1. How long have you been vegan for and what prompted you to make the change?
I was vegetarian for around 9 years before going vegan 3.5 years ago. When I went vegetarian it was after a basic realisation that animals probably didn’t want to be eaten. It took me 9 years to find out about the cruelty involved in the dairy and egg industries, and to conclude that those industries were just as unethical as the meat industry. This discovery came about largely thanks to Animals Australia’s bobby calf campaign, and with the help of vegan friends who were able to show me just how easy it was to live a cruelty-free lifestyle.
When activists from Animal Liberation ACT & NSW found and investigated Wally’s Piggery just outside Canberra in May-July 2012, I was tasked with viewing and editing a lot of the material. I knew that this was something the world needed to see, and decided that the best way to go about that was to have it all online in an easily accessible and sharable manner; so the Aussie Pigs website was born.
The industry’s response to the Wally’s investigation was that it was a one-off, a “rogue operator” – and I realised that the website did give that impression, because it was all about Wally’s, not about the industry as a whole. So the focus of the campaign shifted to exposing the legal, industry-standard, day-to-day cruelty found on just about every pig farm.
Along the way, material was coming in from turkey farms, broiler farms, duck farms and egg farms, and the occasional abattoir – so additional websites were built. I wanted to create a comprehensive view of these industries, in a way that had never been done before, that allowed anyone to find recent, high quality photos and footage from purely Australian facilities; I wanted to defeat the myth that “it doesn’t happen here” and to shift public perceptions about the nobility of killing animals for profit.
The sites are aimed at opening the doors to industries that rely on secrecy, so that people can make informed decisions about whether or not they want to continue supporting those industries, not at advocating minor welfare improvements or “free range” systems. Breeding, raising and killing animals for profit will always be barbaric and violent, there will always be fear and pain, it can never be humane, and this is the point that I try to get across with these websites.
3. What has been the response from the public about the content on your websites, including the footage from slaughterhouses?
A lot of Australians still have no idea that any of this cruelty is happening; very few people (even in activist circles) knew about the use of gas chambers at most large pig slaughterhouses. So people are generally appalled, and that’s often the start of a journey towards a more compassionate lifestyle. The Corowa gas chamber footage was the first of its kind in the world, so it had a lot of international reach too, particularly on social media – and just browsing through the comments you can see that nobody believes this apparently “humane” process is even remotely humane or ethical. Many of these comments, or the messages we’ve received, indicate an intention to never eat pigs again, or to go vegan.
4. Please tell us about your new documentary Lucent. Will people be shocked by what they discover about the pig farming industry in Australia?
Lucent is a feature-length documentary covering many aspects of the Australian pig industry, including farrowing crates, artificial insemination, sow stalls, group sow housing, weaners / growers / finishers, free range, and of course slaughter. It also briefly looks at the issues facing other animals raised and killed for food in this country, as I don’t want anyone to come away thinking that pigs are the only animals suffering or whose rights are worth defending. Much of this footage has never been publicly released – so I think there’s definitely a lot in there that will shock even our most loyal supporters. Certainly I think the entirety of it will be appalling to anyone who has never thought or learned about this industry.
The film also goes behind the scenes on a well-known hidden camera investigation.
It’s a fairly graphic film, not quite as much as Earthlings, but I was inspired by the uncompromising approach Earthlings takes and it’s inarguable that it’s had a massive impact. People are always asking vegans “why they would do such a crazy thing”, and challenging those people to sit down and watch Earthlings has proven an extremely effective way of helping others to make the connection… but then unfortunately a lot of viewers will come away saying “Oh but it’s much better in Australia”. I think this is where the power of Lucent will really lie.
5. Is there anything else you would like to add?
After screenings in Sydney, Canberra, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and possibly Brisbane, Lucent will be available on DVD – most likely in late November.
Thank you Chris!
For more information about Lucent and to pre-order a DVD copy see https://aussiefarms.org.au/pigs/lucent