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Local vegan group outraged by Minga hog butchering workshop

'We are both trying to save the lives of animals that are dying in the factory food system,' says Minga Skill Hub co-owner/operator
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Butcher Wesley Clarke teaches workshop participants how to butcher a side of pork in this file photo from a 2016 Minga Skill Hub workshop. Clarke is no longer involved with Minga. File photo

Local business Minga Skill Building Hub has recently been receiving backlash from a group of vegans over their hog butchering workshop.

Minga Skill Building Hub, owned and operated by Ami Dehne and her new business partner Ella Henderson, focuses on bringing back the skills of our grandparents’ generation.

“It’s about creating happier and more meaningful lives,” said Dehne.

Dehne said that Minga Skill Building Hub is not only about profit, but runs as a social purpose business whose goal is to shift the mindset of consumerism and bring back lost skills.

Minga Skill Building Hub runs a variety of courses, from sourdough bread baking, wild foraging, tiny home building, fermenting, blacksmithing, and hog butchering.

“One of our first workshops was butchery, we have been running the class for five years,” said Dehne.

In recent weeks the Minga Skill Building Hub’s Facebook Page has become a space for discourse on the ethics of butchery and eating meat.

A group of vegans have taken to the Facebook page to express their outrage over the business’ butchery course.

Dehne said that approximately 40 people gave Minga Skill Building Hub a 1-star review, expressing their disagreement over the course in their review.

“Without taking the workshops they started giving the business one star reviews” said Dehne.

Elena Fomina-Singleterry wrote in her one-star review, “This is despicable! While we should be moving away from such an extreme injustice as that of animal slaughter, this company gives courses on how to mutilate non-human individuals whose intelligence surpasses that of a small human child.”

Cath Ens-Hurwood wrote, “At a time when the world is ailing, many hundreds of thousands starving, the earth heaving from pollution, under the strain of heavy meat based agriculture, here these folks are promoting this! We seriously need to change our destructive habits.”

An attempt was made to garner comment by the group displeased with Minga’s butchery course.

Dehne said that the butchery course has been run over 20 times, and is capped at eight people per course.

The instructor of the butchery course is Jamie Waldron, a butcher, author and teacher based out of Dundas, Ont.

Waldron hosts the web-based food show Indie Kitchen, which features well known guests in the local food industry.

Dehne said that during the four hour butchery course students learn about the current food industry, and why its important to use the whole animal, and buy local meat that has been raised and killed ethically. The group works together to break down the entire pig, and each student takes home the meat that they have butchered.

The animal has already been slaughtered at a local family-run abattoir in St. Jacobs, said Dehne.

The pig is also purchased locally from Perth Pork Products or Thatcher Farms, both small scale farms that sell Heritage Breed pigs that are free range and on-pasture most of their lives, Dehne said.

She added that the choice to run a butchery course through Minga is intentional.

“We are trying to educate people around where their food comes from so that they’re making more thoughtful decisions around the animal products that they’re purchasing. We want them to purchase meat that has been processed in a more ethical and humane manner,” Dehne said. Both Dehne and her business partner Ella Henderson understand that the vegan community is unhappy with the butchery course because of their belief that an animal should never die.

“We want people to face the reality of the death of the animal.” said Dehne.

She believes that Minga Skill Building Hub and the group of vegans are fighting a similar fight, and just need to agree to disagree on this subject.

“We are both trying to save the lives of animals that are dying in the factory food system. But I believe we aren’t going to stop people from eating meat,” said Dehne.

She said that her business welcomes insight and discussion on her Facebook page from the group of vegans, and has reached out and asked if any would like to teach a class on vegan cooking.

“We are not apologizing for our work, we think it’s really important. We are clear that we don’t think we can get people to stop eating meat, but we can get them to change their food choices. And we also get that the vegans care deeply about the animals, and we appreciate that about them,” Dehne said.

To learn more about Minga Skill Building Hub, visit its Facebook page and website.