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!

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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!

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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.

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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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July 12, 2014

Compassion Day!

I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at a conference held by the Jain Community of Toronto. The name of the conference was simply "Compassion Day." But it was far from simple. Instead, it was a day full of learning, wonderful dialogue, sharing of ideas, and a degree of warmth that was truly inspirational. 

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I was greeted with open arms, literally and figuratively!

The attendees were both from within the Jain Community and from the general public. There were people of every age, from the very young, to the more seasoned.

The one thing we all had in common? A respect for life, a calling to live based on the principal of ahimsa, or "do no harm," a desire to learn from each other, and a passion for personal growth and development.

The Jain Community of Toronto is not only a community of great love and respect, but a community of amazing vegan chefs! The food and the desserts were so very delicious. I left with a full heart, and a happy tummy!

A special thank-you to my friend and passionate supporter of Mercy For Animals Canada, Tushar Metha, for organizing this wonderful day!

Krista Osborne
Executive Director
Mercy For Animals Canada

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superbug.jpgA CBC medical sciences report details the alarming use of antibiotics in Canadian animal agriculture and the illuminating inadequacy of Health Canada's response.

Human patients must be ill before being prescribed antibiotics by a physician. However, healthy farmed animals are routinely administered antibiotics to prevent them from becoming sick from the cramped and squalid factory farms in which they spend their lives. These antibiotics can be purchased along with fencing and footwear from farm supply stores.

According to the World Health Organization, unless antibiotic use is curtailed, today's treatable infections will become tomorrow's deadly illnesses.

Through a labeling change, Health Canada is now deterring farmers from using antibiotics as growth promoters, but still is not preventing the use of antibiotics for disease prevention -- the primary purpose of antibiotics in Canadian animal agriculture.

The routine misuse of antibiotics by reckless, profit-hungry factory farmers is creating superbugs that endanger us all. Despite more than a decade of trying, Health Canada has been thwarted by "stakeholders" in its attempts to address this concerning issue.

Queasy consumers hold enormous power to refuse to support this irresponsible industry. Visit ChooseVeg.ca to learn how.

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photo-10.JPGLocated in the heart of downtown Toronto, YamChops is Canada's first and only vegetarian butcher. It boasts a friendly, welcoming environment packed with mouthwatering and innovative plant-based proteins, prepared foods, prepared meals, fresh organic juices, and more.

From their website, "we believe plant-based proteins can be a staple of any kitchen or diet. Our recipes appeal to all types of eaters: flexitarians, those who are choosing to reduce their meat consumption, vegetarians and vegans."

YamChops has been a hit in the media, with articles in the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, and on CBC.ca.

photo-11.JPGPictured above: drool-inducing Mongolian "beef," no pork pulled pork, ground round chili, chick'n shawarma, teriyaki chick'n, and tuna-less tuna. 

photo-12.JPGPictured above: burgers, crab cakes, sausages - all veg, of course!

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Pictured above: carrot lox, BBQ veggie chick'n cutlet, chick'n cutlet parmesan, Indonesian tofu.

Toronto residents and visitors won't want to miss what YamChops has to offer. Other hungry folks can always visit ChooseVeg.ca to get recipes and tips on putting together delicious homemade vegan meals.

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Kristainterview.jpgLast week, Hybrid Turkeys, the world's largest primary turkey breeder, and five of its employees were charged with a total of 11 counts of cruelty to animals thanks to an undercover investigation by Mercy For Animals Canada. These abusers now face up to two years' imprisonment and $60,000 in fines.

Charges of violating the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act were filed after workers were caught kicking and throwing turkeys, crushing their spines, viciously beating turkeys with shovels and metal rods, and leaving turkeys with gaping, pus-filled wounds and rotting eyes to suffer and slowly die.

These historic charges are the first ever arising out of an investigation by a Canadian animal protection organization, and they made a splash in the media. Here is a quick roundup of some of that coverage:

Animal cruelty charges laid at Kitchener based Hybrid Turkeys - CTV News Kitchener

Ontario turkey producer, employees facing animal cruelty charges - CTV News Ontario

Hybrid Turkeys faces 11 animal cruelty charges - CBC News Canada

Animal cruelty charges laid against turkey producer and employees - The Globe and Mail

Charges laid after turkey abuse probe - Toronto Sun

Kitchener-based turkey breeder, workers face animal cruelty charges - The Record

MFA Canada is calling on the National Farm Animal Care Council to establish standards to ensure that sick and injured birds are provided with appropriate veterinary care, that turkeys are no longer bred to grow so fast they become crippled under their own weight, and that live-streaming video cameras are installed in all facilities that handle farmed animals to help prevent malicious abuse.

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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