Lifting the Veil on Cruelty | Viva! - The Vegan Charity

Lifting the Veil on Cruelty

Lifting the Veil on Cruelty

By Juliet Gellatley

Juliet Gellatley gives a touching explanation of why Viva! launched its new campaign

In truth, Christmas day is just another day, like all the other 364 in the year. Nowhere does that realisation burn into your consciousness more than inside a factory farm where the suffering continues whatever the date or the festivals we celebrate. It is almost impossible to convey the reality of these places in words alone or with photographs, for that matter.

You need to be able to appreciate the scale of it, to have your senses overwhelmed by its alien nature, to almost imbibe it through your skin – the stench, the sounds of animals in despair, the indifference.

There is a personal toll every time we go to an intensive farm. It isn’t just the personal risk, the traipsing across fields at midnight or the hostile environment. It is the eyes of the imprisoned animals we see, questioning us and their pitiful glances stab at my heart. They seem to say ‘why me?’ and ‘what have I done to deserve this?’ The answer is, of course, they have done nothing.

I sat on my haunches at one pig farm and I looked into the blue eyes of a sow. I couldn’t look away. She was trapped in what’s called a rape rack, a contraption designed to immobilise her for forcible impregnation. I made her a promise – that I would tell the world what was happening to her and do everything I could to end it. It was the same promise I made to a breeding boar back when I was a teenager and I have tried my hardest to keep that promise. It is for this reason that I launched our Face Off campaign, taking footage of our exposés and showing it to people everywhere.

The latest place we’ve chosen to expose is Sandridge Farm in Wiltshire and I picked it because of the marketing hype that surrounds it. A few, free-range Saddleback pigs romp through nettle patches outside and the Hairy Bikers and Angela Rippon have been there to coo their approval.

The Hairy Bikers and Angela Rippon have been there to coo their approval

The owners talk of keeping other pigs in ‘cosy barns’. That really means windowless sheds, discarded and rotting piglet corpses, placentas left on the floor and sows giving birth in frustration in farrowing crates where they can barely move. It means dumping living piglets in huge, concrete-floored boxes with just a little open space at one end but with absolutely nothing to occupy them. With these and other images we are showing British consumers the truth.

The truth is, animals hurt – you can’t fail to see it in their eyes. They hurt from the moment they’re born.

We have the preliminary results of a public opinion poll we’ve had done (full details next issue) and consumer ignorance still abounds. Almost a half of meat eaters don’t know the conditions in which animals are kept; almost a third think that the farrowing crate (right) is illegal; and more than 60 per cent have no idea that cows have to be made pregnant to produce milk.

What gives me heart is that when I made that first promise to an old and exhausted boar, public ignorance was far greater that this. People are learning and are changing, which is why Face Off is so important and why I ask you to support it.