News in a Flash

March - April 2015

From glycemic index to going vegan: More science behind plant-based eating 

When The Globe and Mail dedicates a chunk of its paper to something, you know it’s something. Recently, the Globe did just that, running several articles in its Health & Fitness section on the growing popularity of veganism.
The lead story was a profile on David Jenkins, “a plain-speaking, unassuming scientist at the University of Toronto [who] published with his colleagues a meticulous list that ranked foods according to the effect they had on blood sugar.” In short: the glycemic index — a nutritional health tool that “revolutionized the diet industry”. Over the years, Jenkins’ research made him increasingly aware of the benefits of plant-based eating. That awareness, combined with his environmental concerns and compassion for animals, prompted him to adopt a vegan diet.
“Human health must be linked to planetary health, and how we feed ourselves has a major impact on the planet,” he says in the article. Speaking specifically about industrial farm animal welfare, he says, “Our children and future generations will be horrified that collectively we paid no attention to these issues.”
Other articles include a piece on vegan cuisine moving mainstream, and tips for making the switch to a plant-based diet. All are written by Toronto-based nutritionist Leslie Beck, who says, “The overarching reasons for adopting a vegan diet don’t get talked about enough — especially by nutritionists like myself. Not only is it good for individual health, a shift toward a plant-based diet is vital for the future health of the planet.”

Read it all here.

Maple Lodge Farms completes the first of three years of probation   

Maple Lodge Farms has completed its first year of probation following 2 convictions and 18 guilty pleas involving transport of chickens. Thousands of birds froze to death while being trucked to the company’s Norval, Ontario slaughter plant. The company has been described by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as an “animal transport repeat violator”.
As part of the company’s suspended sentencing for the 18 guilty pleas, it has been given 3 years to “spend no less than one million dollars” on improvements. These relate to:

1. Transparency — for example, the company must:
  • post a summary of the court case and the terms of the probationary order on its website
  • submit quarterly compliance reports prepared by an independent animal welfare expert — the person filling this role is the Humane Standards Officer with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) 
  • publish on its website a summary of dead-on-arrival (DOA) birds, and whether they exceed CFIA’s allowable maximums of 1% DOAs for broiler birds and 4% for laying hens
2. Policies, standards and procedures — for example, the company must:
  • establish and follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) to improve bird welfare
  • train employees to familiarize them with the SOPs 
  • have drivers report weather conditions when birds are loaded onto trucks
  • have drivers take digital, time-stamped photos of birds at the beginning of loading, halfway through loading, and when loading is complete
3. Equipment, facilities and implementation of transport SOPs — for example, the company must:
  • modify its chicken transport, handling and receiving equipment and facilities, spending no less than $80,000 per quarter on improvements such as:
    • climate-controlled and/or mechanically ventilated trailers
    • temperature and humidity monitoring devices for all trailers
    • modular transportation of broilers and spent hens
    • climate-controlled and/or mechanically ventilated barns with sufficient capacity to service all arriving trailers
According to OMAFRA’s Humane Standards Officer, these improvements are being made in increments, though the company continues to receive transport-related administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) and fines. 
We will continue to keep you updated on Maple Lodge Farms’ progress. To learn more about the court case and industrial chicken farming, read the CCFA-Animal Alliance of Canada report Economics over Animal Welfare.

Maple Lodge Farms case inspires animal advocates to push for transit ad, despite pushback

When Brampton, Ontario resident Sandhya Singh decided to place a local outdoor transit ad about industrial chicken farming, she figured creating the ad would be the hard part.
She was wrong.  
Working with graphic designer Nigel Osborne to develop the ad (Nigel’s wife works with Mercy for Animals, and put Sandhya in touch with him), Sandhya then approached the City of Brampton to buy space for it.
She was informed by the outdoor ad company that the City was refusing to run it. The City claimed it contravened Advertising Standards Canada guidelines because it was “disparaging, denigrating and/or demeaning to a particular industry or commercial activity”.
Seeing they’d hit a bureaucratic wall, Nigel contacted both the ad company and the City. The City would not respond. Then Nigel tapped the shoulder of Camille Labchuk, a Toronto lawyer and passionate animal rights advocate.
“All of a sudden, out of nowhere,” says Nigel, “Sandhya, Camille and I get an email from the ad company telling us that the City had changed their mind and approved the ad.”

Located at the intersection of Queen Street and Kennedy Road in central Brampton, the ad ran for 4 weeks in December, then another 4 weeks in January. For anyone interested in following Sandhya’s lead, the cost of printing the ad was about $110, and the transit space was $310.75 per four-week period. NOTE: Sandhya is happy to lend the ad to anyone wishing to buy transit space; you can contact her at
“I got the idea for the ad last summer when I was protesting the Shrine Circus,” she explains. “I noticed the circus was advertising everywhere and thought, ‘That’s what we need to do — use advertising as a form of protest and create awareness for animals’.”
“I wanted to start with chickens,” she adds, “because of what happened to the chickens at Maple Lodge Farms — when they froze to death on trucks. I wanted to make people aware and do something to help.”  
Big kudos to Sandhya, Nigel and Camille — thank you, and great work!

Take action on industrial dairy farming  

The frank candidness of many farm publications often serves as a stark reminder of the harsh realities of industrial farming. A case in point is two recent articles in Ontario Farmer on dairy promotion and cow and bull culling.
An article by columnist Ian Cumming reads: “Let’s document the legal, inspected cull cow experience. Slaughterhouses like to kill them empty — less gut waste to handle — so they are without feed and water for a couple of days, including transport, before killing. Then, when empty enough, they walk up a ramp, a bolt gun is shot between their eyes…” The passage concludes: “Go and watch sometime, it’s the model of efficiency.”
Later, a trucker laments the increasing need for welfare accountability. “It’s gotten ridiculous," he says. "If they [dairy cows] look old, or are limping slightly, I tell the farmer…I can’t take that one. Then ‘screw you’ the farmer says, ‘leave them all here’.  
The article goes on to note, “Bull calves are killed by a lad wading among them wielding a big hammer, with a blow to the back of their heads….” Aside from the inherent cruelty of such a method, this in fact is not how calves are stunned in slaughter plants.
The second article quotes an industry spokesperson on the subject of promoting the dairy industry: “If truth in advertising is important then what about the idyllic image of cow and calves side by side in the pasture that is so often portrayed on milk cartons. Dairy cows and calves in the same field have not been seen in a hundred years and on today’s dairy farms, there is a good chance that the cows have never experienced the taste of fresh grass.”

Let the dairy industry know that you are concerned about these practices,  in particular:
●  transporting weakened, often emaciated dairy cows for days with no food and water
●  using misleading images such as the Dairy Farmers of Canada’s happy leaping cow
Contact the Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) or your provincial DFC office.

BSE case raises questions about cattle feed

The recent case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) that has surfaced on a farm in Alberta has raised questions about what Canadian cows are eating. That’s because the infected animal was born after 2007, when the regulations governing feed content were changed to prevent the feeding of specified risk material (SRM) to cattle.
Previously, cows and other farmed animals were fed all parts of ground up cattle (and other animals). This resulted in the spread of BSE through "infected" feed. In 2003, a severe BSE outbreak erupted, putting many consumers off meat and shutting down Canada’s beef exports. It prompted the federal government to prohibit the use of SRM in animal feed. SRM includes cattle brains, spinal cords and eyes — organs in which BSE tends to be concentrated.
Other cattle parts, however, along with other animal body parts, continue to be fed to farmed animals. 
Now, this recent case has the industry wondering: Was the recently infected cow given old feed? Or is there a continuing problem with the system, with SRM being distributed in the ‘new’ feed?
All of which raises bigger questions, yet again, about the impact of industrial farming — and our ability to sustain it.

From author to advocate

Growing up in a "very meat-heavy Greek home", Andy Lyberopoulos had no idea how that meat was produced on today's industrial farms. Then he saw a video with undercover footage of farm animal production. "It was shocking to finally discover what goes on behind these corporate farms," he says. "It changed my life."

So much so, in fact, that Toronto-based Lyberopoulos decided to write a book about it. But rather than take the route of real-life exposé, as is often the case with books advocating farm animal welfare, he decided to weave the theme of industrial farming into a fictional book.

The book is called The Blood Mile, and it's the story of a young chick named Sawyer who manages to escape a factory chicken farm. He makes his way to an old, abandoned farm next door that is full of "secrets, lost hope, a slew of nutty birds and a beast that may very well be responsible for the bloodstained wheat that separates the two farms."

Lyberopoulos has written the book for young adults. "I think it's important to educate the youth of today with this subject without bashing them over the head with it." 

Learn more about it and buy it at 

Wallace the rabbit needs a forever home

Wallace is a young, now neutered bunny that Cedar Row Sanctuary is helping to find a home. Miraculously rescued from the rabbit meat industry, Wallace was lucky to make it out alive.
The rabbit meat industry has grown rapidly in Canada in recent years. Rabbits are kept in huge commercial operations, and are slaughtered at anywhere from less than 12 weeks old, to more than 8 months old. Learn more and download the CCFA fact sheet on rabbits. We are working to educate the public about the sensitive, sweet nature of these gentle animals, and the conditions they endure not only in factory farms, but also during transport and slaughter.
Cedar Row, southwest of Stratford, Ontario, and Wallace's foster mom Amy, are delighted to have given Wallace the chance to have his wonderful personality shine. Although shy from lack of socialization, he is learning to trust humans. He’s started using a litter box, and is thoroughly enjoying his favourite treat: bananas!

If you think you can give Wallace a forever home, contact Cedar Row.

Have some feedback for us? A rescue story to tell us? A simple vegan recipe to share? We'd love to hear from you! Email us at 

Healthy Rice Crispy Treats
Teacher and CCFA director Taunya Ahier calls this gluten-free recipe from The Detoxinista “fun, healthy, vegan, and no fail, every time — it’s a hit with all ages”. Rather than using melted marshmallows as a binder, these treats use brown rice syrup, which is an all-natural, fructose-free sweetener that’s a good option for those of us trying reduce our sugar intake. (If sugar isn’t an issue, try stirring in half a cup of non-dairy chocolate chips as a final step. Tuck cooled squares in decorative loot bags and — tuh duh! — the perfect treats for your Easter hunt!)
  • 2/3 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 cups brown rice crisp cereal (Taunya uses Erewhon)

Combine the coconut oil and brown rice syrup in a saucepan over medium heat, and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Boil for one minute, then remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and salt. Pour the cereal into a large mixing bowl and stir in the boiled syrup mixture until the cereal is well-coated. Press into a lightly greased pan and allow to cool. Cut into squares and enjoy!
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