10371167116_cb7e505b20_z.jpgLast autumn, we reported that Maple Lodge Farms had been convicted under the federal Health of Animals Act for allowing icy, wet chickens to freeze to death in transport trucks.

Now, the judge has handed down her sentence: $1 million paid by the company to improve the manner in which it transports chickens and $80,000 in fines -- almost the maximum allowed under law.

In light of the convictions, the company has pleaded guilty to an additional 18 counts of failing to transport chickens humanely, for a total of 20 counts.

Maple Lodge Farms has been placed on probation for three years. During this time, the company will be forced to comply with the "transparency" elements of the court's sentence, which require the company to promote details of its convictions in a "prominent place" on its website. The company must also post on its website a tally of the chickens who have arrived at slaughterhouses already dead after the grueling transport trip from its farm.

Every year, more than 600 million chickens suffer in silence as Canada's regulators turn a blind eye to the torturous conditions in which chickens are born, "raised," and killed. This important court decision recognizes that chickens are no different from our beloved cats and dogs in deserving a life free from suffering and neglect.

The best way to ensure the agricultural industry isn't harming animals on your dime is to withdraw your financial support. Cast your consumer dollars in favor of delicious plant-based meal options that can be found at grocery stores from coast to coast. Get tips and ideas for cruelty-free cooking at ChooseVeg.ca.

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This week, Phys.org reports findings from a recent study published in "Frontiers in Zoology," which highlights just how smart goats really are. 

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According to the article, "Goats learn how to solve complicated tasks quickly and can recall how to perform them for at least 10 months, which might explain their remarkable ability to adapt to harsh environments, say researchers at Queen Mary University of London." 

The article suggests that this advanced intelligence may also explain why goats are so skilled at foraging for plants in the wild. 

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The more scientists look into the inner worlds of goats and other farmed animals, the more they discover that they are intelligent beings with rich emotional and social lives. 

Unfortunately, goats raised for milk and meat are subjected to routine violence, abuse, and neglect. Believe it or not, over 500,000 goats are slaughtered in the United States every year -- that's over 1,000 a day. 

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Caring consumers can help protect these intelligent and sensitive creatures from needless suffering and death by transitioning to a humane vegan lifestyle. Check out ChooseVeg.ca to learn more. 

Written by Sarah Von Alt, MFA

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troublewithturkeys_kick_video_640.jpgMFA Canada's undercover investigation at Hybrid Turkeys -- a turkey factory farm owned by the second-largest turkey producer in the world, has garnered massive media attention and raised awareness about the unconscionable suffering of turkeys behind the closed doors of Canada's factory farms. 

The media frenzy started with an exclusive story on CBC's renowned investigative program Marketplace, followed by additional in-depth coverage on CBC National.




From local to national and international media outlets, including television, radio, and print, here is a roundup of just some of that coverage:

Video Prompts Probe of Abuse at Ontario Turkey Farm - Toronto Sun 
Undercover Video Reveals Violence Against Turkeys at Ontario Farm -Toronto Star 
Four Suspended After Video Shows Workers Bludgeoning Turkeys With Shovel - Metronews.ca
Video: Alleged Animal Abuse at Hybrid Turkeys - Vancouver Sun 
Images d'une «horrible cruauté» dans une ferme d'élevage de dindes - Le Journal De Montréal 
Abuse at Hybrid Turkeys: Video Shows 'Culture of Cruelty' - Huffington Post 
Images troublantes captées dans une ferme d'élevage de dindes en Ontario - Quebec Huffington Post 
Turkey Farm Video Shows Gaping Hole in Government Animal Welfare Oversight - CBC News 
Images Troublantes Captées dans une Ferme D'élevage de Dindes - Radio-Canada (French) 
Alleged Turkey Torture - CTV Kitchener
Shocking undercover video exposes abuse of turkeys at Ontario factory farm - Yahoo News Canada (blog) 
Hidden camera captures 'blatant animal cruelty' at turkey farm - CTV News
Hidden Camera Documents Animal Abuse at Ontario Turkey Farm - CTV News Barrie 

Radio interviews included 570News, Radio-Canada, CBC, CJAD, and 610cktb. 

The investigation exposed millions of consumers to the turkey industry's abusive practices. Our investigator documented horrific cruelty to turkeys, including:

• Workers punching, throwing, kicking, and beating turkeys 
• Workers crushing the spines of turkeys, and bashing in their heads with metal rods and shovels 
• Turkeys with open wounds, rotting eyes, and festering infections left to suffer without proper veterinary care 
• Birds bred to grow so quickly they became crippled under their own weight 

As MFA Canada works to expose and end cruelty to animals at the hands of the meat, egg, and dairy industries, consumers still hold the greatest power of all to prevent the needless suffering of farmed animals by adopting a healthy and humane vegetarian diet. Visit ChooseVeg.ca to download free recipes and tips for making the transition to a vegetarian lifestyle.

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Polar.jpgA recent "Huffington Post" article is spotlighting a new campaign by the Center for Biological Diversity that urges consumers to reduce their meat consumption to save the environment and endangered species like the polar bear. 

What does meat have to do with wildlife extinction? More than you might imagine. 

According to Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director at the Center for Biological Diversity, "That carbon footprint of meat production is more than just a big number. For polar bears, it's a factor in whether or not they'll live to see the end of this century." 

"For many people," Feldstein continues, "the cost of meat to the farm animals themselves is enough. Once you add in the cost to wildlife and the environment we all need to survive, then multiply it by the growing demand for meat in a world of seven billion people, the price is too high for any of us." 

Whether you're concerned about species extinction, environmental destruction, animal suffering on factory farms, or the quality of your health, your food choices hold tremendous power. Visit ChooseVeg.ca for hundreds of delicious vegan recipes and tips on adopting an animal-friendly and eco-friendly diet. 

Written by Sarah Von Alt, MFA

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HT Injured hen.jpgA recent Mercy For Animals Canada undercover investigation documented horrific abuse against turkeys, including workers kicking, throwing, and beating turkeys with a shovel, and birds with gaping, festering wounds left to suffer without any veterinary care. The company, Hybrid Turkeys, repeatedly claimed this was an isolated incident.

Now, shocking new allegations from a number of whistleblowers reveal that far from being an isolated incident, the cruel treatment of turkeys is a pattern across Hybrid Turkeys facilities. Despite receiving numerous reports of abuse and injuries, management has repeatedly shown a callous disregard for the well-being of birds.

Nicole Janssen, a former Hybrid Turkeys employee, says that birds would go days without food, carcasses were left to rot in pens for other birds to eat, and so many birds had to be put down because of improper handling procedures that the company couldn't keep up with their disposal.

Ms. Janssen stated that her fellow employees "were ripping off wings. They were ripping off feet. They were brutalizing these birds." She reported her concerns to management, but nothing was done. Eventually, she was forced to quit because the abuse was too hard to watch.

Another whistleblower, who worked at the same farm as our investigator, says injured birds were not treated. He saw birds with raw and bloody backs, broken wings, and swollen eyes. Despite raising concerns with a supervisor and even a manager well over a year ago, Hybrid Turkeys took absolutely no corrective action.

 "I was told as long as they're doing their jobs laying eggs, they stay alive," he said.

Hybrid Turkeys has tried to claim injured birds were in "recovery pens," but as documented by Mercy For Animals Canada and now corroborated by the former employee, there were no recovery pens. Trying to cover up their disturbing culture of animal abuse, Hybrid Turkeys has outright lied to consumers.



Concerned consumers can boycott the turkey industry altogether and choose healthy and compassionate alternatives. Chooseveg.ca has exciting and delicious recipes, tips and more.

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Hot off her silver medal win at the Sochi Olympics, figure skating star Meagan Duhamel sat down with us to discuss her love of skating, the thrill of victory, and how she thrives on a vegan diet. In a video released today, Meagan discusses her decision to adopt a diet free of meat, dairy and eggs, and how it helps her reach her top physical performance. ­­

Meagan tells us that her choice to ditch animal products was originally health-related and adds: "Six years ago I became a vegan. I've noticed nothing but positive benefits. First of all, my energy is higher. I sleep better at night. My skin is better. I feel stronger. I feel like my body is in its peak condition at all times. It was essentially done for health purposes and diet purposes, but as time went on, I became a lot more compassionate and interested in animal rights."

Check out our exclusive interview with Meagan Duhamel:


The Canadian athlete who skated her way onto the Olympic podium gets her strength from fresh green smoothies, spinach, kale, quinoa and tempeh. Duhamel is not the only athlete powered by plants--Georges Laraque, Hannah Teter, Carlene Wong, Surya Bonaly, Lizzie Armitstead, Seba Johnson, and Carl Lewis are also all strong herbivores.

Meagan first learned about Mercy For Animals Canada when she witnessed its shocking undercover investigation at Puratone, one of Canada's largest pork producers. The disturbing hidden-camera footage aired on CTV's "W5" program and exposed egregious cruelty, which is commonplace on Canadian factory farms. Since learning of the horrors that take place behind the closed doors of the meat industry, the Olympic athlete has championed the rights of animals.

On factory farms, animals are crammed into tiny, filthy cages and crates so small many cannot even stand up, turn around, or lie down comfortably. Chickens routinely have their beaks burned off, piglets are castrated and have their tails cut off, and cows are branded and dehorned without any painkillers. During slaughter, many animals have their throats slit while fully conscious and suffering.

Meagan has a heart of gold! She is testimony to the fact that a vegan diet is a winner for your health. Not only does it lead to peak physical performance, it helps prevent many of the leading killers in Canada, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Join Meagan in supporting our work to fight abuses on factory farms and help make a difference for farmed animals today! You, too, can thrive on a plant-based diet! Click here to turn over a new leaf and get started with healthy, delicious, and easy recipes.


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iStock_000003644944Large.jpgToday, history was made for Canadian pigs with the agricultural industry committing to a national ban on gestation crates, mutilations without painkillers, and some of the worst forms of "euthanasia." These horrific practices were exposed by Mercy For Animals Canada in a groundbreaking investigation into a Canadian pig factory farm in 2012.

The new guidelines from the National Farm Animal Care Council require all new or renovated facilities after July 1, 2014 to house pigs in groups rather than cruel gestation crates, which prevent pregnant pigs from turning around or lying down comfortably for nearly their entire lives. Gestation crates have been widely condemned as one of the cruelest factory farming practices in the world. The group housing must provide sows with separate space for eating, sleeping, and eliminating. By July 1, 2024, even existing facilities should have transitioned away from crates.

The new Code of Practice also acknowledges that castration is painful regardless of age, and recommends the use of painkillers before and after the procedure. The Code of Practice requires that after July 1, 2016, castration and tail docking at any age be performed with painkillers. Currently, piglets in Canada have their testicles ripped out and their tails cut off without any pain relief, a practice exposed and sharply criticized by Mercy For Animals Canada for causing acute and chronic pain and suffering.

In 2012, Mercy For Animals Canada released hidden-camera video from an undercover investigation at Puratone, a major Canadian pork producer, showing thousands of pregnant pigs crammed into filthy, metal gestation crates barely larger than their own bodies; piglets having their testicles ripped out of their bodies and tails cut off without pain killers; and piglets being slammed headfirst into the ground. The shocking exposé received national media attention and prompted tens of thousands of Canadians to demand that the nation's grocery retailers cut ties with pork producers that use gestation crates. In response, the Retail Council of Canada and its member grocers, Co-op Atlantic, Canada Safeway, Costco Wholesale Canada, Federated Co-operatives Limited, Loblaw Companies Limited, Metro Inc., Sobeys Inc., and Walmart Canada Corp., agreed to phase out inherently cruel gestation crates in their pork supply chains.

 

"This is an important step forward in preventing horrific cruelty to farmed animals in Canada. We are pleased that the new Code recognizes the inherent cruelty in confining social and intelligent animals for life in metal boxes barely larger than their own bodies," said Twyla Francois, MFA Canada's director of investigations. "This ban on gestation crates affirms what we have said all along--all animals should be given the freedom to move. We hope the Council extends this same consideration to other animals, including egg-laying hens, who are currently crammed in cages so small they can't even spread their wings, and calves raised for veal, who are confined to barren wooden crates barely larger than their own bodies."

Although the NFACC guidelines are not law, they are a powerful indicator of what law enforcement and courts will consider to be acceptable behaviour under both provincial welfare statutes and the Criminal Code. Generally accepted agricultural practices are exempt from provincial welfare laws, so the Code of Practice's bans on the above indicate that they will not be considered generally accepted and therefore will run afoul of the law. And the Criminal Code prohibits causing unnecessary pain and suffering, which necessitates looking at both the purpose and the means by which the suffering was caused - if the means are not acceptable, inflicting the suffering is illegal.

The new guidelines from the National Farm Animal Care Council are a response to a public that increasingly refuses to tolerate cruelty to farmed animals. However, the industry has dragged its feet in creating even these common sense bans, and cannot be trusted to ensure the welfare of animals without meaningful oversight. As Mercy For Animals Canada's exposés have demonstrated, the industry is incapable of self-regulating.

Mercy for Animals Canada will continue to act as the eyes and ears of the public and ensure that factory farmers are held accountable for how they treat farmed animals.

The only sure way to take animal suffering off our plates is by adopting a compassionate vegan diet. Visit ChooseVeg.ca to learn how.

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Alberta Battery Cage.jpgOn February 25, the Australian Capital Territory (home to Canberra, the capital city of Australia) passed the Animal Welfare (Factory Farming) Amendment Bill. This act bans some of the cruelest factory farming practices currently in existence.

The new law makes it an offence to keep hens in battery cages, to keep pigs in gestation or farrowing crates, and to debeak hens.

Battery cages are defined under the new law as cages that do not allow hens to fully stretch, perch, access litter, and lay eggs in a nest.

Pigs must now be kept in "appropriate accommodation," which means accommodation that allows each pig to turn around, stand up, and lie down without difficulty; have a clean, comfortable and adequately drained place in which to lie down; maintain a comfortable temperature; and have outdoor access. If the accommodation is for more than one pig, each pig must be able to lie down at the same time. In addition, if the person keeps more than one pig, the pigs must be allowed to see other pigs, unless they are farrowing.

The law prohibits "removing or trimming the beak of a fowl" unless it is performed by a veterinary surgeon for a therapeutic purpose.

A previous Mercy For Animals Canada investigation revealed the inherent cruelty of keeping pregnant pigs in crates so small they can't even turn around or lie down comfortably. These mother pigs are left alone to suffer from horrific physical illnesses and driven mad from boredom and loneliness.

MFA Canada also exposed the horrors of barren battery cages - tiny wire cages in which hens are crammed for virtually their entire lives, unable to stretch their wings, build a nest, or even take a single breath of fresh air.

Canada should follow the lead of the Australian Capital Territory and ban the most inhumane practices employed by factory farms. It is simply common sense that intelligent and sensitive animals should be spared a life of misery.

Compassionate consumers, however, always have a choice when it comes to refusing to support cruel factory farms: by choosing a vegan diet.

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Breaking News from Mercy For Animals (USA).

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Despite protests and widespread opposition, yesterday Idaho governor C.L. "Butch" Otter signed into law a dangerous ag-gag bill that aims to prevent whistleblowers from taking photographs or video inside factory farms that abuse animals. The bill was backed by the state's corrupt dairy industry, which desperately seeks to hide evidence of the horrific animal abuse that runs rampant on factory farms throughout Idaho. Mercy For Animals founder and executive director, Nathan Runkle, had this to say about today's ag-gag bill becoming law:  


Governor Otter has failed Idaho and the American people. By signing this bill into law, he has sided with those who seek to keep Idaho's corrupt factory farming practices hidden from public view and created a safe haven for animal abuse and other criminal activity in the state. Mercy For Animals is exploring all legal avenues to overturn this dangerous, unconstitutional, and un-American law.

Not only will this ag-gag law perpetuate animal abuse, it endangers workers' rights, consumer health and safety, and the freedom of journalists, employees, and the public at large to share information about something as fundamental as our food supply. This law is bad for consumers, who want more, not less, transparency in food production.

Bowing to pressure from the corporate factory farming interests in Idaho, Governor Otter betrayed the will of his constituents and the majority of Americans who strongly oppose efforts to criminalize whistleblowers who dare to expose cruelty and corruption on Idaho's farms. Clearly Governor Otter knows that Idaho's factory farmers have a lot to hide from the American people if he is willing to go to such despicable lengths to conceal their cruel and abusive practices.

Although similar ag-gag bills have been proposed in states all across the country at the behest of the multibillion-dollar meat, dairy, and egg industries, the majority of those bills have been defeated. Unfortunately, Idaho's flawed and misdirected new law will now throw shut the doors to industrial factory farms and allow animal abuse, environmental violations, and food contamination to flourish undetected, unchallenged, and unaddressed.

Consumers have a right to know how their food is produced and how animals on factory farms are abused so they can make informed choices. But now, due to this misguided law, consumers would be wise to assume that food produced on Idaho farms is the product of systematic cruelty and corruption.

 

Undercover investigations by Mercy For Animals and other groups have led to landmark corporate animal welfare policy reforms, new and improved laws to protect farmed animals and the environment, felony convictions of animal abusers, increased consumer protection and food safety initiatives, and the closure of particularly corrupt facilities. Without undercover investigations, there are oftentimes no effective watchdogs protecting animals from egregious cruelty in these facilities or the public from serious health violations.

Why was Idaho's corrupt dairy industry so determined to silence undercover investigators? See for yourself:




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February 18, 2014

Olympians Powered by Plants

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Last week, MFA Canada supporter and vegan Meagan Duhamel won the silver medal for figure skating at the Olympic games in Sochi. 

In a Global News interview, Meagan shares her favourite foods: "My favourite indulgence dish is nachos - I use cheese that's made without any dairy or soy, kidney beans, black beans and mango salsa. I also love sweets, like cupcakes and cookies but I do a lot of my own baking, all without eggs, milk or butter."

But Meagan isn't the only Olympian known to follow an animal-friendly diet. Here are five more Olympic athletes you didn't know were veg:

 

1. Hannah Teter

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This gold and silver Olympic medalist went vegetarian after watching the eye-opening film "Earthlings." In an interview with "The Huffington Post," Teter says, "My plant-based diet has opened up more doors to being an athlete. It's a whole other level that I'm elevating to."


2. Charlene Wong

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This Canadian figure skater competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics and states: "I would call myself a 'conscious eater.' It all started with my desire to be as lean and healthy as possible as a teenager around 17-years-old. With more education, as well as trial and error, it also turned into an expression of my attempt to show compassion for all living things."

 

3. Surya Bonaly

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Competing in several Olympic games as a professional figure skater, Bonaly is a three-time World silver medalist, and a five-time European champion.

 

4. Lizzie Armitstead

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Famous for winning the silver medal in the road race at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Armitstead has been a vegetarian since the age of 10.

 

5. Seba Johnson

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A vegan since birth, Johnson was the youngest Alpine ski racer in Olympic history.

 

6. Carl Lewis

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Perhaps the most well-known vegan Olympian, Lewis says, "I've found that a person does not need protein from meat to be a successful athlete. In fact, my best year of track competition was the first year I ate a vegan diet." 


Written by Sarah Von Alt, MFA

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