A vegan activist group still hasn’t let up on protesting outside of local Toronto restaurant Antler Kitchen & Bar.
The activists have now pledged to not halt protests until the restaurant posts the following oddly poetic message in its window, BlogTO reports: "Animals' lives are their right. In their desire to live and capacity to suffer, a dog is a pig is a chicken is a boy. Reject Speciesism."
In late March, a video of Antler's chef Michael Hunter butchering a deer leg in front of a group of protestors standing outside of Antler’s front window, surrounding the entrance of the restaurant.
“He’s doing it deliberately to mock and taunt us because we’re vegans,” someone says behind-camera in the video. “As you can see, the owner has brought the leg of a recently murdered animal to the front of the restaurant to taunt the activists.” Amidst the butchering, protesters hold a large black-and-pink banner that reads “MURDER” in front of the window, while more and more people look on.
The chef disappeared in the back of the restaurant, came back with a cooked piece of meat, and chowed down in front of pissed off onlookers.
Police were even called to the protest to “keep the peace” and briefly talked to the chef. There were no arrests made.
Since then, media attention around the incident escalated, some vegans have decried that the activists hellbent on targeting Antler “don’t speak for all vegans,” and the protests outside of the restaurant have continued. Oh, and Hunter appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast this Tuesday.
He told Rogan that the rift with vegans started in December after a vegan cyclist riding by took offence to a sign outside the restaurant proclaiming venison was “the new kale.”
“All of a sudden one day, these protesters showed up,” Hunter said. “Originally, I was kind of frustrated because they’re totally misguided... We take a lot of pride in where our food comes from; we have vegan and vegetarian dishes on the menu. I really respect that type of diet.”
Antler is a small restaurant located on Dundas Street West known for spotlighting regional ingredients. Hunter specializes in wild game. In a statement to the National Post, the chef said that Antler’s “identity as a restaurant is well-known throughout the city, as is our ethical farming and foraging initiatives.”
Hunter said on Rogan’s podcast that the protesters started showing up to the restaurant every week, growing in numbers and becoming increasingly agitated. He said they began shouting at customers and in their door in what he said was an effort to harm their business. “I just kind of got fed up,” Hunter explained to Rogan. “I just said screw it, I’m going to get these people out of here.”
The same group of vegan activists have protested fast food chains in the city, such as KFC and McDonald’s. In an April 12 Facebook event, the group says Antler “is an important place to educate on speciesism.” Speciesism is an animal rights term concerning discrimination between species—that is, favouring one over another.
The organizer of the event wrote on its description that Antler is a key place to “educate on speciesism” because “the public sees the chef as the victim, rather than the animals being killed and eaten.”
So will Antler’s chef agree to post the animal rights activists’ message about speciesism in his window?
"We're not going to, there's no way," he said on Rogan’s podcast, "but that's what they want."