“Another bloody vegan!” | Viva!

“Another bloody vegan!”

“Another bloody vegan!”

I was sat in the bar close to my home and one of my neighbour’s fumed up to me, she had morphed into the Welsh dragon. Nostrils flaring and when she spoke, words as furious as fire flamed out of her. I was shocked at her anger but remained still. The source of the vitriol? I had ‘made’ her daughter go vegan.

What I had done, in fact, was talk to her 13 year old about her love for elephants. Our conversation meandered onto the devastation wrought on wildlife by consuming ‘farmed’ animals and how meat, fish and dairy eating is the number one cause of loss of species. Evidently this sunk in and her daughter made a kind and wise choice. So why was her mum livid?

Juliet With rescued sows Rozalia and Peppa at Viva! Poland sanctuary

She seriously invaded my personal space but I calmly asked her what worried her. I offered help – she didn’t know how best to react. She stepped back and I invited her to my home to talk it through. I never expected her to come. But about a week later she did!

After she reticently discussed nutrition I sensed she was looking for more from me. I told her that I had just visited a pig farm near Cheltenham and it all just flowed… She sat almost rigid but she sat, listened.

A pig called Rose

Viva! launched a campaign called Face Off in September this year to show those responsible for animal welfare – the buying public – how pigs are treated in typical British farms. I filmed in a pig shed and caged hen unit and the ball was truly set rolling. It worked! Over a million people viewed the films and engaged with them.

So, to move the campaign on, Justin and I investigated another farm, this time an award-winning pig farm that has been lauded on TV. So what is it that was being praised?

Juliet with Rose

You’ll see on this film that I gasp as I walk into a large concrete ‘mothering’ shed. Two piglets are rotting in the aisle along with a discarded placenta. I accidentally step in it.

Almost every crate I look into contains dead piglets - but it is the living that haunt me.

I go to one mother, touch her and she looks at me perplexed. As I gently talk to her I wonder if any human has ever displayed even a glimmer of kindness to her. She is trapped within a metal-barred crate where she gave birth on concrete.

It strikes me how utterly controlled is every aspect of her life: forced from a contraption called a rape rack where she is inseminated, to a concrete cell where her babies grow inside her. And then to a crate to give birth, nuzzle and protect her young. Except she can’t nuzzle or protect them because the bars separate them from her - again no control over her own life. But it gets worse. Her babies are ripped from her at just three weeks old and the cycle keeps being repeated for four or five years of hell. It ends only when she is exhausted and is killed for low-grade pig meat.

Sow in a farrowing crate on a typical British pig farm
Mothers in crates: this heart-breaking scene is typical of British pig farms

Her worn out body, her sad, pained mind never knowing freedom, never building a nest from leaves and twigs which she has gathered, never feeling sun, rain or wind. Pigs are extremely complex animals with sophisticated communication and emotions which she is never allowed to exercise. She never knows love, never lives freely with her daughters, wandering the mighty oak woods.

I whisper to her that I will call her Rose because she is beautiful and deserves to be dignified with a name. One day meat eaters will come to see that too.

At this point, I showed my neighbour the Face Off film from this farm. She turned to me at the end, wiped her eyes and just said, “Rose, at least you’ve made another bloody vegan!”

From despair comes hope. Even the most ‘anti-vegan’ people do change. From a butcher in his 70s to my dad (he took 20 years!) to a foie gras consuming business woman and millions of others, they are all now vegan.

This farm is typical. Indeed it has won awards. The government supports factory farming – the only person that can change the way animals are treated is YOU. Face off the pig industry now.

Juliet Gellatley

Founder & Director

Watch Juliet Gellatley explore a typical British pig farm in Wiltshire

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