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Five Easter meats that you should think twice about

By Pieta Woolley

Meat — the kind from factory farms — will probably be on your table or a relative’s table this Easter. No one wants to put a big ethical trip on you over the holidays. Besides, you probably don’t have much control over your collective meals anyway.

But, given how much ink’s getting spilled on veganism, vegetarianism, and college-fund depleting SPCA-certified and organic meat, my guess is that even the staunchest carnivores will be looking sideways at their Easter vittles this year. And if you can’t change what’s on your plate this holiday, you can always change the lives of next year’s slaughter.

Here are the five meats of Easter — those that need your help beyond just sticking to mashed taters and Peeps.

1. Turkey

Deliciousness rating: 8/10

Number eaten annually in Canada: 7.1 million

Number of Canadian turkey farmers: 531

Ethical considerations: A particularly grim CBC documentary about turkey farms is just about enough to put anyone off their trimmings. But the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) is developing a new code of practice for gobblers, including air and litter quality; lighting; density; lameness; aggression control; and thankfully, euthanasia. The public comment period is closed, but you could write to your MP asking them to support stricter standards in law.

2. Ham

Deliciousness rating
: 2/10 - 9/10, depending on the ham

Number of hogs sold annually in Canada: about 26 million, down from a high of more than 30 million a decade ago

Number of Canadian hog farms: about 7,000

Ethical considerations:
In 2012, CTV went undercover and found — that’s right — a seriously grim hog farm in Manitoba. The good news is that the Canadian Pork Council revamped its on-farm care programs this year and is implementing a whole series of new measures to ensure more humane treatment of piggies. Let them know you’re watching by contacting them here.

3. Lamb

Deliciousness rating: 0/10. Mint jelly is a necessity.

Number of sheep sold for food annually in Canada: About 700,000

Ethical considerations:
The NFACC Code of Practice was updated in 2013, but Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Farmed Animals pushed for some amendments. Help them reach a higher standard by contacting them here.

4. Freshwater Fish

Deliciousness rating: 8/10

Amount of freshwater fish commercially caught in Alberta, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories: 14.4 million kg

Number of fishers the Freshwater Fish crown corporation helps support: 2,000

Ethical considerations:
If you’re a fish-for-Lent person, or even a fish-for-Easter person, you’re ahead of the game. Jesus ate fish, so it must be ethical (he pointed out that it’s good for sharing). And if you catch it yourself or support Canada’s inland fishers by buying local, so much the better.

5. Tofurkey

Deliciousness rating: Let’s not go there.

Amount of soy grown in Canada: About 6 million tonnes annually — a 100 percent increase in 10 years

Number of soy farms: 27,215

Ethical considerations: Think there aren’t any? Up to 70 percent of Canada’s soy crop is exported annually, and this requires fuel. Keep that crop in Canada by stuffing yourself with tofu this Easter. Tofurkey. Tochocolate eggs. Come on, eat up!

Author's photo
Pieta Woolley is a writer in Powell River, B.C.
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