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Geoff Robins/The Canadian Press
We documented every room, every injury — the dismembered piglet tails all over the floor, the castration wounds, the dumpsters of dead animals.
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In just one month in 2016, eight barn fires in Ontario killed nearly 53,000 animals.
In a disturbing case of history repeating itself, we find ourselves in the same place we were 17 years ago with the Manitoba government once again assisting in the unrestricted growth of the pig industry, with devastating environmental consequences and immeasurable animal suffering sure to follow.
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Animals are present in almost every aspect of human life: our meals, our clothing, our entertainment industries, and yet they live their lives in the dark. Sometimes their suffering is hidden behind the walls of factory farms, where billions of animals live short, painful lives every year.
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Since the production of meat is, quite literally, destroying the planet, it must be severely curtailed. It ought to be treated like tobacco, another deadly and unnecessary habit - though, to be fair, tobacco use is not an existential threat to humanity. Calculations should be made as to the environmental, health and economic costs the livestock industry imposes on the world and it should be taxed accordingly.
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The problem for the dairy industry -- and for all modern animal agriculture -- is that many people find their practices disturbing and unacceptable. And "educating" consumers by showing them exactly what happens on farms is hardly going to help.
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Meat isn't what it used to be. What's typically sold in supermarkets isn't what our ancestors ate. And it sure isn't as healthy. But there's no need to despair. If you pay a little extra, these days you can find organic, traditionally-farmed meat.
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Canada's food and agriculture industries have launched a public relations blitz designed to build public trust and confidence in Canadian food and farming. But even a cursory look at how this campaign is being conducted and who's behind it suggests consumers should cast a skeptical eye on its claims. To put it simply, Farm & Food Care Canada is not what it seems.
Mercy For Animals
Imagine a not-too-distant future where the survival of mankind hangs in the balance because modern medicine's frontline defenders -- antibiotics -- are being outsmarted by deadly microscopic enemies. I'm talking about the emergence of so-called "superbugs." They're real, they exist, and if you eat non-organic chicken, then you're all the more at risk.
Vancouver Humane Society
Hens are shown crammed into battery cages.
Canadians are familiar with the company's television ads promoting its "vegetarian-fed" chicken and beef with "no added hormones or steroids" (although neither policy affects animal welfare). While McDonald's and Wendy's are racing ahead to appear like chicken liberators, A&W risks branding itself as the guys who keep hens locked up.
On June 13 2015, all around the world -- in Paris, Brussels, London, Berlin, Istanbul, Delhi, Los Angeles, Toronto, Montreal -- people gathered to March for the Closing of the Slaughterhouses. But the slaughterhouses will not close of their own accord. To close the slaughterhouses people's eyes and hearts have to be opened.
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The word "chicken" has become the name of a product rather than that of an animal. Nearly all North American chickens are raised and slaughtered in industrial operations. Most chickens raised for meat are engineered to grow rapidly in crowded barns with tens of thousands of other birds. The virtual hell created for tens of billions of animals by factory farming is one of the greatest moral issues of our time. Positive change requires us to take animal interests seriously in the all the choices we make, as consumers, citizens and human beings.
I wrote a song on our new record called "The Eco-Terrorist In Me." The song started with the simple realization that I have much more in common with what the industry and government calls an 'eco-terrorist' than with an industry and government bent on hiding the business of meat production from watchful eyes. If you have to find legal ways to hide the way you do business, that's the first sign that there is something wrong with the way you do business.