The thought of pizza makes us hungry, but how about pasta instead? One of our favourite Canadian chefs, Eric Pateman, has been cooking up a delicious seal Bolognese, and the Globe and Mail did a Q&A with Dion Dakins, who talks about whether seals are too cute to eat. Sealing is about more than sealers, of course, which is why we wrote about the other people involved in this trade. Since we are on the topic of wild meat, there's good news in Oregon where it has now been made legal to harvest roadkill.
Let's end with a few tips for summer
Need some new sandals? These fur ones by Zizi Donohoe (pictured above) were made for 7-Eleven.
Speaking of changing times, the Fall 2017 fashion trends are leaning towards fur, very colourful fur to be exact. We were thrilled to hear that We Are Fur counted fur on 67% of the Fall 2017 catwalk shows. What's it like to wear fur-lined shoes every day? This guy tried it out and enjoyed it thoroughly. If you are looking for some new fur, then check out one of Lysa Lash's trunk shows; this Canadian designer is well known for her personalized service in fur retail.
Sadly we are coming up to the key "season" for animal rights activists: the commercial seal hunt starts soon and this is the activists' main opportunity to raise money by using photos of baby seals (that aren't even hunted). If you want some facts (real facts) about the seal hunt, the Seals and Sealing website is a good start. The film Angry Inuk continues to have an impact on how people view the seal hunt, but we still need to work hard on spreading the good word about this traditional, sustainable hunt.
Eating seal meat is not something many of us have tried. It’s not a regular feature on restaurant menus, nor… Read More
Eating seal meat is not something many of us have tried. It's not a regular feature on restaurant menus, nor is it abundant in grocery stores. Vancouver restaurant Edible Canada made headlines in January when it announced that its menu for the restaurant festival Dine Out Vancouver was going to feature seal meat.
The two dishes, a pasta dish featuring pappardelle with seal mince and a starter of seal loin served rare, caught the attention of media and culinary enthusiasts, but where there are seals, there are activists. Not only did protesters turn up outside the restaurant, they also went on a cyber attack, downgrading the restaurant’s reviews on Facebook by posting hundreds of one-star reviews (since reversed, to an extent, thanks to our loyal followers; see below).
We had a chat with Edible Canada's executive chef, Eric Pateman, described as “one of the leading ambassadors of Canadian cuisine”, about eating seal meat, protesters, and Canadian cuisine.
Truth About Fur: You knew there was going to be some backlash, so why did you decide to go ahead and put seal on the menu?
Eric Pateman: It was the right thing to do. Part of what we do as a business is define Canadian food culture and seal has such an important historical as well as present-day context to it. By not doing it, we would have been doing a disservice to part of what we do as a business, which is educating and informing people on what it is that makes Canada so unique.
TAF: Did you have any plans in place to deal with the activists, or did you just deal with it as it happened?
EP: We definitely had had some conversations about what some of the potential backlashes could be, but we never anticipated the impact on social media that we saw. We expected some protesters, etc. ... The online impact was far more significant than we expected, but the in-person protests were less than we anticipated.
TAF: Well it is January, people don’t want to go outside, and it is much easier to criticize people anonymously from your computer.
EP: And most of the online attacks were international.
TAF: You posted on Facebook that the response to the seal meat was quite good. Can you talk about the feedback from customers?
EP: We had no idea how this was going to go, we thought it would be a great educational piece for the consumer. Obviously our customer base really likes the innovative and the obscure, and to try things that are truly reflective of our culture. When I looked at our numbers over the weekend, after the first three days [of the Dine Out Vancouver event] the seal dishes were the number one selling dish, by two to one over the next most popular dish, and the next was lamb heart. So we definitely attract a clientele who is interested in trying different proteins and dishes from across Canada.
[Editor’s note: lamb heart comes from a very cute, baby animal, but strangely there were no protests about that.]
We never anticipated that the pasta and the seal loin would do as well as they did. We didn’t make the call to add the seal loin to the menu until three days before Dine Out Vancouver. People were saying, “We really want to come in and try it, and we really want to taste it in its own right.” And almost every single table in the restaurant was ordering it. At the end of the day, the general perception has been incredibly positive. Ninety-five percent of the people who have tried it said “it wasn’t at all what I was expecting” to “it was better than what I was expecting.”
TAF: I expected it to be more liver-y. I didn't expect it to taste like steak.
EP: The big thing with seal is if you don’t cook it right, it does taste like liver and it does taste bad. It is very temperamental. I will be interested, when I am traveling across the Arctic circle to Newfoundland and going to the Festival of the Seal in the Magdalen Islands in March, to try other people’s interpretations of it. From what I have been reading online, the much more historical preparations are to cook it to death, and it comes across as a much more intense flavour, versus what we have done with the loin itself, keeping it rare. It mutes a lot of the flavours that come out with excessive cooking.
TAF: Do you think this is something you want to feature regularly?
EP: We are getting asked every single day whether we will keep it on our menu, and based on the response so far, absolutely. How we will keep it on the menu is yet to be determined. We are having guests ask for the loin in a larger portion - more than two ounces, more of a steak style. We might keep the pasta. We will sit down and evaluate that with the culinary team after Dine Out Vancouver and see what we want to do. Once the hunt is done and there is fresh seal meat, I can see us running a seal festival or an event around that.
TAF: I’ve frequently tried to find seal meat in restaurants across Canada and I have struggled to find it on menus. Have you had any feedback from other chefs, and do you think this might encourage them to put it on their menus?
EP: Absolutely. In the last week I have probably been contacted by five or six chefs, ranging from White Horse to Yellowknife to Calgary, and a few in Vancouver, all looking to get in contact with our providers. I can definitely see this starting to kick off. Someone had to be the one to jump in first, but I think we will start seeing other people adding it to the menus. We even had a fishmonger approach us if he could start carrying seal at his seafood store.
TAF: Throughout the dramas with the protesters, have you noticed how animal rights groups use the seal hunt as a money maker? Seals are abundant so there is no question about sustainability, and baby seals haven't been harvested since the '80s. What do you think of campaigners still using images of cute baby seals to raise funds?
EP: In all honesty, I don't know enough about that side of the industry. This was totally new to me, in terms of understanding a lot of the political ramifications and ties around it. Part of the reason I’m going to this seal festival, part of the reason I want to go out on the seal hunt this year, is to get a deeper understanding for myself personally. I had a couple of really good discussions both with the Humane Society and even PETA when they were protesting outside our restaurant the other day, we had a good chat and getting their take on things.
My job is to promote what Canada is, and I think one of the things that makes Canada so unique and special is that we are free to have a voice around things that are important to us, free speech, the ability to protest. I am not opposed to people doing what they are doing, though the cyber attacks were a little off mark, but I didn't have any issues with PETA showing up in front of our restaurant doing what they did. They have the right to do that. I hope to be far more educated by the summer with the hunt itself, really understanding it and all of the ramifications around it.
The Dine Out Vancouver event ends February 5th but keep en eye out for future seal meat specials at Edible Canada. And thank you to all the Truth About Fur followers who helped us get its rating back up on Facebook. Notorious seal-hunt opponent Paul Watson issued a call to his supporters to post poor (“1-star”) reviews, and 550 did just that, dropping Edible Canada’s average rating from 4.5 to 2.1 overnight. Truth About Fur and other responsible-use groups responded and within a week 5-star ratings caught up and pulled ahead. On the day of publishing this post, Edible Canada's average rating stands at 3.3. Check it out and post your review.
The easiest way for animal activists to further their agenda is to lie, and when it comes to the fur trade, that… Read More
The easiest way for animal activists to further their agenda is to lie, and when it comes to the fur trade, that means portraying us as a cruel industry that mistreats animals. We don't like giving animal activists credit, but there's no denying how successful they've been at spreading their lies. They appear so frequently in traditional media, blogs and comment sections, that members of the general public can hardly be blamed for believing that at least some of this horrible stuff must be true.
Well, it isn’t, and we are here to set the record straight about the Five Biggest Lies Animal Activists Tell About Fur.
Activist Lie #1: Animals on fur farms are skinned alive. Take a moment to consider this and you'll realize it makes no sense. Not only is skinning an animal alive illegal and utterly immoral, it would also be dangerous for the operator, would increase the risk of damaging the pelt, and would presumably take longer than skinning an animal that was euthanized. (Is it easier to cut your dog’s nails while he is excited or when he’s been sleeping?) Farming is a business, and businesses need to be profitable – so why would anyone adopt a practice that is dangerous for their staff, damages the product, and takes much longer than doing it properly? The simple answer is that they wouldn’t, which is why animals are never skinned alive for the fur trade.
In fact the horrible activist video that started this vicious myth has now been exposed as a complete fraud – the cruel acts it shows were staged for the camera!
Activist Lie #2: Most furs come from China where animal welfare laws don't exist. Therefore, most animals used in the fur trade are mistreated. The clever part of this lie is that, if true, it would render irrelevant the high standards of animal welfare on North American and European fur farms. If most fur comes from China, who cares how well farmers care for their mink in Wisconsin or Denmark?
There are two problems with this argument. First, it doesn’t matter where a farm is (it could be on the moon!), if farmed animals do not receive excellent nutrition and care, they will not produce high-quality fur. In fact, China does have animal welfare laws and is in the process of introducing Western standards to fur farming, but even without them Chinese fur farmers have a strong economic incentive to keep their animals healthy.
Second, and more to the point, while it is true that many fur garments are now cut and sewn in China where labour costs are lower, the fur pelts used to make most garments sold in the West originally came from European or North American farms. In fact, more than 90% of European and North American farmed mink and fox – and North American wild furs too – are sent to China to be transformed into apparel and accessories.
Activist Lie #3: Animals chew off their paws to escape steel-jawed leg-hold traps. This lie refers to very old trapping methods that are no longer permitted or used. Decades ago, some animals (especially muskrats) would sometimes have bones broken in old-fashioned leg-hold traps, allowing them to pull free. This does not happen with the new padded and off-set foot-hold traps. In fact, these new live-holding traps cause so little damage, they are used by biologists to catch and release (unharmed) wolves, lynx, otters and other animals for radio collaring or relocation. Meanwhile, the great majority of fur-bearers (including muskrats) caught for their fur are now taken in highly effective quick-killing traps, eliminating the possibility of a trapped animal being left alive.
Activist Lie #4: Fur farms are "not subject to federal regulation". This is a sneaky deception by animal activists that suggests that fur farming is "unregulated" and therefore without standards to protect the well-being of the animals. What is intentionally not explained is that federal regulations generally concern only food safety issues related to livestock produced for human consumption. Fur farms, however – like all farms – are indeed regulated by municipal and state or provincial laws. Furthermore, farmers who mistreat or do not provide proper care for their animals can be prosecuted under federal (and state/provincial) animal-cruelty laws.
Activist Lie #5: They kill "baby seals" in Canada. If we had a dime for every time we've heard this lie, we could buy a dozen beautiful seal-skin coats! In fact, the hunting of nursing harp seal pups has been banned in Canada since 1987. For the last 30 years, harp seals can only be hunted after they have moulted their first fluffy “whitecoat” fur. By the time the hunt legally opens, the seal pups have been weaned and are on their own, preparing to migrate to their Arctic summer feeding grounds. (Their mothers have left, to breed again, before also heading north for the summer.) But these easily verifiable facts do not stop animal activists from continuing to illustrate their fund-raising campaigns with photos of fluffy “whitecoats”. Why let facts spoil a great story that has raked so many millions into their coffers from well-meaning supporters?
What you can do. The next time you hear someone spreading these 5 Biggest Lies Animal Activists Tell About Fur, set them straight! We all know that if people hear lies often enough, they start to believe them. Well it works both ways. People need to hear the truth more often to believe it ... so let's be sure that they do!
To learn more about donating to Truth About Fur, click here.
It’s time for our April Fur in the News roundup, so here’s our summary of the media’s coverage of trapping, sealing,… Read More
It's time for our April Fur in the News roundup, so here's our summary of the media's coverage of trapping, sealing, fur fashion and stupid activists ...
Let's start with trapping, and this fantastic guest blog post by "modern trapper" Jeff Traynor (pictured), who talks about his love for this age-old skill and its traditions. Outdoor Canada recognized the importance of trapping and why hunters need to support Canada's oldest profession. "There was some income involved, there certainly was a pursuit involved, and it's an accumulative hobby,” veteran trapper Victor Blanchette is quoted as saying. It rings true, of course; Blanchette has been trapping for 50 years and knows what he's talking about.
Need to know when to sell your furs? This handy article from Grandview Outdoors gives some tips for trappers who need to decide whether to sell or store their skins. And if you ever get a cougar stuck in a trap, here is one way to release him (pictured.) But kids, it is best not to try this at home, or outside.
Of course trapping isn't without its controversy; like most animal-related activities, there is always someone complaining. The latest uproar is about a beaver derby in Saskatchewan, which sees beavers getting trapped and their skins getting used. But activists want the derby stopped so that the beaver carcasses get left to rot in fields instead. Speaking of beavers, some residents of this community don't want the local beavers to be trapped, even though residents' homes are at risk of being flooded. They claim it is unfair for the beavers to be killed because they are only doing what "is natural to them." It would be natural to a coyote to eat your cat, or a cougar to eat your toddler. Should we let them get away with that, too?
Activists just don't get it, do they? Case in point: this story about an ostrich who was released from a circus, and who died after being hit by a car ten minutes later. Another "liberation" gone desperately wrong. What is wrong with these people? A lot, we think, especially after reading this article about an "escalation workshop" for activists. The content in there was so messed up that we decided to include it in our new column, Things Animal Rights Activists Say (pictured). Read it to hear activists showing zero compassion for humans, including sick people and suicide victims, because animals are more important, right?
And to round out the month, activists put their misguided zeal into practice on the night of April 29, "liberating" mink from a farm in Ontario. A sizeable reward has been offered for the capture of the perpetrators. Let's hope someone can claim it!
On the bright side, it was nice to hear that a store in Vancouver, Canada, who has been dealing with militant anti-fur protesters in front of its store for three years, has announced that this year has been its best ever season for Canada Goose parka sales. It warms our heart when we hear that activists' actions fail.
It’s time to look back at last month’s media, so here is our Fur in the News roundup for January… Read More
It's time to look back at last month's media, so here is our Fur in the News roundup for January 2016! Let's start with some cinema. The Revenant has been one of the most talked-about Hollywood films in the fur and trapping communities. Here's a Vanity Fair piece about the costumes for the film, the secret concoction they used in lieu of bear grease, and the grizzly pelt Leonardo DiCaprio's character Hugh Glass wore throughout the film.
If you don't have $10,000 for a new jacket, then why not try making one yourself? This is a brand that sells fur accessories, but what is stopping you making some of your own? Or how about a cushion? StyleCaster has some great ideas on how to decorate your home with fur.
Speaking of crazy animal rights activists, a group of them in Shanghai forced some "animal abusers" to eat cat poop, only to find out later that they had targeted the wrong people. Now they are up sh*t creek, pending sentencing after they pleaded guilty for being total idiots.
But that's not all the activists have been up to! A heinous activist, whose name I don't even care to mention, made some horrible comments about two hunters, including country singer Craig Strickland, who went missing when their boat capsized during a duck hunt.
PETA launched a new video (pictured above) showing a violent scene where a woman gets brutally beaten up to push its anti-wool agenda. It is truly sickening. But on the bright side, PETA has had some problems with its recent mink farm allegations. It released a video depicting "animal abuse" at a farm in Wisconsin, so investigators were sent in. Its expert fur farm investigator found no violations and instead asked PETA to provide its unedited video content and make the witness available for questioning. If PETA really cared about the welfare of animals, it would provide this, but knowing PETA, it probably won't.
And here's something to bookmark: 5 Reasons Why It’s Ridiculous to Claim Animals are Skinned Alive. We wrote this piece so that everyone has a resource they can refer to when they are trying to explain to people that animals are NEVER skinned alive. We all know it never happens in our industry, but the activists have done such a good job of making everyone think it does. It is time to fight back.
And that's it for January! Let's end it with this beautiful deer dancing. Or is it an elk? Or are elk a type of deer? It doesn't matter today. We just love how cute this guy is.
There were a lot of bizarre fashion laws in history, some involving fur. For example, 14th-century English yeomen and their families could wear no fur other than lamb, rabbit, fox or cat. Even weasel was too good for them!
We believe that animal welfare should be a priority in the fur industry, and strongly support initiatives to develop ever better animal welfare practices. However, we do not think that animals deserve rights, like humans.
It turns out the animal rights activists feel exactly the opposite, they hate animal welfare. Their entire history, nicely featured in this article by Protect The Harvest, has been about promoting equality between humans and animals. Well, that's just something we will have to agree to disagree on. And we also don't think that chimps are "persons".
The team over here at Truth About Fur had big plans to spend July loafing around at lakes, beaches, and… Read More
The team over here at Truth About Fur had big plans to spend July loafing around at lakes, beaches, and parks, and enjoying summer. We figured the media would be quiet about fur since it is summer and people are focusing more on bikinis (and not only the ones made of fur). We couldn't have been more wrong, as July was a very busy month for fur, so let's start our Fur In The News July roundup with a subject close to my heart: fashion.
Fashion Loves Fur
Fendi hosted an haute couture fur fashion show, named Haute Fourrure, which was the first of its kind in the world of fur and high fashion. Featuring a collection of sublime coats, jackets, and other garments, the show not only confirmed Fendi's status as the top designer fashion house for fur, but also the fashion industry's undying love for pelts (pardon the pun). We covered the show on our blog, you can check out some photos of the details here or read about the one million dollar coat. (I'm waiting for it to go on sale.) Karl Lagerfeld, creative director at Fendi, did a great interview about fur and the show for WWD, the New York Times did an interesting piece about fur called Fur Is Back in Fashion and Debate, and Fortune wrote about fur's comeback, although we don't think it ever went out of style.
And while you are reading Jim's blog post, you may as well click through to Terry's, too. Terry Vourantonis wrote a great piece entitled My Life in the Fur Trade, documenting his career in this wonderful industry.
Let's end this news roundup with some of our favourite videos of the month: this great video by A Trapper's Wife, this adorable baby polar bear, and our favourite website/TV channel right now: the bear cam in Alaska where you watch beautiful brown bears in action 24 hours a day (pictured above). Cancel your cable subscription, this is the only channel you'll ever need.
Let’s start this month’s Fur in the News roundup by reminding everyone about our new project, the Fur Family Album. The… Read More
Let's start this month's Fur in the News roundup by reminding everyone about our new project, the Fur Family Album. The story of fur starts long before a fancy coat is seen on a catwalk or photographed on a celebrity. It starts with the trapline or the farm, then the auction, the processing, the design, the making, and the store. Help us to tell the real story of the fur industry by sending us photographs of your experience of fur. Please read our full introduction to this project and then familiarize yourself with our submission requirements.
Around the World in Fur
Now, we are going to take a little trip around the world and look at the fur news stories that made headlines in different countries. Let's start in Seoul, Korea (above), where some pedestrians got a shock when an animal rights activist ripped hair from their heads, in a pathetic attempt to protest angora. I can't see how violence towards passersby is going to further animal activists' cause, but then again, I don't understand much of anything they do.
Let's move to Europe, to Germany specifically, where another activist planted needles into meat in a supermarket as a protest against the meat industry. The words "mad cow" come to mind!
Moving over to England, where a soap opera actress led a protest in front of Harvey Nichols to express anger at the store's decision to start selling fur again. Apparently her cause isn't that popular as she was the only person who turned up to the protest. Activists all over England were busy doing crazy things, including threatening to burn a TV presenter's children because of a BBC investigation into badger culls. Interesting that they want to save the badgers but burn children.
Our least favourite rock star continued his uninformed tirade against the seal hunt. I read last week that Paul McCartney is one of the richest musicians in the world, so maybe he'd like to donate some his hundreds of millions to finding alternative work for all the seal hunters he protests against. Or even better, maybe he could just shut up and mind his own business.
Our other big April event was Earth Day - and we were sure to remind everyone about how fur is a green, renewable resource that is much less harmful to the planet than most of the alternatives.
More Animal Rights Nonsense
Let's move on to the thorns in our side ... those pesky animal rights activists. But the good news is, they are getting lots of bad press!
PETA's lamb shearing campaign (below) caused outrage, Meanwhile this article is exposing how PETA targets children in its advertising campaigns (this really is sickening). Then PETA stooped to new lows by teaming up with former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson and controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio (known for his total disregard of human rights when treating his prisoners) to promote vegetarian diets for prisoners. This video highlights just how hypocritical this campaign is.
There have been a lot of news articles talking about how important it is to look at both sides of the story - especially when it comes to issues involving animal rights. This article about a zoo in Vancouver was a prime example of how people can be incredibly misinformed about why zoos exist and how they get their animals. This piece, entitled "Don’t believe everything you see: the truth about undercover videos", explains how activists get their videos and how normal farming practices can be misinterpreted as cruelty. Hopefully we'll be seeing fewer and fewer such videos as legislators move to shut them down; Senate Bill 433, or the Property Protection Act, currently working its way through the North Carolina state legislature, is just one example.