Vegan Canadian Firefighter Story

Emma JC

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Thought you all might find this story interesting...
https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/firefighter-alleges-human-rights-violated-after-not-being-provided-enough-vegan-food-when-battling-b-c-wildfire-1.4430874

Firefighter alleges human rights violated after not being provided enough vegan food when battling B.C. wildfire

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, May 21, 2019 12:47PM EDT


An Ontario firefighter alleges his human rights were violated when he was not provided sufficient vegan food while battling a massive blaze in British Columbia.
Adam Knauff has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario against his employer, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, over his treatment and subsequent suspension while fighting a fire near Williams Lake, B.C., in 2017.
"The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry discriminated against me and failed to accommodate my sincerely held ethical beliefs (creed) when it failed to provide me with food that accommodated my personal commitment to ethical veganism, and then disciplined me and suspended me because I attempted to assert my right to accommodation of that sincerely held ethical belief," he wrote in his application to the tribunal.

The ministry, in its response, denied Knauff's allegations of discrimination and human rights violations.


The case centres on whether veganism is a form of creed -- the definition of which was expanded by the Human Rights Tribunal in 2015 to include non-secular beliefs.


Knauff, based in Kenora, Ont., has worked with the ministry since 2008 and is often dispatched outside the province. He filed the complaint based on the grounds that his creed was not accommodated.


"I am an ethical vegan in that I not only follow a vegan diet, but I extend the philosophy of non-consumption of animal products to all other areas of my life," he wrote. "I do not think that humans have the moral right to oppress other beings, or to cause them pain and suffering."


Knauff, now 40, arrived in northern B.C. on July 15, 2017, and was one of about 1,000 firefighters battling a massive forest fire -- working 14 to 16 hours per day.


About 10,000 homes were evacuated in Williams Lake, and the only store open was a Tim Hortons that police were helping run, he wrote in his complaint. He said the ministry had long known about his dietary constraints, and he had also filled out a standard food information form for the trip.


"On some days during my deployment to Williams Lake, I was not provided with any food that was vegan or not otherwise contaminated with animal products, and therefore forced to go hungry," he wrote.

............ there is more to the story, you can click on the link above for the whole thing.

Emma JC
 

TofuRobot

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Someone needs to start a petition on his behalf for support
 

Emma JC

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I have forwarded it to Rip Esselstyn - it would be great to have his support for this firefighter.

Emma JC
 

Nekodaiden

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Interesting article, I read through all of it. Thanks for sharing.

One of the things that comes up often is that he is being served
non-vegan food and so I had to wonder whether this was because of:

A) Ignorance on staff's part of what the base and practical meaning, daily,
of being vegan is - an abstinence from all dietary animal products - (and the
neccessity of getting adequate nutrition and calories from non-animal products)

B) The burden of food preparation people on catering to the needs
of a very small minority (1?) in almost 1000 firefighters

C) The availability of ready to eat/easy to prepare more calorie
dense vegan food (pre-cooked
canned beans, whole grain bread, nuts, seeds, etc) from the
local grocers they depended on)

D) Bias against an outlier

My guess is that all of these played some role.

I also wonder if at any time during or before meal times he had the
opportunity to cook vegan patties/tofu/beans etc himself, or if
he had to completely rely on others to do so.
 

Lou

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This story just made it to the Washington Post.

As a vegan, I have to sympathize with him. But as a former forest firefighter, I think the guy is just being fussy.

Fighting forest fires is very important. But there is no draft. Even prisoners get to choose not to fight fires. Its dangerous, smelly, hard work with documented adverse effects to long term health. People die on the fire line every year. and long term health hazards include lung damage.

Campaign level forest fires are similar to fighting a battle. Thousands of firefighters. Thousands of support personnel. Hundreds of pieces of equipment. I've seen the meals being made. And I've eaten them. At the HQ there is bbq steaks plus veggies and salads and fruit. but on the fire line, you most likely get MREs. I mostly got bologna and cheese sandwiches (on wonder bread), an apple and a stale cookie. And I remember a couple of times where we didn't get meals at all. We were taught to pack meals in our Go Bags.

For a lot of people, there are monetary rewards. But like I said, no one HAS to go. It also can be rewarding. It's good ethically unambiguous work. You are out there saving people's property, people's homes, plus trees and lots and lots of animals homes.

IMHO complaining about the menu is akin to a soldier complaining that he had to sleep on the ground. If you don't like it - don't do it.

But it would be nice for someone on the staff to think about ordering some PB&Js next time. And maybe there are even vegan MREs. The Israeli's have kosher ones. So why not?
 
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Jai

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Human Rights Violation ? Oh please.

I don't know why there is a trend these days to be outraged over the most insignificant things, affecting a very small percentage of society. Should a workplace accommodate for all dietary requirements. Vegan, Gluten Intolerant, Nut Allergies, Halal, where does it end ? Should they accommodate for every fringe variant ?

If a person has 'special' dietary requirements, they can bring their own food. The fire department is not a catering company.
 
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Nekodaiden

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Human Rights Violation ? Oh please.
If, because of working 14-16 hours days saving other's lives he was dependent on others for adequate meals, and also informed them
of his needs and they ignored that - then yes, I would say so. A single meal of meat carries with it the risk of bacterial infection that can land
one in the hospital, and although it is certainly not an every day occurrence , it is enough to be a human rights violation for those forced to eat
these products through circumstance. If that circumstance is that you are so busy fighting fires and people are throwing away your tufu and serving meals with animal products you specifically made known were off the menu, it is a violation of your most basic right.

As an aside - I find Lou's response disgusting. It's basically "put up and shut up" - eat meat, dairy and eggs because everyone else is and it's "too hard" not to include them. Pfft.

I don't know why there is a trend these days to be outraged over the most insignificant things, affecting a very small percentage of society. Should a workplace accommodate for all dietary requirements. Vegan, Gluten Intolerant, Nut Allergies, Halal, where does it end ? Should they accommodate for every fringe variant ?

If a person has 'special' dietary requirements, they can bring their own food. The fire department is not a catering company.
If vegan is an "insignificant thing" and "fringe variant" - may I ask why you are here trying to get support to be one? If I thought this about being
vegan, I wouldn't even be on this message board.
 
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Jai

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As an aside - I find Lou's response disgusting. It's basically "put up and shut up" - eat meat, dairy and eggs because everyone else is and it's "too hard" not to include them.
Plant based foods for the vegan firefighters, Halal food for the Muslim firefighters, Kosher food for the Jewish firefighters, Nut-free for those prone to anaphylaxis, Dairy-Free for the gluten intolerant firefighters, and a bunch of other special requirements for every minority's needs. Who's going to organise all of this ?

If vegan is an "insignificant thing" and "fringe variant" - may I ask why you are here trying to get support to be one? If I thought this about being

vegan, I wouldn't even be on this message board.

If you don't think the number of vegans in any society is anything less than a fringe minority, then you're a little deluded. That you read the statement as offensive, then the problem lies with you, not me.

Fringe (noun)
-the outer, marginal, or extreme part of an area, group, or sphere of activity.
 

Nekodaiden

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Plant based foods for the vegan firefighters, Halal food for the Muslim firefighters, Kosher food for the Jewish firefighters, Nut-free for those prone to anaphylaxis, Dairy-Free for the gluten intolerant firefighters, and a bunch of other special requirements for every minority's needs. Who's going to organise all of this ?

No one. There is no need. If the firefighting organization can arrange chef cooked meals, then certainly they can arrange a stock pile of non-perishable food stuffs such as a variety of pre-cooked canned beans, potatoes, seeds, nuts for those who can handle them, an array of grains including gluten free, and other easy to cook/already cooked food stuffs for those with special needs. These are nutritious foods that have higher calories that just about anyone can consume. Having them at hand is not a big ask.




If you don't think the number of vegans in any society is anything less than a fringe minority, then you're a little deluded. That you read the statement as offensive, then the problem lies with you, not me.

Fringe (noun)
-the outer, marginal, or extreme part of an area, group, or sphere of activity.

I didn't read your statement as offensive, I read it as dripping with scorn for veganism as a person who has come here looking for support in adopting a vegan diet. I'm well aware that our numbers are small - especially in the west. Your other statements that form the context in which this one was made make that contempt clear.
 

Jai

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No one. There is no need. If the firefighting organization can arrange chef cooked meals, then certainly they can arrange a stock pile of non-perishable food stuffs such as a variety of pre-cooked canned beans, potatoes, seeds, nuts for those who can handle them, an array of grains including gluten free, and other easy to cook/already cooked food stuffs for those with special needs. These are nutritious foods that have higher calories that just about anyone can consume. Having them at hand is not a big ask.







I didn't read your statement as offensive, I read it as dripping with scorn for veganism as a person who has come here looking for support in adopting a vegan diet. I'm well aware that our numbers are small - especially in the west. Your other statements that form the context in which this one was made make that contempt clear.
To be clear, my 'scorn' is for the overly dramatic "outraged" types, regardless of their diet. And I have no intention of joining "Club Vegan" simply because I've made the decision to eat a plant-based diet for ethical reasons. You are welcome to drink the kool-aid if you so desire. Quite frankly your opinions of me make not one ounce of difference to my outlook, as I don't yearn for acceptance into any fringe group, nor do I seek advice on how I am expected to behave, simply because of my diet.

So how about you do you, and I'll do me.
 

Jai

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"Muslim Firefighter in Canada sues for Human Rights violations because he was not provided a Halal meal".

Let's ponder what the general reaction of such an article would be.
 

Jai

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Let's also consider that if he is successful in the court proceedings, the compensation he receives will have a direct impact on the department's budget, and their ability to SAVE PEOPLES LIVES in future.

I guess that will teach those human rights violators a lesson hey !
 
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Ger

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Although I don't think that Adam Knauff's human rights were necessarily violated, I do think that access to appropriate food is a huge problem for many vegans when they find themselves in situations such as this. Maybe government should make more of an effort to make sure that there are more options available when funding these kinds of programs. I suppose, it could be argued though, that they won't do that voluntarily if there is no law telling them to do so. Therefore, it might be a good thing that Adam Knauff took the time to lodge his complaint. I mean, government can't take steps to improve on things if they're not aware of what the problems are.
 
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TofuRobot

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I really don't see how requesting actual FOOD for meals is being overly "fussy." ANIMALS ARE NOT FOOD. Is it really so difficult to provide some rice and beans or potatoes free from animal flesh???
 
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Emma JC

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well, I posted the article to stimulate discussion and what a discussion....

I do agree with @TofuRobot especially as Canada as released, this year, a Food Guide that is almost 100% plant-based. It is likely to take some time for the government run organizations to catch up to it and I do think it is imperative that they do. Put your money where your mouth is for so many reasons, some of which have been stated above plus:
  • there are more readily available calories in a higher starch based diet and therefore more energy for these firefighters
  • rice and beans, grains etc are less likely to spoil in tough conditions
  • MRE's there are currently very few that are vegan, there are lots of vegetarian so education of the gov't and the corp supplying them needs to happen
  • it is likely a lot less expensive to provide a plant-based menu and with all the plant-based burgers and other foods there is no reason for any complaints from the non-vegans
It is people like Adam that help to shed a light on these issues and for that we should be grateful, even if we might make different choices in these circumstances. I would hope that I wouldn't but I have never walked in his shoes.

Emma JC
 

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Yeah, it's not like vegans need their food blessed by a priest or produced via ritual slaughter. Nothing special has to happen...provide the same food as you do to everyone else, minus the animals products. Vegan food is something everyone can eat...meat and dairy is a special accommodation, being unhealthy, costly and entirely unnecessary to anybody's diet.
 

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Yeah, it's not like vegans need their food blessed by a priest or produced via ritual slaughter. Nothing special has to happen...provide the same food as you do to everyone else, minus the animals products. Vegan food is something everyone can eat...meat and dairy is a special accommodation, being unhealthy, costly and entirely unnecessary to anybody's diet.
Exactly!
 
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