10370617736_353e741e72_o.jpgThe federal government, through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, has granted $2.25 million to the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) to update the codes of practice that establish standards of care for farmed animals.

NFACC is an industry-led animal agriculture group. Instead of legislating standards, the government opts to fund the industry's own creation of guidelines.

As Mercy For Animals Canada's investigations have shown, Canadians are compassionate people who have no appetite for abuse and neglect of farmed animals. MFA Canada urges NFACC to consider the will of the Canadian taxpayers who are funding the development of these codes of practice and establish stringent animal welfare guidelines.

The codes of practice relating to egg-laying hens and turkeys are currently under revision.

A 2013 MFA Canada investigation documented egg-laying hens crowded into cages so small they couldn't stretch their wings or do anything that came naturally to them for their entire miserable lives. The current code of practice deems battery cages acceptable, even though they are inherently so cruel that they have been banned by the entire European Union, Switzerland, New Zealand, and the states of California and Michigan.

In addition to leading to animal cruelty prosecutions, MFA Canada's recent investigation at the country's largest turkey breeder revealed turkeys bred to grow so large so quickly that they became crippled under their own weight. Following our investigation, almost 70,000 consumers signed our petition calling on NFACC to do away with this horrific practice. That petition can still be signed here.

The current veal code of practice, dating back to 1998, is also due for an update. MFA Canada's investigation at a veal factory farm revealed lonely calves living their entire lives in feces-encrusted crates, sometimes chained by their necks -- a practice considered so cruel that eight U.S. states, Australia, New Zealand, and the entire European Union have banned it. Following our investigation, veal producers representing 97 percent of the industry, as well as grocers accounting for 50 percent of the market, agreed to phase out veal crates by 2018. Yet Canada's code of practice is entirely silent on the use of these archaic crates.

MFA Canada is calling on NFACC for meaningful updates to the codes of practice under revision, including prohibitions of cruel battery cages and veal crates, and an end to the breeding of suffering into the very DNA of turkeys.

Meanwhile, consumers hold the power to eliminate animal cruelty from their diets by making compassionate food choices. Visit ChooseVeg.ca for more. 

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I am certain that you all remember our heartbreaking investigation into one of the largest veal farms in North America, Délimax Veal, which aired on W5 in April of this year.

Since sharing with each of you what really goes on behind the closed doors of these veal farms, Mercy For Animals Canada has been working tirelessly to ensure that the feces-covered wooden boxes that these baby calves are housed in are banned.

I am very pleased to share with you that the Ontario Veal Association has just publicly announced that it is recommending the phase-out of inherently cruel veal crates by 2018. A huge success!

As a result of our investigation, which exposed the egregious acts of cruelty considered standard practice by the veal industry, the Quebec Veal Association banned veal crates, and major retailers Loblaws, Sobeys, and Metro also agreed to a ban. Such a ban was already in effect at Costco. This means that 97 percent of the veal produced in Canada will now be crate-free.

But what continues to befuddle us is that the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) still refuses to support a ban of this horrible practice, even though its involvement is critical to holding producers and retailers to their commitment in the long run. The RCC's directors have been dragging their feet on this critical issue -- they are letting consumers down! Don't let them sit idle on what should have been done months ago.


Please sign our petition, and then write to the RCC to send a loud and clear message that the Canadian public will not tolerate this abuse!

Krista Osborne
Executive Director
Mercy For Animals Canada

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chicken.jpgA video of a woman apparently plucking and eating a whole bird on the Montreal subway went viral this week. The video was posted to YouTube earlier this month and has already garnered more than 250,000 views.

The woman, Christina David, hails from a tiny Inuk village in Northern Quebec. In a Facebook post, she denies being crazy and states, "It's not like we get to eat our country food every day. I was so happy that I didn't care where I was at the moment." David also writes that she couldn't wait to get home so she could cook the bird with onions and mushrooms. She proudly adds, "all I have to say is that I will always be an Inuk no matter where I am."

According to Montreal police, David could face criminal charges for disturbing the peace.

However, as many viewers of the video commented online, eating dead birds is actually quite common in our society, although the plucking of chickens, turkeys, and ducks is usually automated and hidden away in slaughter plants.

Consumers and subway riders who are squeamish about eating dead birds -- plucked or not -- are invited to check out ChooseVeg.ca for information on leaving birds and other animals out of our diets altogether.

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In the recent CBC podcast "The inner lives of animals: Treating mental illness in zoos," CBC reporter Jian Gomeshi spoke to Alex Halberstadt, who wrote "Zoo Animals and Their Discontents" for The New York Times Magazine. The two discussed the science behind animal behavioural therapy, understanding animal cognition, and the question of whether animals should be kept in captivity.

"For most pet owners, the idea that an animal thinks and feels isn't controversial at all. Most people who live with a dog or a cat will probably say their pet has a personality and an identity and feels fear and love," says Halberstadt.

For years, animal behaviourists have been treating zoo animals for myriad mental illnesses, including depression, phobias, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Finally, thanks to behavioural studies and new techniques in brain imaging, there is a growing recognition of animal sentience in the scientific community.

"We know, for instance that shore crabs feel pain, that finches experience REM sleep, that chimps, for example, can experience empathy and sometimes help each other without expecting anything in return," Halberstadt continues. "New discoveries show animals are more like us than we thought."

These studies continue to demonstrate that animals feel pain just like humans and deserve to be free from harm. Treating these sentient beings with compassion and respect begins with taking them off your plates. To learn how to make cruelty-free food choices visit ChooseVeg.ca

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3817524657_564c8298cf_o.jpgDr. Kim Williams, a cardiologist and the next president of the American College of Cardiology, went vegan in 2003 and saw a dramatic health improvement. Although he had believed that he followed a healthy diet, consuming no red meat or fried foods, he learned that chicken contains even more cholesterol than pork!

In a blog post for MedPage Today, Dr. Williams explains:

I often discuss the benefits of adopting a plant-based diet with patients who have high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, or coronary artery disease. I encourage these patients to go to the grocery store and sample different plant-based versions of many of the basic foods they eat. For me, some of the items, such as chicken and egg substitutes, were actually better-tasting.

He goes on to imagine the American College of Cardiology putting itself out of business within a generation or two, and notes that improving our diets will help us get there.

Besides appreciably improving the health of people afflicted with or at risk of high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, or coronary artery disease, a vegan diet is better for the animals too. Learn how to leave suffering and ill-health off of your plate at ChooseVeg.ca.

Image: Vegan falafel plate at Nuba in Vancouver.

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Mercy For Animals Canada is lucky to have hundreds of dedicated and compassionate volunteers across the country! 

One volunteer who stood out for her efforts this month is Ali Pester. Ali studied human rights and transnational law at Carleton University in Ottawa and has just been accepted at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto. In addition to being a student, Ali is a devoted advocate for animals and regularly takes part in Mercy For Animals Canada volunteer initiatives.

We recently spoke with Ali to learn more about her passion for animal protection.

Q: What first inspired you to become a vegan? 

A: I went vegetarian in high school mainly because I knew I cared about animals, though I had no real knowledge about the extent of their suffering on factory farms at the time. As I began to learn more about why people go vegetarian and to justify it to myself, I started to read the websites of animal rights organizations, and I saw Earthlings during my first month living away at university. I went vegan while watching Earthlings and I've never gone back. All it took was learning the realities that animals face in modern farming for me to decide that it was not something that I could rationally contribute to.

Q: What are some of your favourite foods?

A: I love curries, veggie burgers, and stir-fries, but my favourite lazy vegan product is Amy's roasted vegetable pizza. I also have many favourites from veg restaurants in my city and around North America. Specifically, I'd say anything from Auntie Loo's bakery here in Ottawa, and anything from Hogtown Vegan in Toronto are favourites as well. 

Q: Why did you choose to volunteer with MFA Canada? 

A: I've been following the work of Mercy For Animals in the U.S. since I first went vegan and I have spent the last few years involved in other organizations based in the U.S., such as Vegan Outreach and The Humane League. While I am still involved in these organizations, I had been waiting for an organization to come to Canada that is as effective and whose work I enjoy taking part in as much as these organizations and MFA in the States. When I found out that MFA Canada was starting, it was obvious to me that I would become involved with them. I'm so grateful for the work they are doing in this country and I think that the organization is going to continue to make huge change for farmed animals in Canada.

Q: What do you like most about volunteering with MFA Canada? 

A: First of all, I'm incredibly proud of the work that they do. These groundbreaking investigations into factory farms have really opened people's eyes to the fact that these abuses that we are learning run rampant in modern farms in the United States are happening in our own backyard as well. I also like volunteering with MFA Canada because the organization gets results and makes measurable change through working with corporations to change their policies and even working with individuals to take animals off their plates. MFA Canada takes a very professional, realistic approach, and it has been an important experience watching how effective we can be in changing people's habits to help animals. 

Q: What is the key to your success as an activist? 

A: When I first got involved in animal activism, I was very angry about what was happening to animals, not just on farms but in the fashion, cosmetics, and entertainment industries. That anger was very unproductive and alienating to people who actually wanted to be on my side. Learning the importance of focusing on points of agreement as opposed to disagreement and being compassionate not just to animals but to people has been a noticeable game changer in my efficacy as an activist.

Being angry that someone is not vegan will not make someone vegan and it has never helped me in trying to get them to see things the way that I see them. I think another way to be successful as an activist is to contribute to and foster a community. Much of what I have learned as an activist comes from the incredible activists I've gotten to work with and have friendships with. I cannot stress enough how important it is to participate in a positive community that can relate to the feelings that come along with taking on a cause for oppressed animals. 

Q: Can you offer any insight for others interested in becoming involved with animal rights activism? 

A: Being involved in any type of activism can be very nerve-wracking for people and it has been that way for me in the past as well. Sometimes it still is. I think like anything else, I'd encourage people to go out of their comfort zones a little bit at a time. I cannot think of anything more rewarding now than going out and leafleting and having conversations with people about factory farms and reducing their meat consumption. It may seem difficult, but it is so worth it. 

Want to join our volunteer network? Sign up today! We also have an Action Centre where you'll find easy steps for making the world a kinder place for animals. Each month we spotlight one amazing volunteer. Next month it could be you

Written by: Lucas Solowey

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10371454806_dd5901dc82_o.jpgAn editorial in a Southwestern Ontario newspaper observes that MFA Canada's undercover investigations have had a significant impact on the country's factory farming system.

The article states that MFA Canada's investigations have "forced sectors such as poultry and pork to defend and/or distance themselves and their producer organization members from the practices of the farms on which its undercover agents had shot footage."

The practices in question have been documented on six randomly selected factory farms across the country, and they have shocked and horrified the Canadian public.

Mutilating screaming pigs without painkillers, grinding up trays full of live chicks, and confining chickens in barren metal cages so small they can't even stretch their wings for their entire miserable lives are among the practices the industry has been forced to defend.

The industry has attempted to distance itself from the gratuitous violence and blatant neglect documented each time we have gone undercover. The culture of cruelty is so pervasive inside factory farms that animal abusers busted in two of our investigations now face animal cruelty charges.

The author of the Southwestern Ontario article advises farmers to smarten up, counselling that "Mercy for Animals isn't going anywhere anytime soon. The best defence against their efforts is for farmers to do the best they can on their farms." On those points, we agree.

Each time we sit down to eat, we as consumers can send a powerful message that treating animals as mere profit-making machines is not acceptable. Visit ChooseVeg.ca for more information.

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The very first
Montreal Vegan Food Festival will take place over two days this September! The festival will be held at UQAM, September 26-27, 2014.

According to the event website:

International lecturers, cooking demos continuously looping throughout the day, informative stands and organizations, roundtable discussions, ethical fashion stores, and, of course ... delicious tastings await you! The Montreal Vegan Festival will provide an unparalleled opportunity to discover food and lifestyle in a different light, while addressing the health, ethical, and environmental aspects of veganism. Whether you're a vegan, vegetarian, foodie, eco-enthusiast or simply curious, you're sure to find the Montreal Vegan Festival innovative, educational, and inspiring.

Access to the site, exhibits, culinary demos, and conferences on Saturday, September 27, will be entirely free! Tickets for the opening conference on Friday, September 26, will be on sale for $10.

The festival has already confirmed some interesting and educational speakers, including Dr. Michael Greger from NutritionFacts.org, and Derek and Steve, dads of Esther the Wonder Pig!


To stay updated on speakers, and for more information, check out the Montreal Vegan Festival website and Facebook page.

Montreal residents, you do not want to miss out on this amazing event! To find veg-friendly events and volunteer opportunities nationwide, check out MFA Canada's events page.

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Downer punched in face while being suspendedNR.jpgA disturbing article in Farmers Forum, the largest circulation farm newspaper in Ontario, claims that the criminal behaviour MFA Canada recently documented at the country's largest dairy factory farm is not only perfectly acceptable, but also "not unusual" on dairy farms.

At Chilliwack Cattle Sales, MFA Canada exposed:

  • Workers viciously kicking, punching, beating, and hitting cows in the face and body with chains, metal pipes, rakes, and canes
  • Sick and injured cows suffering from open wounds, oozing infections, and painful injuries left to suffer without proper veterinary care
  • Workers using chains and tractors to lift sick and injured cows into the air by their necks while punching their faces and screaming obscenities at them
  • Workers poking and squeezing festering wounds, ripping clumps of hair out of cows' sensitive tails, and punching bulls in the testicles

Following the investigation, law enforcement raided the facility and now eight workers face criminal cruelty to animals charges. The company itself continues to undergo investigation for its role in the abuse.

The article in Farmer Forum, written by a dairy farmer, minimizes the gruesome injuries as "sore feet and legs" and the vicious, ceaseless beatings as merely "hitting" a "reluctant" cow.

In explaining why he considers it acceptable to wrap chains around the necks of cows too sick and injured to even stand and drag them into the air, the dairy farmer points out that the milking equipment is worth $750,000 while the cows are only worth $1,500. He suggests that it makes better economic sense to hurt the animals rather than the machines.

Consumers who refuse to support a profit-hungry industry that defends and minimizes criminal animal abuse can visit ChooseVeg.ca for information on eating plant-based foods. Thankfully, it has never been easier or more delicious to ditch dairy for good.

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I had the honour and pleasure of attending the 2014 Animal Rights National Conference in Los Angeles over the last few days.

Being surrounded by other activists all day every day was uplifting and inspiring. 

The speakers, the sponsors, and the exhibitors were all great. And, of course, the food -- let's just say I ate a few too many warm vegan donuts!


While it would be difficult to share all of the amazing work that is being done by so many people, the true lesson learned is that there is an important role for each and every one of us in working for the animals.

Whether we leaflet at a concert, fight for legal reform, protest at a local circus, or bring vegan baked goods to work, the animals need us.

Whether we work part time, full time, or on a volunteer basis, the animals need us.

Whether we are artists, doctors, lawyers, students, or homemakers, the animals need us.


Every one of us needs to find how best to use our skills and abilities to speak for those who have no voice.

Remember the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

Help in any way you can to bend the arc.

Feeling Inspired? Click here to learn more about volunteering with MFA Canada.

Written by: Krista Osborne, Executive Director, Mercy For Animals Canada

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