When the suffering of another creature causes you to feel pain, do not submit to the initial desire to flee from the suffering one, but on the contrary, come closer, as close as you can to her who suffers, and try to help her.
–Leo Tolstoy, A Calendar of Wisdom (Thank you, Anita, for this most-inspiring quote.)
Imagine traveling many miles in a cramped trailer, your last meal several hours ago, your last drink of water a distant memory. The heat from the bodies surrounding you is stifling. Bodies covered in bruises, festering cuts, sores slow to heal from weakened immune systems literally dying for nutrition. You look to one of several small slats streaming light across your panicked, fatigued travel companions and you see a group of people calling to you. Their voices are not shrill, so different from the harshness that you have endured as a commodity, rather than a living soul.
You pause, panic filling your body, and your friends panic as well, wondering what is to come next. More pain? More sharp sticks poking your delicate skin? What have you done to deserve this? When will it end? And that is when you see them. Up close. These beings have gathered and their presence is calming. You stare at them, and they stare at you. Some are bold and whisper to you, sweet sounds that bring you peace through your wounds and fatigue. The heat seems more bearable as a delicate hand strokes your hot ear for a brief moment. The pain and panic that seemed endless has paused.
Movement begins again, and you are taken from these calming beings, toward the smell of death. You are intelligent enough to recognize it, as it has been scientifically proven that you are more intelligent than a dog, and you understand, and feel, fear. The endless cycle continues, but the sweet words are imprinted in your human-like memory.
For up to 7,000 pigs each day, this is their reality on their painful journey to the Quality Meat Packers slaughterhouse (9,000 at Fearman’s slaughterhouse, in Burlington, Ontario) and processing plant in Toronto, Ontario. Pigs are led, via electric prod–exhausted and starved after being contained in overcrowded trucks for several hours–into plants where they are forced into carbon dioxide chambers. Once mostly unconscious, they are sent down a conveyor belt where their throats are slit, and they are thrown, still alive, into a scalding vat of water.See the arrival and process in the video here.
The plant worker featured in the video can be seen throwing pigs into the scalding water. He states simply, ‘Remember this the next time you eat bacon.’
This shameful suffering is no longer hidden behind concrete walls, thanks to founder Anita Krajnc, and the people at Toronto Pig Save, an animal rights organization founded in December of 2010. Anita was initially inspired to become a strong advocate for animals by a whippet-beagle mix named Mr. Bean, whom she had adopted for her mother Josey from Animal Alliance of Canada’s Project Jessie. The adoption brought Anita closer to the animals that would inspire her to form a movement for change, while on morning walks with Mr. Bean on Lake Shore Boulevard. It was there that she would witness many transport trucks passing, filled with the eyes of soul-weary pigs, powerless to end their suffering.
An avid reader, she was inspired by carefully-chosen authors. She states:
I’d see the pigs looking out with fear and sadness in their eyes, and with their little snouts poking through the air holes. At the time, I was reading biographies written by Romain Rolland, a vegetarian Nobel laureate, about Tolstoy, Gandhi, Ramakrishna and Vivikananda, and I was impressed at how each of them knew their priorities—when there was an injustice in their community they took action by engaging in community organizing.
Meetings began as monthly vegan potlucks. The mission was simple. ‘Make slaughterhouses have glass walls.’
In order to understand the process better, and before engaging in actual protest, the group needed time to collect slaughterhouse footage. In the meantime, artwork paying homage to the suffering of animals going through this barbaric process was displayed to promote further awareness. Artists included Sue Coe, Caitlin Black, Dirk Geisselmann, SauWai Tai, Twyla Francois, Olivier Berreville, and Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals, Julie O’Neill and Toronto Pig Save’s own in-house graphic designers, Louise Jorgensen and Joanne O’Keefe.
Less than a year later, in July of 2011, Toronto Pig Save began meeting three times weekly–what Krajnc humbly refers to as ‘bearing witness’ to the suffering of the pigs before they are transported to slaughter. The vigils include leafleting and occur even on holidays. The energy of the organizers is always encouraged to stay positive and kind, as this tends to create a calming, effective environment for organizers and observers. Vegan BLTs are given to passersby that feature a unique ingredient–coconut vegan ‘bacon’ thanks to Know Thy Food, a Toronto store operated by Kristen Bethel that puts emphasis on ethical eating. To learn more about Kristen’s kind approach to cooking, you can view her website, or visit her on Facebook.
As trucks arrive at what has been nicknamed ‘Pig Island’, the last stop light before the animals make their way into the slaughterhouse parking lot, people are able to peer deeply into the eyes of frightened, exhausted pigs, and murmur a few words, perhaps say a prayer, to give them a few moments of calm before their hellish journey continues to an abrupt, and violent, end.
When asked about Toronto Pig Save’s future goals, Anita shared the organization’s 2013 ‘New Year’s resolutions’. Several items top their list, including developing a ‘just transition strategy’ for slaughterhouse workers. It is important to note that workers’ eyes are also opened by Toronto Pig Save, and some may have a desire to lead a different life. Other resolutions include door-to-door leafleting to encourage the neighborhoods surrounding the slaughterhouse to become more involved, and make them feel more comfortable voicing their concerns. A fundraising campaign put firmly in place for farm sanctuaries, a desire to develop more artwork that narrates the struggle of animals in the food industry, continue to promote pig save organizations throughout Canada and beyond, and finally, in their mission to help change the ethical eating views of people from all walks of life–develop a vegan outreach/mentor program for communities and religious groups.
The most-important aspect of the group remains. Bearing witness at weekly vigils.
According to Anita, ‘I know for myself, my level of commitment skyrocketed once I bore witness and saw pigs in trucks on the way to slaughter firsthand.’
Learn more about Toronto Pig Save here, or on their Facebook page (watch Toronto Pig Savers summon smiles with their recent Harlem Shake video).
A rescued slaughterhouse-bound piglet named Jasmine inspired Noëlle to become more aware of human impact on the environment.
She has met wonderful people on her journey helping animals–most-recently Rich and family at The Pig Preserve in Jamestown, Tennessee, where Jasmine the piglet found a forever home. She is a supporter of the Preserve, as well as local dog rescues, and she has enjoyed being a foster dog parent. Noëlle has raised multiple clutches of orphaned European Starlings, and had the honor of seeing their joyful return the wild. She is currently a member of The Sierra Club, and looks forward to advocating for the health of the Earth and those without a voice.
When Noëlle isn’t brainstorming as a freelance designer or indulging in cruelty-free products, she is relaxing in Tennessee with her husband Dan, their three sweet pups, and a cat who runs the place.
Email Noelle: email@example.com
Photo Credit: Anita Krajnc
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Harlem Shake Toronto Pig Save style
The animal advocacy group Toronto Pig Savehas uploaded to their YouTube channel their version of the Harlem Shake. During one of the vigils, they decided to promote and advocate through the craze of the MEME Harlem Shake.
So far the video has over 700 views and the number continues to increase. Some people may think that the Harlem Shake craze is almost out the door, but with Justin Timberlake doing aVegan Shake during one of his sketches while hosting Saturday Night Live this past weekend, it seems that the Harlem Shake takes another purpose. People are still surfing to find new Harlem Shake versions, there is a big chance that they will stumble upon this video on a tweet, on a Facebook wall or YouTube search and become interested in learning about the Toronto Pig Save’s mission.
Diana Vasquez is the person responsible for brainstorming the idea of the video. “The reason why I decided on bringing up the idea of this project to Anita is because I thought it would be a fun and different way of sharing the purpose of Toronto Pig Save” says Diana. It takes smart thinking, initiative, and courage to come up with new ways of spreading the message. Toronto Pig Save has probably started a new MEME amongst animal advocacy groups throughout Canada and maybe the world.
Who will be the next group doing a Harlem Shake in name for animals?
To watch the video Harlem Shake is so Vegan with Toronto Pig Save click here
To watch Justin Timberlake’s Vegan Version of Harlem Shake click here
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The Essay is a daily personal piece submitted by readers. Have a story to tell? See our guidelines at tgam.ca/essayguide.
When I tell people I spent my morning attending a vigil for pigs or cows entering a slaughterhouse, the reaction is usually: “Isn’t that depressing?” or, “I could never bring myself to do that. It’s too sad.”
They wonder how I can watch animals stare back at me with their mournful eyes, hear their grunts and squeals, and do nothing more than hold a placard as the trucks drive in to unload.
You may be surprised to learn that, though I do think that bearing witness is the right thing to do, I actually do it partly because it feels good. I enjoy the vigils and don’t leave feeling depressed. In fact, I typically walk away smiling, with a sense of calm, ready to start a brand-new, joyous day.
Vigils for cows arriving at St. Helen’s Meat Packers near Toronto’s Keele Street and St. Clair Avenue West are undeniably sombre: They usually take place before the sun has risen, and there are few passersby to share information with. To some protesters this would be a deterrent, but for me it’s an invitation to truly make a statement that the lives of these cows matter and that someone is watching.
In contrast, the most rewarding vigils are those held on what is known within the Toronto Pig Save movement as “Pig Island,” a median at the corner of Lake Shore Boulevard and Strachan Avenue. There, the trucks stop alongside everyday commuters in the left-hand turn lane at the traffic lights, which gives activists time to interact with the pigs and the drivers.
As the trucks pull up, we get close to the animals. We talk to them, tell them we love them and that we are sorry. They look back at us, grunt, squeal and pant. Sometimes they offer kisses or tug at our mittens with their mouths.
While it is sad to know where they are headed as soon as the light turns green, it feels good to know we were there to prove that someone cares about them, whether or not we changed their fate. It’s like attending someone’s funeral to honour them, even though it won’t bring them back. There is also the consolation that raising awareness of the pigs’ predicament could alter the fate of their brethren.
As for the people in cars, we hand them literature about the local slaughterhouse, the journey the pigs have just made, and how consumer power can make a difference. Often a truck full of pigs is still in view, with a noticeable lingering smell, as we talk to the drivers.
The first time I attended a vigil, I was surprised at how receptive people were to taking our information sheets. Even the truck drivers will sometimes roll down their windows and stick out their arm for a leaflet. We talk about the intelligence and emotions of pigs, about government “pork” subsidies, and the environmental effects of factory farming. Sometimes we offer vegetarian “bacon” sandwiches as first-hand evidence that you don’t need to be deprived of tasty food by not eating pigs.
People usually nod to acknowledge they have taken in the information. Some ask for more, or roll down their window with a smile and say: “I’m already vegetarian!”
They do not seem annoyed or confused by our presence. They know why we are there, and with truckloads of pigs passing them every day of their commute, it is difficult for them to forget where their food comes from.
Of course, there are moments when my eyes tear up as I face the fact that the thousands of breathing, feeling pigs right before my eyes will shortly be killed right around the corner. I have been a vegan for 14 years and work full-time for Canada’s largest vegetarian organization, so you might think I’d be confident I am doing all I can. But there is no way you can look a pig in the eye and not feel guilty about leaving him to his fate.
Sometimes I wonder how beneficial my presence really is. I remember the night my dog passed away. We visited her in the animal hospital, and though she was sick and tired, she immediately lifted her head and stretched forward to lick our hands. I often recount that moment, thinking how happy she was just to see us after spending the day alone, feeling ill.
But my father recalls the moment differently. He fears that she may have thought we came to bring her home, and that we let her down by not saving her.
Does our interaction with the pigs take their minds off their horror for a few moments, or does it bring them false hope?
Still, attending a vigil before going to work is uplifting. I feel good knowing someone was present for the animals and hopeful because of the reactions and enthusiasm from passersby. I leave feeling inspired to spend each minute in the office working hard to encourage people to choose a vegetarian diet.
That being said, I don’t feel these vigils are just for vegetarians. People who haven’t pledged to stop eating meat can also take part. To me, the vigils are about apologizing to the animals, whether it’s out of guilt as a vegan for not doing more, or for having them for dinner. We are telling these animals they matter, and acknowledging they are real, alive and loved.
Barbi Lazarus lives in Toronto.
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Toronto Pig Save’s video “Pigs transported in -20 ºC face frostbite & hypothermia – Toronto Pig Save bears witness” was featured in a Mercy for Animals blog “As Sub-Zero Temperatures Grip the Nation, Animals Suffer” (January 25, 2103), the Free From Harm blog “Video: A Vigil to Honor Pigs Trapped in the Farming System” (January 25, 2013), and Samita Nandy’s blog “From Toronto Pig Save to the Oprah Winfrey Show“
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The work of our own Jo-Anne McArthur / WeAnimals.org is featured in the January 2013 issue of Alternatives Journal. Click here to read more and view her incredible yet heart wrenching photos for Toronto Pig Save.
Read interview with Jo-Anne McArthur in “The Witness “ in the Laika Magazine, January 30, 2013.
See Jo’s photo essay
“We Animals: One Photographer’s Compassion in Action,” in Photo Life magazine, March 31, 2013
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Toronto Pig Save of FREEDOM Of SPECIES: Tune in to Freedom of Species – animal advocacy on the airwaves – to hear Kate Elliott’s interview with Anita Krajnc, the co- founder of Toronto Pig Save. Toronto Pig Save is an animal rights, pro worker group that holds weekly vigils on ‘Pig Island” to bear witness to the pigs in transport trucks on their way to Quality Meat Packers slaughterhouse in downtown Toronto. Find out about the power of bearing witness and how this group is committed to “giving slaughterhouses glass walls.” Read Toronto Pig Save’s Bearing Witness blog on WeAnimals’ website here.
“When the suffering of another creature causes you to feel pain, do not submit to the initial desire to flee from the suffering one, but on the contrary, come closer, as close as you can to him who suffers, and try to help.” – Leo Tolstoy, A Calendar of Wisdom
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Walkom: Slaughtering pigs, a never-ending horror
The specific story is about pigs. The broader story is about humans and how, when it comes right down to it, we don’t care a lot.
Every day, along Lake Shore Boulevard in Toronto, a parade of tractor-trailer trucks passes by carrying pigs to slaughter.
These particular trucks have become relatively famous in the world of the Internet. That’s because, at certain times of day, traffic moves slowly enough to let anyone standing on the sidewalk see — and videotape — what goes on inside.
What goes on inside isn’t pretty. The latest video, apparently taken on July 17 and posted on the website of an animal rights group called Toronto Pig Save, shows animals jostling against one another in a mash of their own vomit and excrement (contrary to popular mythology, pigs — if left to their own devices — try to keep themselves fastidiously clean.)
The temperature in Toronto had hit 36 degrees centigrade that day and pig transport trailers aren’t air-conditioned.
So let’s just say it wasn’t a comfortable trip. In fact, under Canada’s rarely enforced animal welfare laws — which require animals to be transported humanely — it may well have been an illegal trip.
But it was a typical trip and, I suppose that’s the point. We care about dogs locked in parked cars during sweltering heat waves. Those stories, when they happen, are front-page news.
We don’t care much about the pigs being trundled day in and day out through unbearable heat along Lake Shore.
Toronto Pig Save focuses on Quality Meat Packers, the abattoir to which the Lake Shore Blvd. animals were headed. It’s the second-largest hog slaughtering plant in Ontario.
Is Quality Meat worse than any other slaughterhouse? There’s no evidence I know of that it is. Indeed, as an economic enterprise, it is a Canadian success story. A family-owned business that has been operating in Toronto since 1923, it now exports pork products around the world.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is so impressed that it awarded Quality a $3-million loan in April to help it kill and process pigs more efficiently.
But economics is one thing and morality another. The question raised by the Lake Shore hog trailers is a moral one: Do humans have the moral right to truck and slaughter pigs just so they can eat bacon for breakfast instead of cereal?
I reckon most Canadians would answer yes to this — although I also think you’d get a different response, in this country at least, if the word “pigs” was replaced by “dogs.”
Pigs are notoriously smart animals. They also have an unsettling habit of looking you directly in the eye — as if to say: “I know what you have in mind for me and I’m disappointed by your lack of character.”
If more people looked pigs directly in the eye, there would be more vegetarians. But they don’t and there are not.
As a result, the tumbrels keep rolling along Lake Shore, transporting the condemned to their place of execution. Nothing much changes.
My colleague Catherine Porter wrote about the pig transports in May. I write about it this month. Maybe someone else will write next month.
If people wanted to end hog misery, they easily could — simply by not eating pork. But they do not.
As I type this, someone down the street is barbecuing ribs. They don’t smell as good as they once did.
Thomas Walkom’s column appears Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
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There’s another interview on Freedom of Species mentioning the new Melbourne Pig Save group which is organizing regular rallies down under. Since May 2012, this wonderful group has been holding regular, huge rallies (every 6 weeks) and using creative tactics like art installations of a fake pig confined in a stall and petition campaign to ban sow stalls. Hear the fabulous interview with Paul Mahoney and other activists on 3CR’s Freedom of Species (interview starts at 12 minutes):http://podcast.3cr.org.au/pod/3CRCast-2012-07-30-59108.mp3 In the radio interview, Paul mentions TPS’s strategy of regularly bearing witness. Kate Elliott, the host of Freedom of Species, speaks of the “importance of having regular demonstrations.” Kate says:
People respect that. It strengthens the group as well. You actually feel like you are building a movement and I think that came across yesterday [June Melbourne rally]. It was very warm and I had some great engagements with people that I spoke to… People who weren’t aware of issues at all, but I guess when they see other people standing up for an issue they realize that this it is of value, that there is some way we can change this and we can!…. Toronto Pig Save, when they first started, sometimes in their regular vigils of the pig trucks–what they do is go out three times a week and just bear witness of pig trucks going to slaughterhouses–sometimes there would just be one person there or two people there, but because it was regular, people got to know them and from being there on a regular basis, the community is beginning to embrace them now and now they have other people joining them… people who don’t relate to being an animal activist but they relate to the issue and don’t want pigs to be treated in this way.
See MPS photos from June rally here. Good luck with upcoming rally on Sept 1. It’ll be great working together with Pig/Chicken/Cow/Sheep Savers around the world!
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Doris Leung’s fantastic, fast paced and informative one-hour segment on pigs and Toronto Pigs Save with some great animal rIghts music on “Hands and Tails: arts, animals and everything else” on CFRU 93.3 FM (Friday mornings 10-11am). You can also listen to the mp3 file here. For coverage of her animal arts radio show in At Guelph see “Radio Show Features Furry and Feathered Friends“
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Anita Krajnc and her group call this “Pig Island.” They come here most weeks to watch and photograph the pigs en route to their death at nearby Quality Meat Packers.
They call it bearing witness. That’s what Russian writer Leo Tolstoy did, Krajnc said, quoting him: “When the suffering of another creature causes you to feel pain . . . Come closer, as close as you can to him who suffers and try to help.”
Krajnc did her political science doctorate on social justice art. To call her a Tolstoy aficionado would be an understatement. She is a Tolstoy-ophile, a Tolstoy fountain. She could tell you 20 things about Tolstoy a minute.
Did you know he wrote pamphlets on prison reform and vegetarianism? Did you know he funded the resettlement of the pacifist Doukhobors — whose refusal to serve in the Russian military made them targets — to Canada?
I knew he was an exquisite writer — if you haven’t read Anna Karenina, for shame! — but I was in the dark on his social activism. Krajnc educated me: for Tolstoy, the purpose of art was to evoke brotherly love. He listed a bunch of literary examples in his book What Is Art. Krajnc has read them all. She’s writing a book about it called Tolstoy’s List.
She was reading Romain Rolland’s biography of Tolstoy two winters ago when, out walking her newly adopted Beagle-Whippet one morning, she noticed the trucks roaring up Lake Shore Blvd. Ten of them in an hour, each three levels high, each sprouting little pink pig snouts. Tolstoy inspired her.
“When there was a famine, he started up soup kitchens for a year,” she said. “He took action.”
Krajnc’s action: Toronto Pig Save, an animal-rights activist group that gathers every Sunday afternoon outside Quality Meat Packers’ abattoir a few blocks away, on Wellington St. near Niagara St. They are secretaries and nurses and writers and vets, all holding up protest signs. Some are animal welfarists, protesting the conditions of pig farming, transport and butchering. Krajnc is a pig abolitionist.
“I agree with Gandhi who said, ‘The life of a goat is equal to the life of a man.’ I don’t want death camps on Earth,” said Krajnc, 45.
“Pigs are the fifth most intelligent species, after whales, dolphins, chimps and elephants . . . They are just like dogs. They wag their tails.”
A woman jogged by across the street, a black lab at her side. It was hard not to see Krajnc’s point.
We are surrounded by double standards and injustices. We work to not think about them. The Styrofoam and cellophane helps.
It’s harder, though, when face to snout with a mud-speckled pig. Or dozens of them, jammed on a three-level truck, stopped at a red light beside Pig Island. Through the holes in the side of the truck, I could see their curly tails, their soft ears, their spray-painted backs and when I crouched down and peered inside, their curious eyes.
This is the power of bearing witness, I realized. It cracks your practised indifference. Looking into the crowded truck, for a moment, I imagined myself trapped inside it.
Less than five minutes later, these pigs arrived at Quality Meat Packers, where they were prodded into a gas chamber. Then their throats were cut.
Quality Meat Packers is the second biggest pig abattoir in the province. Between 5,000 and 5,500 pigs are killed there every day, right in the middle of the city. There’s a dog park across the street.
Krajnc thinks the weekly vigils have had an effect. She told me about new converts to vegetarianism. She thinks the drivers are handling the pigs more humanely. The owner of one pig farm called her about a complaint she’d made to the Ontario Society for the Protection of Animals.
“He’s a Mennonite. I told him I appreciate the Mennonite devotion to non-violence. Tolstoy was also concerned about animals. I asked him, ‘Why don’t you extend your circle of compassion?’”
Nick Johnson, the vice-president of human resources at Quality Meat Packers, said the weekly vigils haven’t changed the company’s practices “in any way.” Calling the protesters respectful and sensible, he said the company supports their right to express themselves.
Except that Krajnc has been charged with criminal mischief and intervening with property, which means someone complained to the police.
She figures the mischief was touching the snouts of pigs passing by Pig Island. Or giving them water on a hot day last summer. Pigs, she told me, are more susceptible to both heat stroke and frost bite than humans.
“This is a nice day. You should see the tragedy of an extremely cold day. It’s like a scene out of Dickens,” she said. “They are so cold, they’re huddled together, they’re filthy. It’s right out ofOliver Twist.”
Dickens was big on Tolstoy’s list. All those poor orphans evoke compassion.
We stayed on Pig Island for 50 minutes. In that time, five truckloads of pigs passed by on their way to slaughter. By the time you read this, they will all be dead.
Catherine Porter’s column usually appears on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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TORONTO - Hundreds of animal activists hit the streets this weekend to ruffle the feathers of meat-eaters and people considering buying fur coats.
As they have in the past and especially before Christmas, protesters Saturday targeted Holt Renfrew stores across Canada with animal traps, chants and signs, including in Toronto, Burlington, Hamilton and St. Catharines.
Staged by the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, its ‘Shut Your Traps!’ store protests were billed as the “largest anti-fur demonstration in Canada’s history.”
Its online campaign includes a Toronto manufacturer, Canada Goose Expedition Clothing Outfitters, whose customers have in some cases been confronted publicly.
Calling support “overwhelmingly positive,” protest director Shannon Kornelsen said “hundreds of Canada Goose wearers have told us that they had no idea the fur on their jackets was real or came from an animal trapped in the wild.”
In a statement, Knornelsen claimed “many of them plan on sending their coats back.”
The donations-backed group also paid for 500 anti-fur TTC subway ads until Jan. 7.
Its online campaign includes photos of an activist recently posing in a Queen St. W. cosmetics store window as a bloodied trapped animal. The shop asked passersby to shun fur garments, accusing the fur industry and trappers of cruelty and clothing manufacturers of “clever misinformation campaigns” about their products.
But some activist scorn has resulted in verbal fur flying.
After People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals criticized Justin Trudeau for him and his family wearing fur-lined Canada Goose clothing in their official 2010 Christmas card photo, the Montreal MP dismissed PETA for having “lost much of any credibility it had in Canada,
“It’s a family tradition to know how to keep warm in the winter,” the now-party leadership candidate added.
And on Sunday, Toronto Save the Pigs and Toronto Save the Cows said they will offer vegetarian sandwiches to slaughterhouse workers.
Toronto Pig Save and Toronto Cow Save vowed to resume their regular campaigns Sunday outside Quality Meat Packers on Wellington St. W. with free vegan food. On Monday, they will again protest at St. Helen’s and Ryder-Regency Meat Packers slaughterhouses on Glen Scarlett Rd., and at Lake Shore Blvd. and Strachan Ave., where hog-carriers pass regularly.
The groups blame the industrial livestock industry for aiding global warming, water depletion, water pollution, biodiveristy loss, soil erosion, human diseases caused by eating meat, plus “horrendous violence” against animals.
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The Grid Jan. 19-Jan 25, 2012, page 7.
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Protesters at t Quality Meat Packers in Toronto’s west end. (JACK BOLAND, Toronto Sun)
Animal rights activist Anita Krajnc feels for the thousands of pigs she claims are inhumanely slaughtered daily at Quality Meat Packers’ abatoir in Toronto’s west end.
Krajnc was just one of about 20 members of Toronto Pig Save that picketed outside the slaughterhouse located in the King St. W-Strachan Ave. area.
During the protest, which ran from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., at least four livestock haulers arrived carrying hundreds of pigs slotted to meet their maker.
With the trucks backed against the kill-house’s loading docks, the pigs were not visible. But at points, squeals and high-pitched bawling could be heard as they were led off the trucks.
Krajnc said with the cold finally here, many pigs delivered to the building suffer from frostbite and hypothermia after being exposed to the frigid wind that comes with travelling at high speeds in a transport-truck carrier with air holes. This, she argued, goes against codes set out by the Canadian Agri-food Research Council and the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.
Krajnc said she became an activist after hearing the screaming of the pigs while walking her dog in the area of the plant.
According to Krajnc, pigs are slaughtered in the building from Monday to Friday, but the deliveries of the live animals take place on the weekends.
There was nobody at the plant available for comment on Sunday.
“I think it’s important people start to realize just how badly these animals are treated,” said protester Marlene Fraser, 67. “My family, they were farmers, and the animals were treated with respect…I think it’s really sad.”
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Bearing Witness with the Toronto Pig Save
This week, we speak with Anita Krajnc from the Toronto Pig Save and Patti Blersch of the newly-created Burlington Pig Save. The Toronto Pig Save is a collective of artists, activists and writers based right here in Toronto; the group’s almost weekly protests bear witness to the suffering of pigs en route to Toronto’s biggest slaughterhouse, Quality Meat Packers. The protests have become something of a hub for Southern Ontario animal activists, drawing in many important figures from various other Toronto-based groups including ARK II, the University of Toronto Animal Rights Group, The Love and Rage Liberation Collective and the newly-created Stop York Animal Testing.
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Pork plant targeted by protesters
Dennis Smith, SPECIAL TO BURLINGTON POST Oct 12, 2011
While some Burlington residents were anticipating Thanksgiving turkey dinner, animal rights protesters were condemning the slaughter of pigs at a local processing plant owned and operated by Fearmans Pork Inc.
Nearly 20 Toronto Pig Save supporters picketed last Saturday (Oct. 8) at Appleby Line and Harvester Road, beside the pork processing plant.
“We’re talking about how animals are inhumanely treated,” said Patti Blersch. “I live in Burlington and one of Ontario’s largest slaughterhouses is down the street.”
Blersch wore a pink pig costume while protesters also spread their message with signs, pamphlets, a megaphone and video-audio display.
While not specifying Fearmans’ operations, Blersch recalled a video of United Kingdom slaughterhouses.
“It shows the gross brutality,” said Blersch. “The animals suffer and feel fear.”
Fearmans Chief Executive Officer Patrick Sugrue declined to comment or answer questions about the protest when contacted by a reporter yesterday (Tuesday).
The Fearmans website says the company’s mission is to “feed the world delicious, safe and high-quality meat products.”
It states that farms supplying Fearmans are committed to quality and their standards include best practices of the Canadian Quality Assurance program.
Blersch said she and her husband have stopped attending Ribfest. (Fearmans was the title sponsor of Ribfest in 2011.)
Toronto Pig Save advocates moving to an organic, local, whole grain, plant-based (vegan) food economy — away from meat.
“In a world with so many alternatives to meat and dairy products, there’s just no need,” said Blersch.
More protests will be held in Burlington, said one of the animal rights group’s founders.
“We feel it’s very dramatic to be on site and bear witness,” said Anita Krajnc.
She claims 8,000-9,000 pigs are killed each working day at Fearmans.
“We don’t want to shut the plant down and have it moved somewhere else,” she said. “We don’t want jobs that involve killing enslaved animals.”
Krajnc said a whole grain, plant-based food economy will create jobs. She said the group protests three times weekly at another pig slaughterhouse, Quality Meat Packers in downtown Toronto.
Krajnc doesn’t blame workers at these processing plants.
“We get along with workers,” she said. “When we started, a few people were giving us the finger. Now people honk at us.”
Krajnc said leaflets are passed to motorists at stoplights during pickets in Toronto.
At Saturday morning’s protest in Burlington, some motorists reacted by honking horns.
One driver yelled “Get a job!” at the protesters.
Meanwhile, the nearby Fearmans parking lot was nearly empty, with only three or four vehicles.
Krajnc said she’s making a film in Burlington and Toronto that combines the protests, scenes of quiet streets and the slaughterhouses.
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Pigs suffer from the heat too, group seeks to remind people
Photo: Jason Lee / Reuters
Courtney Greenberg Jul 21, 2011 – 2:00 PM ET | Last Updated: Jul 21, 2011 3:54 PM ET
The weather Thursday is supposed to reach 38 degrees Celsius, which isn’t so bad for those of us with air conditioning. But one animal rights group is seeking to remind citizens that pigs being transported to slaughter aren’t so lucky.
According to Toronto Pig Save, the pigs face record hot temperatures inside the trucks, and are often dehydrated and must stand or lie in their own feces.
The group planned to take temperatures from inside the trucks as they stopped at the intersection of Lake Shore and Strachan. The pigs were taken to Quality Meat Packers — a slaughterhouse that has the capacity to kill 6 000 pigs — in downtown Toronto. The group’s pro-labour, animal rights rally was set to start Thursday afternoon.
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Pause before you chow down on pork: group
Toronto Pig Save shines light on food origins
Andrew Baulcomb, staff
March 23, 2011
Pulled pork sandwiches have long been a favourite among pub-dwellers – a delicious, late-night snack that complements just about any lager or ale.
But how often does your average deli connoisseur stop to consider where his sandwich came from, or how it was made?
Ian Purdy wants to address these questions and more through Toronto Pig Save.
“We want to individualize the creatures,” said Purdy – a Brock University grad student, and co-curator of Toronto Pig Save’s “Thinking About Animals” art exhibition, along with Anita Krajnc.
“Basically, we want to change peoples’ consciousness. We want them to think twice about this product we call ‘pork.’’
The duo’s collective of artists, writers and academics was founded on the ideals of veganism, and strives to expose some of the myths and unknown realities surrounding the meat industry.
Their overall objective is to “erect windows at Toronto’s slaughterhouses,” metaphorically speaking, so consumers can better understand what’s involved in the mass-production of animal products.
“You can see it in their eyes,” said Purdy, discussing the individual quirks and characteristics of individual pigs. “They all have a different personality.”
For the Brock exhibition, Purdy wants to balance the tragedy and joy of a pig’s life—pairing “bleak” images of animals heading to a slaughterhouse with those of rescue and sanctuary.
Artists from across Canada, the United States and Europe will be showcasing their work at the exhibit, including Susan Morris, Sue Coe, Dirk Giesselmann and renowned animal rights investigator Twyla Francois.
Giesselmann’s stark graphic design work includes slogans such as, “I was born into this world to die for your appetite,” featuring a gutted pig strung up on crucifix.
Others, such as Jo-Anne McArthur and Sue Morris’ photographs of a pig sanctuary, highlight the more “hopeful” side of Purdy’s curatorial vision.
“We stand for veganism, but we want to appeal to the masses and change some minds,” said Purdy.
Over the next month, Toronto Pig Save will also be gearing up for their “vegan challenge” initiative, inspired by none other than Oprah Winfrey.
As part of the challenge, offices are encouraged to “go vegan” for an entire month, eliminating all meat, dairy and animal products from the workplace.
“We’ll be available with literature and moral support those who want to try (veganism) for a month,” said Purdy.
The larger Thinking About Animals conference will be held a Brock University between March 29 and April 1, and also features a series of lectures and educational seminars.
Visit http://www.brocku.ca and search “Thinking About Animals” for more information, or to peruse the expanded schedule.
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On October 4, 2011, Professor Marc Bekoff (University of Colorado), author of The Emotional Lives of Animals, forward by Jane Goodall, joined Toronto Pig Save on Lakeshore and Strachan bearing witness of transport trucks carrying pigs to Quality Meat Packers. He eloquently writes of the fear, terror, and anxiety in the lives of pigs sent to slaughter in “Babe, Lettuce, and Tomato: Dead Pig Walking” published in Psychology Today.
Hog Town Is What Toronto Is Known For BUT Toronto PIG SAVE Has Different Plans!
This video, by Bob Timmons - Artist for the Ocean - focuses on Quality Meat Packers located in a residential area downtown toronto. 7,000 Pigs a day are killed here and 35,000 per week! “Since Toronto Pig Save have been protesting them its costing them employees and money put out for Security! I AM ASKING ANYONE IN THE AREA OF QMP PLEASE BRING YOUR CAMERAS AND ANNOY THEM WHILE RECORDING EVERY ACTION.”
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Letters to the Editor, NOW | January 20-27, 2011 | VOL 30 NO 21
Pig’s not the thing
Now is a forward-thinking magazine giving voice to the under-represented and marginalized, which is why I was disappointed to see a feature celebrating pork in the last issue (NOW, January 13-19).
Social justice for animals means not butchering their bodies for the sake of a few moments of gastronomic pleasure.
Sure, most people eat meat, even those who consider themselves progressive, but many of your readers may not know that most breeding sows are kept severely confined for the duration of their lives in crates where they can hardly move. Their offspring reared for meat have miserable lives in barren, crowded pens, breathing in toxic fumes from being forced to live above their own excrement.
One only needs to walk by Quality Meat Packers at Niagara and Tecumseth to hear the pigs’ screams. How about NOW Mag promoting veganism as the future?
Lynn Kavanagh, Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals, Toronto