Thank you to all our donors and volunteers for your continued support throughout 2020! What follows is a brief update of our activities we did not discuss in previous articles, and a forecast for 2021.
We cannot say the experience of dealing with the CFIA was pleasant. They were unclear, vague and ambiguous. The experience is difficult to put into words, but imagine if people who self-identify as vegan had to be licensed and that license was done by the animal agriculture industry; that will give you an idea of how uncooperative the government was.
The challenge with being vague is that the information doesn’t benefit anyone since nobody knows what is being said. Trying to decipher the actions of the CFIA means our best guess is that the new, much more vague definition of vegan, while still clearly not acceptable, is now less unacceptable because it is much less clear than before.
In order to test our hypothesis, we are looking for a food that is labelled vegan but not certified by us, and that either the product itself or anything used in the making of the product was tested on animals. If you know of any such products, please let us know so we can file an official complaint with the CFIA for non-compliance with the new definition and begin to understand the government’s position.
We encourage everyone to contact us to shape the future of veganism. We believe our new artist residency programs highlight that there will always be a place for anyone who wants to make a difference, regardless of their interests. If your interests and skills do not match with what we have on our lists, please contact us and we will work together on finding something suitable.
The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) was also partly responsible for the actions of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). They are partly to blame for letting people with no knowledge of subject matter not only participate in the development of standards but also vote on them. The government of Canada continues to discriminate against people who self-identify as vegans, in violation of the Federal Court of Canada recognizing veganism as protected from discrimination under the The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Furthermore, after discussions with the SCC, it is clear they are unwilling to change. Therefore, we have decided to terminate our relationship with them.
People who self-identify as vegan continue to contact us to complain that our charter rights are violated by our government. We are considering various options to best deal with this issue. Fortunately, some institutions are receptive when we contact them, but it is much too resource intensive to do so on a case-by-case basis.
It is still the wild wild west with regards to vegan certification. We are continuing with the Vegan World Alliance (VWA) to make progress on establishing global standards and definitions for vegan certification, but there are still many challenges ahead before our goal is achieved to have a global unique vegan certification supported by all national organizations. In many respects, things have gotten worse in the last year; as we discussed in the CFIA update, we have various strategies to try to address this both nationally and globally, including but not limited to, various legal challenges.
It is not enough that we have the challenge of coming up with a global consensus among organizations who self-identify as vegan, but now we also have to contend with the proliferation of non-vegan organizations issuing vegan certification. We again ask that non-vegan organizations stop issuing vegan certifications, and we encourage other vegan organizations that share our vision globally to join the Vegan World Alliance to continue the work of having a global standard we can all agree on.
The VWA rejected the ISO-23662 standard as inadequate, yet there are, in Canada and globally, organizations whose requirements are even below those of ISO-23662. It goes without saying if we oppose ISO-23662, we clearly oppose any standard below that. We could share various philosophical or legal reasons why businesses should not use non-vegan organizations to certify their product vegan. But perhaps the simplest logical explanation for businesses to understand this is: In Canada, only authorized Jewish organizations can certify things Kosher; only authorized Islamic organizations can certify things Halal. It stands to reason that only vegan organizations should certify things vegan.
This year was a difficult one for animals as human animals focused on the pandemic, and many governments and organizations globally used the fog of the pandemic to sweep under the rug various actions that increased the exploitation of animals.
The years ahead will be challenging, and, depending on which road our species takes, our vision may be under serious threat. As a charitable organization, we depend on the generosity of others for our existence. Therefore, if there are things that we are not doing but should be doing that align with our vision and charitable purpose, consider joining us to make it happen.
We want to again thank all our donors and volunteers for their generous support, and we invite everyone who shares our vision to join us. The exact details of the things we will be working on in 2021 will be dependent on the interests of our volunteers and supporters. We look forward to working with you during the new year.