The world eagerly anticipate the final court hearing where Canadian activist may face a prison sentence for feeding water to dehydrated pigs
On Thursday 4th May, a case that has gained global media attention and caused worldwide debate for almost two years will finally draw to a close as Anita Krajnc, Co-Founder of Toronto Pig Save, will have her final court hearing in Burlington, Canada.
The trial will begin at 9am at the Burlington Court House, with an all-day vigil starting at 7am at Fearmans ‘Pork’ inc. Several groups will also be holding solidarity vigils worldwide to show unity with the message that compassion is not a crime.
Ms Krajnc was charged with criminal mischief in June 2015 after feeding water to dehydrated pigs in a transportation truck, bound for slaughter. Please see ‘The Crime: Compassion’ video of the incident that led to the charges here. She faces a potential six month prison sentence, and $5,000 fine. At the most recent trial on March 9th, Judge Harris said he needed more time to issue the verdict.
The case has attracted global media coverage, and the defence put together by Ms Krajnc’s lawyers James Silver and Gary Grill, both vegan, has put the animal agriculture industry on trial.
The defence shows people that pigs are persons, not property and that Ms Krajnc’s actions were adhering to ‘The Golden Rule’ – treat others as you wish to be treated.
‘Anita is acting in the public good,’ Mr Grill told a packed courtroom. ‘Though pigs are not recognized as persons under law, they have the same capacity to suffer as humans. It is clear that the public has an interest in fostering the good actions of others.’
Virtual reality footage showing typical treatment of pigs in factory farms has also been used together with evidence showing how sentient and self-aware pigs are from leading scientists.
‘Pigs have individual personalities. They’re also one of the few species that can recognise themselves in a mirror. They have self-awareness, self-agency and have a sense of themselves within the social community. Each one is a unique individual.’ said Lori Marino, a Neuroscientist who testified at the Pig Trial on November 1st 2016.
Toronto Pig Save started in 2011 and began a wider network known as The Save Movement in which groups from around the world join together to bear witness to animals arriving in transportation trucks at slaughterhouses. There are now more than 130 groups worldwide, including in North and South America, Europe and Asia.
The public are encouraged to show support via social media by using the hashtags #pigtrial and #compassionisnotacrime. You can also pledge your support by joining the #pigtrial Thunderclap here.
The Save Movement are aiming for #pigtrial and #compassionisnotacrime to be trending worldwide, sharing the story of the trial as widely as possible. Please join us to spread the message!
Last week, we held our monthly Essex Pig Save vigil to bear witness to pigs arriving for slaughter at Cheale Meats in Essex, England. To say the event was a success wouldn’t be right, because we are always left with overwhelming sadness as the truck pulls in to the slaughterhouse, knowing that there is nothing more we can do for the animals inside. However, we are making great progress with this group, and sharing our story with the wider area to inform people about the work we are doing.
We had a great turnout, with over thirty people attending at various times on a very cold morning. At every vigil we have held so far, we have been joined by the police who we have found have had mixed reactions to the vigils. This week though, the police worked with us and the truck drivers to allow us to spend two minutes with each truck. Although this doesn’t seem like a lot of time at all, we are so grateful for the two minutes we get to spend with the animals. Their lives are going to be taken away not long after we see them, so two minutes is incredibly precious.
We were all quite taken aback with how large the pigs were today. Cheale Meats kills around 6,000 animals a week, and they come from all different places – some are bred on factory farms, some on private farms – but they all end up here to be slaughtered. This is important to consider when seeing labels such as ‘humane’, ‘grass fed’ and ‘cage-free’ in animal agriculture. It seems that the purpose of such labels is solely to make people feel better about the products they are buying, without having any impact on animal welfare whatsoever. ‘Humane slaughter’ is an oxymoron – there is no humane way to kill somebody who doesn’t want to die. It was abundantly clear that the animals we saw today did not want to die.
In the two minutes we had, we were able to get a glimpse of the individual personalities of each animal. Their reactions were very mixed, some were clearly frustrated having hardly any space to move and so began to fight with their companions. Others were still and looked petrified, their curious eyes meeting with ours every now and then. It is now common knowledge that pigs are highly intelligent animals – they are very aware of their surroundings. When looking into their eyes, it is obvious that they are reading the signals of those around them. This is why it’s so important that we are there for them in their final moments.
Another thing that’s so heartbreaking when you have the opportunity to get up close to an animal that is heading for slaughter, is noticing the tags on their ears. This clearly symbolises the idea that they are viewed as ‘property’ and their individual personalities are completely ignored, as they are reduced to simply a number. Think of your pet at home – think of all the little quirks they have. One of my rescued cats called Hattie has really thrived since we took her home from Cat’s Protection just over a year ago. I first knew her as a scared, timid cat, but she has grown into an intuitive, loving and sometimes even mischievous member of the family. The animals we saw today will never have that chance to show anyone who they really are. Their tags are a reminder that animal agriculture has robbed them of this. They are viewed as simply a number.
Hopefully we gave the pigs we met today some comfort before they entered Cheale Meats. The Save Movement is continuing to grow worldwide – I just hope that with this comes less people actively participating in such a cruel and unnecessary industry.
RIP to all the animals we met on 13th February 2017 – we’re so sorry we couldn’t save you.
Essex Pig Save in the News!
We are spreading the message of The Save Movement across our local area of Essex! This week we have been featured on the news site Essex Live, and also in the newspapers the Essex Chronicle and the Yellow advertiser. Check out the link below to see our online coverage, talking about the love-based approach that all groups in The Save Movement adopt.
A couple of weeks ago, I got to spend the day at Second Chance Animal Rescue (SCAR) in Crockenhill, Kent, England. Hanging out with rescued farm animals is probably my favourite thing to do, especially a few days after attending a save vigil (check out my experience at Essex Pig Save here). Watching happy farm animals live out the rest of their days in peace and freedom is an incredible feeling, it reminds us of just what they are capable of. Very different to the lives most of them are forced to endure on factory farms.
SCAR has been running since 2011, and officially became a charity in January 2016. John Ranger is the founder of SCAR, and I also got to meet Daisy who is a Trustee. They look after around 350-400 animals – some (e.g. reptiles) do not live on site but with expert volunteers. They rehome cats, small animals (e.g. rabbits, guinea pigs), hens, and ponies, only if the home is a forever home where they will live a better life than they would have here at SCAR.
Cows have unimaginably tough lives living on factory farms (click here for more information). But the cows living at SCAR seemed so content. Thriving in their well-deserved freedom, I got to spend a lot of time with Arnold and co.
You know something really weird? I’d never actually seen a pig in real life until my first visit to Hillside Animal Sanctuary (check out my blog on Your Daily Vegan about this here). I’d openly say that pigs were my favourite animal, but I’d never actually seen one! This is because, well, when would you? The vast majority of pigs will be living on factory farms, hidden away. Since attending save vigils, I now see pigs every couple of weeks, but not in the circumstances I would ever wish to see them. At SCAR, I got to meet a whole bunch of happy pigs – they were all curious, unique individuals…and also hilarious!
Surprised to see an emu happily hanging out with the pigs, I learned that SCAR really do offer a home to any animal who needs one. Mumu the emu’s story began when somebody bought a fertile emu egg online, hatched it out and raised the emu with their 30 chickens in a chicken coop. When Mumu got too large (which didn’t take long!) they got in touch with SCAR, who gave him a home where he seems to get on pretty well with all the other residents, considering, you know…he’s an emu!
I also got to meet some beautiful racoon dogs who were cuddled up and keeping each other warm. These animal are often used for their fur, and they seemed to frighten very easily. I can’t imagine how terrified similar animals must feel living in over-cramped fur farms.
With this amount of animals, you have to wonder, how do they do it? Well…SCAR don’t officially open to the public but have periodic volunteering events. As a charity, they rely on donations to cover the costs (find out how you can donate below). They also hold fundraisers, such as their upcoming ‘The Retro Years’ SCAR fundraiser on 24th February, find out more details for this here.
Spending time with rescued animals must definitely be good for the soul. I admire the incredible work that SCAR and other sanctuaries are doing. Each of the animals here are ambassadors for others of their kind – they show us what all animals are capable of, happily thriving in a safe and loving environment. Thank you for all your hard work, SCAR! Check out the details of how to support this amazing sanctuary below.
In 2016, I took the step from vegan to vegan activist. It was a new year’s resolution of mine to become more involved in animal rights. I would watch videos of undercover investigations in factory farms, and I knew that my money was not paying for any of this cruelty…but this still didn’t make me feel any better. No fair! I did the research, watched the footage, I made the leap from vegetarian to vegan, surely I should feel at peace knowing that my money isn’t paying anybody to torture and kill animals?! Unfortunately, for many people like me, this isn’t enough. New investigations keep cropping up all the time, new disturbing pictures, and although you might not be contributing to it, are you doing enough to change this course of history? Or will you be burdened with the fear of future generations looking back and saying, ‘why didn’t they do more?’
My answer? Activism. Last summer, I joined Toronto Pig Save in a series of vigils in a short space of time, bearing witness to cows, pigs, lambs and chickens. I talked to Anita Krajnc about how her passion lead to her facing the possibility of going to prison for what she believed in (read more about Anita’s trial here). I talked to other activists, and eventually found that a lot of people felt the same as me. Since then I have attended regular save vigils, taking time out of my own little life to think about the suffering of others, and actually being there for them, instead of turning a blind eye. The quote that best sums up what I’m talking about here is:
‘Activism is my rent for living on the planet.’ – Alice Walker
Yesterday I joined other activists to say goodbye to innocent pigs about to enter Cheale Meats in Essex. This is one of the ‘nicer’ locations for a slaughterhouse, as strange as that is to say. The surrounding area here is very deceiving – a beautiful countryside with birds singing and typical rural surroundings. The thing that ruins all this though? The screams of helpless pigs inside Cheale Meats, and today those screams were extra loud.
We were able to bear witness to some of the pigs entering Cheale Meats. They were cramped, frightened, agitated and seemed to have an idea about where they were headed. Well, they are one of the world’s most intelligent animals (cleverer than dogs) let’s give them some credit, right? Take a moment to think about how you would feel if you were in this very same situation…
We had two precious minutes with these animals. For two minutes, they were shown compassion. For two minutes, they were viewed as living beings instead of simply commodities. For two minutes, time spent with them was time we wanted to give, not because we were ‘doing our job’ to cause them pain and suffering. For us it was just two minutes, for them it was some of their last moments on earth.
As the trucks pulled off into the gloom of Cheale Meats, we spent an extra two minutes remembering these animals silently. As the human race, we have let them down. But as individuals, there’s still a lot more we can do.
In many situations in life, you can do something or you can do nothing. As sad as it is to say, the animals I met today were going to die regardless. We can either be there for them, and share their story, or we can let them suffer in silence. At the end of 2016, I wrote about some of my proudest moments of the year (check this out here)- it wasn’t losing weight, it wasn’t stopping biting my nails, it wasn’t spending less money on clothes – it was getting active for animals. Feeling overwhelmed and angry about a factory farming video you’ve just watched? Good! Use it. Use it to share their story, attend animal rights events, go to vigils and look into the eyes of animals bound for slaughter. Because this is happening whether you turn a blind eye or not. But I guarantee you will feel stronger and prouder as you find yourself part of some amazing milestones that will be happening for animals. Just this weekend, Ringling Brother’s Circus announced they will (finally) be closing this year, and no more animals will be suffering for our entertainment in their hands (read about this here). Imagine how awesome it feels to be a part of that? To have protested for a cause you felt so passionate about, and the world listened. It can happen, and it is happening! Make 2017 the year you actually did something about what you care about. And speak up! Because the world is listening, and things are changing, but please don’t forget those that won’t get to see this change.
RIP to all the pigs I met today.
The Save Movement
An excellent way to get active for animals is by attending Save vigils. These are now cropping up all over the place, so the chances are there will be one not too far from you. And if there isn’t? Start your own! I bet there will be plenty of other people in your area that want to get active for animals too. Check out the following links for more information:
On Sunday 28th August, Essex Pig Save and Animal Equality joined forces to show the people of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, the truth behind animal agriculture.
Essex Pig Save have held a number of successful vigils over the past few months, I wrote about the first one outside Cheale Meats in Brentwood here. The aim of the group is to bear witness to pigs on their final journey to the slaughterhouse, and promote a vegan lifestyle so that in the future, innocent pigs will not have to endure such a cruel and unnecessary fate.
Animal Equality were on hand with virtual reality headsets, where people viewed 360 degree footage of the life of a pig at a factory farm. The reaction from the public who viewed the footage was very inspiring. People of all ages took on the challenge to open their minds by putting themselves in somebody else’s shoes.
Essex Pig Save were handing out leaflets with more information, and many people seemed to be eager to find out more. I had some great conversations with people who were vegetarian, but hadn’t thought about the implications that the egg and dairy industry has for animals. Others hadn’t really thought about the treatment of animals in factory farms very much before, but were open to what we were doing and took some information away to consider.
Overall, it was a very successful day, and it was great to be able to talk to people about what Essex Pig Save are doing. Slaughterhouses are often hidden in secret, so it’s important that we shine a line and let people know what actually goes on.
The next Essex Pig Save vigil will be on the 14th September, with special guest Bite Size Vegan, who I interviewed prior to attending her first ever vigil with Toronto Pig Save here. Find out more about Bite Size Vegan’s UK travels here.
N.B.: The vigils are open to absolutely everyone, check out the Essex Pig Save Facebook Page to find out more about bearing witness to beautiful animals.
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.
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:
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:
Last month, I met English actor (appearing in X-Men: Days of Future Past) Gregg Lowe. Having recently returned from Toronto, Gregg is now settling back into the London lifestyle, so I got to ask him a few questions about his experience working with marine animal protection organisation Sea Shepherd as part of their Operation Milagro II campaign to defend the endangered vaquita porpoise. Gregg explained that volunteering with Sea Shepherd was certainly an eye-opening experience.
“Sea Shepherd are amazing, I felt so blessed to be able to work with them. I think they’re such a great organisation and just being on the ship for a week was a great experience. What was amazing was that most of these people are there as a volunteer, because they want to make a difference and help in some way. It was a great energy. I’d love to work with them again for longer.”
Like many others, I have felt inspired by recent documentaries such as The Cove, shining light on the annual dolphin hunts in Taiji, Japan. You can read my blog about a screening of The Cove with ex-dolphin trainer Ric O’Barryhere and find about about my experience of the London Against Taiji Dophin Massacre Marchhere. Gregg has also felt inspired by such game-changing documentaries to take action for marine animals.
“The Cove was just traumatic and engrossing in so many ways. It really inspires you to do something because you don’t realise stuff like that’s actually going on. I think we all know something’s happening, but when you’re faced with the realness of it, it really affects you.”
“The biggest threat to ocean life? Us, probably! Over fishing, over consumption, silly markets like the Black Market and Chinese Medicine Market. In Mexico, the reason we were there was to try and save the vaquita (a type of porpoise). It wasn’t because they were being fished – a seabass called the totoaba was being fished for its gall bladder for the Chinese medicine market. They’re the same size as the vaquita and were being caught in the nets and getting wiped out – there’s only around twenty of them left now. It’s silly things like that, and also shark fin soup – shown in documentary Shark Water. We are the biggest threat to animals, well to our planet really. So I think its time that we recognise that, as people are, and start to live in more of a symbiotic relationship with animals in the ocean.”
In Operation Milagro II, Sea Shepherdhave worked with local governments to prevent illegal fishing in the area, and are in turn protecting endangered marine life. So could working with governments be the way forward to protect the ocean?
“Definitely, it makes things easier and is a huge support. The problem with working with governments is a lot of them are so corrupt and if you’re taking money away from the country, they don’t really want to know because they don’t really care that animals are being killed when they’re making money out of it. That’s always the problem that you come up against. But the more support you can get, the better.”
As a vegan activist, Gregg’s interest in animal rights grew when learning about eastern philosophy. This developed into a strong interest in Buddhism and living a life centred around compassion, causing as little harm to the earth as possible.
“I was living in Thailand and Napal for a while, staying in different monasteries and studying Buddhism – it was during that period I was looking at things to do with animals. I haven’t always been vegan – I used to eat meat when I was younger, but during that time I found a new appreciation for life and started to see things from a different angle.”
There are a number of reasons why people may decide to choose a vegan lifestyle – personal health, environmental impact – but for Gregg the main basis for this decision stemmed from this idea of compassionate living that he discovered in Buddhism.
“As I learned more about compassion, it was definitely more of an ethical thing. Later on, I read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and watched more documentaries like Vegucated. Once you start learning all that – you can’t unlearn it. It’s all about being passionate and living the most compassionate life possible, and for me taking care of animals, humans and everything around me is like the baseline for compassion.”
And with more information, naturally comes more debate. It’s fantastic that the vegan lifestyle seems to be something that is popping up all the time in the news, but this has also come with some criticism. One common topic is the palm oil debate – a product which is found in a lot of vegan (and non-vegan) products, the production process for which is causing severe deforestation to the planet.
“You can’t do everything to save the planet, you can only do as much as you can. It’s all about having the right intention. Being 100% cruelty-free is an ideal, not a reality. They talk about this in buddhism, their first precept is that they can’t kill, but inevitably they stand on the ground and they might kill some ants, but its having the broader knowledge of knowing that your intention is not to harm, so once we’re informed that something has palm oil in, which is harming the environment, then we can make those choices. Its a journey. Of course we all do things in our daily lives which can have a negative effect down the line, but its about trying to balance it out as much as you can.”
Gregg continues to explain that although the production process of products such as palm oil is devastating to the environment, there is still one clear factor that is the leading cause of deforestation, global warming and climate change amongst so many other things – animal agriculture.
“Palm oil is horrendous and it is causing deforestation, but as I’m sure you’ve seen in Cowspiracy, nothing is causing more deforestation than animal agriculture, so I still think you’re winning by living vegan. There’s cause and effect to everything, every action has a reaction so even doing good things will somewhere down the line have some kind of negative effect on something, but if you’re intention is right, then you can let that go.”
As well as appearing in X-Men: Days of Future Past, Gregg has also appeared in several TV series including Murdoch Mysteries, Doctors and Beauty and the Beast. So I was curious as to whether he has had the opportunity to incorporate his passion towards animal rights into his acting.
“I’ve been acting for a long time and I got to a point where I needed more of a purpose for doing what I do, other than just because I want to do it. I think we all get to a stage like that in life where we sit back and think ‘why am I doing this?’ ‘what can I offer to society and the world other than i’m doing this just because I enjoy it?’ and animal rights and veganism became my purpose for doing it because I can do interviews like this and put my name to things. Actually having those beliefs has supported me through tough times, it gives you more of a purpose and that extra support. When you’re not driven by a passion or a purpose, it feels kind of empty.”
Currently, Gregg has just finished computer game Assassin’s Creedwhich was released in February, and has just decided to move back to England to do some more voice-over work. Having enjoyed his experience volunteering with Sea Shepherd, he also hopes to get involved with more of their projects in the future.
“I’d love to work with Sea Shepherd again, but I’m staying in London for now…saying that I change my mind like the wind, and also with my work I travel quite a lot, but for now my base is in London.”
Welcome back to London, Gregg!Thank you for taking the time to talk about animal rights and your experience volunteering with Sea Shepherd. Sea Shepherddo some fantastic work protecting marine life in our oceans and need your support. Find out more about them here. You can also keep up to date with all of their latest campaigns on Facebookand Twitter.
Gregg mentions a number of animal rights and environmentaldocumentaries and books, check out the following links and inform yourself about important issues that are affecting our planet: