News in a Flash

March - April 2014

Going Beyond Meat

Reduce the world’s consumption of animal meat by 25% by 2020? Yes, it's "massive, we know," admits Beyond Meat on its website. But, the company points out, "it would do wonders for human health, for the environment, for conservation of natural resources and for animals. It’s worth a fight." We agree.

The man behind the mission is company founder and CEO Ethan Brown. Raised by a father who was both a farmer and teacher, and later finding his own career in clean energy, Ethan began to wonder about the impact livestock production was having on the environment. He set out to develop a meat-free alternative, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Beyond Meat is made from soy and pea protein, flours, and fibre. It's not only animal-free; it also is certified kosher, non-GMO and contains no gluten. There are "chicken-free" and "beef-free" options, available crumbled and in strips. You can find them at Whole Foods, or use the online store locator to find a Beyond Meat retailer near you.

McDonald's the latest to tell us where our food comes from

You may have caught the new video from the world's largest fast-food chain showing how Chicken McNuggets are made. It’s getting a fair bit of media coverage, including this recent article in the Financial Post.

The video is reportedly in response to claims that McNuggets have been made with pink slime. It’s part of the company’s “Our Food, Your Questions” campaign, and an overall push by McDonald's to be more transparent about its food production.

While the effort is commendable, and has been heralded as bold and innovative by media, the video begins with dead chickens. I.E. it doesn’t tell us how they got there in the first place. Yes, we see them transformed into raw, up-close vats of beige goop (that are off-putting at best), but we don't see them as live birds. There is no information about farming, transportation or slaughter.
In the same vein, various folksy-type videos have been produced by groups such as Ontario Pork and Egg Farmers of Ontario that purportedly explain where pork and eggs come from. In one of the egg videos, for example, we meet the farmer and his family, we see the outside of his farm, and we see a heck of a lot of eggs — rolling down conveyor belts, being stacked in cartons  — but there is nary a hen in sight. The video ends by asking us “Who made your eggs today?” (Good question.)
The Ontario Pork videos show us farms, barns, pork roasts, and even pigs’ ears, but no live animals. In one video, we meet a third-generation farmer who laments that consumers don’t seem to care where their pork comes from. This seems an odd statement given the “overwhelming number of responses” received last year by the National Farm Animal Care Council in response to the draft Pig Code.
All of which suggests that while these attempts to tell us how our food is made are a step in the right direction, and generally bode well for farm animal welfare (indicating a higher level of public consciousness around humane treatment), the videos would seem more PR spin than actual education. Taking the McDonald’s video as an example, you might wonder: what happened to the first half?

Ban on sow stalls gains Common Ground

The issue of gestation crates continues to garner public attention, as shown by the results of a recent initiative called Common Ground. Common Ground is an Ontario Liberal Party (OLP) initiative that enables citizens to submit and vote on policy ideas online.

Thanks to CCFA member Vicki Fecteau and her husband Gilles, their proposed ban on gestation crates for mother pigs remained consistently among the top three ideas in the first round of voting (a total of 1,701 were submitted!). Vicki and Gilles led the process of putting the idea forward, then worked tirelessly to promote it. The fact that the ban had so much support speaks volumes about public opinion surrounding this inhumane form of confinement. The support also provides, in Vicki's words, some “political capital” on which to “move forward with a modified proposal including subsidies to pig farmers to help with the [open housing] conversion”. As Vicki herself notes, in assessing the idea, OLP policy advisers stated that:

“Banning or controlling the use of these crates would go a long way toward improving the lot of livestock in the pork-producing sector. Fundamentally, this is an animal cruelty issue. Moving on this is an opportunity to further advance the fight against all forms of animal cruelty."

We’ll keep you posted on next steps, and once again, way to go Vicki and Gilles!


Rabbit Rescue and 
Rabbit Advocacy

It’s that time of year again — the time when “cute bunny rabbits” will be adopted or given as Easter gifts, often ending up neglected or abandoned when Easter is over and people realize a rabbit is a serious 10-year commitment. This is just one of the issues that Rabbit Advocacy and Rabbit Rescue, both supporters of CCFA, address through education, fundraising, and adoption support for rabbits as well as other small companion animals.
Rabbit Rescue, based in Milton, Ontario, was established after founder Haviva Porter-Lush adopted a rabbit and became aware of the lack of resources for rabbits — despite the fact they’re the third-most abandoned animal after dogs and cats. Over the years, Rabbit Rescue has found homes for thousands of rabbits, relying heavily on a network of dedicated volunteers who foster the animals;  Rabbit Rescue does not have a physical shelter, and operates under a no-kill policy. The organization also advocates on behalf of rabbits raised for food and fur, raising awareness of issues such as angora rabbit farming.
B.C.-based Rabbit Advocacy is an all-volunteer group whose efforts centre around rabbit exploitation in the pet industry. The group undertakes rescue work, education and fundraising, and runs regular advocacy campaigns on topics ranging from the risks of extreme weather to “Easter and bunnies don’t mix”. The organization also provides information and resources on related issues such as animal law and factory farming.
To learn more about their mandates — or to support their work — visit Rabbit Rescue and Rabbit Advocacy online.

Bob the horse finds a new home

It is sad when a family farm is forced to foreclose, but even sadder when the animals there have nowhere to go. Such was the case with Bob the horse, who found himself homeless due to a foreclosure, and may have faced euthanasia were it not for the good folks at Wishing Well Sanctuary, just north of Toronto. Thanks to them, Bob now has a new home where he can be sure he’ll be loved and looked after for the rest of his life. 



CCFA has closely followed the more-than-two-year court case involving the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Maple Lodge Farms, one of Canada's largest chicken slaughterers. Maple Lodge was charged with 60 transport-related violations, and was found guilty as charged in September 2013. The case sets a ground-breaking precedent in Canada, and one that could see significant improvements to the laws governing transport of farm animals. CCFA, together with Animal Alliance of Canada, will soon release a detailed report on the case along with recommendations for change. Stay tuned!

Avocado Pesto Pasta
One of our favourite chefs is Chloe Coscarelli. She is a wealth of easy, approachable vegan recipes — and this is one of her best. This may very well become your go-to pasta dish. Simple  enough to throw together on a whim, but just different enough to wow dinner guests. Thank you again Chloe! 

1 pound linguine
1 bunch fresh basil (save some leaves for garnish)
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 avocados, pitted & peeled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
sea salt
fresh black pepper
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved, or sliced sun-dried tomatoes (optional)

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add linguine and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, make the pesto by combining basil, pine nuts, avocados, lemon juice, garlic and oil in a food processor. Process until smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper. Toss pasta with pesto. For an extra touch of colour and flavour, top pasta with cherry or sun-dried tomatoes. Serve and garnish with a basil leaf. (Note from CCFA: This pesto is also a perfect base for pizza.)


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