? Because we interrupted their day. We had the unmitigated gaul to bring an injustice into the forefront of their day out. We ripped the air of peace and serenity like a tornado through a spider’s web, and it was not well received by many.

I was able to hear some of the comments, some of them I can actually print here because they are PG rated. Oh who the hell am I kidding? We were told to fuck off; suck a dick; go home; get a job (how does protesting indicate we are unemployed?); get out of THEIR town (who owns NOTL?); and other remarks stated under breath as they snuck by us.

I don’t think they understood, or maybe they’d forgotten, civil disobedience is one of our Charter Rights. Our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows all citizens to gather in public and protest peacefully (yes even vociferously) in an effort to educate the public about issues which some feel need to be addressed and even changed. It is our right – not a privilege – a right to do so on any given day of the week. And it is how women got the vote in 1918 in Canada; it is how desegregation came about in 1954 in the U.S.; it is how changes were made by Martin Luther King, Jr.s March on Washington in 1963 in support of racial equality; it is how the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.

Sorry, NOTL, but we the citizens are allowed to go anywhere in Canada and make noise for issues we feel need to be changed. In this case, it was for the injustices perpetrated on animals in our society: specifically horses.

The horse drawn carriage rides are a commercial nod towards the old days of horse labour in our society and are publicized to reflect the old-fashioned, quaint aura of Old Town in NOTL. Many cities use these types of enterprises for tours, complete with period clothing and vernacular. It’s charming and appealing to be driven around in style, gandering at the architecture and local sights, and makes one feel a little bit better than the mere peons on foot. It’s an ego boost.

But it comes at what cost to the horse? Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, is animals, and horses specifically to this situation, are considered property. A commodity to be used by its owner as needed. They are just another tool to making money: like a computer, a car, or a pen – and as such can be disposed of by its owner as they see fit once they are no longer profitable. Most cities have minimal animal protection guidelines, especially for carriage horses, which are often not enforced due to lack of knowledge. Care for the horses is reliant upon the owner of the company, and with the Ag Gag Bill 156 looming, that will soon be something we can’t monitor. In the case of NOTL, the animals home treatment is not in question. The Sentineal family is well known in the community for their care of horses, but that’s not the issue here, which from the comments I heard Sunday, is what people don’t understand.

How this particular business cares for their horses in not in question. It’s the fact that they are put to work pulling carriages in 30 plus degree heat and below zero temps for up to 9 hours at a time; they pull carriages between erratic and dangerous traffic, breathing in car and truck exhaust, hearing motorcycles gunning their engines, people honking horns, dodging pedestrians blindly crowding cross walks. They have little respite in summer from the broiling Ontario sun and heated tarmac. Many of the horses are slaughter house rescues, which means they were already dumped by some previous owner after their use had finished and may suffer from other health concerns related to that previous industry. This is how the business justifies their actions. They “saved” these horses from the slaughterhouse and gave them a great life pulling fat-assed tourists around in heat and humidity so powerful we put weather warnings out for the general public because it’s so dangerous!

Other cities have, in the last few years, banned horse-drawn carriages and many incidents have been publicized about horses collapsing and dying due to mistreatment, ill health or weather. These cities have switched to electric carriages: a clean, green version of the horse-drawn carriage, not governed by any vague and unenforced welfare guidelines, not affecting any living being negatively, yet just as productive and effective.

So now that I have attended one of these actions, I shall be going back. I mean, my blog is all well and good, but with only a few followers, it’s not going to make any big dent in public education about animal rights. Attending a protest will cause disruption, will cause agitation (that’s why they used to call protesters ‘agitators’ back in Susan B. Anthony’s day). Disruption and agitation is how we catch people’s attention. It’s how we can get people to think, even just a little, about the situation. Just like I did. And maybe, we can help a few others see the truth about horse-drawn carriage rides, animal entertainment exhibits, wild animal incarceration, and factory farming. Maybe we can help them change.

Just like I did.