Vegan protesters return to restaurant where owner cut, ate deer meat in front of them

Vegan activists returned to a Toronto restaurant on Saturday to protest the killing of animals after the owner carved up a deer leg more than a week ago and ate it in front of them.

'No animal wants to be killed and eaten,' group says on its Facebook page

Vegan activists protest at Antler Kitchen & Bar on Saturday. The protesters say they were taunted by the owner after he carved up a deer leg and ate it in front of them on March 23. (CBC)

Vegan activists returned to a Toronto restaurant on Saturday to protest the killing of animals after the owner carved up a deer leg more than a week ago and ate it in front of them.

The first protest and response sparked international attention.

Activist Marni Ugar said Saturday she has heard from both supporters and detractors around the world since owner Michael Hunter "taunted" the protesters on March 23.

"We've been getting a lot of support, but also anger from a lot of people all over the world," Ugar said.

"The owner of the restaurant is a hunter, so we certainly have the pro-gun Americans really angry at us, and anger because people get defensive if they think they are being attacked about eating animals." 

Saturday's protest was reportedly the fifth outside Antler Kitchen & Bar, a restaurant that serves local and seasonal food. The menu includes venison, wild boar, duck and rabbit.
Activist Marni Ugar says she has heard from both supporters and detractors from across the globe. (CBC)

"No animal wants to be killed and eaten," the group says on its Facebook page called "Antler Outreach." 

Ugar said she chose to protest Antler because the restaurant was in her neighbourhood. She also said she protested because she wants to debunk the myth about humane meat.

"Animals don't care that they are being served in a small restaurant," she said. "That's their life, not ours to take."

The group said its protests are aimed at trying to get local restaurants to add vegan options to their menus.

'A mix of emotions'

Activist Len Goldberg, who attended the protest on Friday, told CBC Toronto earlier this week that his fellow activists felt sadness and outrage over the leg being "desecrated and defiled." 

"There's a mix of emotions when you see the leg of an innocent being carved up in front of you to taunt you," Goldberg said. "There's a lot of sorrow when you see that because we know that leg belonged to a being.

"We're there with positive messaging," he said, adding that's why he was so shocked at the owner's actions.

"Get animals off the menu and get health and humane onto the menu." 

Hunter did not respond to repeated requests by CBC Toronto for an interview.

Police said they were called to the protest and arrived around 8:30 p.m. on March 23.

Const. David Hopkinson, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said officers were there to "keep the peace."

No arrests were made.

Goldberg said he saw police enter the restaurant and speak to Hunter for a few minutes, after which the chef stopped carving the deer leg.

Police also returned the next day. 
Toronto police were on hand for Saturday's protest. (CBC)

Protests have sparked progress, activist says

Goldberg said he believes progress has been made through the protests, saying he observed seven new vegan or vegetarian items added to the menu after the second or third protest.

But he said the meat-carving was a step back.

"Progress was being achieved, but he decided to escalate this in an unusual way," Goldberg said.

Goldberg said his group would "love to sit down and talk" with Hunter to discuss how he could work vegan dishes onto his menu without disrupting his business.

"We're there to encourage the inevitable, which is a transition that is happening to the world from consuming animals ...to doing what's healthy for people, respectful of animals," he said.

"We can't protest McDonald's — they would laugh."