Run Pig Run: Effective Vegan Outreach

What’s in a name? Well, a lot of controversy – especially if you’re a carnivorous restaurant specializing in pig flesh and choose to call yourselves “Run Pig Run.”

Local vegans and vegetarians in Calgary are up in arms over a new pig flesh restaurant that has hung its shingle on the streets of our fair city. But it’s not the culinary choices of the restauranteurs that have the veggies upset. Instead, it’s the restaurant’s rather incendiary moniker : “Run Pig Run.” And while perhaps simultaneously an allusion to the Queens of the Stone Age song of the same name, it’s clearly intended to provoke feelings of camaraderie among pig eaters – and mild outrage amongst everyone else.

Truth in Advertising: This Restaurant is for Carnivores

First of all, I think we have to assume that the restaurant owners are attempting to reach their target demographic: die hard carnivores. These are the people who proudly assert their love of flesh, and they are definitely a legitimate portion of the dining segment. Provocatively named in-your-face carnist establishments are nothing new. Homo sapiens aren’t even off limit, as evidenced by another popular Calgary restaurant called “Cannibale.”  That establishment’s – a combination barbershop and eatery – is obviously a humorous reference to Sweeney Todd. As far as I know, there hasn’t been much of an uproar over that restaurant name.

“Bacon is my favourite food group”

I’m rather sympathetic to the owners of “Run Pig Run” – mostly because I have a working memory. Honestly, before going vegan, this restaurant would have been at the top of my list. Why? Well, first of all, I loved the taste of the flesh of pigs. But secondly (and even more importantly) I felt extremely guilty about eating animals, and I often overcompensated (with offensive anti-vegan humor) to make up for it.

I was definitely one of those “I love bacon” people. I ate at least a pound of “free range” “organic” “heritage” bacon per weak. By myself.

I’ve shared this story before, but used to love using leftover bacon grease to make macaroni and cheese. One day I had to warn our  babysitter (who is a Muslim) that the Mac and Cheese in the fridge contained pig fat. The look of horror in her face made me feel guilty, and I felt bad for offending her. From then on, she brought her own meals to the house, and I felt kind of like a jerk. Seriously, who on earth puts pork in everything? That would have been me, apparently.

I thought it was hilarious that I ate nothing but saturated animal fat and had cholesterol numbers low enough to be considered “heart attack proof” by Caldwell Esselstyn (total numbers less than 150 mg/dl).  Seriously, Forks over Knives had zero effect on my interest in eating plant based, because I’m genetically pre-dispositioned to have low cholesterol. And I was thinner than I am now.

Why I don’t eat animals

As I’ve stated before on this channel, I’m vegan for the animals, and for the dignity of human beings. We no longer need to kill and eat other sentient beings. There is consensus among the world’s dieticians that an adequate plant-based diet is suitable at all stages of life. But I don’t think that a plant-based diet is magical. It’s just better. It does less harm to the animal kingdom, and helps minimize our impact on the environment.

How to respond?

My local vegetarian/vegan community has been struggling a bit with how to respond to the arrival of this restaurant. Our local vegetarian/vegan Facebook page was flooded with people suggesting leaving negative comments and bad reviews.

In my opinion, doing so is both unethical and hypocritical. If you haven’t eaten at a restaurant, you can’t give it an honest review, negative or otherwise. And I think it’s completely inconsistent to go after this restaurant in particular simply because of its name. Places like “The Keg”, or “Dairy Queen” serve at least as many animal products, and provoke no such outrage from the vegan community.

You can argue that the name is insensitive (it is), but that in itself is not a crime. And restaurant serving barbecued pig is hardly uniquely offensive.

So what is a proper response? In my opinion, vegans can’t treat this establishment any differently than any other restaurant that serves animal products.

So…Would I Eat at Run Pig Run?

Yes. Absolutely. If they have a vegan option on their menu, I’d eat it. I’d also be happy to sit down with the owner and talk with him about the inspiration behind this restaurant.


Because I don’t believe in shutting down dialogue, even when we don’t like what people have to say, or what they choose to name their private businesses. If we, as vegans, want to have any credibility, we need to be able to discuss our views with respect and understanding. Whether we like it or not, nearly all people on earth eat animals, with vegans sitting at about 1-2 percent of the population worldwide.

I want to see a vegan world. And I believe is veganism is the future.


6 Responses to “Run Pig Run: Effective Vegan Outreach

  • I think you should try a small ounce of research before you go being a Chatty Cathy. Cannibale is actually named as tribute to the building, which is a century old – Cannibale Block. It’s an icon in the Bridgeland community. Has nothing to do with ‘Todd Sweeney’ or eating human flesh. But nice try.

    • Thanks, Ashley! I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed it had nothing to do with Sweeney Todd. I read their business page, and I assumed that it must be intended as a double entendre. Thanks for stopping by.

      • You should stop by sometime for a beverage and chat up the staff, they’ll tell you all about it if you ask. Also, their feature menu is full of vegan options.

        • Thanks, Ashley! I’d love to. I hope it’s clear (both from the video and the blog post) that I have nothing against provocative restaurant names! More than anything, I’m just pointing out that vegans need to stop getting so excited about what restaurants are called. “A rose by any other name” and all that ;-D Even if Cannibale were a reference to Sweeney Todd, I’d obviously have no problem eating there or anywhere else that has something vegan to eat. Have a great evening!

  • You believe they only serve pork? So have you visited the restaurant? Dont you think you would go and check it out before talking about it on a blog? Don’t judge the place by its name. Want to sit down with the owner ? I am sure he would love to have a conversation with you!

    • Hi Diane! I looked at the menu online before I write the blog post, and as I said, it’s mostly pork based (hence the name). As I mentioned, I really have no problem with the name at all, but it obviously had offended some people. The post is mostly just a discussion of the response to its name, not the menu (as far as I can tell it’s a very standard menu). And as I said in the post, if there was a good vegan option on the menu, I’d eat there! 😊 Have a lovely day.

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