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Novelist Barbara Gowdy's PSA for Vegan Challenge for Earth Week

by Anita Krajnc

See video

Barbara Gowdy introduces a series of public service announcements urging people and especially those who "live in their imagination" to participate in's Vegan Challenge for Earth Week.

Gowdy is an award-winning, best-selling novelist whose book White Bone is written entirely from the perspective of African elephants. The recipient of the Marian Engel Award in 1996 and The Trillium Book Award in 2008, she has been a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and a repeat finalist for the Giller Prize. In 2005 she was longlisted for The Booker Prize. She has been a vegetarian for 30 years and a vegan for ten.

She challenges participants who take the Vegan Challenge for a week to imagine what it is like to be an animal raised for meat or to spend one's life as a pig in a crate.

She especially appeals to writers. "People who their days imagining the existence of others" should go the extra mile and participate in the Vegan Challenge, she says.

"As someone who makes here living as a writer and living in her imagination, I'd like to challenge everybody who lives in his or her imagination to take the Vegan Challenge and become a vegan for just a week.

During that week, try and think about what it would be like to be raised as meat, what it would be like never to feel the sun on your head, the wind in your hair, to be caged, have no comprehension whatsoever of why this is happening to you, to not be able to have any social life with your fellow species, to live a life of relentless pain."

The PSA is accompanied by dramatic photos of pigs with wounds from electric prods in transport truck taken by Canada's chief investigator Twyla Francois of The PSA also shows images of sad and sickly pigs confined in crates in factory farms taken by renowned photographer Jo-Anne McArthur of

In an interview, Jo-Anne McArthur said, "Most of our meat is produced through factory farming." Her photographs relay an accurate portrayal of a pig's life in the confinement of a farm. "Pigs can spend several years of their short lives in gestation crates, where they are only able to stand up and lie down. One can only imagine the stress caused by a lifetime of confinement without light or nature, living on a cement floor. The ethics of how to treat sentient beings is overlooked for the sake of profit and satisfying public demand for inexpensive meat."

Gowdy says, "I really believe if anyone who cares about animals at all were to see any of this footage, they would be changed forever."

For more information about the Vegan Challenge for Earth Week, visit's Facebook page, rabble's blog or join babble's discussion.

Register at the Toronto Vegetarian Association to receive daily tips and helpful information for the one-week or four-week Vegan Challenge.

For journalistic footage and art depicting pigs and other 'farm animals' in factory farms, transport trucks and slaughterhouses, visit

The photograph in this posting was taken by Iven Simonetti

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Topics: Food
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