A Canadian chef appeared to taunt a group of vegan protesters by cutting up a deer leg in the window of his restaurant, in full view of the anti-meat demonstrators outside.
The incident, which took place Friday, March 23, was captured in a series of photographs and video, which have since lit up social media.
As chef Michael Hunter, co-owner of the Antler Kitchen and Bar in Toronto, separated meat from the bone of what the National Post reported was a leg of raw venison, a protester videotaped the scene.
“To taunt the activists,” reportedly said the man behind the camera in a video posted online, cited by the Post, “he has brought the leg of a recently murdered deer to this dining area.”
Footage from inside the restaurant was posted on social media.
Hunter, according to his restaurant’s website “aims to celebrate the wild culinary delights of Canada” and serves such exotic dishes as “Spice Ash Cruster Rack of Deer, and a Game Burger made with Wild Boar, Bison, Deer.”
But the restaurant has fallen foul of vegan protesters, who weeks ago descended on the Antler with signs accusing it of murder and animal cruelty.
On Friday night, protesters unfurled a huge banner reading “murder,” MailOnline reported. They also displayed other signs, including “Animals are not ours to use,” and “Chickens display compassion to others suffering. Can you?”
Chef Hunter evidently decided to make a statement of his own and brought a red-colored cutting board, a large leg of deer, and a paring knife.
“We were obviously getting to him because we’re impacting his business … I assume,” one of the protesters was cited as saying by the National Post. “I actually can’t know—this was his way of getting revenge on us.”
As the protesters crowded the window and voiced their fervent opposition, Hunter began to carve the venison.
Meanwhile, the incredulous protesters continued to film, and comment.
“The owner has brought the leg of a recently murdered animal to the table,” said one of the protesters on film. “He is going out of his way to show us the leg. What animal would that be guys?”
“What he’s doing here to mock us,” he continued. “The owner of this restaurant has gone out of his way to mock this legal peaceful protest at Antler restaurant by bringing the leg of an animal to this table where people are only supposed to be dining.”
In the background, other protesters attempted to win sympathy from passersby.
One person, confused by their outrage, asked, ‘They’re murdering people?”
“No, they’re murdering animals!” one of the protesters said back.
“Is this against a health code? Is this legal?” another said.
As a customer tried to enter the restaurant, another protester shouted, “Don’t go in there, look at what they’re doing! They’re trying to taunt us!”
After cutting up the meat, Hunter went to the kitchen to cook it.
He then returned to the window seat 30 minutes later and enjoyed it in front of the group.
“It shocked me. It made me feel really sad,” protester Marni Ugar told The National Post. “For me, it’s just an animal and it’s an animal that didn’t want to die.”
In an apparent move to appease the protesters, Hunter has added vegan dishes to his menu and has even asked them to go foraging with him, MailOnline reported.
At one point during the protest, police officers arrived and entered the restaurant.
They spoke with Hunter, apparently sparking hope in the protesters that they would put a stop to the butchery. But at the end of their conversation, they and Hunter both smiled and laughed.
The protester providing the running commentary, at that point, said “I do see them smiling. That’s unfortunate.”
Toronto police later told the National Post they did not ask Hunter to stop what he was doing. “It’s his restaurant he can do what he wants, really,” Sgt. Philip Townley said.
Hunter refused to speak to the media about the incident, but provided the National Post with a statement by email.
“We are operating business as usual,” he said. “Our identity as a restaurant is well known throughout the city as is our ethical farming and foraging initiatives.”