animal welfare compassion Food and Drink News/Blog

Gardein: A pioneer in meat-free products


Gardein founder Yves Potvin talks to VHS about the popularity of meat alternatives.

VHS encourages people to transition to a plant-based diet because reducing or eliminating meat consumption ensures fewer animals will suffer on cruel factory farms or be killed in slaughterhouses.

But many people who have always had meat at the centre of their meals find making that transition difficult.  Sure, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks and lots of resources online, but for those who don’t like cooking or are pressed for time it can still be a challenge.

This is where meat-free convenience foods have a role to play.  The market for these products is currently booming, with new producers emerging and established ones growing fast.  One of the most successful is B.C.’s own Gardein, which produces a wide range of plant-based foods (everything from Chick’n Scallopini to Stuffed Turk’y to Meatless Meatballs).  With most of its sales in the U.S., Gardein is now in more than 18,000 stores and sales are almost doubling every two years.

Gardein’s founder and president Yves Potvin met with VHS staff recently to discuss the growth in plant-based products and Gardein’s place in the market.  Potvin, who pioneered the first veggie dog with his previous company, says the meat alternatives industry, with about $1 billion in sales, is still relatively small but has great potential.  “The cattle meat business is over $100 billion, so we’re not even touching one per cent,” he says.  “It’s a young industry.” Nevertheless, Potvin sees encouraging precedents such as dairy alternatives (e.g. soy, almond milk), which he says is about eight per cent of the dairy market.

The growing demand for alternative sources of protein is being driven by several factors, says Potvin.  One is the unsustainability of meat production, which is environmentally damaging and resource intensive; another is the health risk associated with overconsumption of meat (obesity, heart disease, diabetes); and, of course, ethical concerns about eating animals, especially those raised on factory farms.

Potvin believes his customers, who are mostly between 18 and 40, understand these issues and are open to change.  “The young consumer gets it,” he says, adding that younger women are especially attracted to Gardein products’ low calorie count.  There’s no doubt that Gardein’s brand emphasizes healthy ingredients (such as non-GMO soy protein, organic ancient grain flour, wheat and pea proteins, vegetables) and health benefits (cholesterol free as well as trans and saturated fat free), but convenience is a major selling point.

“We are in the convenient food business,” says Potvin.  “We’re really into healthy, convenient food made from plant-based protein.”  But convenient, processed food has its critics – and Potvin takes them head on:

“There are the Michael Pollans of this world that say well, it’s processed food. Okay. Bread is processed. Pasta is processed. Our process is very similar to bread or pasta. If you eat bread or pasta, yes its processed food. And other arguments are ‘well why do you have to do it like a McDonald’s nugget?’. Well, one of the biggest things that I heard from consumers in their letters is ‘my son plays baseball and after the game we all end up at my house and if we have your nuggets the kids don’t know the difference.’ He’s happy. He fits in. It’s inclusive. “

“And let’s face it. When you finish a game of baseball you’re not going to go and eat kale!”

Gardein works to make its products fit into familiar, mainstream patterns of eating, avoiding the negative stereotyping of vegan and vegetarian foods.  “There’s a perception that you have to be wearing Birkenstocks or be a hippy to eat this kind of food,” says Potvin, explaining why it’s important to make people feel comfortable and at home with Gardein meals, right down to every detail of production.  “We use similar shapes and forms that people are accustomed to.”

But Potvin, a trained chef, is no enemy of traditional cooking from scratch. He simply acknowledges the reality of today’s culture, in which convenience food is a major element.  If people are going to eat it anyway, why not make it healthier, cruelty-free and environmentally friendly?

From VHS’s point of view, anything that reduces meat consumption and helps people transition to a plant-based diet is welcome.  For the billions of animals suffering on factory farms, the transition can’t come soon enough.

This article is from the current edition of VHS’s newsletter.

For more information on Gardein products visit

For information on VHS’s Eat Less Meat project visit:

animal welfare cruelty News/Blog

Tell stores to drop cruel glue traps

Mouse in glue trapImagine walking to the store. Suddenly, you can’t lift your feet from the ground – they’re mired in glue so sticky that you can’t lift them out. You scream and fight to get loose, but nobody helps you. You get thirsty and hungry, but there’s nothing you can do. After hours, maybe even days, you eventually succumb to dehydration, starvation, exhaustion and/or exposure. Can you think of a more inhumane death?

Glue traps are the method of choice for removal of rats and mice, because they’re pesticide-free. But they are extremely cruel, causing an agonizing death. And they’re indiscriminate – they can capture birds, squirrels, and other small animals.

They are also unsafe for humans. Mice or rats will void their bowels when they’re caught. This exposes humans to dangerous diseases like Hantavirus which are carried by rodents.  Even Health Canada says they shouldn’t be used.

The best way to deal with rodent infestations is to alter the habitat so it’s no longer attractive to them. This means carefully closing off every possible entry point (after you’ve safely removed the animals) so it’s inaccessible.  We recently had mice in our small cottage, and we waited until night when they were outside and used fine wire mesh to seal every hole in the crawl space and the entire house. We then installed an inexpensive sonic repeller on each level and we haven’t had mice inside since. These electronic devices are available everywhere, even on!

Mice and rats are social, intelligent creatures and every bit as capable of experiencing pain as the dogs and cats we have in our homes. Excluding wildlife is the kindest way to live alongside them. But as an absolute last resort, a snap-trap is less inhumane than a glue trap or poison (which also causes an excruciatingly painful death). Snap-traps kill instantly.

Unfortunately, glue traps are available everywhere. Please contact these stores who sell them and tell them to remove them from the shelves:

Home Depot Canada: Sold online and in stores
Mouse and rat glue traps
Bill Lennie, President
Home Depot Canada 1 Concorde Gate, Ste. 900 Toronto, Ontario M3C 4H9
Head office phone number (416) 609-0852
(No email address available.)

Canadian Tire: Sold in stores
Mouse glue traps
Stephen G. Wetmore, President/CEO
Canadian Tire
PO Box 2000, Station Main
Welland, Ontario
L3B 5S3

Wal-Mart: Sold online and in stores
Mouse and rat glue traps
Shelley Broader, President/CEO Wal-Mart Canada
1940 Argentia Rd. Mississauga, Ontario
L5N 1P9
Email address:

Amazon Canada:
Sold online
Mouse and rat glue traps
Jeff Bezos, CEO
Amazon Canada
1200 12th Ave. South, Ste. #1200 Seattle, WA
(Headquarters for Amazon Canada and USA.)
Email address:

Home Hardware:
Sold in stores
Mouse and rat glue traps
Paul Straus, President/CEO
Home Hardware
34 Henry St St Jacobs, Ontario
N0B 2N0

Sold online and in stores
Mouse and rat glue traps
Alan Huggins, CEO
Lowe’s Canada
5160 Yonge St.
Suite 200
Box 25 North York, Ontario
M2N 6L9

animal welfare compassion cruelty Food and Drink News/Blog

VHS bus ad now on Metro Vancouver routes

087Our ad “Food, Friend, Why?” is now on Translink diesel buses throughout Metro Vancouver.  The ad raises an important and provocative moral question: why do we eat one animal and befriend another? Most of us wouldn’t dream of eating a cat or a dog, but when one considers the intelligence and sentience of farmed animals, it doesn’t make sense to consider cows or pigs or chickens as somehow so different.


Thank you to the generous donors who made this ad possible.




animal welfare cruelty News/Blog

Travel writers, truth and animal welfare

Travel writers should pay attention to animal welfare at events like rodeos

Last week, a travel article appeared on the website of Fodor’s, the world’s largest publisher of travel and tourism information, describing the author’s recent visit to the Calgary Stampede.

The article gushed over the Stampede’s recovery from the flood in June and detailed all the activities to be enjoyed, summing up the experience  this way: “Part rodeo, part party, part fair, part food fest, all fun; the Calgary Stampede’s has bucked and two-stepped its way into stardom. That’s how Canada does the rodeo, come hell or high water. Yahoo!”

A similar article, by the same author, appeared on a Vancouver-based travel website.  In both pieces, not a single mention was made of the animal welfare issues at the Stampede rodeo.  Nor were this year’s deaths of two rodeo animals, a steer and a horse, despite the fact they made headlines across the country.

No one expects travel writers to promote the views of animal advocates when referring to activities involving animal welfare controversies, but shouldn’t such controversies at least be mentioned?  Shouldn’t people who care about animals be warned about any animal welfare issues at an event? Any international tourist reading these pieces would have no idea of the potential harm and suffering animals are exposed to at rodeos.

It is difficult for animal advocates to bring the truth about rodeo to the public’s attention, especially especially when faced with a powerful public relations machine like the Calgary Stampede.  It’s even more difficult when travel writers uncritically accept the Stampede’s public relations agenda.


animal welfare cruelty News/Blog rodeo

VHS response to horse death at Stampede

July 13, 2013

VHS is extremely sorry to hear of the death of another horse at the Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races.

It is getting harder for the public to believe that these deaths are just coincidence or bad luck. There is something inherently unsafe about the race.

Nothing the Stampede has done has stopped horses dying.

VHS is reiterating its call for the Stampede to suspend the chuckwagon race and have an independent panel of experts review the event to determine if anything can be done to make it safe.

More than 50 horses have died at the Stampede since 1986.


advertising cruelty News/Blog rodeo

VHS response to steer death

Steer death at Calgary Stampede

VHS has issued the following news release:

Steer killed at Calgary Stampede rodeo
Vancouver Humane Society calls for event to be suspended


The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) has called for the suspension of steer-wrestling at the Calgary Stampede rodeo after an animal was badly injured in the event and had to be euthanized.  Another steer died in the event during the 2009 Stampede.

“Why should animals suffer and die just to entertain a crowd,” said VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker.  “If these events are so hard on the animals that it can kill them, it’s obvious they are suffering pain and stress.”

Fricker said that rules changes made by the Stampede to make steer-wrestling safe had obviously not worked.  He said the event should be suspended and reviewed by an independent panel of experts to determine if it could be made humane and safe.

VHS says that steer-wrestling has no historical connection to ranching and was invented for rodeos.  “It has nothing to do with agricultural heritage,” said Fricker.  “It’s just a cruel and dangerous circus act.”



animal welfare cruelty News/Blog rodeo

VHS launches ad against calf-roping

Vancouver Humane Society ad against calf-roping

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is running a full-page ad calling for a ban on calf-roping in a Calgary newspaper.  The ad, shown above, appears in the July 4 edition of Fast Forward Weekly on page 3.

The ad contrasts the compassion of basic human kindness with the cruelty of calf-roping and calls on the Calgary Stampede to “have a heart for animals” and ban the rodeo event.

A high-resolution pdf version of the ad is here.

animal welfare compassion fundraising News/Blog Scotiabank

VHS reaches Scotiabank Charity Challenge goal of $25,000!

photo of 2013 Scotiabank charity Chicken Runners from VHS
Some of the Chicken Runners Team after the race: From left to right: Jennifer Kelly, Miles Linklater, Leanne McConnachie, Debra Probert, Alexandra Cadman, Kaitlyn Anderson, Liberty Mulkani, Anneliese Probert, Odie Probert (asleep).

We did it! We reached (and exceeded!) our goal of $25,000 at the 2013 Scotiabank Charity Challenge!

On Sunday, June 23, 2013, VHS supporters walked or ran in support of the Vancouver Humane Society’s work on behalf of animals.  To date, we have raised $25,626 from 273 sponsors of our team members. That’s amazing!

There is still time to donate (and you can check out how much each of our team members raised) – but hurry, donations must be received by July 8th.

Even though we exceeded our goal, your donation will not only make a difference to an animal that needs help, but it will also improve VHS’s chances of winning an extra $5,000 Scotiabank award for the highest amount raised per runner! We won it last year, thanks to many of you, and we’re hopeful that we’re in the running again (as of now, VHS is in 4th place overall).

This is our biggest fundraiser of the year and we’re extremely grateful to everyone for such incredible support. Every single donor will receive a personalized thank you from the VHS Board of Directors and staff.

Maybe you can run (or walk) for VHS next year. Watch this space for more updates!

animal welfare cruelty News/Blog rodeo

Who opposes rodeo?

Events like steer-wresting are cruel.  That's why VHS opposes rodeo.


Rodeo promoters like the public to think that it’s just a few animal rights activists who oppose rodeos.  In fact, mainstream animal welfare agencies throughout the civilized world are opposed to rodeo events like calf-roping and steer-wrestling, as these position statements show:

Canadian Federation of Humane Societies 
Calgary Humane Society 
British Columbia SPCA
Ottawa Humane Society (pdf file – see pg. 9)
American SPCA
Australian RSPCA
Royal New Zealand SPCA (pdf file – see 6.4)
Humane Society of the United States


News/Blog Uncategorized

The truth behind the Canadian Wildlife Federation


The Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) is categorized as an animal protection charity by the Canada Revenue Agency. But just what is the CWF protecting animals from when the organization is deeply rooted in the hunting and fishing community?

In fact, the CWF comprises twelve provincial organizations, most of which have a major focus on protecting and promoting hunting and fishing. The Alberta Fish and Game Association (a CWF founding member) states “Our passion is to promote…the conservation and utilization of fish and wildlife…” The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters advocates for “the protection of our hunting traditions” and offers such goodies as a ‘buck fillet knife’ and “hunting Christmas ornaments.”

The Newfoundland and Labrador Wildlife Federation states in its bylaws that “The purpose of the Federation shall be to promote, foster and protect the interests of the sportsmen of this province.” The B.C. Wildlife Federation states it is ‘a province-wide voluntary conservation organization of hunters, anglers and recreational shooters..”.

Even CWF president Dave Powell has served as vice-chairman of an organization called the Hunting for Tomorrow Foundation and is past-president of the aforementioned Alberta Fish and Game Association.

But unsuspecting animal lovers visiting the CWF website would find it difficult to make this connection to the hunting community. The website screams warm and fuzzy with wildlife photo contests and other motherhood-and-apple-pie activities. Rather than camouflage clothing and floating gun cases, their shopping section offers opportunities to adopt animals, including black bears and beluga whales, and Robert Bateman tote bags. Conservation is the operative word. But the question arises; for what purpose?

The only reference to the affiliates and their primary purpose is found in an obscure part of the website featuring Annual Reports. And unless one follows the links to these websites, there is no way to know that the conservation effort is about preserving animals so that they can continue to be hunted. It’s ironic that a donor can adopt a black bear, which is one of the animals hunted by the many ‘sportsmen’ who are behind the CWF and its affiliates. Most animal lovers would find this repugnant and feel duped to know that their donations were being used in this fashion.

This is not to say that the organization and its affiliates have not contributed significantly to the conservation of wildlife. However, the public, and most especially donors, have a right to know the policies of the organization they are supporting. It should be clearly stated in their written materials and on their website that they support hunting, fishing and trapping – in their words, the ‘wise use’ of wildlife.