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News/Blog

City of Vancouver unanimously passes motion to shift 20% of animal-based purchasing to plant-based, citing VHS report

UPDATE: The below report led to a motion put forward to Vancouver City Council. Many supporters wrote in to support this motion and it made an impact: The motion was passed unanimously by Vancouver City Council! Thank you to everyone who wrote in and to the speakers, Asha Wheeldon (owner of Kula Kitchen), Eleanor Boyle (author of High Steaks: Why and How to Eat Less Meat), and Ryan McKee (founder of Elemeno), who shared their unique perspectives on this topic.


VHS recently launched a new report, “Increasing Plant-Based Purchasing at the Municipal Level”, which examines food purchasing for the City of Vancouver. The report reviews the impact of a shift in municipal food purchasing that reduces the volume of animal-based foods by 20%, to be replaced with plant-based alternatives.

It concludes that by replacing 20% of animal-based food products with plant-based alternatives, the City of Vancouver could expect to:

  • save up to $99,000
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 500 tonnes
  • save the equivalent of nearly 400 farmed animal lives on annual basis

VHS is distributing this report amongst municipal decision-makers at the City of Vancouver and will be highlighting opportunities for its implementation.

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News/Blog

Support a full ban on rodenticides in B.C.

B.C. bans some rodenticides, but more action is needed to protect animals

Effective July 21, 2021, the B.C. government enacted an 18-month ban on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), citing the serious risk they pose to the public, pets and wildlife. This means SGARs cannot be used in or around most residential buildings, offices, parks, schools, or non-food retail shops.

These highly toxic rodent poisons cause a slow and painful death for the rodents that consume them and can severely injure or kill any scavengers, predators or pets who encounter the poisoned rodents. In fact, B.C.-based Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) noted that a few years ago a blood test study found that more than half of the animals in their care had poison residue in their system. VHS welcomes this 18-month SGAR ban as a first step and is calling on the B.C. government to take further action to address rodenticide use across the province.

Details of SGAR ban

The SGAR ban is specific to poisonous baits containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone or difethialone. Use of SGARs is now prohibited, but with a long list of exemptions for what the government has deemed to be essential services, as well as agricultural operators.

Essential services are categorized as public health and safety; critical infrastructure; food supply; transportation; sanitation; communications and information technology; and mortuary services. For specific business types that qualify as exempt from the ban, visit the B.C. government website.

Given the list of exemptions, including in locations where there is a lot of active wildlife such as at a garbage dump or recycling facility, it remains to be seen how effective this ban will be at significantly reducing the widespread use of SGARs and their negative impacts.

While the use of SGARs for non-essential services is prohibited, the ban does not prohibit other dangerous rodenticides from being used. This includes first-generation anticoagulants (FGARs), such as chlorophacinone, diphacinone, and warfarin, and neurotoxins, such as bromethalin. These rodenticides pose a similar threat to the public, pets and wildlife.

What’s next?

VHS is advocating for the B.C. government to ban all rodenticides and to reassess and shorten the list of exempt users. VHS recommends that the remainder of the 18-month temporary SGAR ban be used to plan the phase out of rodenticides, in favour of humane alternatives for lethal management and preventative measures that address the underlying causes of conflict with rodents. VHS encourages the B.C. government to prioritize and invest in research around new and emerging humane alternatives and set goals and targets for shifting away from rodenticide use overall.

It’s also crucial that the government proactively enforce the current SGAR ban to ensure prohibited rodenticides are removed in a timely manner from locations where they are no longer permitted. The government must also take steps to educate the public about these restrictions and how to identify what is in bait boxes. 

Actions you can take

1) Add your signature below, in support of VHS’s request that the B.C. Ministry of Environment take additional action to ban rodenticides. VHS will deliver a summary report, including a letter outlining our recommendations and the total number of public signatures, to the Environment Ministry’s Integrated Pest Management Unit.

2) Help raise awareness within the community about the current SGAR poisons ban:

Share this link to the B.C. government’s website, outlining the details of the ban. Send it to your strata or building manager, the principal and other school administrators at your school, the building manager at your office, and anyone else who should be made aware of the ban.

3) Support citizen science projects related to rodenticides:

Identify and report the use of banned rodenticides:

  • Be on the lookout for black bait boxes, often found around the outside perimeter of buildings, as well as inside of buildings. If the bait box contains a rodenticide, a label identifying the active ingredient or its registration number, along with the contact information for the pest control company, should be on the outside of the container lid. Note: The presence of a bait box does not necessarily mean SGAR poisons are being used, as bait boxes may contain snap traps or other products.
  • If the active ingredient noted on the label is brodifacoum, bromadiolone, or difethialone and the bait box is not in a location that is exempt from the ban (see the complete list of exemptions), please document the following in order to file a report: take photos of the outside of the bait box, label and surrounding location. Please also note the date, time and location. If there is no label noting the active ingredient, please take the same steps to file a report. Note: Do not tamper with bait boxes.
  • Please contact VHS for assistance in reporting the suspected non-compliance to the province’s “Report All Poachers and Polluters” (RAPP) hotline at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or via an online form. Our goal is to also keep record of prohibited use of SGAR poisons, so please use the form below to submit a report to VHS as well.
Click or drag files to this area to upload. You can upload up to 5 files.

Report dead wild birds:

  • Report wild bird deaths to the B.C. government’s wild bird mortality hotline at 1-866-431-BIRD (2473). Click here for more information.
  • Support citizen science being done to track wild bird deaths by contacting Deanna Pfeifer at dgpfeifer@shaw.ca. Please take photos or videos of the deceased bird and note the date and location. Follow the steps outlined here to safely handle and store the bird.
Categories
News/Blog

Support a ban on cruel wildlife poisons

Show your support for banning inhumane and indiscriminate wildlife poisons

UPDATE – July 21, 2021

Following a meeting between VHS, other animal advocacy groups, and B.C. decision-makers, the provincial government has announced a temporary restriction on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides—the most toxic type of rodent poisons.

During the 18-month restriction, the government will conduct a review of alternative rodent control methods. Thank you for advocating to protect B.C. wildlife!

Here is how you can continue to support a ban on rodenticides in B.C.:

1.      If you have not yet signed, add your name to the pledge below. VHS will continue to highlight the widespread support for a ban on rodenticides in meetings with the provincial government.

2.      Double your impact by sharing this page with your friends and family!

3.      Make a donation to VHS so we can continue this vital animal advocacy work. All donations will support VHS’s work building a kinder world for animals.

Original post:

Wildlife poisons have become a growing animal welfare, environmental and public safety concern in recent years. The baited poisons, used to address conflicts with unwanted wildlife, cause a slow and painful death for the animals that consume them. They also have a wider ecosystem impact and can contribute to secondary or non-target poisoning of countless other animals, including birds of prey, scavengers and even domestic pets.

Every year, stories of poisoned wildlife and domestic animals make news headlines, and those stories are just a small glimpse of a much more widespread problem. In fact, B.C.-based Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) noted that a few years ago a blood test study found that more than half of the animals in their care had poison residue in their system.

Growing public awareness surrounding this issue has led to increased calls for a ban of these poisons. A recent federal House of Commons e-petition is calling on the Canadian government to ban three common poisons used to control predators. In B.C., close to 20 municipalities have passed motions to address rodent poisons on municipal property and the provincial government is being encouraged to ban rodenticides across B.C.

Take Action

1. Join VHS, other organizations, and advocates in calling on the B.C. government and municipalities to ban rodenticides. Take the pledge below to show your support! For more information about this issue please see the rodenticide fact sheet and shared briefing note.

2. The official federal House of Commons e-petition is calling for a ban on three common predator poisons (strychnine, compound 1080, and sodium cyanide). The e-petition is now closed. Stay tuned for updates!

Categories
Opinion Editorial

The Calgary Stampede should drop inhumane rodeo events

Article originally published on Daily Hive.

There are few good things to come out of COVID-19 but the cancellation of the Calgary Stampede’s chuckwagon races is one of them.

For the second year in a row, the event has been called off because of the pandemic, sparing horses from the annual death trap that has killed more than 70 horses since 1986. Six horses died in the race in 2019, the last time it was run.

However, the Stampede’s rodeo is going ahead, leaving calves, steers, bulls and horses subject to the abusive treatment its supporters call a “sport.”

One of the most controversial events is calf roping. The rodeo industry changed the name to “tie-down roping” – a public relations move designed to make the event seem more ethically palatable. And no wonder. Chasing three-month-old animals across an arena, roping them by the neck to a sudden halt and throwing them to the ground before tying them up can’t be easy to market as family entertainment.

Yet, even though polling shows 59 per cent of Canadians are opposed to rodeos, the industry has maintained a big enough fan base to keep going. It does so by perpetuating myths about rodeo heritage and tradition, selling events like calf roping as examples of genuine ranch practice.  In fact, rodeo calf roping is a perversion of what happens on ranches. Real calf roping is done as gently as possible, as the whole point is to avoid injury and stress to the animal. The rodeo version is done under time pressure, with big prize money for the competitor who ropes and ties the calf in the fastest time.

Anyone looking at close-up photos of rodeo calves being roped can see that they are terrified and stressed, with tongues protruding and eyes bulging. While it seems obvious that chasing, roping and tying animals up would cause them stress, rodeo promoters have relied on a lack of scientific proof to maintain the pretense that the calves don’t suffer. That may be about to change.

Two studies out of Australia (where rodeo is popular) provide evidence to support the common-sense argument that calf roping is inhumane. One study found increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol in calves after they had been roped, concluding that “the roping event in rodeos is stressful.” The second study had veterinarians and cattle-handling experts examine images of calves before and after being roped during a rodeo event. The results were clear: “These findings indicate that calves in roping events experience several negative emotions, which raise serious concerns as to the continuation of these events on welfare grounds.”

Sadly, such research is lacking on other events such as steer wrestling and bull riding, yet any objective observer would find the suffering they cause self-evident. Steer wrestlers literally twist the animal’s neck until he is forced to the ground. Steers have had their necks broken in the event. It’s preposterous to suggest such treatment doesn’t cause pain and suffering.

In bull riding, the bull has an unwanted rider on his back, spurs raking his sides and a “flank strap” tied around his hindquarters – all causing the bull to buck wildly. He wouldn’t do so otherwise. Does anyone seriously believe the bull doesn’t find this stressful?

Do we really need scientific studies to prove these events are cruel? If someone tried to introduce dog roping as a sport would we wait for the science to prove that it would be inhumane? No, any decent human being would oppose such obvious cruelty without hesitation. Are rodeo animals not as deserving of our objective reason and compassion?

The Calgary Stampede needs to recognise that using animals for entertainment is becoming socially unacceptable. Ringling Bros. Circus (“The Greatest Show on Earth”) closed down in 2017; the display of captive whales and dolphins has been banned; a majority of Canadians already oppose rodeos. Will the Stampede (“The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”) face reality, end its dependence on exploiting animals, and start providing entertainment that all Canadians can enjoy and be proud of? If not, it will likely suffer the same fate as Ringling Bros. – a once celebrated cultural icon reduced to a shameful relic of the past.

Categories
News/Blog

Tell the B.C. government to take action to help sled dogs

Sled dogs continue to suffer due to outdated industry rules

Join us in calling on the B.C. government to update the “Sled Dog Standards of Care” regulation.

A photo from Spirit of the North Kennels, taken by a concerned citizen.

More than 10 years after the infamous 2010 killing of 56 sled dogs in Whistler, sled dogs are still suffering in British Columbia.

In February, the BC SPCA seized 40 dogs in distress from Spirit of the North Kennels, a West Kootenay sled dog operator, citing concerns including inadequate shelter, hypothermia, suspected dehydration and stereotypic behaviour by the dogs, which is a purposeless repetitive action indicating extreme boredom and frustration.

Meanwhile, a new video taken by people concerned for the well-being of the dogs and provided to VHS allegedly shows dogs at another sled dog facility, Blackcomb Dogsled in Whistler, being held in cages and on tethers in a barren yard.

The dogs appear to be showing stereotypic behaviour and can be seen pacing back and forth in cages and repeatedly running in circles around the posts they are tethered to.  

Undercover video shows dogs chained, pacing at Whistler sled dog kennel

TAKE ACTION: https://vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca/?p=21394More than 10 years after the infamous 2010 killing of 56 sled dogs in Whistler, sled dogs are still…

No dog should have to live like this. B.C.’s Sled Dog Standards of Care Regulation, introduced after the deaths of the 56 sled dogs in Whistler, still allows dogs to be tethered for more than 23 hours a day. The standards also allow sled dog tour companies in B.C. to shoot surplus sled dogs, provided the operator has “made reasonable efforts to rehome the sled dog, but those efforts have been unsuccessful” and the operator follows certain guidelines. 

The provincial government needs to update the regulation to, at the very least, conform to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s 2018 Code of Practice for Canadian Kennel Operations, which states that “Tethering of dogs (i.e., chains or ropes used to tie the dog to an immoveable object such as a stake or building) is not allowable as a method of confining a dog to a primary enclosure, nor as the only means of containment.”   

The Kennel Code also requires that: “Dogs are housed in such a way as to allow them to display natural behaviours, to socialize with or without other species of animals and humans, as appropriate, and to protect public safety.” 

If the B.C. regulation conformed to these requirements of the Kennel Code it would put an end to the tethering of sled dogs by tour companies. 

Please use our simple email tool below to send a message to B.C. Minister of Agriculture, Lana Popham, who is responsible for the Sled Dog Standards of Care RegulationYou can also sign the pledge not to take part in sled dog tours.

Learn more about the sled dog tourism industry.

Categories
News/Blog

Support improved public access to plant-based foods

Vancouver “Local Food Action Plan” a chance to support better public access to plant-based food

The Vancouver Park Board is currently seeking public input through an online survey, closing January 28, on an updated “Local Food Action Plan”. The new 5-year plan will outline how the Park Board’s programming and services, which include community gardens; kitchens; food workshops; meal programs; farmers markets; concessions and restaurants, will contribute to a just and sustainable local food system.

This new plan comes at a crucial time, as society continues to deal with the COVID-19 public health pandemic and as concerns surrounding our food system continue to grow. COVID-19 has highlighted and exacerbated existing inequities within the food system. It has drawn attention to the dangerous and cruel nature of factory farms and the risks they pose as potential contributors to future pandemics; the exploitative conditions facing workers and animals on farms, in slaughterhouses and food processing plants; the connection between unsustainable, industrial food production and climate change; and the issue of food insecurity for historically underserved communities.

A growing body of research concludes that a significant shift in diets and food production toward fewer animal products and more plant-based foods is necessary. These changes are needed in order to meet our climate goals, tackle the biodiversity and factory farming crises, and to sustainably feed a growing population a healthy diet.

Food system experts are increasingly calling on all levels of government, including municipalities, to support these much-needed dietary and food system changes through food-related policies, practices and programming. The Park Board’s new Local Food Action Plan is a key opportunity for doing just that. Incorporating and prioritizing more plant-based foods, meals and education in Park Board services, such as meal programs, workshops, events and at concessions and restaurants, will help to support much-needed dietary and food system change. It will also improve public access to healthy, humane and sustainable food options.

If you’re a Vancouver resident, please consider participating in the Local Food Action Plan survey before the January 28th deadline. You’re welcome to use the recommendations we’ve listed below to guide responses about opportunities for the Park Board moving forward, but please be sure to fill out the survey in your own words and based on your own experiences.

VHS Recommendations: 
  • Animal welfare & a “just and sustainable food system” – A truly “just and sustainable local food system” will incorporate not only the protection of people, the planet and public health, but also our social responsibility for the protection of animal welfare. Therefore, a shift toward improving public access to healthy, humane, sustainable and equitable plant-based foods and diets must be reflected in the new Local Food Action Plan. 
  • The role of municipalities – Food system experts are calling on governments, including municipalities, to take action to support dietary and food system change that prioritizes a shift to plant-based in their plans and policies. 
  • Improving plant-based access & education – The Local Food Action plan is an opportunity to improve public access to plant-based foods and diets, as well as plant-based education, through Park Board services such as meal programs, fieldhouse workshops, events, farmers markets, concessions and restaurants.   
  • Expanding resources to under-served communities – The Local Food Action Plan should assess and address gaps in programs and services for under-served communities. This is another area where plant-based food access and education can also be enhanced.  
  • Emergency planning & preparedness – COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of ensuring food security programming is maintained during emergency situations and is adaptable so as to ensure communities are able to continue accessing resources.  
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News/Blog

Speak up for pigs

Ask Canada’s major grocery retailers to keep their promise to move away from cruel gestation stalls

Speak up for pigs

Canadians overwhelmingly oppose the common industry practice of confining pregnant pigs in what are known as “gestation stalls”. These individual stalls are so small that pigs are unable to even turn around or engage in any natural behaviours. Animal welfare scientists, veterinarians and other experts have described gestation stalls as one of the cruelest forms of animal confinement and the equivalent to living in an airline seat.

So it was welcome news when, in 2014, the Canadian pig farming industry committed in the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs to end the continuous use of gestation stalls and transition to open housing by 2024. Similarly, the Retail Council of Canada, which represents grocery retailers in Canada, committed to “sourcing pork products from sows raised in alternative housing practices as defined in the updated Codes by the end of 2022”. 

The industry gave themselves 10 years to transition from gestation stalls to open housing. Now, they are pushing for that deadline to be extended until 2029, which will result in hundreds of thousands of pregnant pigs continuing to suffer in barren, cramped gestation stalls.

Now, Animal Justice has released a new undercover investigation from a pig farm in Ontario. The disturbing footage revealed workers castrating and docking the tails of piglets without the use of painkillers; workers aggressively hitting pigs with plastic boards and jabbing them with pens; and filmed discussions indicating that pregnant pigs had been deprived of water for several days.

In addition to the cruel mistreatment captured, the footage also showcases the every day suffering of mother pigs who are kept confined in cramped gestation stalls. Concerningly, written statements from both farm management at Paragon Farms and Ontario Pork, which represents the province’s pork producers, state that they found no serious concerns after inspecting the farm.

Photo: CTV/W5, “Farm Secrets”

What can I do?

  • The public can comment on the proposed amendments to the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs, including calling for the industry to uphold its original commitment to transition to open housing by 2024, in an online survey. The deadline for comments is November 19th. The comment period is now closed.
  • Use our email tool below to ask that the Retail Council of Canada and its grocery members honour their promise to move away from sourcing pork products from mother pigs kept in gestation stalls by 2022.

Categories
News/Blog

Check out our new Go Veg Ads!

The following advertisements are part of VHS’s Go Veg program, which focuses on educating and empowering individuals in making the transition toward a plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle.

Please help us share the “Go Veg” message by sharing the ads to your social media pages.

When you share, feel free to tag us on Facebook (@VancouverHumaneSociety), Instagram (@VancouverHumane) and Twitter (@VanHumane).

Visit our Go Veg homepage to learn more about the program!

Just like our pets, farmed animals love to play

Just like our pets, farmed animals love to play. Just like our pets, farmed animals deserve our kindness. Visit goveg.ca to learn more.

Just like our pets, farmed animals are problem-solvers

Just like our pets, farmed animals can think through problems and find solutions. Just like our pets, farmed animals deserve our kindness. Visit goveg.ca for…

Just like our pets, farmed animals form social bonds

Visit act.goveg.ca to take action.

Just like our pets, farmed animals are curious

Visit act.goveg.ca to take action.

Plant-based benefits

Visit goveg.ca for support.

Plant-based diet – did you know?

Visit goveg.ca for support.

Improve your health with a plant-based diet

Visit goveg.ca for support.

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News/Blog

COVID-19 exposes problems in Canada’s food system, groups call for change

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is joining other animal protection, environmental and food advocacy groups in calling on the federal government to direct any financial aid for Canada’s agriculture system toward transitioning to a safe, equitable and sustainable plant-based food system that improves food security, protects animal welfare, public health, worker safety and the environment on which we all depend.

The joint letter highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed serious problems with Canada’s food system and supply chains, particularly in the meat industry. Industrial livestock operations are a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation and are characterized by the confinement of large numbers of genetically-similar animals in unnatural and unhealthy environments. These conditions significantly compromise their welfare and could lead to the rise of new zoonotic diseases that threaten public health.

Meanwhile, the consolidation of the meat industry into the hands of a few multi-billion dollar corporations makes supply chains vulnerable to unexpected disruptions. For example, the pandemic has prompted some pig farmers in Canada to cull animals in response to reduced processing capacity at slaughterhouses, after they were forced to suspend or slow operations following COVID-19 outbreaks among workers. A large number of COVID-19 cases have been linked to slaughterhouses and employees have spoken out about the lack of protection for workers and the dangerous, fast-paced, and unhealthy environments. 

The joint letter encourages the federal Minister of Finance and Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to dedicate any emergency funding for the agricultural sector, as well as any future funding, on phasing out industrial livestock operations and assisting farmers in transitioning toward a sustainable, ethical and equitable plant-based food system. COVID-19 is an unprecedented wake-up call and policy-makers must take action to ensure that we emerge from this crisis with a more resilient food system that is respectful of the inter-connectedness of human, environmental, and animal health.

Categories
News/Blog

Ontario’s anti-animal protection legislation

“We simply do not know if animals are capable of reasoning and cognitive thought”.

This statement was made by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) in its submission to the Ontario government in support of Bill 156 – a recently passed ‘ag-gag’ bill that effectively conceals animal cruelty, unsafe working conditions and environmental issues on farms, during transport and at slaughterhouses. Animal protection organizations, legal experts and the Canadian Association of Journalists have all raised serious concerns about this dangerous legislation.

Also concerning is the fact that the OFA, which represents more than 38,000 farm operations across Ontario, questions the sentience of animals. The organization offers no source for their claim. Meanwhile, a strong and growing body of research provides evidence of animal intelligence and sentience.

Chickens, for example, utilize reasoning to inform how they organize socially by watching other chickens interact. Research also suggests they are cognitively complex, with the ability to demonstrate self-control and self-assessment – capacities that suggest self-awareness.

Cows are also socially complex creatures who form strong bonds and experience a range of emotions. They express excitement and signs of pleasure when they figure out intellectual challenges, which suggests self-awareness and understanding of their own actions.

Pigs share some of the same cognitive abilities as other highly intelligent species, including dogs, chimpanzees, elephants and dolphins. They are capable of “emotional contagion”, which is a form of empathy for the emotional state of another.  

Experts suggest we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface in our understanding of farmed animal intelligence. Animal behaviour expert Dr. Marc Bekoff also explores this topic in a recent Psychology Today article, written in response to the OFA’s statements. Importantly though, as Dr. Bekoff notes, “intelligence is a slippery concept and should not be used to assess suffering..in addition, the way in which people treat or mistreat other animals and how they feel about it isn’t a matter of how smart they are. Rather, nonhumans are sentient beings, and it’s a matter of how they suffer, not if they suffer.”

But the reality of animal sentience creates ethical dilemmas for an industry that relies on raising and slaughtering more than 830 million land animals every year in Canada. It’s easier to pretend animals aren’t complex, feeling and thinking beings and it’s better for business if the public stays uninformed about the realities on farms, during transport and in slaughterhouses.

How you can help

Bill 156 is an incredibly dangerous step in the wrong direction and follows on the heels of similar ‘ag-gag’ legislation passed earlier this year in Alberta (Bill 27). The move by government and industry to hide the issues within the animal agriculture system, rather than address them directly, and to question the sentience of farmed animals should concern Canadians.

The effort to repeal and prevent further ‘ag-gag’ legislation is underway – join in by contacting Ontario’s Premier & Alberta’s Premier. In addition, we as individuals can also stand up for animals every time we sit down to eat. Learn more and take our Plant-Based Pledge today for free recipes.  

Take our Plant-Based Pledge

Receive a free plant-based recipe emailed to you weekly, along with other plant-based tips & VHS updates.

I pledge to eat more plant-based meals in an effort to help protect animals, the planet & my health!

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