2016 – Animal Activism Year in Review

In the world of animal rights, 2016 has definitely seen some positive changes worldwide. More people are vegan than ever before, and also many vegans have turned to activism to use their voices for animals. It has been my first full year of animal activism, and taking action for animals has became a huge part of my life. Here are some of my proudest achievements from 2016…

Essex Pig Save’s First Vigil

Read about it here.

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This was my first ever save vigil of any kind, and it was in my home county! I have always been a huge supporter of Toronto Pig Save, and was so happy that the Save Movement was expanding to the UK. This was the first of many vigils which went on to occur every month, with a growing team of activists. Our numbers have pretty much doubled since this very first vigil. We were able to bear witness to pigs entering Cheale Meats in Brentwood, Essex, and offer them comfort in any way we could. The next Essex Pig Save vigil will be held on 16th January 2017 – check out the Essex Pig Save Facebook page here for more information.

I Stand with Anita

Read about it here and here.

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This year I got to spend some time with Anita Krajnc and the rest of Toronto Pig Save as I attended a series of vigils in Canada. I also got to cover Anita’s court case, where she was put on trial for feeding water to a pig dying of dehydration. People around the world were horrified that Anita had been charged for simply an act of kindness. The trial talked about a lot more than this one incident, and ended up putting animal agriculture as a whole on trial. The case will be continuing in March 2017. Working with Anita has been a great honour this year, and I look forward to doing a lot more in 2017 to show the world that compassion is not a crime.

Japan – The World is Watching You

Read about it here.

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At the start of this year I took part in the London Against Taiji Dolphin Massacre March. We marched through the streets of London to the Japanese Embassy, using our voices to stand against this barbaric tradition that happens every year in Taiji. Documentaries like Blackfish and The Cove have meant a huge fall in profit for companies such as Seaworld. It’s so important that people know that every time they buy a ticket to a marine park that uses animals for entertainment, or partake in swim with dolphin programmes, they are actively paying for this yearly dolphin slaughter. The workers seek out the ‘Flipper’-like dolphins that have become so popular, while the rest are trapped in the cove to be slaughtered the following morning, and sold as dolphin meat. Many people in Japan don’t even know this is happening. Please don’t be part of it. Boycott Seaworld, marine parks and all swim with dolphin programmes.

Fearman’s ‘Pork’ Show No Mercy

Read about it here.

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Not long after returning from Canada myself, I watched this heartbreaking event live, as it happened, outside Fearman’s ‘Pork’, where I had protested earlier this year. Although the events of that day were completely incomprehensible, the stories of the pigs who died will never be forgotten. The incident gained worldwide media coverage, and people began to question whether eating meat can ever really be humane. A special thanks to all the activists who were at Fearman’s that day, and later organised a candle-lit memorial for all those who suffered such cruelty, all because of human greed.

Vegfest London 2016

Read about it here and on The Vegfest Express.

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In the build up to this year’s Vegfest London, I interviewed some of the speakers appearing at the Vegan Activists Summit – including Kate Strong, Rebecca Fox and Marta Zaraska. I’m so pleased that Vegfest is just getting bigger and better every year. I thought the speakers this year were particularly inspirational, and it was great to listen to such heroes as David Smith MBE talk about how a plant-based diet has changed their lives.

Ink Activism

Read about it here and here.IMG_0050

This year I also got my first ever tattoos which have been great conversation starters, and have also enabled me to visit some of the best vegan tattoo studios! My first was the animal liberation symbol, which I had done at Fifth Dimension in London. My second was the word ‘compassion’ which I had done at James Spooner’s Monocle Tattoo studio in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, I do have the tattoo bug now and have heard of some other great vegan tattoo studios which I plan to check out in 2017!

Protesting with Emily from Bite Size Vegan

Read about it here.

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I attended an Essex Pig Save vigil with popular American YouTuber and blogger – Emily from Bite Size Vegan this summer. This was a very hard day as we said goodbye to truck-loads of pigs entering Cheale Meats to be slaughtered. But later on, I went to London to watch Emily’s speech, and my dedication and hope for animals was truly restored. Emily talked about the importance of bearing witness, and not turning away from what is happening to animals, but instead doing all we can to change it. I’m a huge fan of all the work Emily is doing.

Fiona Oakes – For The Animals

Read about it here.

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Also at the start of this year, I got to meet champion marathon runner and all round superhero for animals – Fiona Oakes, along with all the animals at Tower Hill Sanctuary. It was great to hear Fiona’s story and how she has managed to achieve so much for animals. Tower Hill looks after over 400 rescued animals, which is no easy task! She also uses her extreme marathon running (she has run a marathon on every continent, and the North Pole) to promote the vegan lifestyle… destroying the stereotypical view of vegans as ‘weak’.

Other mentionable animal activism achievements this year include attending the first East London Chicken Save vigil, meeting Renee and all the friendly folk at Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, Texas, and volunteering at Piebird Farm Sanctuary in Canada. Overall, I’m really pleased with what I have accomplished this year, the world is definitely beginning to wake up to the realities that so many animals are forced to endure at the hands of humans. The Save Movement has grown rapidly in 2016, there are now 24 groups in the UK alone! It seems that ignorance is no longer bliss. I am looking forward to achieving much more for animals in 2017.

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Fearmans ‘Pork’ Show No Mercy for Pigs – Tragedy in Canada

Yesterday in Burlington, Canada, a terrible tragedy occurred when a truck transporting pigs to slaughter at Fearmans ‘Pork’ overturned. What happened next has left people around the world completely heartbroken.

Activists from Toronto Pig Save rushed to the scene where the truck was, just outside Fearmans slaughterhouse. From live video streams on social media, the employees of the slaughterhouse can be seen trying to cover up what was happening with sheets of cardboard. But it was clear to see that there were dead and injured pigs from this completely traumatising event. Fearmans ‘Pork’ slaughters 10,000 pigs every single day, so you would think they would spare the lives of these innocent victims, right?

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Unfortunately, this proved not to be the case. Fearmans employees actually rounded up the survivors of the attack and took them into the slaughterhouse, where they would be killed in a gas chamber. In the Fearmans car park, the employees can be seen using the sheets of cardboard to herd the pigs into the slaughterhouse…you can’t make this stuff up! For the survivors, this would have been the first time in their lives that they felt the sunshine on their backs or the grass on their feet. Having survived such a traumatising accident where some of their friends had died, the innocent animals seemed to have no idea of the hellhole they were about to enter.

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There were also pigs that were unable to walk and collapsed outside, near the truck. Along with the activists, Steve Jenkins, father of Esther the Wonder Pig, was present and was eager to take the pigs to his sanctuary. These pigs that can no longer walk are what the industry call ‘downed’ animals, and no profit can be made from them by selling their bodies as meat. So what is it to them if a sanctuary takes a couple of downed animals that would be no use to them anyway? Activists begged for the slaughterhouse to show mercy to these poor pigs, but Fearmans showed absolutely none and killed them on the spot. The photograph below shows one pig comforting his downed companion, before being marched to his own death.

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Anita Krajnc, Co-Founder of Toronto Pig Save, who is currently on trial for ‘criminal mischief’ after feeding water to a dehydrated pig (read all about it here) was arrested at the scene. Understandably, emotions were running high and people were trying to document this completely surreal and heartbreaking event. Police dragged Anita from the scene and into a police car. After her release, she organised an all-night vigil at Fearmans, to pay respect to the animals who were involved in this terrible tragedy, and to the animals that continue to suffer unbearable cruelty every single day, all for human greed.

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Having visited this exact location in the summer where I got to bear witness to pigs heading for slaughter, I found watching this live, as it happened, completely unfathomable. And to think that the bodies of these poor souls are now on their way to Canada supermarkets to be sold and eaten. I urge you to watch the videos on Toronto Pig Save’s Facebook Page and consider this – is this the sort of industry you want to support? Animals are being killed for food every second of the day, but establishments such as Fearmans ‘Pork’ do all they can to keep it hidden. With incidents such as this, they can’t hide what they’re doing.

Now you know the truth – what will you do about it?

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Get Informed:

Toronto Pig Save Facebook Page

Toronto Sun coverage

CTV News coverage

CBC coverage

Global News coverage

UPDATE – #PigTrial Puts Animal Agriculture on Trial

On Wednesday 24th August, the two-day trial that has been highly anticipated for over a year, gaining worldwide news coverage and public attention, finally began as Anita Krajnc, co-founder of Toronto Pig Save, appeared in court.

With dozens of animal rights activists gathered outside the courthouse, and every major news channel from Canada in attendance, the overwhelming atmosphere suggested that it was in fact animal agriculture that had been put on trial, not Anita Krajnc.

Ms Krajnc pleaded ‘not guilty’ to charges related to feeding a thirsty pig water, on June 22nd 2015. The prosecution maintained that Ms Krajnc had been interfering with the pig owner’s property, whilst she defended her actions as an act of compassion towards an animal in need.

Jeffrey Veldjesgraaf, the truck driver, stated that on the date of the incident, he transported approximately 190 hogs between 4-6 months of age, 110 kms (1.5 hours) from Van Boekel Farms in Norwich to Fearmans Pork Inc in Burlington. He said the value of the load was approximately $45,000, and in his Police report stated that his main concern was his livelihood.

Eric Van Boekel, factory farmer, stated that he sends 110,000 pigs per year to slaughter, has 4500 sows, and his farm generates gross revenue in excess of $10 million per year.

The court were shown a video of the interaction between Mr Veldjesgraaf and Ms Krajnc and also excerpts from an Animal Equality Virtual Reality film documenting the life of a pig in a factory farm.

Armaiti May, DVM, expert in animal welfare and member of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and American Veterinary Medical Association, testified that the pigs appeared to be in severe distress, dehydrated, and thirsty due to the excessive heat that day. She stated that giving them water would alleviate that distress.

For over five years Toronto Pig Save has been bearing witness to animals arriving for slaughter, often stopping trucks and giving water to thirsty pigs. The vigils have resulted in viral videos including 11 million views on “Gary TV’s Best video you will ever see”.

The trial continues on October 3rd, November 1st and November 10th. On October 3rd, Ms Krajnc will be testifying and Dr Weis will be called to the stand to talk about the environmental impact of factory farms. On November 1st, Dr Jenkins, nutrition expert, will testify about the nutritional impact of meat consumption and Dr Marino, renowned cognitive behaviourist, will discuss the cognitive abilities of pigs.

On the final scheduled date of November 10th, the court will hear closing submissions from both the Crown and the defence. The judge will then either rule on the case immediately, or reserve his decision to allow him to fully consider the evidence given.

For more information, please contact: Anita Krajnc, TorontoPigSave@gmail.com, 416-825-6080, James Oso (416-272-4124), or Robin Bryce (519-280-2353) co-organisers of Toronto Pig Save. http://www.TorontoPigSave.org

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Compassion is not a Crime – Toronto Pig Save Co-Founder’s Trial

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I had the amazing opportunity to visit Toronto a few weeks ago and be part of the Toronto Save vigils. I’ll be writing more about this soon, but as I’m still on my travels, I just want to briefly let everyone know about a really important trial coming up.

Anita Krajnc is the co-founder of Toronto Pig Save, and will be going on trial on Wednesday 24th and Tuesday 25th August for giving water to dehydrated pigs on their way to slaughter last July. For this act of compassion, Anita now faces up to 6 months in prison and a $5,000 dollar fine.

Why is this important?

Supporting Anita and Toronto Pig Save during this trial is crucial to spread the important message that compassion is not a crime. It’s also a great opportunity to inform others about the Save movement, which is continuing to grow as vigils are currently being set up across the world, including in my home county of Essex in England, which has already set up a series of successful vigils so far.

Who are Toronto Pig Save?

Toronto Pig Save shed light over the harsh reality of animal agriculture. The group expose slaughterhouses that try to keep hidden, and the final journey that innocent animals are forced to endure before they are killed for meat.

What Anita did that day, and what the save movement stands for, is all about showing compassion for animals that have been seen as simply commodities their whole lives. Buying meat and animal products means you are paying for this to happen. In a world that has done so much wrong, all that can now be done for these beautiful animals is to show them compassion in their final moments, and to spread the vegan message so that in the future other animals will not have to be part of such a cruel and horrific industry.

#IStandWithAnita

I’ll be covering this trial as it happens, but for now please stand with Anita and Toronto Pig Save, and do all you can to spread the word that compassion is not a crime.

Use the following hashtags to voice your support on social media:

#pigtrial

#pigsareindividualsnotproperty

#compassionisnotacrime

#IStandWithAnita

#TheDutyToBearWitness

Find out more!

Attending save vigils is a really powerful way to show compassion for exploited animals, Check out the following links to find out more about Toronto Pig Save, Anita’s trial and my own personal experience at Essex Pig Save:

http://www.torontopigsave.org

https://www.facebook.com/events/660517870777915/?ti=icl

https://www.youtube.com/user/TorontoPigSave/videos

https://veganboho.com/2016/06/07/essex-pig-save-first-vigil-6th-june-2016/

RIP Harambe – Gorilla Shot Dead at Zoo in Ohio

On Saturday, Harambe the Gorilla was shot dead at Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio, after a child fell into his enclosure, as the director believed the young boy was in a “life-threatening situation”. See the full story here. Similar situations to this seem to be occurring more and more frequently, which poses the question…how safe actually are zoos?

Just last week at a zoo in Chile, two lions were shot dead after a man stripped naked and jumped into their enclosure, in an apparent suicide attempt. He was then mauled to death by the lions, but the critical point here being that they are just that…lions! What else would we expect from one of the most dangerous predators on earth? After having been taken away from their natural habitat, or having lived all their lives in captivity, they are following their natural instincts, should this be a reason to kill them? And if everyone knows how dangerous they are, why are they even kept in captivity in the first place?

A documentary that really targeted a zoo’s role in modern day society was recently on the BBC as part of the Horizon series called ‘Should we close our zoos?’ This looked at the tragedy of Marius the giraffe, who was killed at Copenhagen Zoo and fed to the other animals while members of the public watched. Culling animals in zoos is standard practice to keep numbers down, but it was only when this was in the public eye that it sparked such an outrage.

The documentary goes on to question if we can ever provide animals in captivity with everything they would have in the wild. It’s clear to see that some zoos do not have the best interests of the animals at heart from the conditions they are kept in. But there are also some zoos that have programmes where they are actively improving numbers of animals that are endangered. In a world where there is a very real threat to so many different species, can zoos that are implementing such programmes be seen to have more of a purpose? If so, why is there any need to keep animals in zoos who are not endangered?

Going back to the tragic loss of Harambe the gorilla, the ‘extreme danger’ that the child was supposed to be in was only due to the sheer size and weight of the animal, not his temperament or personality – so through no fault of his own, he was seen as a threat to the child. The child came out of the incident with no life-threatening injuries and is currently making a full recovery in hospital.

Unfortunately, it is only a matter of time before we hear of the next incident where an animal has been killed in a zoo in an attempt to ‘control’ a situation. Also considering the marine life at parks such as SeaWorld (if you haven’t already, you need to watch Blackfish) and other animals in countless zoos around the world, I think we need to step back and ask… how many more tragedies before we understand that animals are not designed to be kept in captivity?

F.R.I.E.N.D Farm Sanctuary Update

Last summer, I visited one of my local sanctuaries – ‘F.R.I.E.N.D’ in Kent, England. I was lucky enough to have a tour with owner Mark, who runs the sanctuary with his partner, Marion. I met all the animals and left feeling inspired by how this couple have devoted their lives to rescuing them. You can read about my day at F.R.I.E.N.D in my article for Your Daily Vegan by clicking here.

Today I was sadly informed that Marion had passed away. Marion was an incredible advocate for animals, she worked tirelessly to spread the vegan message, and provide a safe sanctuary for the animals that needed it the most. You can view a message from Mark about the extremely sad passing of his wife here.

F.R.I.E.N.D now needs your support more than ever to carry on the fantastic work they do. You can donate towards a lasting legacy for Marion and to help towards running the sanctuary here.

On behalf of animals everywhere – thank you, Marion, for being a fantastic animal advocate and for changing the lives of so many farm animals that were doomed to be victims of the meat industry. Rest in Peace.

 

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Stand with Anita! Toronto Pig Save co-founder punished for helping thirsty pigs

I’ve neglected my blog a little over the past few weeks due to taking five of my exams for the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism. But during this time, there was one news story that I’ve found completely baffling, and a reminder of the long journey animal rights has to come in the court of law.

Anita Krajnc is the co-founder of Canada-based organisation Toronto Pig Save. I was lucky enough to talk to Anita a few months ago, for my blog ‘Toronto Pig Save – Bearing Witness’, including an interview with Bite Size Vegan. It’s an incredible organisation and one of my favourites, I’m currently planning a trip to Canada next year when I will take part in a vigil.

Toronto Pig Save really are on the front line of the animal rights movement, meeting animals that are soon to become products of the meat industry. You can view the video of the moment that led to the arrest here. At a time when people are fully aware of how much hate there is in the world, how can someone giving water to thirsty pigs as they make their journey to slaughter warrant 10 years in prison?

Anita and Toronto Pig Save need your support more than ever. Please spread the word about Toronto Pig Save – the work they are doing is so important in showing people what buying meat really means.

Compassion is not a crime.

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