When a group of vegan activists decided to protest outside a restaurant, they never imagined that the owner would seek revenge that would leave them horrified. But, he did — and there’s video.
Michael Hunter, a chef and the co-owner of a restaurant in Toronto that was relentlessly protested by animal activists for weeks, finally had enough of the vegan group targeting his business. Fed-up with the seemingly endless protests of the animal rights activists outside his restaurant, Hunter decided to let them know exactly what he thought about their complaints.
The restaurant, named Antler, specializes in “local seasonal and wild foods” including boar, duck, and deer, which is why it drew the ire of animal rights activists. Disgusted by the menu options, vegan animal activists were protesting Antler for a fourth time on a Friday evening when Hunter decided a deliberate act of carnivorous ostentatiousness was the best way to send a message.
The animal rights protesters were left shocked as the co-owner and chef seemingly taunted them in an act of revenge for their relentless protests that had gone on for weeks. Hunter turned the tables, quite literally, by bringing his work to the window and facing the vegan protesters. What happened next turned not only the tables but their stomachs too.
As the protesters stood outside with a large banner hanging in front of the restaurant window that read, “Murder,” Hunter whipped out a deer leg and started butchering it on the table in full view of the vegan protesters, who recorded their own horrified reaction to the sight. As they held up signs that said, “Animals are not ours to use,” Hunter’s butchering of the animal clearly indicated his disagreement.
About an hour into the protesters’ demonstration, Michael Hunter, who is also known as “The Hunter Chef,” “brought out an entire animal leg and started cutting it up, right in the window on a table reserved for diners,” the protesters complained. But, he wasn’t done sending the protesters a clear message, indicating how he felt about their concerns.
“Once the deer was cooked, Michael Hunter, owner of Antler, sat back down at the window to eat the dead deer,” said protest organizer Marni Jill Ugarone, who also alleged that he was “taunting” them. “Look in the window. Look at Michael Hunter. That deer was treated like a joke. That deer was an innocent animal who did not want to die,” she complained.
According to BlogTO, police are seen in video live-streamed by a protester entering the restaurant to speak to Hunter, but they walk away smiling, apparently finding the situation humorous rather than criminal. “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,” said animal activist Len Goldberg. “I just think this is very disturbing.”
Michael Hunter, of course, disagrees. “Our identity as a restaurant is well known throughout the city as is our ethical farming and foraging initiatives,” Hunter wrote in an email, reacting to the protest. “While we would much rather not be the focus of these protests, we are not at all surprised,” he added. “We simply want to carry on running a restaurant and have a peaceful environment where our guests can enjoy their food.”
While peaceful protests are a protected right, what many forget is that a counter-protest is a right as well. That seems to be what Michael Hunter did here. When his business and livelihood were chastised for “murder” by the vegan activists, he fought back. It is worth noting, however, that after the protests initially began, Antler did try to appease the protesters with vegan options, posting their reportedly first-ever vegan menu board in front of the restaurant, offering, “Vegan Vegetable Lumia.”
That wasn’t enough for the activists, though. “It’s a great start, but only a start. Antler serves the cruel foie gras, they also farm animals meant to run in the wild like deer,” the activists wrote in an event description for their fourth protest of the restaurant. Since Antler’s attempt to compromise wasn’t enough, it’s unlikely they’ll entertain the protesters ever again, which Michael Hunter’s counter-protest seemed to boldly demonstrate.