‘No excuse for animal abuse’: Vegan activists protest at controversial Toronto restaurant
Dozens of protesters gathered Saturday evening outside of a Toronto restaurant where vegan activists say the owner brought out an animal leg, carved it and returned later appearing to eat grilled meat during their last gathering more than a week ago.
“There’s no excuse for animal abuse … It’s not food, it’s violence,” the activists chanted while holding large posters in front of Antler Kitchen and Bar.
“What do we want? Animal liberation. When do we want it? Now.”
During a protest outside of the restaurant on March 23, which has since made international headlines, Marni Ugar and several other activists gathered in front of the Dufferin Street and Dundas Street West-area business. In photos taken by Ugar and shared with Global News, the activists could be seen holding large signs such as “Murder” and “Animals are not ours to use.”
Ugar told Global News on Tuesday that one of the restaurant’s owners, who is listed on the Antler website as chef Michael Hunter, brought a large animal leg and carved it at the restaurant’s front window. She said the man appeared at the window about 30 minutes later, eating a grilled piece of meat. Ugar said she and the activists remained outside of the business.
In an interview with Global News Saturday evening, Ugar said she attempted to speak with Hunter again this past week but said he didn’t respond. In an interview on Tuesday, Ugar said she contacted him last week and he offered to take her foraging for materials to learn about the restaurant’s process. However, she said she wants to have a meeting instead and has a specific goal in mind.
“We will keep protesting until we sit down with the owner to make menu changes – that’s the reason we do these protests,” Ugar said.
“The big message here for this restaurant is that humane meat does not exist. These are animals that want to live.”
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A few members of the Toronto Police Service’s 14 Division community response unit were in attendance to help keep the peace and ensure protesters remained on the edges of the sidewalk outside. The blinds of the front window were pulled down.
When asked for comment about Saturday’s protest and the impact the news has had on the business, a public relations spokesperson for the restaurant told Global News in a brief written statement it was “business as usual” for Antler Kitchen and Bar.
“We have a full house, which is not unlike other Saturdays here,” Laura Fracassi wrote, adding the business didn’t “have anything more to add to the issue.”
In a statement by Fracassi late Monday after the last protest, she said Antler Kitchen and Bar will “continue to stay true to our identity as a restaurant and to Chef Michael’s identity as a chef.”
According to the dinner menu posted on the Antler Kitchen website, it shows multiple beef, venison, duck, boar and fish dishes. But there are also non-meat dishes such as lentil and beet salad, chestnut gnocchi and wild mushroom risotto.
Meanwhile Ugar said since news of last week’s protest surfaced, she has received plenty of negative feedback.
“Just really, really nasty, cruel messages. Looking back at all of my posts over the last couple of years and posting pictures of dead animals, saying things like, ‘Mmm, bacon,'” she said.
“We’re used to that, we see it all the time — but not thousands of messages.”
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