The Save Movement continues to inspire vigils!

Written by Sandra on June 1st, 2016
Anita talks to activists

Anita talks to activist at Hallmark Poultry Processors

Anita Krajnc spoke about the importance of bearing witness at the Animal Advocacy Camp 2016. As the co-founder of Toronto Pig Save, she has inspired many an activist to stand vigil at slaughter houses as the Save Movement has been picked up in cities all over the world from Montreal, New York, North Carolina, Melbourne, Perth, Sao Paolo to Surrey BC.

Following the camp, on Tuesday May 25, 2016, activists gathered at Hallmark Poultry Processing, where Liberation BC has hosted our own vigils since April 2013. Activists peacefully brought the slaughterhouse to the attention of passersby on busy Hastings Street. People who probably have passed by this location thousands of times without ever realizing what horror lies behind the gloomy blank grey walls that line the street saw glimpses of hidden suffering on the Liberation BC Chicken Slaughterhouse Vigil posters.

Anita headed back to Toronto, but she left behind plenty of inspiration and motivation to keep up the vigils at slaughterhouses in BC.

Hallmark Poultry Processors

Activists check out Hallmark at Hastings and Commercial



What did you think? Animal Advocacy Camp 1016

Written by Sandra on May 26th, 2016

Animal Advocacy AAC 2016Camp 2016 is over, but participants have been left with so much to think about and process. We are in the process of gathering feedback on the camp so we can make future events even better. We believe the AAC has a great future, and we welcome your feedback about the camp, whether it be about speakers you would like to hear, ideas for different formats, different directions we could take the AAC in or other ways we could improve the camp.

Please comment below with any feedback! (Click on the title to get to the full post).


Local advocacy event exposes animal exploitation

Written by Sandra on May 10th, 2016

Liberation BC is hosting the Vancouver Animal Advocacy Camp at the WISE Hall in Vancouver on May 21 to May 22, 2016. The event aims to strengthen the animal advocacy movement by building empowered and passionate communities of activists to end injustices perpetrated against all animals. Representatives from the animal rights community will speak about their campaigns to raise awareness about the plight of farm animals.


Speakers include dedicated animal rights activists like Anita Krajnc, the co-founder and co-organizer of Toronto Pig Save. Anita is an outstanding activist who continues to stand up for the rights the most vulnerable beings in our society, animals used for food consumption. Anita recently faced charges for giving water to pigs headed to slaughter, but she has not let the law get in the way of her commitment to protecting animals.

Film maker Gary Charbonneau will talk about his work on exposing the Vancouver Aquarium’s rescue and captivity program. Gary directed and produced the ground-breaking documentary Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered, which is critical of the Aquarium’s treatment of whales and dolphins. He won a partial victory in the BC Supreme Court against the Aquarium’s attempt to take the documentary off the internet.

Anna Pippus, the Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy with Animal Justice, will speak about farmed animal law issues. Her efforts have contributed to ground-breaking animal cruelty charges and raids and policy reform. Amanda Schemkes, staff attorney with the Civil Liberties Defense Center in the United States, will speak about her work, which includes supporting grassroots communities that are fighting to protect the earth and its inhabitants and the No New Animal Lab campaign.

The speakers’ line-up includes a neuroscientist, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society volunteers, professors, writers and more. A full list of speakers is available on the Animal Advocacy Camp website.

Location and event details:

The Animal Advocacy camp will be held at the WISE Hall at 1882 Adanac Street, Vancouver.
May 21 9am to 5 pm; May 22 9am to 6 pm. Tickets purchased online by Saturday, May 14th include breakfast and lunch ($62.70 for both days). Tickets are also available without food at the event ($10/day).


Liberation BC dairy campaign planning underway!

Written by Sandra on August 7th, 2014

The Dairy Project is a focused campaign run by Liberation BC that aims to change the public’s perception and consumption of dairy products. The project is currently in the research and planning stage.

Project members conducted the survey to identify effective strategies to focus the campaign on. Survey questions addressed the type and amount of dairy products the public consumes and the reasons the public had for choosing these products. The survey is available to view on Survey Monkey.milk

The project team conducted the survey between March and May 2014 around the Lower Mainland. Volunteers collected results at locations including downtown Vancouver, Metrotown, Granville and Broadway, Richmond Centre, Lougheed Centre, Commercial and Broadway, Oakridge, Surrey Central, and the New Westminster Skytrain Station. Volunteers asked the public to fill out the survey in person or handed them a small flyer with a link to the online version. As an incentive, respondents were entered into a draw to win $100.

Key survey findings

  • Out of 429 completed surveys, 196 respondents indicated their gender as male, 228 as female and six as other. The largest age group of respondents was 18-25 year olds, and then 41-65 year olds.
What is your age chart?

Figure 1 – What is your age?


  • Regardless of age, the largest number of respondents stated that they drank milk daily
Frequency of dairy consumption chart

Figure 2 – How often do you consume dairy?


  • Regardless of age, the largest number of respondents stated that they ate cheese two to four times per week
How often do you eat cheese chart

Figure 3 – How often do you eat cheese?


  • Daily dairy consumption is highest amongst respondents over the age of 65. The second highest daily dairy consumption rate was amongst respondents under 18. Consumption of dairy in coffee and tea was an exception. In coffee or tea, the older the respondent, the more likely they were to consume dairy in coffee or tea daily.
How often do you consume milk/cream chart

Figure 4 – How often do you consume milk/cream?


  • There was a fairly even split between respondents stating that they consumed milk and cream for nutrition, taste or habit, however the highest percentage of respondents indicated that they consume milk and cream for taste
Why do you consume milk/cream chart

Figure 5 – Why do you consume milk/cream?


  • Most respondents stated they consumed cheese for taste, rather than for nutrition or habit
Why do you consume cheese chart

Figure 6 – Why do you consume cheese?


  • Male respondents were more likely to consume dairy products on a daily basis (33.5% of men vs 23.5% of women). Cheese is an exception however; male and female respondents ate cheese in the same amounts.
How often do you consume cheese chart

Figure 7 – How often do you consume cheese?


  • Female respondents were more likely to consume dairy substitutes (19.74% of female respondents chose daily for consumption of dairy substitutes compared to14.29% of males). More women than men consume substitutes (35.09% of females and 45.92% of males said they never consumed dairy substitutes).
How often do you consume dairy substitutes chart

Figure 8 – How often do you consume dairy substitutes?


  • Most respondents who consumed dairy substitutes did so for health reasons
Why do you consume dairy substitutres chart?

Figure 9 – Why do you consume dairy substitutes?


  • In the comments section, five people identified ethics/veganism as a reason they didn’t drink milk. Many people mentioned lactose intolerance or milk allergies.



Should the Vancouver Aquarium Increase its Captive Cetacean Program?

Written by Sandra on July 28th, 2014

This is the question that the Vancouver Park Board asked on Saturday, July 26, 2014, with continuing public input on Monday, July 28.

The meeting launched with the presentation of a fact finding report in the morning, followedDSC_5685 by ample time for Vancouver Aquarium staff to present their case. All other speakers were allotted three minutes only to speak. Several speakers who had signed up expressed their concern that their already short time allotment of five minutes was cut to a mere three minutes, forcing people to cut or rush through their prepared statements. There was no opportunity for a scientist who opposed keeping cetaceans in captivity to speak, and as one speaker stated, “no one is going to fly out for only three minutes.” However, the Park Commissioners appeared to have conducted thorough research into the issues and posed questions to the Aquarium staff that included questions about the stress that captive cetaceans experience and the deaths of some of the facility’s belugas.

The question posed at the meeting was whether the Vancouver Aquarium should add to the numbers of whales and dolphins they hold captive in their facility or have on loan to Sea World and Georgia Aquarium.

Dr. Joseph Gaydos presented his report on the aquarium’s operations around captive cetaceans that the park board engaged to “provide a non-biased, third party review” of the aquarium’s captive cetacean program and how it compares to comparable aquariums. Staff from the Vancouver Aquarium followed with their position on captive cetaceans. It was after three p.m. when the public was given an opportunity to speak.

The overall tone of Dr. Gaydos’ presentation and the report was favourable for the Vancouver Aquarium’s position. Dr. Gaydos described the care that the Vancouver Aquarium provides for animals as “exceptional” and stated that no animals are acquired from the wild except in the case of injured animals.

However, Dr. Gaydos noted that several jurisdictions, including South Carolina and Hawaii, Cyprus, Chile, Slovenia, and India prohibit the display of cetaceans. India went as far as declaring that cetaceans are “non-human persons” who have the right not to be held in captivity. The audience clapped enthusiastically in response. He also identified three aquariums that do not have captive cetaceans that attract more annual visitors than the Vancouver aquarium. Monterey Bay Aquarium receives 1.9 million visitors per year, Aquarium of the Pacific receives 1.5 million, and New England Bay Aquarium receives 1.3 million.

Vancouver Aquarium staff, including Dr. John Nightingale responded to questions from the Park Commissioners. He espoused the need for captive animals for research programs and claimed that their captivity actually benefited whales in the wild because of the research opportunities they provide. The Aquarium also claimed that the captive animals provide invaluable education opportunities for children ‘who would otherwise never see any of these animals.’

Speakers, who included local scientists, conservation groups, concerned citizens, and a couple of very dedicated children, provided as much input as they could during their hastily shortened speeches. Liberation BC and other speakers questioned the acquisition of dolphins, including the Aquarium’s two Pacific white-sided dolphins, Helen and Hana, from Japan, a country where deadly dolphin drive hunts are conducted annually. We also questioned the validity of claims that keeping whales captive for research is justified when scientist such as Dr. Lori Marino have argued that it is unethical to keep intelligent animals like cetaceans captive, and that there is no compelling evidence to support captivity for the sake of educating the public. Some members of the public expressed support for the aquarium and referred to childhood memories of awe inspiring visits to the facility. Some took the position that captive whales allowed much needed research to be conducted and that children learned from seeing the whales in their small pools.

Protesters outside the aquarium commented on their concerns and even called for Dr. John Nightingale to resign.IMG_20140726_110000_233

As the presentations from the Vancouver Park Board continued until after three p.m., there was less than two hours for speakers before the meeting ended at 5 p.m. With over 130 speakers signed up to speak, the meeting was extended to Monday July 28, at 6 pm at 2099 Beach Avenue.


Liberation BC Film Screening Series: Blackfish

Written by Sandra on June 5th, 2014




Liberation BC screened Blackfish on May 29th at the Vancouver Public Library. Tilikum, an orca captured as a two-year-old off the coast of Iceland in 1983, is the controversial star of the documentary film, Blackfish. Tilikum is one of many whales kept in captivity in parks like SeaWorld around the world. Blackfish explores the effect of captivity on whales, making the case that captive whales endure mental and physical distress, and pose risks to their keepers. After all, Tilikum is associated with the death of three people.

Blackfish is the first film since Grizzly Man to show how nature can get revenge on man when pushed to its limits. From the Blackfish film description.

The first and traumatic contact that captive whales have with humans is of course during their initial capture. SeaWorld once captured whales in Washington State. Diver John Crowe, who SeaWorld hired to assist with the capture, described a capture in Puget Sound as “just like kidnapping a little kid from his mother.” Howard Garrett, a researcher with the Orca Network, described how adults in the pod of whales split the pod in two as a diversionary tactic. Unfortunately, for the whales, the capture team had a plane spotter follow them to ensure none of the whales could escape and SeaWorld was able to capture a baby. Washington State has since banned SeaWorld from the state, and the company now captures whales in other countries, or in the case of Tilikum, purchases whales from other marine animal parks.

‘I was in awe,’ and ‘I could not believe how huge they were.’ Trainers interviewed in the film recalled their initial impressions of whales as beginning trainers.

Tilikum started his marine park life at Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria, BC. His trainer, Keltie Byrne, died after she slipped into the pool. According to witnesses, the whales prevented her from escaping, and two people identified Tilikum as the culprit. The film examines how Sealand treated Tilikum and other killer whales. Trainers denied whales fish to help control behaviour, scraped the whales’ skin with rakes as punishment, and kept the whales in a small, dark enclosure overnight because Sealand feared that someone would cut the net and allow the whales to escape. After Byrne’s death, public outcry ensured that Sealand closed. Sealand sold Tilikum to SeaWorld, apparently with the understanding that he would not perform but only be used for breeding.

Instead, Tilikum continued to perform and in 1999, a SeaWorld visitor remained after hours and evaded security to enter Tilikum’s tank. Staff found him dead the next day. In 2010, experienced trainer, Dawn Brancheau, died when Tilikum pulled her into the water following a show.

A whale’s life in captivity is dramatically different from their natural habitat. According to Lori Marino of Emory University’s Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology Program, who is interviewed in the film, whales have highly developed emotional lives and even have a part of the brain, the paralimbic region, dedicated to emotion that humans do not. Researchers at Dalhousie note that killer whales possess complex and stable vocal and behavioural cultures.

Research on whales in the wild shows that family ties are strong, and separating whales from their pods is detrimental. When the park took baby Shamu from his mother, trainers recalled the obvious distress that his mother exhibited and the attention that other female whales gave her, evidently in effort to comfort her.

Living in captivity forces whales to live in unnatural circumstances. SeaWorld eventually separated Tilikum from female whales because they were attacking him, so Tilikum spent much of his life in isolation. In the wild, males normally live at the fringe of the pod, unlike in parks where whales live in close confinement with each other and with whales who are not part of their family or cultural groups. Blackfish makes the case that the distress of life in captivity was behind the aggression that Tilkum tragically showed against people.

While Blackfish paints a compelling picture of why whales are completely unsuitable to living in captivity, SeaWorld pushes back with critique of the film and a website dedicated to disputing the Blackfish documentary.

Excellent expose of human brutality to these majestic creatures. Let’s all work to stop this cruelty. Viewer at the Liberation BC screening.



Liberation BC likes to find out a little bit about our film screening audience to see who we are reaching with messages about animal rights. Of the 70 people who turned out for the screening on May 29, 30 responded to our questionnaire about their diet. Seventeen people said they are omnivores, while five said they were vegetarian, seven said they were vegan, and one person indicated ‘other’. Viewers commented that the film is “heartbreaking,” “enlightening and moving,” and one person wrote that “no wild animals should be kept in zoos or tanks.”

Watch for demonstrations at the Night at the Aquarium on June 10th.

Watch the Blackfish trailer.

You may view the trailer or purchase Blackfish on DVD on their website.

Keep an eye out for future film screenings and other events on the Liberation BC Events page.


International Respect for Chickens Day!

Written by Sandra on May 13th, 2014
Chicken vigil

International Respect for Chickens volunteers!

Liberation BC commemorated International Respect for Chickens Day on May 4th with a special vigil at the Hallmark Poultry Processors slaughterhouse. Sunday’s event complemented our weekly chicken vigils, which Liberation BC holds every Friday morning in time for hundreds of commuters to see our signs that tell the story about what happens behind the big grey wall. The Sunday vigil included a visit to Church’s Chicken and a stop at Grandview Park on Commercial Drive to hand out informational leaflets about the chicken industry, including how chickens are bred, housed, debeaked, transported, and slaughtered.

International Respect for Chickens Day is a day dedicated to respect and compassion for a frequently maligned animal. However, chickens are much more than mere ‘bird brains.’  According to the Scientific American, scientists have learned through recent studies that chickens “possesses communication skills on par with those of some primates and that it uses sophisticated signals to convey its intentions.” Chickens are able to use prior experience and knowledge to support decision-making and are capable of solving complex problems. Chickens, when left to their own resources, have family ties and develop social hierarchies. Empathy, once thought to be a uniquely human trait, is also part of the makeup of chickens. A Bristol University study showed that they are able to empathize with others, and that female chickens showed clear signs of anxiety when their offspring were in distress. Factory farms have prevented us from observing much of the natural behaviour of chickens’, whose personalities are altered by the stress of inhumane, overcrowded environments.

The volunteers sure got a lot of attention at Sunday’s chicken vigil.

“We got honks galore from the drivers passing by!” says Liberation BC board member and Weekly Chicken Slaughterhouse Vigils organizer Mary-Chris Staples.

Liberation BC would like to thank the volunteers, who included Brigette, Demelza, Samantha, Cynthia, Mavaddat, Alissa, Sigrid, Sophia, Mark, Samareh, Dareios, Paula, Bailey, Meghan, Jane and Denice.

We encourage you to join us during our Weekly Chicken Slaughterhouse Vigils. The greater our numbers, the easier it is to get the word out on what happens behind the walls of the Hallmark Poultry Processing slaughterhouse! We have signs, so all you need to do is show up between 7 am and 9 am on Friday mornings. If you have to leave earlier than 9 am for or need to arrive a little later that 7 am to accommodate your work schedule, you will still be a great help!

Hidden Abused Killed

Hidden Abused Killed behind this wall

Slaughterhouse glass walls

Why doesn't this slaughterhouse have glass walls?

1000s daily

Keep up the great work!


Liberation BC Film Series: SPECIESISM The Movie

Written by Sandra on May 4th, 2014
Speciesism The Movie

Speciesism The Movie

About one hundred people joined Liberation BC on April 29th at the Vancouver Public Library to see SPECIESISM The Movie, a surprisingly funny and entertaining film for such a difficult subject. The film takes us on an exploration of the huge factory farms that span the American countryside, far from the sight and thoughts of the average consumer.

The movie’s title is taken from the term speiciesism, a concept popularized by Australian philosopher Peter Singer in his book Animal Liberation. Singer defined speiciesism as “a prejudice or attitude of bias in favour of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species.”

The movie director, Mark Devries, set out to investigate one of the ultimate consequences of specieism: factory farming. Mark paid a visit to the PETA headquarters seeking an interview with President Ingrid Newkirk. He asked her about what happens behind the scenes at these large, intensive farms that supply the majority of the neatly packaged, cheap meat at grocery stores. When he asked how he could tell whether she was telling the truth about all the cruelty she said occurred on the farms, she told him he had better go see for himself.

So he did just that. Mark carried out his exploration by crawling through thick bushes that often hide the farms from public view, flying in airplanes above the toxic “manure lagoons,” and approaching the owners in person to ask if they would show them around their farm operations. Of course, the owners all said no.

Undeterred, Mark continued his exploration by visiting the countryside of North Carolina, where locals described some of the consequences of factory farming to residents. One ex-pig farmer told him about how farms sprayed manure from the giant manure lagoons onto surrounding land, which contaminated both land and water sources. He used to fish with his father, who had since succumbed to cancer, until they found that the fish was contaminated with, and tasted like, the runoff from the manure lagoons. “You’re eating shit,” he said.

Mark met with some leaders within the animal rights movement to get their perspective on humanity’s moral obligation towards non-human animals. He interviewed a lawyer who is active in the animal rights movement, David Wolfson, who told him that most ethicists agree that it is wrong to cause harm. Peter Singer described the concept of equal consideration. Equal consideration does not mean giving other species the same rights as humans. Other animals do not want or need the same things that human beings do, but like humans, they want to avoid suffering where possible. The premise of spciesism is there is no justification for considering humans more important than members of other species.

Later in the film, Mark visited a Catholic Church in New York that holds blessings for pets. Mark thought it was only fair that chickens get their blessing too, so he explained to the clergy member that he was hoping he could kindly bless the chickens he couldn’t bring with him. After all, there are billions in the US alone. The clergy was a little bit confused. He hadn’t thought of the odd distinction that humans make between the beloved companion animals we call pets and those animals that we consider food.

By creating the film Speciesism: The Movie, Mark has contributed a thought-provoking film that chips away at that double standard we hold that differentiates between species and allows for the unspeakable cruelty to billions of animals on factory farms.

We surveyed viewers to get their feedback on the film and learn more about our audience. We were surprised that many of the viewers were not vegan or vegetarian, so it appears that we were reaching a wide cross section of people. Of the respondents who answered the question about diet, 16 said they were omnivores, 15 said they were vegetarian and 6 said they were vegan. The comments about the film were largely positive.

“If this film doesn’t convince me to go vegan, nothing will!” (comment left by viewer)

Stay tuned for future free film screenings and other events presented by Liberation BC. The next film is Blackfish, a documentary about Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. The screening is on May 29, 2014 at 7:00 pm at the Vancouver Public Library, 350 West Georgia St.


Remember mother cows this Mother’s Day with the Cow Ribbon Campaign!

Written by Sandra on April 9th, 2014


© Farm Sanctuary

Mother’s Day is just around the corner! We launched the Cow Ribbon campaign in 2010 to recognize the suffering of dairy cows. Dairy cows must endure a constant cycle of pregnancy and birth in order to maintain uninterrupted milk production. Unfortunately, dairy cows usually only get to be mothers for a matter of hours because their babies are taken away almost immediately after birth so people can drink the milk meant for their offspring. Just like humans, cows grieve the loss of their young.

In fact, the voice of their grief is so loud that it has been known to prompt worried neighbours to call the police in the middle of the night. Strange noises from near the Sunshine Dairy Farm in Newbury, Massachusetts, turned out to be the bellowing and cries of cows who had just lost their babies. Police reassured the public that this was just a normal part of farming practice. While it may be standard practice, cows have strong maternal bonds and their cries are a reflection of their distress.

As for the babies, they lose their mothers shortly after birth, eat formula instead of the milk intended for them, and spend their first few weeks of life isolated in calf hutches or pens. The pens are so small they can barely move around. The National Farm Animal Care Council’s Codes of Practice, after all, recommend a minimum of just 35.5 inches by 65 inches for these 200 pound animals.  Females will usually become dairy cows, while the males are kept for a few weeks until they are ready to be sold for veal.

While dairy cows and their babies suffer year-round, Mother’s Day is a great time to be reminded that cows are mothers too. Wear a cow ribbon, and join us in commemorating the lives of cows who suffer so much loss just for a glass of milk


Get your cow ribbon!
Volunteers working hard to assemble the ribbons!




Winning Compassion for Chickens One Look, One Wave, One Heart at a Time: The Evolution of the Chicken Vigil

Written by Mary-Chris on March 2nd, 2014

The first week of the vigil, April, 2013

When we first started the Chicken Vigils outside Hallmark Slaughterhouse at Commercial and Hastings almost a year ago, our goals were simple:   we wanted to be there for the chickens and let the public know what is going on behind that big grey wall.  We were inspired by Toronto Pig Save, Chicken Save, and Cow Save.  Now that the one year anniversary is around the corner, I’d like to share some of the lessons I’ve learned about how to get the most out of the vigils in terms of helping animals.

Early days of the vigil

One of the 3,285,000 sweet little birds we fought for this year at Hallmark Slaughterhouse

Over the past year, activists at the vigils have held signs and waved at motorists passing by, drawing attention to messages of compassion for chickens.  We are often rewarded with honks which is inspiring and motivating.  I hope that our presence outside the slaughterhouse has brought some comfort to the birds inside.  I hope that it has influenced managers to make sure they are, at least,  following the welfare standards that are in place.   There is no question that more people know about the existence of this slaughterhouse than did a year ago.  I hope that many of those people have been affected by our invitation to show compassion for chickens.  It has been heartening to see how many activists have attended the vigils at various times throughout the year, in all kinds of weather and I am proud of what we’ve accomplished!

No words can describe the sadness of witnessing their suffering.

So what’s next?  How can we improve?  How can we maximize benefits to animals?  How can we  inspire as many people as possible to re-think their food choices?

First, it is time to say goodbye to our well-used home made signs!  Initially these signs contained only verbal messages until it was brought to our attention that old adage, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and we added photos so that even those with only a second to take in the images would have a sense of our purpose.  Still, most of  the signs do not offer any type of call to action.  We are now in the process of having new, professional signs made that are designed to allow readers to LEARN something, FEEL something, and DO something.  The main message will be big and bold with vibrant images to reach the eyes of those drivers passing by when the traffic light is green.  The rest of the message will be seen easily by those who get stopped at the red light.

Ashley bears witness in the lane behind the slaughterhouse.

While the messages on the signs are crucial, I believe that those of us who are holding the signs play a just as crucial a role in maximizing the likelihood that the message will be received.  We do this by acting with genuine purpose.  I have recently begun to pay closer attention to what I actually do at the vigil to see how, along with better signage, I can make a bigger impact on more individuals.   Initially I had been waving generally, at the masses passing by, to get their attention and reacted gratefully when someone honked in response to my message.  But when I really started to pay attention, I began to direct my waves and focus, purposefully, towards each individual pair of eyes, for only a brief second.  I was amazed at what I saw!  Many people made eye contact, smiled, waved, nodded or gave a thumbs up, and, of course, some of them honked!  Previously, I had only paid attention the honks but now I was able to see that many more people could be engaged, with this kind of  personal connection.  Now I wave at each car when the traffic is moving and when it slows down for a red light, I stop waving and move where necessary to let as many people as possible read my sign.  It might be a good time to give my waving arm a rest but it is certainly not the time to lose focus.  As the traffic begins to move again, I make eye contact with as many of these people as I can, wave, and wish them a good day – that’s when I see the most reactions!  I’m not sure these people would be waving or smiling if no one was actually looking at them.  Maybe, just maybe, that personal connection, that personal invitation, makes a difference!  Alex, a regular at the vigils, says that she sees the same thing.  She says she waves at each car as though she’s waving to a good friend and then she visualizes a light going on in their heart!  And it doesn’t have to be done by waving…I watched Allissa one day, direct her attention to a passenger on a bus and have a whole conversation with him, using only her eyes!  The key is being present, doing what we do with purpose.

Alex brings light to hearts!

Maybe just as many people would be affected, just driving by and seeing a bunch of people with signs but I believe that potentially many more can be affected through personal connections.  If I am fully present for the whole time I’m out there, reaching out to people with purpose, I believe I can help animals more!  At least I can go away from the vigil feeling I’ve done everything in my power to help animals.  Sometimes I feel I must seem anti-social at the vigils because I don’t chat very much.  But that is only because I have decided to dedicate that time to the chickens and feel I owe them every single second.  A driver once asked how long we had been on strike.  I realized that it was an easy mistake to make when you see a group of people with signs on a corner.  I believe that being fully present in our outreach will ensure that our message is clear!

The final insult: A dancing chicken on the side of the truck...

There has also been some discussion about holding the vigils at different times to allow more activists to get involved and to reach a different audience.  This may be possible in the future.  For now, the time works well because there is non-stop traffic and there are no parked cars in front of the slaughterhouse at that time.  For sure we are seeing some of the same drivers every week.  Those who are already on our side make sure to honk louder and louder each week.  This not only supports us but it all sends a message to the public that it is not only a handful of activists with signs who see this as an important issue, that there are many more people who care about justice for animals.  For those who were not on our side the first time they drove by, I hope that they are being worn down a little by little every week!  At least, I hope they might admire our determination! But there are definitely many people driving by seeing us for the first time, or at least noticing us for the first time.  It is clear, when you pay attention, that they are taking in the message.  The sign I like to hold tells that 1000s of innocent beings are being slaughtered every day behind the big grey wall.  I see them look up at the wall after reading the sign.

In closing, I just want to comment on the potential irony of smiling and waving when the subject matter is so tragic.  For me, the smile and the wave are used to make a human connection.  I believe I  need to allow individuals to see me as a warm, caring person who they might want to relate to.  I want to invite them, with love, to learn about a very difficult subject.  I have learned this from The Animal Activist’s Handbook by Matt Ball and Bruce Friedrich and from listening to my non-vegan friends who say they feel intimidated by the stern, angry appearance of some activists and are reluctant to approach them if they want more information.  While I believe there is a time and place for a more somber atmosphere, I don’t want anyone to be afraid to approach me to talk about the issue, even if they don’t agree with my views.  I believe that hundreds of thousands of connections like these will contribute greatly to changing the hearts and minds of the world!


Someone, not something...