Toronto chef Michael Hunter, who made headlines earlier this week after carving up a deer leg in full view of the vegan protesters outside his restaurant, has admitted that he felt “guilty” after pulling the stunt even though he was only trying to make a point.
“I just kind of snapped,” Hunter told People. “I thought, I’ll have my own sort of protest.”
The vegan protest, which took place last Friday outside Hunter’s restaurant Antler, drew activists holding signs reading “Murder” and “Animals are not ours to use.” Some of the activists even screamed the word “murderer” at patrons of the restaurant, according to People.
Marni Jill Ugar, who organized the protest, has confirmed the “murderer” part to People, though she claims she told her protest group to refrain from making such comments.
It was all a bit too much for Hunter, apparently, who responded to the protest by butchering a deer leg in the restaurant’s window, and then returning later to eat a piece of cooked meat.
“I just wanted to shock them and see if they would go away,” he said.
Hunter, however, tells People magazine that he doesn’t understand why Ugar’s group only targeted Antler, as it isn’t the only restaurant serving meat in the immediate vicinity. He also claims that Ugar’s group has protested outside the eatery every month since December, with the Toronto Star confirming that last Friday’s protest was the group’s fourth at Antler alone.
“For me, it’s just really upsetting because we respect everyone’s diet and opinions … and that’s why we have had vegetarian and vegan dishes on our menu since 2015,” Hunter told People, adding that he often advertises those dishes on a chalkboard outside the door.
Ugar, meanwhile, has said her protests were originally meant to “debunk the ethical meat myth, which is what Antler is known for,” according to organizer Marni Jill Ugar, who spoke with Canada’s Global News. As evidence, she referred to the inclusion of foie gras on Antler’s menu, which is often produced by force feeding ducks or geese.
Hunter said Ugar and her group are angry about more than just foie gras. “Their beliefs are that all meat is unethical,” he told People. “It doesn’t matter how they’re farmed. It doesn’t matter how they’re raised. It’s all unethical and they want everyone to change.”
But while Twitter has been largely supportive of Hunter’s actions, and he says he feels the “support [Antler] received has been worth it,” he told People he “did feel a little guilty” and wouldn’t do it again.
“If I’d known it was going to blow up the way it has I probably wouldn’t have done it.”