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VHS Helps More Schools Join the Meatless Monday Movement

Thumbs up for Meatless Monday!
Thumbs up for Meatless Monday!

More and more people are looking for ways to eat humanely, healthfully and sustainably. Reducing or eliminating our meat consumption are both effective ways of doing just that! Our society’s overconsumption of meat condemns farm animals to a life of suffering in unnatural and inhumane conditions; increases our risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity and other preventable conditions; and is a significant contributor to climate change and environmental degradation.

The good news in all of this is that every meatless meal helps to tackle these crucial issues, which is why we’re excited to launch our new Meatless Monday toolkit. This guide is intended to help students in BC schools join the ever growing Meatless Monday movement, with resources and tips for starting your own school campaign.

VHS’s Meatless Monday project has already helped several secondary and post-secondary schools kick start their own cafeteria initiatives, the most recent being Eric Hamber Secondary. After learning about the impact of meat consumption on the environment, animals and our health, Eric Hamber’s Environmental Club worked with VHS, school administrators and the school’s food services provider, Canuel Caterers, to introduce and promote delicious meatless meals every Monday.

The Environmental Club reports that cafeteria sales have increased, as students enjoy the exciting new menu items, including a salad bar, chickpea curry rice bowl, hummus wrap, mushroom burger and pasta primavera.

If you’re a student, download our Meatless Monday toolkit to get started on your campaign today. Remember that every time you sit down to eat, you have the opportunity to help create a more humane, healthy and sustainable society!

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Help animals in need, like Rosie, this holiday season

rosie6When Rosie’s guardian was given Rosie as a puppy, the two had an instant connection. Not only was Rosie an adorable and sweet puppy, but her gentle nature was especially helpful for her caregiver, who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Soon after though, Rosie began to experience difficulty walking and a vet determined she had been born with a congenital defect in both hind legs that would only worsen as she aged. If the condition was not surgically corrected, she’d never walk normally again.

Her guardian, who is on disability for PTSD and whose roommate abruptly moved out leaving her to cover rent alone, desperately needed help. She was able to cover the cost of surgery for one of Rosie’s legs, but needed help finding the funds for her other leg. Rosie’s caregiver was worried that she wouldn’t get her companion the surgery she needed so she could walk, run and just be a dog!

Below is a video of Rosie before surgery.

Rosie needs leg surgery

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It was heartbreaking to see her best friend struggle to move around and enjoy life as she should. Still, despite Rosie’s own limitations, she was her caregiver’s constant companion. The pair that took such good care of each other now needed a helping hand.

Rosie’s guardian reached out to VHS and, thanks to a very special anonymous donor, we were able to help Rosie with the surgery she needed and get her back on ALL fours! Her caregiver updated us that after her recovery period, Rosie is now enjoying life to the fullest – walking, running and playing! She tells us that seeing Rosie enjoy her new-found independence brings her such happiness and that she couldn’t be more grateful for the help from complete strangers in giving a little dog her freedom back.

Below is a video of Rosie post-surgery!

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Rosie Post surgery

Rosie is like many other animals in need who VHS helps through our McVitie fund. Only through donations from supporters like you are we able to help low-income pet guardians with an emergency bill or in having their pet spayed/neutered.

This holiday season, please consider giving back to those in need by making a donation to the McVitie Fund. Your gift will be doubled thanks to a generous anonymous donor and all gifts are eligible for a tax receipt!

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Meatless Monday Goes To School

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School is back and we at VHS couldn’t be more excited (sorry, kids)! You’ll recall we launched our Meatless Monday program this past spring, which even as the school year was winding down, was well-received by students in the Lower Mainland. Three post-secondary schools (Langara, BCIT and Trinity Western) joined the growing movement and multiple secondary schools expressed interest in bringing the initiative to their cafeterias this fall.

Over the summer we worked with the Vancouver School Board (VSB) to develop a flyer that served as a “how-to” guide for bringing Meatless Monday to school cafeterias. The flyer also draws attention to society’s over-consumption of meat, which has forced animals into factory farms, where their lives are characterized by intensive confinement, cruelty and suffering. Educating and empowering the public through an initiative like Meatless Monday is an important step toward reducing that suffering and creating a more humane society.

As the new school year kicked off, the VSB shared the flyer with every school administrator and teacher across the district! VHS commends this support for Meatless Monday by the VSB, as it provides individual schools the tools and confidence in implementing their own Meatless Monday initiative to better the treatment of animals, the well-being of the planet and of course, the health of the students.

We look forward to helping more students take action to reduce animal suffering by bringing Meatless Monday to more classrooms and cafeterias this year! If you’re interested in implementing Meatless Monday at your school, workplace or in your community, contact Emily Pickett. Don’t forget to take the Meatless Monday pledge and receive a weekly recipe/tip to help you start your week off right!

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‘Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered’ Documentary

 

Vancouver-Aquarium-Uncovered

Local filmmaker Gary Charbonneau delivers a controversial documentary on the Vancouver Aquarium’s rescue and captivity program. There will be a screening of the film, “Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered” on Sunday, Sept.13th, 7:30pm at the Vancouver Public library.

VHS opposes the keeping of wild animals for public display, as it deprives them of the ability to freely engage in instinctual behaviours in their natural environment. Even when bred in captivity, exotic animals retain the behavioural and biological needs that they would have in the wild. They cannot be considered domesticated and they can suffer if they are confined in unnatural environments. Here’s our Q&A with Gary:

VHS: Was there a defining moment or a catalyst that inspired you to get involved in the issue of cetaceans in captivity?

Gary: While attending a public hearing on cetacean captivity I became suspicious and concerned with the remarks and comments being made by the Vancouver Aquarium and their associates.

VHS: What do you want to be the biggest take away for those who see the film?

Gary: A better understanding of conservation, rescue and rehabilitation and a demand for greater transparency. A conservation centre such as the Vancouver Aquarium cannot have a higher infant death rate than in the wild nor should they have a breeding program that, in my opinion, has not aided wild cetaceans in their 50 year existence. This is completely contrary to conservation itself. As a city we need to define what this term stands for and further our understanding of the programs at the aquarium.

VHS: What has the response been like to the film, following its first screening?

Gary: Incredible. People learned a great deal on this issue. Their eyes were opened to the complicit association, fund allocation, misinformation and most importantly the true facts of the rescue and breeding programs. As one person said to me “Is this what I’ve been supporting all these years?”

VHS: What do you think has spurred the change in public sentiment over the captivity of whales and dolphins?

Gary: The film Blackfish really exposed the lengths aquariums go to in deceiving the public for profit. In my research I’ve also realized the connections that go far beyond the inner circle of North American aquariums. I have professors, researchers and biologists still contacting me today providing facts, data and personal experience on this lucrative captive business. Even more disheartening is most have asked me not to mention their names because they fear the power this industry has. I’ve also noticed this with news media as well. I’ll ask everyone right now, has anyone heard anything of this film on TV, radio or newspaper? The answer is no because they won’t touch this. Thus far all have turned down mentioning my film. One reporter told me I’m going to have a hard time because they’re interconnected to the aquarium whether through business or advertising. It’s quite sad actually because it’s the whales and dolphins who are suffering.

VHS: What do you suggest the public can do to help with this issue?

Gary: The public doesn’t realize they are the answer. Around the world these aquatic circuses are not only ending, they’re being banned. This is due to public pressure. Vancouverites need to have their voices heard and force the aquarium to update its model.

VHS: Theres been talk recently that Vancouver might be the ideal site for the worlds first sea sanctuary – a place for captive cetaceans to go if released from marine parks but unable to survive in the wild. What are your thoughts on that idea?

Gary: Sea sanctuaries are the future for rehabilitation and release. They will also provide increased space, depth and a more natural environment for those cetaceans who cannot survive in the wild. There are people who oppose the idea of sea pens or ocean sanctuaries but let’s not forget, there was a time when there were no elephant, primate or big cat sanctuaries and look at their success today. Furthermore, all of these were also thought to be impossible, with strong opposition.

VHS: In your research for the film, what did you find most disturbing about the captivity issue? What did you find most inspiring?

Gary: The infant death rate! Absolutely unbelievable, this literally stunned me and everyone who’s seen the film. It is completely unconscionable for the Vancouver Aquarium to call itself a conservation centre when its infant death rate is astronomically higher than in the wild, this makes no sense.

The most inspiring is the proof that aquariums who have moved away from captivity are doing better financially, provide higher levels of education through technology and interactivity and have demonstrated true conservation efforts. Aquariums such as Monterey Bay in California, Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto, Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in B.C. are a few examples.

VHS: What was the most challenging part of making the documentary?

Gary: Containing my emotions. During the repetitive process of editing you are continually reminded of the deaths, short lifespans and the psychological stress on these poor creatures. It is exceptionally difficult to stay focused.

VHS: Did you have a strong opinion on the issue of captivity prior to doing research for this film? Has making the film changed your opinion on other animal protection issues?

Gary: I’m not a proponent of animals performing tricks even for rescue or rehabilitation because duplicitous organizations will use conservation as a guise for exploitation. However, I was open to learn whether the Vancouver Aquarium was genuinely learning about and aiding whales and dolphins.

Completing this film has unquestionably affirmed that genuine rescue and rehabilitation shouldn’t require animals to perform. Any institution or non-profit organization who states it’s necessary to sell tickets in order to protect or preserve a species is either mismanaged or deceitful.

VHS: How can people see the documentary? 

Gary: A screening is being held on Sept 13th at the Vancouver Public Library. Sometime after this date the film will be released online at www.vancouveraquariumuncovered.com. I feel it’s important to note, this is a non-profit film and will be released for free. I want everyone to learn the truth and help the aquarium improve and move into a superior direction.

VHS: What specific actions would you like to see the Vancouver Aquarium take moving forward, in regards to whales and dolphins in captivity?

Gary: The goal of my film is to enhance the Vancouver Aquarium and make it the most advanced and educational marine centre in the world. The aquarium is about to spend millions of dollars expanding their tanks when that money should be used towards technology, innovation and expanding their much needed Marine Mammal Rescue Centre.

For more info:

www.vancouveraquariumuncovered.com

www.facebook.com/VancouverAquariumUncovered

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Buddha-Full Fresh Juice & Smoothies: Building a cruelty-free community on the North Shore

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Geremie Voigt and Kyla Rawlyns of Buddha-Full Fresh Juice & Smoothies. photo: Stephen Hui, the Georgia Straight

Buddha-Full Fresh Juice & Smoothies represents an ethical, 100% animal friendly, community-based environment. Geremie Voigt and Kyla Rawlyns opened the café in North Vancouver five years ago. Buddha-Full proudly serves organic fresh juices & smoothies, raw organic cuisine, organic gluten-free baked goods, a full local retail section, and locally roasted coffee from Moja.

VHS supports the growth of cruelty-free businesses and we were interested to find out more about Buddha-Full. Here’s our Q&A with Geremie and Kyla.

VHS: What inspired you to open Buddha-Full Fresh Juice & Smoothies?

G&K: We both have been vegan for many years and have always been inspired by educating our community, family and friends on veganism and a conscious living dynamic.

VHS: How have you found the reaction from the community?

G&K: Our community tells us Buddha-Full is a staple in the lower Lonsdale area.  People tell us every day it is like going to their church!

VHS: What do you enjoy most about running Buddha-Full?

G&K: Standing by our initial mission of educating our community and holding a space where people can come and feel welcome. It’s important to us that our customers feel comfortable and know they are taken care of.

VHS: What do you find is the hardest part?

G&K: Challenges will always come up. The hardest part is having some customers coming in and asking for dairy products or meat products and educating them on why we choose to maintain our animal friendly selection.

VHS: How do you stay positive in a world where animal-based products are still so predominant?

G&K: Considering that veganism has doubled since 2009 in the U.S., we know things are changing and we are making a difference in the world.  We are proud to be standing by our ethics.

VHS: What is your most popular menu item?

G&K: The Lobo Smoothie (hemp protein, dates, peanut butter, banana and almond milk), it’s a Buddha-Full staple.  Also, the Pesto Vegan Sausage wrap is one of our absolute favourite items and we make it all in house!

VHS: Who are your customers? Is there a predominant demographic?

G&K: Upwards of 60% of our customers are female. The majority of our customers are not vegan, however they are interested and curious about veganism and feel welcomed in our space!

VHS: What do you think is the best way to encourage consumers to make more ethical choices? 

G&K: Leading by example is a great way to encourage ethical choices by others.  Be the change you want to see in the world!

VHS: Do you think veganism is becoming more mainstream?

G&K: We think the world is becoming increasingly educated about and involved with animal liberation.  Everyone we meet seems to have one at least one person in their family who is vegetarian, if not vegan.  Half of Kyla’s family is now vegetarian – Now that’s progress!

VHS: What are some of the lessons you’ve learned about running a vegan business?

G&K: Having a space where everyone feels welcome is crucial. People want some sort of familiarity and seem to frequent spaces that provide that on a consistent basis.

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Buddha-Full is located at 106 West 1st Street – Suite 101, North Vancouver.

Tel: (604) 973-0231

Email: bfulljuice@gmail.com

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Iskut from Iskut, helped through McVitie Fund For Animals

iskut from iskut

Guest post by Desiree; activist, animal lover & McVitie fund for animals recipient

This captivating dog was found wandering the streets of a small northern community, Iskut, B.C., all on his lonesome at the age of one month. It was pretty much love at first sight when the two of us locked eyes; him, in search of a mother and I in search of a companion with the most unconditional of love. He literally walked into my life and I’m sure you can understand by looking at his picture, why I couldn’t say no to this face that was longing to be rescued.

I was so grateful to have received support from the Vancouver Humane Society, through their McVitie fund for animals, upon returning home with him from volunteering. They helped me with his vaccinations, tattoo and a neuter – everything he needed to start this new chapter of his life off right.

.
iskutI spent last summer biking 2000 km to this area, Tl’abane, more commonly referred to now as the Sacred Headwaters – the birthplace of the Skeena, Stikine and Nass rivers, some of the most vital salmon bearing rivers in all of so-called North America. It is home to the unceded, unsurrendered Tahltan First Nation who have lived in harmony with the land and water for thousands of years.

Iskut and I began our adventure together exploring the mountains, lakes and rivers in Tl’abane. To this day gallivanting in the great outdoors is our favourite activity. I watch as he leaps and bounds through the forest, down snowy mountainsides, through the shallows of creeks and rivers; I think he has mistaken himself for a deer or rabbit. Nevertheless, his playfulness, quirkiness and endurance are prominent signs of a healthy and happy pup, which was made all the more possible by the McVitie fund. He has touched a lot of lives and every time someone asks about him I get to tell a story that should be shared far and wide. Thank you again to the Vancouver Humane Society for helping me help this special pup!

VHS’s McVitie fund for animals provides low-income guardians of companion animals with spay/neuter assistance, as well as help with unexpected, emergency vet bills. Please consider supporting the McVitie fund. Increase your impact by donating today – all donations will be matched by a generous VHS donor!

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When a call to VHS is a needy animal’s last hope

 

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“My cat accidentally slipped out the front door and was hit by a car. I’m on disability right now and don’t have enough money to cover the entire vet bill. Please, is there any way you can help me?”

This is the kind of desperate call the Vancouver Humane Society gets several times a week. As VHS’s Program Coordinator & Office Manager, I’m typically the staff member handling the calls when distraught individuals contact us in need of help because their dog, cat or other companion animal is in dire need of emergency vet care. These are low-income folks – often they are on disability, or were recently laid off and are struggling to make ends meet while searching for work, or they are pensioners on a limited income. Whatever their circumstances may be, they all have the same thing in common – they are loving and committed caregivers who simply need a bit of help during a tough time.

Unfortunately, there are always more needy animals than there are available funds and very few programs similar to VHS’s “McVitie Fund For Animals” exist. Often, those without enough funds to cover the vet bill are forced to choose between giving up their beloved companion or euthanasia. This is why the McVitie fund exists – to offer an alternative and keep already cherished animals in their forever home, instead of being surrendered to shelters or unnecessarily euthanized.

Being able to say “yes, we can help” when I receive those desperate calls and hearing the relief in the caller’s voice reminds me of the importance of such a program. Because no one should have to go without their own pain medication in order to make sure their companion animal gets the care they need, or be disadvantaged in receiving help because of a disability, or be unfairly judged due to an unexpected financial hardship when in reality they may have been the only hope for an abandoned animal in need.

I believe in the McVitie Fund For Animals whole-heartedly. I believe in the much needed service it provides and in what it represents in a society where we need to do more to help each other. I believe in the important work VHS does to help animals, so much so that I am helping to raising funds as team captain for VHS in the Scotiabank Half-Marathon/5k. On June 28th, we’ll be running for the animals in what is VHS’s most important fundraiser of the year.

All of our team members have unique and personal reasons for joining this run. Mine is the McVitie Fund For Animals. So please, consider sponsoring me and help our team achieve our goal. Your support causes a ripple effect of happiness – for me, answering the phone at VHS, because I can say “Yes!” to the caller; then for the distraught caregiver on the other end of the line; third to the needy animal; and lastly, to the veterinarian we use who has offered his or her services to our clients at such a reduced rate.

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Langara College Becomes First Campus in Western Canada to Join Global Meatless Monday Initiative

Next Monday, March 30th, Langara College will become the first campus in Western Canada to adopt the popular Meatless Monday initiative, joining hundreds of schools worldwide including McGill, Dalhousie, and Queen’s, along with Columbia, Johns Hopkins, and U.C. Berkeley.

The initiative was introduced by Langara’s food services provider, Chartwells—which is owned by Compass Group, one of the largest food services providers in the world—in response to student demand and in collaboration with the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS).

Meatless Monday is an international movement of schools, hospitals, municipalities, companies, and families that choose to ditch meat each Monday in favour of healthy, delicious, humane, and eco-friendly vegetarian options.

“Meatless Monday is an incredibly popular initiative that resonates with people from all walks of life because it is an easy, positive way for each of us to make a meaningful difference for animals, our health, and the planet,” said Anna Pippus, special projects director for the VHS. “Our over-consumption of cheap meat has forced animals into factory farms, where they endure conditions and practices that most Canadians find appalling.”

“The Vancouver Humane Society commends Chartwells at Langara for responding to student concerns about the impact our food choices have on the world. Chartwells has demonstrated industry leadership in putting Meatless Monday on the menu,” she said.

Facts:

  • In 2014, 725 million animals were killed for food in Canada. Canadians eat almost 100 kg of meat per capita per year. The global average is less than 40 kg per capita.
  • According to Dietitians of Canada, plant-based eating has many health benefits, including lower rates of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
  • Due to livestock farming’s inefficiencies, it is a major contributor to climate change, pollution, water use, land degradation and deforestation, biodiversity decline, and ocean degradation, sparking criticism from the United Nations and Chatham House, among many others.

Learn more about VHS’s Meatless Monday campaign and how you can get involved!

Meatless Monday Vancouver