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News/Blog

Speak out to end the inhumane live export of horses

Please support the call to the federal government to ban the live export of horses for human consumption.

This inhumane trade involves draft horses, known as “gentle giants”, being shipped live in wooden crates to Japan and for slaughter for human consumption. Since 2014, more than 27,000 draft horses have been live exported by air, primarily to Japan, for slaughter.

VHS has signed a joint letter to the federal Minister of Agriculture, calling for the Canadian government to stop the inhumane shipments of draft horses to other countries for slaughter.

You can help by signing the House of Commons E-petition, which calls for an end to “air shipments of horses exported for human consumption, due to ongoing animal welfare concerns inherent in this practice.”

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Opinion Editorial

Farming and grocery industries’ broken promises betray majority of Canadians

Article originally published in The Georgia Straight.

For decades, animal-welfare groups have been campaigning for better conditions for animals on Canada’s farms. Progress has been slow, but two major achievements seemed to be within reach: an end to battery cages for laying hens and a phase-out of gestation crates for pigs. Until now. 

Hopes for better lives for pigs and hens are now in doubt following news that the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) is reneging on commitments to sourcing only cage-free eggs and to shift away from selling pork from farms using gestation crates. The RCC represents Canada’s major grocery chains. 

Last week, the RCC announced that it “will pursue and make commitments solely through NFACC, thus removing previous commitments on sow housing and cage-free eggs…”. NFACC is the National Farm Animal Care Council, an industry-dominated body that oversees codes of practice for the care and handling of farm animals. 

In 2013, the RCC announced it would move toward sourcing pork from pigs raised in “alternative housing practices” by 2022. In 2016, the council committed to sourcing only eggs from cage-free hens by 2025.  

The RCC’s abandonment of these commitments follows last year’s decision by Canada’s pig farmers to renege on their 2014 commitment to end the continuous use of gestation stalls by 2024. 

These moves by farmers and the grocery industry fly in the face of public opinion. Polling has shown that 85 percent of Canadians support a complete phase-out of gestation stalls, and almost two-thirds want an end to battery cages for hens. 

Gestation crates confine pregnant sows so tightly that they are unable to engage in natural behaviours or even turn around. Scientists and animal welfare experts have long argued that the crates compromise pigs’ welfare. Temple Grandin, the renowned professor of animal science, has stated: “Gestation crates for pigs are a real problem… Basically, you’re asking a sow to live in an airline seat…” 

Battery cages for laying hens allow approximately 22 x 22 cm (9 x 9 inches) of space per hen, preventing them from engaging in natural behaviours or even flapping a wing.  The European Union banned battery cages in 2012. 

There is no doubt that gestation crates and battery cages are inhumane and that consumers want them gone. So why are the farming and grocery industries backsliding on their promises to move toward systems with better animal welfare?  Are they hoping the commitments they made amidst high-profile campaigns by animal-welfare groups can be quietly dropped now that those campaigns have abated? 

If so, they are misreading the public mood, which has been increasingly supportive of better welfare for farm animals. A 2017 poll found that a majority of Canadians would pay grocers more if animal welfare were improved. 

Breaking promises to support better welfare could backfire on farmers and the RCC, as animal-welfare organizations and the public lose faith in a system that is essentially self-regulating and dependent on the industry-dominated NFACC. The public perception that animal agriculture is averse to transparency and accountability has already been heightened by the introduction of “Ag-gag” legislation in Ontario and Alberta. Calls for independent regulation, inspection, and enforcement are likely to grow as trust in industrialized animal agriculture and the grocers that sell its products declines. 

Canadians know animals suffer on factory farms and they want it to stop. (Is it any wonder that the plant-based food industry is booming?) If farmers and retailers break their promises on gestation crates and battery cages, hundreds of thousands of pigs and millions of laying hens will suffer. The RCC needs to stand by its previous commitments on farm-animal welfare, not only to show it cares about what consumers want but because it’s the ethical thing to do.

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Opinion Editorial

Warm yourself up with these ethical alternatives to down

Article originally published on Daily Hive.

As the Canadian winter drags on and the country is gripped in a polar vortex, many of us will be looking for clothes and bedding to stay warm, whether it’s tucked up in bed or snow-shoeing up a mountain.

But how many shoppers will be aware that their choice of purchase may add to the misery of ducks and geese who are forced to supply a key component of the products we commonly use to keep us warm?

Down, that soft layer of feathers closest to a duck’s or goose’s skin is highly-prized in the textile industry as a thermo-insulator. Hence, its use in outdoor clothing, duvets, quilts and pillows. But the comfort down provides for humans stands in stark contrast to the treatment of ducks and geese who supply it.

Down is collected in three ways: Live-plucking; post-slaughter plucking and “gathering.”

Of these, live-plucking is considered the most unethical and inhumane practice, as it involves the painful stripping of feathers, often ripping the skin.

The amount of live-plucking in the down industry is disputed. The industry contends that it is rare and that most down is obtained from ducks and geese that have been slaughtered for food.

However, a 2009 Swedish investigative documentary estimated that between 50 and 80 % of down is sourced through live-plucking – a figure later confirmed by retail giant IKEA.

China, which has no national animal welfare laws, produces about 80% of the world’s down. Live-plucking is condemned by the China Feather and Down Industrial Association and the European Down and Feather Association but cases of live-plucking have been reported in China, Hungary and Poland.

In 2016, several farms practicing live-plucking in China were exposed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). 

Down obtained post-slaughter has its own ethical issues. Ducks and geese raised for food are factory farmed around the world, with inhumane conditions being exposed in a number of countries from Taiwan to Australia to the United Kingdom.

In Canada, PETA exposed the mistreatment of geese at a Manitoba farm in 2017. 

Down collected through “gathering” or “harvesting” is the removal of loose feathers from a live duck or goose during moulting, when the birds naturally lose their feathers. 

However, research has shown they can still suffer as a result of poor handling and because not all birds will be moulting at the same time. 

Animal welfare controversies over down have led to the emergence of the Responsible Down Standard but certified farms have been exposed for animal abuse. Some companies, such as Patagonia, use the Global Traceable Down Standard. Four Paws, an international animal welfare group, has developed a ranking system to identify companies with the highest standards. Despite these initiatives, doubts linger about the transparency of the industry.

The best way to avoid the animal welfare pitfalls of down is to buy products using alternative materials for thermo-insulation. There are several, including PlumtechPolartecPrimaLoft, and more

In Canada, non-down bedding can be purchased at Bed, Bath and Beyond or by shopping online at companies such as Wayfair.

Fashion retailers such as NoizeArc’teryxLolëSave the Duck and Frank & Oak carry down alternative outerwear and The North Face uses an alternative to down called Thermoball in some of its products. 

For sleeping bags, MEC and Atmosphere both carry high-quality, synthetic brands.

One concern about down alternatives is that many are petroleum-based, bringing into question their sustainability. The industry is seeking to address the issue, with some companies, such as Everlane, using recycled materials in their products.

One company, Pangaia, has developed a fully biodegradable material that can be used in coats, comforters and other products – made from wildflowers. 

Categories
News/Blog

Speak up for animals on fur farms

Call for a ban on fur farming across Canada

Send a message to your B.C. MLA

Recent media reports of the spread of COVID-19 on B.C. mink farms has exposed the cruelty and danger inherent in the province’s fur farming industry.  Please send a message to your MLA to urge a ban on this unnecessary and inhumane industry.

Industrialized fur farms in B.C. confine thousands of mink in cramped conditions that deprive them of the opportunity to engage in natural behaviours.  Mink are semi-aquatic animals yet they are held in tiny wire cages without access to water for foraging. A cage for a single female mink measures only 8 inches (width) by 15 inches (height).

Mink spend their entire lives caged until they are killed in gas chambers filled with carbon monoxide. All this is for the sake of making products for the fashion and cosmetics industry.

Video footage of Canadian fur farms obtained by The Fur-Bearers has shown animals exhibiting self-mutilation, cannibalism and repetitive behaviours caused by the stress of confinement.

In addition to the fur industry’s cruelty, there is a threat to public health, as outbreaks of COVID-19 emerge on mink farms around the world.  Here in B.C., the virus has been found on two mink farms, with infections occurring in both animals and farm workers. Scientists fear that such outbreaks could lead to dangerous mutations of the virus. Escaped mink from farms are a potential threat to wild populations, increasing the chance of further virus mutation and spread.

Now is the time for the provincial and federal governments to end the cruel and dangerous fur farming industry. This is also an opportunity for government to support farmers in transitioning to humane, healthy and sustainable alternatives, such as plant-based agriculture.

Please take the two actions below to support a fur farming ban at both the provincial and federal levels.

Sign the House of Commons e-petition calling on the federal government to introduce a Canada-wide ban on fur farming.

The federal e-petition is now closed. Stay tuned for updates!

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

Plant-based businesses in Vancouver & area: Your ethical shopping & eating guide

Animal-free shopping and eating guide

Do you want to make sure no animals were harmed when you’re shopping or eating? Struggling to find the perfect gift for someone? Looking to support and order from a local restaurant? This list of plant-based businesses in Vancouver & the Lower Mainland has you covered.

Click on a section in the table of contents to be directed to a list of relevant plant-based businesses in Vancouver and the surrounding area (with a few clothing retailers from elsewhere in Canada.)

Restaurants that are 100% plant-based

Business nameIn restaurant eating?Order online?Description
Aleph Eatery1889 Powell Street,
Vancouver, BC
YMiddle Eastern
Bad Apple2481 E Hastings St, Vancouver, BCYHealthy “pub” food, punk theme
BeetBox Veg1074 Davie St, Vancouver, BCYComfort food
Buddha-full106 West 1st Street, North Vancouver,  BC (one other location)YFresh whole food-based meals
Chau Veggie Express2 locations:
Victoria Drive
Granville Island
YModern Vietnamese
Chickpea4298 Main Street, Vancouver, BCYMiddle Eastern
Chi Vegan1935 West 4th Ave, Vancouver, BCYModern Vietnamese
CHOMP Vegan Eatery2234 E Hastings, Vancouver, BCYOrganic gluten-free pub fare
Copper Branch280 Nelson St, Vancouver, BCYPub fare
Indigo Age Cafe436 Richards St, Vancouver, BCYRaw vegan food; dessert menu section
Kind Cafe3080 Main St, Vancouver, BCNRestaurant with baked goods, zero waste
Khoe1370A E Georgia St., Vancouver, BCYModern Vietnamese
KokomoMultiple locations:
Chinatown
Kitsilano
North Vancouver
YFresh whole food bowls
Komo Comfort FoodsNYPlant-based food delivery
Kula KitchenNYPlant-based BBQ
Lotus Seed Vegan736 W Broadway, Vancouver, BCYPlant-based dishes from different cultures
MeeTMultiple locations:
Gastown
Yaletown
Main Street
YPub fare with dishes from other cultures
MILA Plant-Based185 Keefer St, Vancouver, BCYFlavour focused, internationally inspired, premium casual dining
Mizu Sushi Co.383 Raymur Avenue, Vancouver, BCYGluten-free sushi
Pizzeria Grano3240 Main Street, Vancouver, BCYPizza
Planetary Burger3088 Main St, Vancouver, BCYBurgers, fries, and milkshakes
Plant Me.245 East Broadway, Vancouver, BCYHealthy casual fare
Rolling CashewFood truck, may not always be here: 2608 Granville St, Vancouver, BCYInternational lunch fare
The Cider House1602 Yew St, Vancouver, BCYCider and fresh foods (ask if cider is vegan)
The Green MoustacheMultiple locationsY (Whistler)Cafe with meals, smoothies, desserts
The Pizza Castle and Indian Curry1110 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BCYPizza and Indian food
Veg Out Plant-Based Burgers & ShakesFood truckNBurgers, fries, and milkshakes
Vegan Cave415 Abbott St,
Vancouver, BC
NPizza
Vegan Pizza House2119 Kingsway, Vancouver, BCYPizza
Virtuous PieMultiple locations:
Chinatown
UBC
YPizza and ice cream
Wurst of Us1889 Powell Street
Vancouver, BC
YHot dogs and nachos

Dessert businesses that are 100% plant-based

Business nameIn store?Online shopping?Description
Bonus Bakery1185 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BCYDrinks & pastries
Dough & CoNYBakery delivery
Edible Flours2280 W Broadway, Vancouver, BCYCupcakes, cookies, breads, loaves and other bakery goods
Fairy Cakes3586 Fraser St, Vancouver, BCNBaked goods & popsicles; peanut/nut-free
Flourgirl BakingNYCinnamon and other sweet buns
GLOW ChocolateMultiple locationsYChocolates and truffles
Hooray TrufflesNYChocolates and truffles
Level V Bakery39 Kingsway, Vancouver, BCYCakes & pastries
Living LotusNYChocolate products
Livvy’s Bakery CookiesMultiple LocationsY – through SPUDCookies
Naked DoughNYCookie dough
Panela Lemon1507 Powell St #150, Vancouver, BCYCookies
PikanikNYGluten-free, allergy-free artisan breads, cakes, desserts, etc
Saviour FoodsNYCookie dough
Say Hello Sweets620 Quebec St, Vancouver, BCYIce cream
Sweets From the EarthNYCakes, cookies, muffins, bars & squares
To Live ForMultiple locationsYBaked goods
Two Daughters Bakeshop980 W 1st St #105, North Vancouver, BCYVegan & gluten-free pastries, breads & other treats
Umaluma Dairy-Free Gelato235 E Pender St, Vancouver, BCYIce cream – some flavours contain honey
Vegan Pudding & Co101 – 422 Richards St, Vancouver, BCYWindow counter selling cakes, pudding and tea
Vogue CakesNYCakes & other desserts
Yellow Basket BakingNYOrganic, nut-free bakery operating at pop-ups & farmer markets
Zimt Chocolate Cafe1336 Clark Dr, Vancouver, BCYOrganic treats, hot drinks and chocolates

Food and beverage businesses that are 100% plant-based

Business nameIn store?Online shopping?Description
Blue Heron Cheese Shop2410 Main St, Vancouver, BCNGourmet cheeses
BlumeNYBeverage blends
Boochy BarMultiple locationsYKombucha and popsicles
Eternal Abundance Eatery & Grocery1025 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BCYGrocery products and cafe
Ergogenics NutritionMultiple locationsYSports supplements
Glory Juice Co.Multiple locationsYFresh juices, nut mylks, and cleanses
gomae mealsNYmeal prep
Harken Coffee338 Powell St, Vancouver, BCYCafé with meals & desserts
Healthy Choice Wholesale FoodsNNBulk foods
Kindred CulturesMultiple locationsYKefir live probiotics
Lita’s Mexican FoodsMultiple locationsNPrepared Mexican foods
Manna Sacred MealsNYMeal prep
PlantbaseNYMeat alternatives
Planted MealsNYMeal prep
Plant Life Nutrition2140 East Hastings Street,
Vancouver, BC
YVegan supplements
Plant CuriousNYVariety box
Plant VedaMultiple locationsYPlant-based dairy
Shani’SeasoningMultiple locationsYTofu scramble spice blend
Tality KombuchaMultiple locationsYKombucha
Tea SparrowNYTeas
The Modern MeatNYMeat alternatives
The Juice TruckMultiple locationsYJuice
TMRW FoodsMultiple locationsNMeat alternatives
Whisk Matcha CafeNYMatcha
Wild Trails Coffee134 East 14th Street, North Vancouver, BCNWraps, paninis, baked goods and coffee
Yoggu Coconut YogurtMultiple locationsYYogurt
Vegan Supply250 E Pender St, Vancouver, BCYGrocery store and online retailer

Plant-based clothing, bedding, footwear and products

Business nameIn store?Online shopping?Description
Bed2932 Main Street, Vancouver, BCY100% cotton bedding
BellantoniMultiple retailersYSustainable vegan clothing
ComfyComfyNYBuckwheat hull pillows
Daub and DesignNYSustainable vegan clothing
Dream Designs2749 Main Street,
Vancouver, BC
YNatural bedding, some contain wool
FairechildNYRecycled vegan rain protection for adults and kids
Frank and Oak316 West Cordova St, Vancouver, BCYSustainable outerwear, some products contain wool
Friend & FauxNYVegan clothing
Grinning GoatNYAnimal-free clothing, shoes, accessories and beauty products
Haven Sleep CoNYA variety of vegan mattresses and bedding
inBed Organics1683 Chestnut St, Vancouver, BCYA variety of vegan mattresses and bedding
Inner Fire ActivewearNYSustainable vegan yoga pants and clothing
Kuseno Comfort ProductsMultiple retailersYBuckwheat hull pillow and hot/cold packs
Mala the BrandNYCandles made using soy, cotton, wood and glass
Native ShoesMultiple retailersYAll vegan footwear
Nice Shoes3568 Fraser Street, Vancouver, BCYAll vegan footwear
NoizeMultiple retailersYAll vegan clothing and outwear
Peace People ProjectNYUpcycled vegan clothes
PlantactiveNYClothing with vegan messages
Save the DuckMultiple retailersYVegan clothing and outerwear
Vegan YarnNYYarn made of cotton, bamboo, linen, and Tencel (Eucalyptus trees)
Vessi FootwearNYAll vegan footwear
Wuxly MovementToronto, ONYCanadian-made vegan outwear

Plant-based beauty and cleaning products and services

Business nameIn store?Online shopping?Description
Aspen CleanMultiple retailersYEco-friendly cleaning service with specially developed plant-based products
Blue DotNYSingle ingredient of ionized water that can disinfect fruits and vegetables
Botanical TherapeuticNYHair and skin care products
CeremonieNYNatural skincare products
Clarity ApothecaryNYNatural oils
Eventide Botanic AlchemyNYFace masks
Honest Cleaning & ServicesNYCleaning service with vegan products
IliaYYSkincare powered makeup
Lippy Girl MakeupMultiple retailersYMake-up
LisseNYShaving products and soaps
Live for TomorrowMultiple retailersYCleaning products
Nala CareMultiple retailersYDeoderant
Nellie’s All-NaturalMultiple retailersYZero-waste cleaning products, laundry detergent
Okoko CosmetiquesYYBotanical oils and extracts
Peregrine Supply CoMultiple retailersYBeard and grooming products
Pink House OrganicsMultiple retailersYBath, body, skin, and makeup
RiversolYYSpecialty skincare
SapadillaYYCleaning products
Sappho: New ParadigmYYOrganic, vegan makeup
ScentualsYYHand sanitizer, bath and shower, body, face and aromatherapy
Skwalwen BotanicalsYYWild harvested plants for face and body products
Tru EarthYYZero waste laundry detergent
United and FreeNYGender-neutral hair, skin, and bath care products
Vintage Touch CleaningNYHouse cleaning services
Vitale Body & Soul CareYYSkincare products
Wild Jasmine Natural ApothecaryMultiple retailersYHandcrafted bath and body care products with an eco-conscious focus
Willow’s Wax Bar2139 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BCNCruelty-free wax and other beauty products
WoodlotMultiple retailersYVegan and eco-friendly skin care

Plant-based pet products

Business nameIn store?Online shopping?Description
v-planetNYPlant-based dog food
VecadoMultiple retailersYPlant-based pet food and treats
Virchew Dog FoodNYPlant-based dog food
24/7 Dog WalksVegan dog-walking service (vegan treats, leashes, etc.) Contact info: 24.7dogwalks@gmail.com, 604-837-4553.

Do you know of more plant-based businesses in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland? If you have any additions or modifications to this listing, please email info@vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca.

Looking for more plant-based eating tips? Take the plant-based pledge to receive weekly vegan recipes in your inbox!

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Opinion Editorial

Why BC’s first mink farm COVID outbreak is a very bad sign

Article originally published on Daily Hive.

News of an outbreak of COVID-19 at a mink farm in BC’s Fraser Valley is yet another warning that we need to stop the industrial exploitation of animals.

The outbreak, declared by the BC government after eight people at the site tested positive for the virus, is the first in Canada, but similar outbreaks are occurring around the world.

Last month, Denmark ordered a cull of the country’s 17 million minks to prevent the infection carrying over to humans. A mutated strain of the virus found on several mink farms had infected 12 people. The Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Poland, Greece and several US states have reported SARS-CoV-22 in farmed minks.

Mink farms, like all factory farms, provide perfect conditions for viruses to spread and mutate because they confine large numbers of animals in cramped conditions. Farmed mink are kept in small, wire cages, denying them the ability to engage in natural behaviours. (Amendments to the code recently rescinded a commitment to provide bigger cages for mink by 2023.) As mink are semi-aquatic animals, lack of access to water for foraging makes the deprivation especially acute.

There are few laws governing the care and handling of farmed mink in Canada. Instead, there is a voluntary code of practice for the industry, with no independent enforcement. The code is overseen by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), a non-governmental body with heavy representation from industrial animal agriculture.

The lack of independent enforcement and inspection in the industry creates potential for animal suffering (beyond the stress of confinement that is considered acceptable in the code).

In 2015, the BC SPCA investigated a Fraser Valley mink farm and, according to media reports, found horrific conditions: “…row upon row, roughly 70,000 mink squirmed in cages the size of two shoe boxes as heaps of their own excrement mounted on the floor beneath them.

Many were missing limbs, digits and ears, and one animal — mysteriously paralyzed — had to be euthanized on site.” No charges were laid, as the operator was given an opportunity to “clean up his act.”

In 2018, an undercover investigation of an Ontario mink farm by animal advocates found unsanitary conditions, lack of veterinary care and lesions “all over” minks’ bodies. Charges were laid against the farmer.

While the exact circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak at the B.C. mink farm are still being investigated by Fraser Health, there is growing concern that mink farming presents a threat to human health. This includes the potential for a mutated virus from a farm to impact the efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine.

As one scientist told the BBC: “Every time the virus spreads between animals it changes, and if it changes too much from the one that is circulating within humans at the moment, that might mean that any vaccine or treatment that will be produced soon might not work as well as it should do.”

All of this begs the question: Why do we allow an industry that already compromises animal welfare to now threaten human health, especially when it only exists to provide a luxury item for a small number of consumers?

Animal advocates have long called for an end to the fur industry on moral grounds, citing the undeniable suffering the animals endure in unnatural conditions. Now, those same conditions may be creating a threat to human welfare.

“It’s time fur farming came to an end. Before the Fraser Valley outbreak, animal advocates had been calling for the Canadian government to support a transition away from fur farming. It’s a call that deserves public support – to stop needless animal suffering and to prevent a needless risk to public health.”

Categories
Opinion Editorial

Broken promise means pigs will suffer in inhumane crates until 2029

Article originally published on Daily Hive.

The Canadian pig farming industry is breaking a promise to end the continuous use of inhumane “gestation stalls” that confine pregnant sows so tightly they are unable to turn around.

The industry committed in 2014, outlined in the industry’s Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs, to end the continuous use of gestation stalls and to transition toward group housing (which provides space to allow pigs to move more freely) by 2024.

Pig farmers are now seeking to delay the transition until 2029, despite being given 10 years to make the change. The industry says it can’t meet its commitment by 2024 because of a lack of preparedness and financial issues.

The delay could be granted by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), the industry-dominated body that oversees codes of practice for the care and handling of pigs. If so, it will result in hundreds of thousands of pregnant pigs continuing to suffer in the cramped stalls.

The Retail Council of Canada, which represents major grocery retailers in the country, also supported the planned transition away from gestation stalls, saying in 2014 that it was committed to “sourcing pork products from sows raised in alternative housing practices as defined in the updated Codes by the end of 2022.” The council has not said whether it will stand by its commitment now that it appears the pork industry may renege on its commitment.

Animal welfare experts have described gestation stalls as extreme animal confinement equivalent to living in an airline seat.

Dr. Ian Duncan, Emeritus Chair in Animal Welfare at the University of Guelph, has stated: “In my opinion, the practice of keeping sows in gestation crates for most of their pregnancy is one of the cruellest forms of confinement devised by humankind. Sows are intelligent, inquisitive animals who naturally spend their time rooting, foraging and exploring their environment. When kept in extensive conditions, sows engage in various behaviours and lead a rich social life. All of this is completely denied them by gestation crates and leads to enormous frustration.”

Polling has shown that 84% of Canadians support a complete phase-out of gestations stalls. The European Union and several states in the US have banned the stalls.

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) has launched a campaign calling on the public to urge the pork industry and the Retail Council of Canada to stand by their commitments to transition to group housing.

“The pork industry and the retail council promised to end the cruel practice of extreme, long-term confinement,” said VHS campaign director Emily Pickett.

“Canadians need to hold them to account and let them know that they don’t want to see pigs continue to suffer in this way.”

Categories
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.

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Opinion Editorial

Pork industry should keep its promise to end inhumane practice

Article originally published in The Georgia Straight.

Life for pigs on Canada’s factory farms was set to change for the better thanks to a hard-won animal-welfare reform that would end the continuous confinement of pregnant sows in inhumane “gestation stalls”.

But Canadian pig farmers are saying, “Not so fast.”

The Canadian pig-farming industry made a commitment in 2014, as outlined in the industry’s Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs, to end the continuous use of gestation stalls and to transition toward group housing (which allows pigs to move more freely) by 2024.

The stalls confine sows so tightly that they are unable to engage in natural behaviours or even turn around.

Now the industry is pushing to delay the phase-out of gestation crates to 2029, citing lack of preparedness and financial difficulties. Despite being given 10 years to make the transition, the industry says it’s incapable of meeting its commitment by 2024.

If the delay is granted by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC), the industry-dominated body that oversees codes of practice for the care and handling of pigs, it will result in hundreds of thousands of pregnant pigs continuing to suffer in the cramped stalls.

In 2014, the Retail Council of Canada, which represents major grocery retailers in Canada, supported the planned transition away from gestation stalls, saying it was committed to “sourcing pork products from sows raised in alternative housing practices as defined in the updated Codes by the end of 2022”.

It’s now unclear whether the council will stand by its commitment.

Animal-welfare scientists, veterinarians, and other experts have described gestation stalls as extreme animal confinement and the equivalent to living in an airline seat.

Ian Duncan, emeritus chair in animal welfare at the University of Guelph, has stated: “In my opinion, the practice of keeping sows in gestation crates for most of their pregnancy is one of the cruelest forms of confinement devised by humankind. Sows are intelligent, inquisitive animals who naturally spend their time rooting, foraging, and exploring their environment. When kept in extensive conditions, sows engage in a wide variety of behaviour and lead a rich social life. All of this is completely denied them by gestation crates and leads to enormous frustration.”

And it seems the public agrees with that opinion. A 2013 Environics poll revealed that 84 percent of Canadians support a complete phase-out of gestations stalls.

The European Union announced a ban on sow stalls in 2013, allowing an 11-year phase-out period and exemptions for the first four weeks of a sow’s pregnancy. Currently, 10 states, including Florida, Ohio, and Arizona, have voter-approved statutes that ban gestation crates on commercial farms.

The pork industry in Canada essentially made a promise to end the cruel practice of extreme long-term confinement. Perhaps they think Canadians will not hold them to that promise as they quietly kick their ethical responsibilities into the future, hoping no one will notice. But such a calculation will only erode trust in the industry.

A 2018 Canadian Centre for Food Integrity survey showed that only 31 percent of respondents agree that Canadian meat is derived humanely from farm animals, and 61 percent are unsure. Public trust, accountability, and transparency in our food system is important to Canadians, and the pork industry must uphold its commitment to consumers to end the use of gestation stalls by 2024. It made a promise and it should keep it.

The public can comment on the National Farm Animal Care Council’s proposed amendments to the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs here. The deadline is November 19.