Saturday, February 26, 2022

Back Online & Updated Domain Name!

Hello Victoria, just a quick update, that the website is now back!

The ".com" domain name was stolen (domain registrar didn't alert that it was expiring, then was bought by another entity, I suspect in cahoots, who now wants hundreds for it), but I picked up the ".ca" domain name instead, and have finally gotten around to setting up the new domain and revising a bunch of the pages. (Apologies that older posts still have the ".com", am planning to update as well!)

Head over to and enjoy all the original content (going back as far as 2006, it's a bit of a history of veganism and animal rights in Victoria!), and I'm planning to continue to update in the coming weeks, thanks for sticking with us. =)

Dave Shishkoff, Editor
Twitter: @Victoria_Vegan & @VeganCyclist (personal)
Facebook Discussion Group: /groups/TheVictoriaVegan

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Save-A-Turkey Trot 2018

It's been a few years, but the OrganicAthlete Victoria Save-A-Turkey Trot is back for the fifth Trot!

It's a fun 5k run/walk/trot and this year it's also a fundraiser for A Home for Hooves and RASTA animal sanctuaries. (It's so nice to have animal sanctuaries on the island now, this wasn't the case when we started this event several years ago.) Our goal is to get people to consider their Thanksgiving meal and especially the turkeys, and consider all the amazing vegan options we have now - here's a sample of offerings from!

It turned out to be a beautiful day on October 6th, and we were happy to welcome 29 people to the event!

About half joined in the walk, the other half ran for a time, and all had a great time! We also held a little trivia game for participants to win an extra prize, but a tricky question foiled the final two people in the quiz. 😉

Following the quiz was the prize draw, and thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and supporters, everyone got to take home a prize!

We're thankful for our main event sponsors, Green Cuisine, Very Good Butchers and, plus Equinox Health Clinic, Pure Lovin' Chocolate and Vegan Hippie Chick Cafe. Also, a big thank-you to Monica from Acosta who arranged for a huge Derma E gift basket, as well as Bobo's energy bars and everyone also received coupons for Gardein.

So many goodies for our participants, there was also over a dozen gift cards!

Here are the times from the run, unfortunately I didn't catch everyone's name, please get in touch and I'll be happy to update!
  1. 20:17 - Karen W
  2. 22:41 - Adam L
  3. 25:49 - Aubri M
  4. 25:51 - Rob M
  5. 25:56 - Jessie S
  6. 27:33 - Monica A
  7. 28:55 - Elan K
  8. 28:56 - ??
  9. 28:56 - ??
  10. 21:09 - ??
  11. 29:17 - Mia K
  12. 29:29 - Sam P
  13. 30:49 - ??
  14. 30:51 - Laura S
  15. 31:14 - Shelby C
1/2 of the $5 entry fees went to the two sanctuaries, plus $68 was donated directly as well, so a total of $168 was raised for donations to A Home for Hooves and RASTA!

CTV also came by, scoll ahead to 8:21 to see the clip about Gertie the turkey and the Trot:

Thanks again to all who joined us, as well as our sponsors and supporters, we'll be back in 2019 for another Trot, be sure to get in touch with OrganicAthlete Victoria if you want to get on their email list, and there may be another fun run in the spring!

A couple quick photos, unfortunately I forgot to take a group shot!

Surprised myself being able to load everything into my bike cart!

Let's hope it's this nice again in 2019!
See you next time!

Dave Shishkoff, Editor
Twitter: @Victoria_Vegan & @VeganCyclist (personal)
NEW: Facebook Page:
Facebook Discussion Group: /groups/TheVictoriaVegan

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A New Project:!

I'm very excited to announce a new project to promote veganism: is accessible and practical, and offers an introduction and stepping stone to veganism. For those who might find it challenging to commit fully to a vegan diet, or a 7 day 'kickstart', this could be what's needed to give veganism a try.

The program is focused on the start of the day for many people: breakfast. And with a relatively small range of foods most have for breakfast, it's a much easier change. It will also influence the rest of the day: if someone uses a non-dairy milk in their coffee in the morning, chances are they'll reach for something similar later in the day. And what's more, when ready to commit fully to veganism, good habits will have been established, and the transition will be significantly easier, having already experienced vegan meals regularly.

The other side of this is the benefit to activists - a VeganStart leaflet can be included with just about any other advocacy materials. When activists are at events, this will be a handy way to encourage people who are interested in helping animals, the planet and their health to start their journey. Our goal is through donations and fundraising to be able to supply our materials to activists for free.

The website is currently being populated with info, and will feature tons of tips and help, and even our own vegan breakfast recipe board!

While we're getting started, please join our social media communities, and help get the word out:
If you're on Twitter or Instagram, share your vegan breakfasts with the hashtag #VeganStart! The website,, will also host an informative blog, polls, featured vegan cookbook authors and new products, coupons, giveaways and more! Be sure to join the email list so you don't miss anything.

I'm hoping every day we'll see more and more vegan starts; help get the word out, and encourage everyone to start their day the vegan way!
Dave Shishkoff, Editor
Twitter: @Victoria_Vegan & @VeganCyclist (personal)
NEW: Facebook Page:
Facebook Discussion Group: /groups/TheVictoriaVegan

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Does Anyone Go Vegan After Being Yelled At?

Does Anyone Go Vegan After Being Yelled At?
Considering Why We Need To Be More Mindful With How We Protest

Last weekend, Vancouver-based activists from Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) and new Victoria group The Critical Cat (formerly The Raging Kucing) allied for a number of actions, including a protest of the downtown restaurant 'pig'.

You can view the 'viral video' from the perspective of a 'pig' patron:

CTV's report:

Jordan from The Critical Cat also produced a video from his perspective:

For some, this might be an upsetting or frustrating article. For others (likely more introverted), this could be a more refreshing perspective.

Image Source
Let's begin with the title: does anyone go vegan after being yelled at?

Has anyone gone vegan after finding themselves in a situation like this? Anyone at all? Alternatively, has anyone gone vegan after seeing footage like this? (Part of the goal of the action is to have it 'go viral' on social media, which is unreliable, but in this instance succeeded locally.)

I've been an activist for a fairly long time - since 1996. In that time, I've coordinated and seen numerous people in Victoria participate in demonstrations similar to this, and after a few events end their public activism, or switch to different methods of activism. Very few people spend more than a few months or sometimes years participating in activities like this. Fewer still continue on this path for an extended period, and perhaps there's something we can learn from this.

Carol Adams addresses this form of activism in her book 'Living Among Meat Eaters'. Carol describes how a meal or restaurant setting is just about the worst time to address the issue. When someone is sitting with animal flesh in their hands and mouths, they aren't really in a position where they can be open to this topic. Take a moment to think about it - if you were eating a vegan chocolate treat, and someone told you that this particular chocolate is made with human slavery, are you really going to be in a mindset to be receptive to that message? Or if you're snacking on some So Delicious ice cream, would you want - at that moment - to learn the company was bought in September by WhiteWave, who owns a massive organic dairy company? It's probably not the time you're going to want to hear about this, and it's no different when someone is consuming animal products.

This approach, while proper in fact, is poor in timing. It creates an environment of polarization and judgement. From the perspective of the patron, it's awkward and leaves them defensive. This situation is not conducive to compassion and education, which is what is needed to be effective in outreach.

The media fall-out from these PETA-esque actions are also often unhelpful to our goals, here's a Facebook posting from Victoria Buzz Media:

It's overwhelmingly negative. To vegan readers, the comments are abhorrent. They're grating, ignorant, hurtful and insulting. The commenters are empathizing with the restaurant patrons, not enslaved livestock. There is a young girl in the first video who appears traumatized by the event. I don't believe any of this is helpful in getting people to reconsider what they're eating.

Credit: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
I would implore groups to reconsider these actions. There are times and places vocal protest is appropriate and necessary, but it is a tool that should be used with consideration. Outside the Vancouver Aquarium or across from the downtown horse-drawn carriages would be better received and considered by passers-by. They are not yet committed to the concerned practice, have a choice to opt out, and can reasonably approach the activists for more information. A peaceful, non-aggressive demonstration outside the restaurant would be an improvement. Activists could present thoughtful messages on signs that people can consider in that moment. Gently offer literature. Become a kind representative of other species that restaurant patrons will want to approach.

Also worth considering: signs like "It's Not Food, It's Violence" might be too abstract. Many vegans understand what it means, but most will be unsure what it is referring to. Patrons will be asking themselves: what is 'pig' doing that's violent, did they have some kind of animal abuse event here? Is there a patron in the restaurant who has done something? Is it violence to vegetables too? Is a lion violent, and do they need to be stopped too?

We need to consider that to the uninitiated, 'violence' is obviously not an association with 'hamburger'. Yelling it doesn't help with this comprehension either. And perhaps even further out of the realm of their understanding is a sanctuary rescue. It is unlikely any patrons will be familiar with what an animal sanctuary is, or the life of a sanctuary pig. Further, they won't even know what a non-sanctuary pig has gone through. There is no point of reference for most, short of fantasies like 'Old MacDonald's Farm'.

This begs the question: is the demonstration an effort to educate, or vent? What draws people to these actions? Activists are upset that this injustice is occurring in several buildings (restaurants) on nearly every block downtown. And that is a justified feeling! But is the action for the activists to blow off steam and satisfy their catharsis, or to try and create dialogue and understanding? Is activism an outlet for our frustrations, or a means to effectively inform the ignorant of a hugely important issue?

Please know: I am not trying to paralyze, stifle or stagnate activism. In my experience it's relatively easy to embolden a group and participate in something like this. Yelling is easy and lazy - at least, it was for me and many I know. What's not easy is devising effective ways to garner attention that is actually well-received. It is not so easy to offer a digestible message that is contrary to the upbringing of most people in a way they can consider. It is hard work, but our movement deserves it.

'pig' is a horrible restaurant. Not only do they celebrate and glorify the murder and consumption of animals, they do so unashamedly, and smash you in the face with it. It reduces a smart, sensitive being into a fleeting fancy (unnecessary food). It's easy enough for a vegan to walk by McDonald's and not blink, but 'pig' is obtrusive and combative. I would ride my bike up Johnson several times a week, and even after a year I couldn't help but feel ill seeing their sign on the corner. It's a despicable sight.

I want to see it go away as much as the next vegan. But if we're going to target it or their cohorts, please, let's do it in a way that will actually result in patrons changing their minds, not provide them with fuel to denigrate veganism.


I want to give credit to Almira Tanner of DxE for her participation on CFAX Radio this morning (podcast link.) She was very well spoken, and had the savvy to return the conversation to the topic of animal rights and veganism when it was derailed by aggressive callers. She did a great job of representing vegan and animal rights values, and I hope we get to hear more from her in less hostile settings, where she can converse rather than defend.

UPDATE #1 (11/27) - Here's the November 25th CFAX Terry Moore radio show featuring Almira from DxE, Corie from The Critical Cat, and myself to hear different angles on the issue:

UPDATE #2 (11/30) - Almira from DxE has kindly responded, please scroll down to the Comment section. Thank you, Almira, for continuing this discussion, I will respond shortly as well.

Dave Shishkoff, Editor
Twitter: @Victoria_Vegan & @VeganCyclist (personal)
NEW: Facebook Page:
Facebook Discussion Group: /groups/TheVictoriaVegan

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Victoria Election 2014: Help Make the Carriage Horses an Issue

Please help make it clear to candidates this is an election issue for you, and you're interested in their position so you can make an informed choice at the polls on November 15th.

You can simply ask: "What is your position on the horse-drawn carriages?" or ask for more specifics. Please take a minute to write and ask, so that they're aware the public are interested in this issue. The horses need your voice.

Here is a listing of Mayoral candidates:;;;;;;;

Here is a listing of the City Council candidates:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Thank you for writing, and please help get word out by sharing this photo and info!

(Source for email addresses: )
Dave Shishkoff, Editor
Twitter: @Victoria_Vegan & @VeganCyclist (personal)
NEW: Facebook Page:
Facebook Discussion Group: /groups/TheVictoriaVegan

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Humane Meat: It's Not Humane for Nature

On Wednesday, October 15th I attended the Wildlife Co-Existence Event organized by the Vegan Congress at Emily Carr University in Vancouver. I was flattered to be included (with a vastly more knowledgeable panel) featuring Dan Straker,  Urban Wildlife Coordinator of the Stanley Park Ecology Society, Dr. Sara Dubois, Chief Scientific Officer from the BC SPCA and WildARC, and Marcy Potter from the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.

Dan spoke about coyotes in Vancouver (did you know they're relatively new to the Vancouver area, and there are about 3,000 living in Greater Vancouver? Oh, and none on Vancouver Island!), Sara focused on the problems with feeding wildlife, and offered a great sentiment: feeding wildlife ought to have the same stigma as polluting - it's harmful, and just not cool or acceptable. Marcy spoke primarily about APFA's programs on beavers, which I've also had the pleasure of helping with. (See post on tree wrapping here, and building a flow device here.)

My own presentation was more general, and half was focused on how wildlife need to be given much more consideration for vegan activists. It's featured below; note that it's been edited slightly for more clarity in print.


Why Wildlife Should Be Important to Vegans

As vegans, we're concerned about the well-being of other animals, but often the vegan movement appears as the 'anti-factory farming' movement, which is troubling to me. That is not to say there is a lot wrong with factory farms, but on deeper thought, some of the alternatives, are actually even more harmful and destructive.

A major focus of reforming livestock agribusiness is providing animals with more space. Bigger cages, no cages, or more movement. But space doesn't come without a cost. The universe may still be expanding, but planet Earth isn't.

A chicken farm with 50,000 hens stacked on top of each other is a horrible and tragic feat of efficiency. There are more birds than nature ever intended compressed into a relatively small space. And it's not a space any sane person would want to find themselves; inside or even outside of those cages.

But what happens when farming laws change, and these methods are no longer allowed, and cages are eliminated? If this 50,000 hen factory farm is stacking cages 10 high, that means there's 5,000 hens per layer. The foundation of the building fills the space of approximately 5,000 birds.

With a cage-free law enacted, it means this farmer can only keep about 5,000 (or less) hens in the same barn. Who believes that a farmer with 50,000 hens is going to be content with 1/10th the number (and income) of 5,000 hens?

They are going to try to maintain that number, or close to it..and so the addition of more barns, and to sustain the same number, we're looking at 9 more barns. Suddenly they're taking up a lot more space, and that space will most likely have been wildlife habitat.

Simply put, improving conditions for hens means denying habitat for wildlife, and destroying their homes and communities - it's pretty much a death sentence.

I don't want to come off as a heartless brute - it's extremely upsetting to me that these hens are living in such awful conditions, but we've got an equally upsetting conundrum: is giving hens more space worth wiping out the lives and communities of wildlife from that area? It's a hard question, and sadly few (vegan or not) have asked it.

Keep in mind this is just one farm. There are nearly 10 billion hens raised in Canada and the US each year. You can't even begin to conceptualize how much space that is.

Thankfully, the new film Cowspiracy helps with this, with some helpful graphics.

Right now in the US, fully 1/2 of all land use is for livestock. That's producing food for them, and the space these cows, pigs, chickens and others take up.

The vast majority, about 98% of livestock, are factory farmed. Remember: this compact method is already using 50% of the land in the US.

Try for a moment to imagine what would happen if the space we give them is increased. Again, Cowspiracy helps:

According to the film, this is what land-use in the US would look like if they switched cattle to pasture-fed. (Just cattle, not chickens or other livestock.) They would need nearly 4 billion acres of land, and the entire US is only 1.9 billion acres. To replace the demand of meat in the US with pasture-raised cattle, we would have to convert large portions of Canada, all of Central America and another huge portion of South America into pasture land in order to swap factory farmed with pasture-raised beef.

I imagine in this scenario the rest of the planet would be transformed to supply the US with 'humane' eggs, chicken, dairy and pork.

To conclude, we would have to convert the entire planet to livestock grazing land, just to supply the US with their current usage if we were to go with 'humane' animal products. It seems to me that 'humane meat' is not humane for the rest of the planet.

I'll wrap this portion of my talk up with two more illustrations that I've found really helpful. If you're doubting the legitimacy of the previous statistics because it comes from a 'vegan' film, then these two sources ought to dash that thought.

First, is a graphic from - it's a bit of an activist website, but definitely not a 'vegan' website.

They've broken down how much mass all land mammals on earth make up.

The dark grey in the middle are us humans. There's 7 billion of us, so it's quite a lot of mass. Making up an even larger portion of the mass is the world's cattle. It's the lighter grey on the left. Around the other side, are our other livestock and pets, also in light grey.

Now this is where it gets scary. The green squares represent wildlife. One, single square represents all the elephants in the world. The other 34 green squares are the rest of the planets wild mammals. From squirrels to deer, lions to zebras, kangaroos to panda bears. All mammalian wildlife on planet Earth only matches the mass of humanity's  goats.

And that's just mammals, the vast majority of livestock are birds.

The other graphic I'll show came out in National Geographic magazine earlier this year, and is similar to the Cowspiracy graphic. Here's our planet broken down by land use:

I don't know if I should be grateful or concerned, but 46.5% of the land on the earth is considered undeveloped. We've taken over or influenced the other 53.5%.

Agriculture takes up another whopping 38.6%. It's primarily pastureland, and includes human crops as well. To give it a bit more context, livestock take up about the same space as all of Africa. South America would approximate how much space all the cropland is taking.

We are out of control! We don't have land to spare, and wildlife are paying the price for it. Just a few hundred years ago, these charts would have looked very different! 10,000 years ago, even more-so. We would be a tiny blip.

We need to stop our invasion of wild spaces, and begin to return these spaces to nature. So-called humane and pasture-fed meat, and campaigns for bigger cages shouldn't be our focus; it's not fair to nature. We need to encourage vegan living (and not industry reform) if we really want to see this turn around.

There are plenty of other non-vegan groups, and even the industry itself, who are pushing for reforms like bigger cages. Yes, farm animals need representation, but even more desperate are wildlife.

When you stop and think about it, who's going to be here when the rest of the world goes vegan? There will be very few cows, pigs and chickens. We're vegan for all animals, so let's ensure that our efforts are effective, and we leave space for the ones who will be here.

UPDATE (Oct 24): Came across this interactive piece from NatGeo illustrating the different foods people have been eating for the last 50 years, some interesting insights:

Also, from The Atlantic, a clunky but informative interactive comparing various resource use for 'conventional' to 'free range' chicken, also demonstrating that it's actually more demanding:


Thank you again, Vegan Congress, for organising this, and including me, it's a very important topic, and I look forward to your future events!

Dave Shishkoff, Editor
Twitter: @Victoria_Vegan & @VeganCyclist (personal)
NEW: Facebook Page:
Facebook Discussion Group: /groups/TheVictoriaVegan

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Our New Facebook Page

Just a quick update for our friends on Facebook, we now have our own page! Be sure to 'Like' us, you can already see that news stories, events and more are posted regularly! We'll still post bigger features here of course, but for smaller updates, join us over there:

(Our large discussion group is still there as well, see my signature below for the link to join our community!)

Dave Shishkoff, Editor
Twitter: @Victoria_Vegan & @VeganCyclist (personal)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vancouver Aquarium Demonstrates its Corrupt Values

Now that I'm in Vancouver (just for a couple years - yuck, I miss Victoria!), I'm involving myself in some of the local activism.

A current urgency is the dealings with the Vancouver Aquarium. They have plans to expand their facility, and opposition has increased significantly since the release of the documentary Blackfish, campaigns and groups like No Whales in Captivity have really picked up steam, including a protest I attended on May 24th that attracted dozens of activists outside the front gate of the Vancouver Aquarium:

The Vancouver Parks Board oversees aspects of the Vancouver Aquarium, including their plans for expansion, and on Saturday, June 26th held a public forum for aquarium representatives to present their case to continue, as well as hear from public Delegates, initially given 5 minutes each.

133 people signed up to present, which was unexpected by the Parks Board. We were informed that our time would be reduced to 3 minutes, due to the numbers.

The Aquarium reps took much longer than expected, and delegates didn't get to begin to present until nearly 4pm (and the day was planned to end at 5pm.)

Delegates #1 - #48 had opportunities to present on Saturday, although about half had left; waiting 6hrs+ was a very unfair and unreasonable expectation.

The majority of presentations from the pro-Aquarium crowd were shallow at best, and full of contempt for 'activists'. A number of times, they would start with 'I'm going to stick to the facts', but then tell stories about their dogs or children or other distractions. Emotional blackmail was a primary strategy: "what about the children?" Or "they can't learn about cetaceans without seeing them."

To which I would respond: how many days a year does a typical Vancouver child attend the Vancouver Aquarium? I would imagine less than one. Especially weighted over several years.

As for seeing dolphins or whales - I guess this explains why dinosaurs are so unpopular amongst children, and why the films about them have been such box office flops. /sarcasm

My own story is probably typical - I learned about animals through documentaries and reading. As a kid, I loved Lorne Green's New Wilderness, and could not get enough of 'Fact Books' on animals and nature. Despite almost no personal interactions with wildlife (especially captive), I grew up to become an animal advocate. My idea of protecting cetaceans involves opposing their captivity, and leaving other animals in the ocean alone by not eating them. I wonder how many Aquarium supporters have gone 20+ years without consuming a single sea animal, the capture of which disturbs wild cetacean activities, and compromises their environment and food supply?

At the meeting, my sweetie Lesley and I waited for our opportunity to speak - we were right in the middle, with #64 & #65. The majority of Delegates on Saturday were opponents of captivity, and gave heartfelt and informative speeches in their reduced timeframes. The day went until 5:15pm, and Delegates were told they would continue Monday evening. (Not what people signed up for, but at least it wasn't just terminated.)

In defense of the Parks Board, they did ask good, critical questions of the Vancouver Aquarium proponents, who often flubbed their answers and were an embarrassment to their cause.

The meeting continued Monday at 6pm with Delegate #49. Of the remaining 85 people who signed up, less than half were evidently in attendance - likely unable to schedule more time for this. That night, the Parks Boardroom was full of unfamiliar faces, most of whom I did not recognize from Saturday. After a few presenters, it was clear the majority of them were pro-Aquarium (and affiliated with the Aquarium, as staff.)

I don't want to sound conspirational, but it seems suspicious to me that they knew they wouldn't have time to present on Saturday, and would instead have to attend a follow-up meeting - thus their lack of attendance on Saturday.

For your interest, here is my presentation:
I’m not a scientist, but an activist, and was disappointed that our positions were condescendingly dismissed by the panel. Most social progress has occurred because of activists. Many, including minorities, people of other ethnicities, sexualities and gender found their freedoms and rights not because of scientists, but activists. It’s a position of gross ignorance that denigrates and dismisses discussion because it’s ‘from activists’. Further, they’re activists as well. They’re advocating for the captivity of other species, and advocating for their own jobs. 
The actual revelation of animal captivity is just how cruel people can be. We’re confining animals for our entertainment, and some call this ‘science’. These scientists are doing the field a disservice. Over and over on Saturday were remarks like ‘i’m going to talk about the facts’, but most of what we heard were stories. The facts were few and far between, which further weakens their position, and is intellectually dishonest and disrespectful of the process. 
We must ask ‘who is this issue motivating?’ Yes, Vancouver Aquarium representatives and staff are here, but don’t forget most of them have an invested interest. Their animal testing at this facility pays their bills. The head of the aquarium reportedly earns $300,000. Historically, people who have no invested interest are better representatives of captives. Many volunteers who turned out are in opposition, and very few defenders from the public made the effort. 
One of the only moving points i heard was that the Board committed to this expansion. Yes, they did, but don’t they also reserve the right to change their minds in light of new information, and a shift in public awareness? If the science proved undoubtedly these animals were suffering tremendously, wouldn't they want the opportunity to re-evaluate their position? We need much more than a juvenile ‘because you said so’. 
Finally, the aquarium provides lazy research. If we want to learn about cetaceans and other species, we need to observe them in their own environment. Over and over, across a wide variety of species, including great apes, we’ve learned this. What we learn from captive animals is artificial, and primarily applies only to other captive animals. The Vancouver Aquarium is way behind the curve, and rejecting established scientific findings to defend activities here. 
I’m opposed to the captivity and public display of animals in this prison. What i support is the rescue and rehab aspects, and the conversion of the facility to a non-public sanctuary with open-water pens. Please help move the facility in this direction.
We left after our presentations, which was about 7pm - it continued until after 10pm. This increased our total time investment to over 10hrs speak for 3 minutes. Vancouver Parks Board: this was an unfair process.

You can read quick summaries of Monday's presentations from a pro-Aquarium website, as well as Richard Zussman from CBC (scroll down). Here's a short video news clip as well (with me in a cameo!)

Adding to the frustration, there is no opportunity for 'the other side' to have a similar presentation. There are plenty of scientists who oppose captivity, and argue that it's harmful to individual animals, and supports the breeding, trading and capture of them as well. There are many reasons for phasing out the public display of captive animals, and this should have been welcomed as well. The BC SPCA isn't even being consulted.

And this is where it gets worse.

Aquarium CEO John Nightingale is threatening to sue the Parks Board if they don't get their way.

Further, the Aquarium is planning to stack the Parks Board with their supporters, as an election is coming up, and three Parks Board commissioners are not planning to return to their position.

This is a pathetic and self-serving way to abuse a democratic process. Shame on the Vancouver Aquarium. This further exemplifies their corrupt and juvenile ideologies.

Please considering writing the Parks Board on this, and tell them you're alarmed by the plans of Aquarium advocates to stack the Parks Board with single-interest parties, giving them the freedom to do nearly anything they want, and potentially jeopardize all other park facilities. This is deeply disturbing. Perhaps there is something they can do to prevent this before the end of their term. Send your emails to: - if you're not a Vancouver resident, please indicate it, as a potential tourist.

The list against the Vancouver Aquarium goes on and on. For example, their behaviour is pushing all the boundaries of what a non-profit is. They run like a business, with all the benefits of a non-profit, and continue to blackmail the public with emotional pleas like 'think of the animals'. Well, we are thinking of the animals, and the Vancouver Aquarium needs to refocus their energies on rescue and rehab, and get out of the business of displaying imprisoned animals.


Dave Shishkoff, Editor

Twitter: @Victoria_Vegan & @VeganCyclist (personal)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Feeding the World? More Like Devouring the Planet.

A recent National Geographic Magazine features food, and feeding the predicted 9 billion people that are expected to be on planet Earth for 2050.

While lacking in conviction, Jonathan Foley does suggest eating less meat and animal products. Like the majority of writers wishing to remain popular, he doesn't push for eliminating what is a cruel, unnecessary and inefficient choice for food. It would be helpful for him to remind us that no human needs to consume animal products; and this message would go a long way to helping feed people, reduce greenhouse emissions and ecological destruction, and curb exploitative attitudes.

Here is an important and revealing graphic from the article; it's an impactful revelation of what we're doing to the planet with livestock:

From National Geographic.
According to this, 46.5% of the world's land remains undeveloped - a bit reassuring as I expected a much smaller percentage. This means the other 53.5% of all land on the planet has been developed - meaning people have altered the landscape for various purposes.

By and far, most land on Earth is utilized by agriculture. A staggering 38.6% of all land on the planet is devoted to raising livestock and growing crops. Most of it is for livestock. Foley puts it this way: "an area roughly the size of Africa" is how much land livestock occupies (and the area of South America for all crops.)

Just think about that a moment - if we were to raise all livestock in one place, it would fill up Africa. And a lot of the cropland is also used to feed livestock, increasing their total footprint.

Clearly, the solution to our problem is not more livestock. We just don't have the space for it.

Some might ask: is organic livestock a better option? Almost no one dares to breach this uncomfortable topic, but one of the 'perks' claimed by organic animal agribusiness is these animals are given significantly more space.

Given what we've just learned, space is one thing we don't have to spare. Organic practices demand even more land, further shrinking remaining habitat for wild species. It becomes a battle between livestock, and wild animals. I shudder to think how little space would be left were organic livestock practices to increase significantly.

Here's another related graphic, courtesy of XKCD:

This is the mass of all land mammals on the planet. Humans are the dark blocks in the middle, livestock (cows, pigs, sheep) and pets are light grey, and a total of 35 of remaining blocks are wild mammals.

Once again, a tiny percentage of mammals (the green blocks) on land are wild. If you were to put all our goats on one side of a giant scale, and *every wild mammal* on the other side, goats would tip the scale.

What about hunting for meat? For me, this really puts into perspective the claim 'things would be better if everyone hunted!' If a majority of people switched to hunting, I expect nearly every remaining mammal would be killed in less than a week. (Where do we go from there?)

We really need to consider the the effects of livestock, and how we're going to feed imminent generations without ruining more of the planet.

No matter how you look at it, we need to change how we eat.

A couple more relative facts from the Nat Geo piece:
  • "Only 55 percent of food-crop calories directly nourish people. Meat, dairy, and eggs from animals raised on feed supply another 4 percent."
  • "For every 100 calories of grain we feed animals, we get only about 40 new calories of milk, 22 calories of eggs, 12 of chicken, 10 of pork, or 3 of beef."
Be the change we need: go vegan, and get your family and friends to switch!

Dave Shishkoff, Editor
Twitter: @Victoria_Vegan & @VeganCyclist (personal)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Media Release & Action: Accident Renews Call for Horse Carriage Ban

Credit: CHEK News footage.

Accident Renews Call for Horse Carriage Ban

Victoria, BC - May 23, 2014 - After confirmed reports of a carriage horse throwing and injuring its driver and colliding with two cars and a motorcycle this evening, local activist group Carriage-Free Victoria is renewing their call on council to ban this industry.

Victoria-based animal activist Dave Shishkoff has been campaigning against Victoria’s horse carriage trade for over 8 years. He believes horse drawn carriages are cruel, out-dated and dangerous. “Tonight was extremely unfortunate, but it also was 100% preventable. With tourist season fast approaching, traffic levels are only going to increase. City council needs to take immediate action and pass a bylaw to prohibit horse-drawn carriages.”

Over the next few weeks, Shishkoff vows to expand his campaign to ban the horse drawn carriages in Victoria. “Social media, protests and filling City Council’s mailboxes with signed postcards from residents urging council to ban the horses will be priority number one. There are clearly safer and more humane ways to entertain tourists in our city”, Shishkoff adds. Over 500 post cards have already been sent to City Hall.

Currently there are only two horse-drawn carriage companies that operate in the City of Victoria, after a third was shuttered last year for not paying taxes.



Demand they take steps to ban the carriages before even more people or horses are hurt. Some suggested talking points:
  • It's an outdated and cruel industry.
  • It's hard on horses: walking all day on hard concrete is harmful for their bodies, as is breathing in traffic fumes, and the traffic is an obvious danger.
  • Too many accidents already have happened, and there's no system in place requiring accident reports, meaning the only accidents we hear about are the ones the media reports on.
  • Traffic downtown will only intensify as the tourist season progresses, increasing the potential danger of these incidents.
  • New York City is about to ban their carriages, and Victoria needs to follow suit.

Carriage-Free Victoria on Facebook:

Finally, remind them that there is an election this November, and you expect to see them address this issue as well.

Send your emails to:;;;;;;;;;

Credit: CHEK News
MEDIA COVERAGE (Check back for updates.)
Thank you for helping make Victoria a carriage-free city,

Dave Shishkoff, Editor
Twitter: @Victoria_Vegan & @VeganCyclist (personal)