Tag Archives: Cows

Making Animals Visible Again

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

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

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Being the Change We Want to See

On Monday there was a followup story on last year’s undercover investigation that Mercy for Animals conducted at Chilliwack dairy farm, one of the suppliers of cow’s milk to Saputo Inc., a major dairy company here in Canada.  The main announcement was that as a result of last’s year undercover video – footage which included a cow being strung up by a chain from her neck and left to hang by a tractor while the workers jeered at her – Saputo will no longer be accepting milk from dairy farms that abuse its animals.

Although this is good news and a step in the right direction (Saputo is “one of the three biggest milk buyers in Canada,” and certainly has influence) there’s still a long way to go.  I wrote about this last year when the story first broke: even if the over-and-above abuses stop, factory farming by its very nature is still abuse. Confinement, artificial insemination, dehorning, tail docking, mechanized milking stalls, and babies being taken away from their mothers hours after birth still remain business-as-usual practices for dairy farms.  While I’m glad the cows aren’t being beaten with sticks and kicked in the face on top of their already-miserable daily lives, they are still very much enslaved by an industry and a consumer market that sees them as nothing more than product.  As my friend often points out, any group that is oppressed and is asking for their rights never says, “Could you just oppress us a little less?”  What they ask is to be free from their oppressors altogether: absolute liberation is the goal and so it must also be with animal rights. Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,


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

Tagged , , ,


This past weekend Julian and I had the privilege of spending four days at an animal sanctuary in Woodstock, New York. This year marked a few milestones for us – our 5-year wedding anniversary, we both turned 40, I joined Julian and went vegan – and we wanted to do something special to celebrate. We decided on Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary because it was co-founded by Jenny Brown and her book, The Lucky Ones, was one of the first books I’d ever read about farm animals after deciding to try a plant-based diet.  A friend bought it for me and it was only after reading it that I really understood what a sanctuary was.  It’s not a zoo (petting or otherwise), it’s not an aquarium and it’s not a museum where animals are on display for the amusement and study of human visitors. A sanctuary is a safe and sacred refuge where animals get to live out their lives in peace, liberated and free from the threat of slaughter, confinement, forced breeding and the general misery of factory farms.  Their only “job” is to live as they were meant to, roaming the grounds while foraging for food, sleeping, playing, and getting some well-deserved nuzzles from fellow animals and humans. A sanctuary is their home and I felt very different walking those grounds: I was there for them and not the other way around. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , ,

Scientific Reductionism: The Incomplete Truth

This week in the news, I read the following headline:

“Children Who Drink Non-Cow’s Milk Are Twice as Likely To Have Low Vitamin D.”

I read the article a few times and I have thoughts.  But first, allow me to clarify: I am not a scientist.  I am not a doctor.  Hell, I didn’t even go to University.  I am a layperson, a civilian, an average Joe Public. Am I biased against the meat and dairy industry and more favourable towards a vegan lifestyle? Absolutely.  But not for no reason.  I have been on both sides of that fence and I can tell you, I found there to be a lot more truth and reason on the plant-based side.  It was a no-brainer once I compared the two. Continue reading

Tagged , , , , ,

It’s Still Abuse

Remember when I posted last week that it doesn’t take long for animal abuse to be revealed when people go undercover at slaughterhouses and dairy farms? A followup email came to my inbox today from Mercy for Animals, the organization who took the footage.  Some of you may have received it too if you signed the petition and requested a follow-up email on the story. Continue reading

Tagged , , ,