Animal rights activists were in for a grisly surprise over the weekend when protesters in front of a popular Toronto restaurant were treated to a live demonstration on how to properly butcher the hind quarter of a deer.
Chef Michael Hunter is co-owner of Antler, a restaurant that serves “local seasonal and wild foods” that are native to Canada, “such as bison, boar, rabbit, duck and deer.” When vegan protesters returned to his restaurant for the fourth time in recent days with signs bearing messages like “animals are not ours to use,” “killing and eating animals is horrifying” and “MURDER,” Hunter decided to conduct a little protest of his own.
A Toronto-based animal rights activist filmed and gave running commentary as the chef went about his work on the other side of a giant picture window.
“To taunt the activists, he’s brought the leg of a recently murdered deer,” the activist, Len Goldberg, whined plaintively as fellow protesters held a sign under the meat-cutting display that read, “MURDER.” He noted that Hunter was butchering the animal on a table meant for diners.
“Don’t even know if this is legal for him to be doing this,” Goldberg fretted. “I don’t know what he thinks this will achieve.”
At this point, a couple of police officers arrived and went into the restaurant. A video that has since been deleted shows them speaking to Hunter inside the restaurant with smiles on their faces as he continues to prepare the meat.
According to BlogTO, Hunter packed up his tools and meat after about a minute and both he and the police officers walked away, smiling.
“I’m not sure if the police were telling the owner to stop for trying to anger the protesters, or for ethical or health & safety violations,” Goldberg told BlogTO. “I just think this is very disturbing.”
In a post on Facebook that has since been deleted, event organizer Marni Jill Ugar wrote that she felt Hunter had been “taunting” the group.
“Once the deer was cooked Michael Hunter, owner of Antler, sat back down at the window to eat the dead deer,” she wrote.
Asked for comment, Hunter told BlogTO by email that “our identity as a restaurant is well known throughout the city as is our ethical farming and foraging initiatives.” He added: “While we would much rather not be the focus of these protests, we are not at all surprised. We simply want to carry on running a restaurant and have a peaceful environment where our guests can enjoy their food.”
Antler doesn’t seem to be hurt by the attention.
In fact, one commenter on the protesters’ Facebook page wrote: “Antler is now the hottest restaurant in Toronto thanks to you guys. Congrats.” Most — if not all –of the other commenters on the animal rights activists’ forum expressed similar sentiments.