My name is Mike Wolf and I spent almost 4 years working undercover in factory farms. I’ve witnessed countless animals living in deplorable conditions and abused in ways that left me speechless. You can see for yourself and read some of the national news coverage for my Smithfield hog supplier investigation on FOX News. My investigation into a Hormel hog supplier resulted in 22 criminal charges against 6 workers.
Although I’m no longer in the field, I now oversee investigative efforts for Compassion Over Killing, a national nonprofit that conducts investigations into meat, dairy and egg facilities. Our most recent investigation into a Pilgrim’s chicken supplier revealed birds who were buried alive alongside dead and decaying birds. At Central Valley Meat, our investigator witnessed cows too sick to move being shot in the head multiple times and being suffocated by workers who stood on their mouths and nostrils. Our investigations have collectively led to criminal charges, facility shutdowns, corporate policy changes, national headlines, as well as rescues.
I also have a strong passion for fitness, hopefully showing how easy it is to gain muscle on a meat-free diet (I’m a proud member of PlantBuilt’s Powerlifting team!). I look forward to answering your questions!
How do you thinking working in such horrible conditions affected you? Did you ever have to participate in order to not stand out?
Working in those conditions definitely has a lasting impact on your mind and body. It changes you as a person. There are certain things that I will never, ever forget. But, I don’t want to forget them–I think it would be an injustice for the animals if I was to look the other way and try to forget.
Working in the field you have to perform the job duties that are assigned to you. This means that you have to engage in what is called standard practice–for example, castrating a pig. Those practices I had to do, but I did not engage in abuse the way other workers did. I did end up standing out sometimes because I did not hit the animals the way other people did–but it worked out in the end.
It seems like many people have this idea that poor treatment of animals occurs only on factory farms, and that animals on family farms live much better conditions. However, as I understand, many factory farms are ALSO family-owned farms. Can you please clarify the difference between factory farms and family farms, if such a distinction exists?
There is definitely a bleed-over between factory farms and family farms. For example, Craig Watts is a family farmer who is a contract grower for Perdue. You can see his story here: http://interactive.fusion.net/cock-fight/
Even when a small family farm is not connected with a major supplier, there are still many horrors that the animals endure. They still go through standard practices that painfully mutilate their bodies, they still live incredibly unnatural lives, and they still have their throats cut when they are killed. All animals fear death, I have seen it thousands of times. The look in their eyes shows that they know what is about to happen, and how incredible terrified they are.
I’ve seen an undercover investigator say the egg industry is the most abusive, & some will argue that the dairy industry is more abusive than the beef industry (although they’re intertwined of course). Do you have any views on this issue of ranking which industry is worst?
Wow, what a tough question. I wouldn’t really have a ranking, I think that the atrocities of laying hens and dairy cows are both so terrible. Dairy cows spend their entire lives being raped, having their children stolen (which is a very emotional time for momma cow–google ‘cows crying for calves’ or something similar), being hooked up to machines for their milk to be taken, and being beaten. They do live a longer life than beef cows.
Egg laying hens spend their lives in battery cages in a space so small that they cannot turn around or spread their wings. They are in sheds filled with tens of thousands, and it is impossible for workers to check on the health of every bird. This means that dead and decaying birds are left in the cages with the live ones for periods of time. There is also often poorly maintained cage wires which the birds get impaled and stuck on.
I live in Arizona and heard on the news this morning that a bill just passed, and is now on the Governor’s desk, that would take away legal protections for farm animals. What can my family and I do about this (just as regular people – don’t have a lot of connections) and is this happening elsewhere or is it just cuz lawmakers here in AZ can sometimes be a little terrible for animal welfare?
Thank you for asking this, you are correct, yesterday, the Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill (HB 2150) that would weaken protections for farmed animals in the state. The bill is now sitting on the Governor’s desk to be signed.
It is very important that the Governor veto this bill. I would encourage anyone who lives in Arizona (but only Arizona residents, please!) to call the Governor’s office today and politely ask him to veto HB 2150.
The bill puts farmed animals in separate category from other animals with regards to the cruelty law in Arizona. This would make it easier for factory farm operators to abuse farmed animals.
The bill also contains a new provision that would make it more difficult to conduct investigations into Arizona’s factory farms.
If you live in Arizona, please consider calling the Governor today! See this link for more details: https://secure.humanesociety.org/site/Advocacy;jsessionid=9C021E9C3272450661035B7FF8973A74.app314b?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=6751&autologin=true&s_src=em_ha032415
I only peeked at about 30 seconds of the Central valley Meat link video. That’s all I could take. What major coping strategies or common reactions do you find your investigators experience? Do some people crack up? Do some weather it well? How did your investigative work affect you?
Thank you for asking this–and thank you so much for watching our Central Valley Meat investigation (for those who want to watch, you can find it here: http://cok.net/inv/central-valley-meat/).
I always tell investigators that in order to be successful and last, you need to have an outlet. For me, I used lifting and listening to music to help relieve the stress. Every investigator is different, and some people like to read, run, or do yoga. For me, running would be the last thing I would want to do 🙂
Some people can handle it better than others. People don’t necessarily crack up, but some people can’t last too long in the field. On the other hand, some of my friends have been in the field for several, several years.
The work has definitely had a lasting impact–it changes you as a person. Physically, I will always have certain injuries which affect me. Emotionally, though, is where it hits you the most. I have developed my own coping strategies, and I use it as motivation.
What can the average consumer do to help these animals other than boycotting the companies products?
Thank you for this question. I think that it goes beyond boycotting products from some specific companies. The most compassionate and efficient way to help animals is to leave them off of your plate–from any company. After my Smithfield investigation, my best friend said that he would never buy a Smithfield product again. I had to explain to him that all companies treated the animals the same. Once you are at that point, the best thing to do is to help spread awareness 🙂
People seem most receptive when talking about how their diet affects their health, and angriest when the treatment of animals is brought up. Have you found that to be true, and if yes, why do you think that is?
I find that you are absolutely right–most people are okay with the health aspects, but the animal cruelty side causes them to shut down during a conversation. I think that is because when you are discussing health, people think you are genuinely trying to help THEM, and you are not attacking them but helping. For those people, I find that The China Study is the best thing to cite. I know several people who have gone vegan from reading that book–which is strictly related to health.
I think once animal cruelty comes up, people start to feel like you are judging and attacking them, and their natural defenses come up.
It certainly can be frustrating when people argue against the abuse, once you have lived it. The best thing you can do for the animals is to keep calm, and address their concerns rationally. If you don’t then you only justify their actions and the next thing you hear them tell someone is, “This crazy vegan said…”
I truly think that the fact that people’s defenses are raised so easily surrounding this is evidence enough that they know it is wrong—and that one day there will be change on a massive scale.
I’m interested in hearing more about your training as a vegan powerlifter. Which came first for you, veganism or powerlifting? Can you tell us more about how you train and how you eat?
I started weighlifting in high school, and then went vegan in my 20’s. There is actually a big difference between weightlifting and powerlifting. I started to learn this last year when I started training for PlantBuilt (http://www.plantbuilt.com/). For training, I cut the amount of days down that I train, and started to train a specific lift rather than a body part (bench press instead of chest for example).
For eating, I currently eat large quantities of everything, as I am bulking in preparation for the competition. I eat oatmeal in the morning with bananas and berries, and several portions of tofu throughout the day. I like to put the tofu in wraps with a lot of veggies and a Follow Your Heart dressing. I do use Vega and PlantFusion protein shakes, as well as Vega bars, but that is only because I have a higher protein requirement due to the Powerlifting. It is very easy to get enough protein, without any supplements, on a balanced plant based diet. Tofu and Seitan offer a large quantity of protein, as do Gardein, Beyond Meat, and Tofurky product lines.
I’ve heard that tofu can contain hormones such as estrogen–do you think tofu has any impact on your competitive ability?
In my opinion the soy/estrogen thing is a myth. The estrogen that is in soy is a different type of estrogen than what is in humans. I feel that the meat industry has put this out as part of the whole ‘meat is manly’ stereotype.
I do eat a lot of tofu, but other than that I usually get my protein from other sources to be better balanced. I’m going on 10 years being vegan, and I have eaten a TON of soy over the last decade. I have never had my testosterone/estrogen levels tested, but I am quite certain I have had no ill effects from it.
Has your organization ever thought about collaborating with groups like workers’ rights organizations? I imagine some of those jobs must be pretty terrible for the humans as well.
Thank you for asking this! We have definitely thought about collaborating with worker’s rights groups, because these jobs are most definitely terrible for humans as well. The only thing that matters to these big companies is the bottom line–the animals, and the farm workers, are expendable. There is such a high turnover rate at these facilities because of how terrible the conditions are. The people who last, and stay there, are the ones who are left with little other choices.
There is also a high injury rate at these facilities, and even deaths, due to poorly maintained machinery among other reasons. No company should have the right to treat any living beings in such a manner–animal or human.
Do you think that reforming the factories to be a better place for humans to work would also improve the lives of animals?
I definitely think that making the factories better for humans will translate to less animal cruelty. Not even just regarding people feeling trapped, but also when creating a higher morale and a more positive environment, that will transfer to the animals also.
What can you tell us about the trend of states passing Ag-Gag laws and how that would impact investigations like the ones you have done?
I feel that Ag-Gag laws are being passed due to the relationships between politicians and local farmers–and the lobbying interests of those farmers. These laws are a clear infringement on our First Amendment rights.
They have a large impact on our investigations. We follow all of the state and federal laws, so when a state passes an Ag-Gag law, we have to stay out of that state. Once the law gets overturned, which they eventually will, we will happily go back 🙂
Seems to me an organization like you belong to would be the lightning rod for that overturning by purposely breaking those unjust laws to get the ball rolling on an overturn. Who are they waiting on to overturn them?
Well, we do follow all the laws, so we would not go into a state where it is illegal to perform an investigation. If someone did it would just give the opposition momentum for their arguments, and would not further our cause too much. The best way to fight these laws is in the courtroom.
Not including your reports and videos, do you recommend any books or documentaries to learn more?
This is a great question. Obviously, I think the best place to really learn how animals are truly treated are through our investigations (http://cok.net/inv/). Aside from that, Earthlings is such a powerful documentary, and they take you through each industry in such a comprehensive way. Speciesism is also a wonderful documentary which helps to make people understand why it is wrong to discriminate against animals. Cowspiracy is also another great one!
Did anyone you worked with while you were undercover suspect that you were documenting abuses?
There has been a couple of times when I felt like people were suspicious of me–mainly because I would not hit the animals (and I would be the only worker to not hit them). But, when you are in the field, it is your job to be able to navigate situations like that, and I was never made while on the job.
Did you face legal charges from any companies you investigated? How did you avoid/fight them?
I personally never have been criminally charged from my investigations.
One of our previous investigators, Taylor Radig, was charged for her Quanah Cattle Co case. This was a situation where the local law enforcement had a personal relationship with the farm, and the Sheriff had political aspirations. The charges were dropped 🙂
You can see more about that here:
Why do you think there is so much animosity towards people who are exposing animal cruelty? Also do you think there will ever be more transparency in animal agriculture? What will it take to gain that transparency?
I think there is a lot of animosity towards our movement because deep down, maybe even on a subconscious level, people are aware that we are right. They put up their defenses because they are frightened of the unknown and of making a change to their lives.
I think the only transparency that we will ever have will be due to the undercover investigations. The ag industry is trying to pass ag-gag laws in order to prevent transparency–so that shows us just how much they have that they want to keep hidden. I think the best way to gain that transparency is to fight the ag-gag laws in each state when they are proposed.
When you got hired on to work at factory farms did you use your real name or was a fake name and identity made for you? I’ve wondered if I would be able to do an undercover but in this internet age, all they would have to do is google my name and they would find out that I’m an animal activist.
This is a very common question. We have to apply for these jobs legally, so we do use our real names. Unfortunately, with how prevalent social media is, this does cut out a lot of very passionate people who would like to do the job.
What have been the most shocking conditions/situations you’ve found in your work with these factory farms?
Thank you for your question. Honestly, it is so hard to compare one terrible thing to another and say which one is worse when they both cause such suffering to the individual who it was inflicted on. In my eyes, though, the hardest thing for me to see was the pig castration. When someone takes a blade and tears open the flesh of a pig’s scrotum, and rips out their testicles, there is something deep inside you that screams at how wrong that is.
Have your large muscles helped you blend in while undercover since most people think one can’t be strong on a plant-based diet?
Ha, thank you 🙂 Actually, yes. It has helped me get out of eating meat plenty–because I use people’s stereotypes against them and they think that there is no way I could ever be vegan.
As an activist myself, I’ve felt that in the past year or so, things have reaaaally changed (even where I am in Europe) for the better, media is covering these stories more, veganism is seen much more positively, loads of people are switching over… have you also felt a recent change? Do you think we are nearing some kind of tipping point?
Thank you so much—and thank you for this question! Absolutely!!! There has been so much positivity in recent years—we are definitely nearing the tipping point. The number of animals slaughtered per year is actually starting to decrease. Even though it is by a small percentage, when you are talking about billions of animals, that small percentage becomes an incredibly large number. I think this is due to more people turning to veganism, but also largely due to reducing meat consumption. Meatless Mondays, for example, is an avenue that largely reduces the amount of animals slaughtered.
There are so many other positive indicators–the number of vegan products, companies, and restaurants has drastically increased in the last several years. You can even walk into a Chipotle and buy vegan meal. Bill Gates is financially backing vegan companies—that right there shows us the direction that we are heading.
We are most definitely on the cusp of change!
Do you have some recommended charities that would be a good place for concerned citizens to donate toward? I know PETA and the ASPCA both have had their issues…
Thank you so much for asking The one thing I would say regarding PETA and ASPCA is to please do your own research regarding them. There are a lot of haters out there who will be deceptive about these organization’s practices. Regarding donations, I would certainly recommend Compassion Over Killing, and you can donate here: https://www.givedirect.org/give/givefrm.asp?CID=4434. You can choose if you want your donation to go directly to our Investigations Department, and this will help us to continue to bring these horrors to light.
What’s your favorite pizza topping?
Ha, great question! I LOVE pizza–Daiya is an amazing cheese to put on pizzas. I have just tried Beyond Meat’s meatballs for the first time, and although I haven’t had them yet on a pizza, I am very excited to try that!
Do you own any carnivorous pets? If so, how do you reconcile continuing to fund slaughterhouses (and/or unsustainable fishing) by buying pet food? If responsible meat is okay for pets, why not for people?
I do live with companion animals, and they are all healthy and thriving on a plant based diet. A wonderful brand is Ami, and you can find their food here: http://www.amipetfood.com/en
Have you been to any halal/kosher slaughterhouses or operations, and how was the treatment of the animals compared to regular operations?
I have not personally been to one, but my friends have. Unfortunately, the treatment of the animals at these places does not vary from any other slaughterhouse.
I noticed almost all your points are based on animal welfare. In my experience (10 year veggie in TX) people are much more receptive to the environmental and resource costs when compared to historical farming methods, perhaps because society has cultured us to feel responsible for our global footprint. Do you fluidly switch angles based on your audience, or do you tend stick with the animal welfare argument?
You are definitely right that people are sometimes more receptive to other arguments. If I’m talking with someone about veganism I will switch up the topic based on that person’s interests. Right now though I am just speaking from the heart—and for me, it is all for the animals 🙂
Do you have any idea if free range/organic/etc farms actually treat their livestock better?
Thank you for asking–this is a very common question. There are several issues with the ‘humane meat’ concept. First, the standards for humanely certified meat are not upheld at every level of production–it only applies to a narrow window in the production process. For example, it would not apply to a hatchery (please see our Bell & Evans investigation at http://cok.net/inv/bell-and-evans/).
This means that there are standard practices (such as debeaking and grinding male chicks up alive) which are still going on, even at humane certified companies.
Regarding labeling, this is truly a way for the companies to dupe the public. For example, all broiler chickens are raised in sheds, and not in cages, Though, broiler chicken companies will sometimes sell the chicken as ‘Cage-free’. Of course they are–they all are. Only egg-laying hens are kept in battery cages. It is a way for the company to try to make the public feel better about what they are buying, without improving the conditions for the animals.
For additional information on labeling, and how Compassion Over Killing has helped makes changes with this, please see: http://cok.net/camp/victories/animal-care-certified-eggs-exposed/
How did your agency know which places to investigate? Where there a lot of internal whistleblowers, did you get tipped off by people who lived near the farms, or is there a different system?
It actually is quite random. Our investigators apply for these jobs just like any other worker. There are certainly times when there is a whistleblower who is brave enough to reach out, but that is not always the case.
What’s the one moment that really struck you as the most horrifying?
Thank you for asking this. The moment that has stuck with me the most may not be the most horrifying, but for me was the most emotional. It was during my Smithfield investigation when we had to kill a boar who was injured. There were three other workers who were trying to get him out of his crate, and I was off to the side. He knew what was going to happen. Two workers were using snares (one around his snout and one around his ear) and one worker was hitting him on his back with a gate rod. He was screaming out in pure terror–and fought with everything he had. He was clawing at the ground to stay in his crate. It took several minutes for the three workers to drag him out–and he fought the entire way. They pulled him outside and bolt-gunned him. After several minutes, the manager decided he was still alive, and shot him again. He went through a tremendous amount of suffering and terror–but through it all, he never gave in. That moment will always stay with me.
Did you get paychecks while working on the farms? If so, how do you spend the money?
Yes, I worked employment-based investigations, so I was being paid.
But don’t you think that’s like punishing the guys who physically cut down trees for global warming? They’re just the workers, punishing them doesn’t change the source of the problem.
Thank you for bringing up this important point. At this particular facility, there was a lot of egregious abuse happening. In general though, I do not believe that the farm workers deserve the blame–it should land squarely on the company. There are certainly some bad apple farm workers who are sadistic, but for the most part, the workers are normal people who desperately need a job. There are so many systemic issues within factory farming, and the workers are a product of that system. Due to standard practices, such as castration for example, the farm workers are forced to inflict pain and cause suffering on the animals. Having to do these practices all day long, over time, warps the worker’s minds, and they get very desensitized. When cutting into the flesh of an animal and ripping out a body part, all without anesthesia, is not only legal but also your job description, suddenly punching and kicking does not seem so bad.
Also, due to the speed required at these farms, the workers are forced to cut corners and act in ways that ensure their jobs get done in the right amount of time. These means that if they need to hit an animal to make them move faster, they will, because they rely on that paycheck.
Did you encounter any workers at these farms who showed compassion towards the animals?
I think the people who stood out at these farms were the ones who were not hitting them. There are definitely people who don’t go out of their way to beat them–but at the end of the day, they still perform the standard practices which are their job duties and which does inflict pain.
How do you not let seeing all of that scar you? Do you have to go to therapy? How have you dealt with it all emotionally?
It certainly has it’s difficult moments. I think that you cannot avoid letting it scar you–but how people handle that scarring is always different. I have not gone to therapy for it, but I know other investigators who have and they have said that it works well. Some investigators do yoga or meditate to help. For me, weightlifting has always been my crutch to help me through. The release of endorphins helps me focus and gives me clarity in a way that nothing else can.
I’m sure you’ve seen unspeakable things. How did you remain calm, cool and not break cover to defend an animal?
This is a very common question as well. When you are in the field, you know that you can’t break that cover–as much as you may want to sometimes. That would be detrimental for the animals, the organization, and the movement. You are there for the one any only reason of documenting what you are seeing to bring to the public. Once you step foot on a farm, you have to realize that you are not an activist anymore–you are a farm worker. Once you are out of the field, you can be an activist again.
I often hear people dismiss the footage shown in undercover investigations as being simply isolated incidents. They claim the actions are the work of a handful of bad employees and not representative of the industry as a whole. Based on your experience, how prevalent would you say the mistreatment of animals is within the meat industry?
Thank you so much for bringing this up. I hear that often as well—and also that the footage must be edited, staged, etc. I often tell people, I would be more than happy to take a polygraph to attest to the fact that it is not edited or staged. The unfortunate truth is that the conditions are so terrible that we do not need to stage or edit the footage.
These are also not isolated incidents. Every farm I have walked onto, and every farm that every investigator I have known has gone onto, there has been abuse. This is a systemic issue of the industry, and not just isolated bad employees. The industry wants the public to think that it is just an isolated employee here or there because if the public knew the truth, it would cut into their profits.
By this point, there are countless hours of footage inside farms of all scales at all levels. Whatever educational purpose this footage can serve, why do we need more and more and more of it
The reason to keep obtaining more footage is because the opposition will claim that the footage is outdated, and that the abuses don’t happen anymore. We need to prove that not only does it still happen, but it is more widespread than anyone can imagine. Also, some people claim that it is a few ‘bad apples’ that perpetuate the abuse–which is simply not the case. It is more of a systemic problem than anything else. We need to show that the abuse on these farms continues to happen.
In your opinion, is the primary problem that animals are treated very badly when we use/kill them for food and other purposes, or is the primary problem that we’re using them to begin with?
In my opinion, I feel that the simple fact that animals are being used and killed for consumption causes the poor treatment. Even on a farm where nobody is punching and kicking the animals, they still undergo standard practices (such as castration) which causes an incredible amount of pain and suffering.
Why does your organization focus almost entirely on treatment rather than use? Have you ever been concerned that by focusing so much on treatment, you’re just reinforcing the idea that it’s OK to use and kill animals as long as we do so nicely?
Compassion Over Killing does not focus solely on treatment rather than use–we have several campaigns that are focused on reducing the consumption of animals. Meatless Mondays is one such option, which you can read more about here: http://cok.net/camp/meatless-mondays/. Regarding working to better the treatment of animals—the simple fact is that there are billions of animals on factory farms and in slaughterhouses right now. We can’t snap our fingers and end all suffering. But, small shifts towards less suffering (for example moving from gestation crates to group housing) make a tremendous difference for those animals who are living on the farms right now. Why wouldn’t we want to reduce the suffering as much as possible?
If the animal protection movement focused far more of its resources on full-time moral and vegan education, what do you think would happen?
I feel that Undercover Investigations are the greatest tool for vegan education. There is no better way to help someone understand what it is like than to show them. I can talk to someone for an hour and describe in great detail what happens on these farms, but watching an hour of Earthlings will probably stick with them much longer. I don’t think it would be wise to funnel all of the resources into just the one avenue though of vegan education–there are so many other things that need to happen.
Would you be opposed to the eating of meat if it came from local small farms?
Thank you, this is definitely a common question. I would be opposed to it because I am vegan for the animals. Even on small local farms, the animals live a life that is filled with pain, fear, and suffering. There are certain standard practices that all animals endure on farms which cause a tremendous amount of suffering. At the end of their lives, they end up getting their throats cut, and animals (just like humans) are aware that they are about to die and are so fearful of it.
What do you think of PETA, do you think they make your job harder because of how people perceive them?
Thank you for asking this. Personally, I am a huge fan of theirs. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about them, and I know first-hand that PETA does so much countless good for animals. There are also a lot of misconceptions about being vegan in general, but that makes me want to prove those wrong and not run from them. I think PETA does so much good, that it far outweighs the negatives that are out there.
What kind of loss in profits would meat producers see if forced to treat animals more humanely?
Well, I think that a huge issue where there is an area for improvement surrounds the intensive confinement systems, such as gestation crates for pigs and battery cages for hens. The producers would most likely not be able to produce as many animals if they abolished these incredibly cruel confinement systems, which is why some are so resistant to.
Lack of sunlight UV must be something that contributes to disease and illness for these animals who never get to roam free. Why don’t these producers see any benefit to letting them run outside? Wouldn’t it reduce germs and add vitamins for better quality “product”?
Thank you for this question. There are a number of reasons that the producers keep the animals locked up–but it all boils down to money. By keeping them inside, they are able to increase the amount of animals that they have, and also control the amount of exercise they get. Keeping birds in a shed for a sedentary lifestyle, for example, helps them grow bigger faster.
Any advice on how to start a vegan diet on a poor college student budget?
Absolutely, vegan food can certainly be expensive, but it can also be cheaper, the same as non-vegan food. Tofu and rice is a great, well balanced, and cheap meal. It is very important how you cook tofu, because if you don’t cook it right, it can be kind of mooshy, and not taste so great. I bake mine, but one of the best ways is to cut it up into little pieces and stir fry it. Gardein is also a great brand that is non-soy based imitation meats. They taste great, are relatively cheap (between $3-4 per package, and are widely available (Walmart, Target, etc). They are high in protein, and very filling. Tofurky makes deli type slices of imitation meat which is fairly cheap as well, and is great for sandwiches. Farmer’s markets are always great for cheap fruits and veggies. As long as you balance your whole foods, you will get all the nutrients you need 🙂
Do you ever fear for your own safety if discovered?
This is definitely a concern for investigators. Different people handle it differently, and there are certainly varying concerns if you are male or female.
Personally, I was never too concerned about it. Though, at one of the jobs I worked, the managers carried guns on their hips. I was shot at once while I was there, for a misunderstanding unrelated to being found out.
What do you think is the best way to convince people to go vegan?
I feel that bringing awareness to people is the most efficient way. Most people just simply have no idea what is happening to these animals, and when they see the videos they are shocked. I feel that most people have the capacity for empathy and compassion, and when faced with the horrors, they know deep down what the right decision is. Investigations like ours (http://cok.net/inv/) and documentaries like Earthlings are so important to help get the message out.
What changes to farm operations could be made that would most reduce suffering, at the least expense to the farmer?
I think that there are a lot of practical changes that could be made in farming to reduce suffering. A lot of it is centered around intensive confinement (switching to group housing from gestation crates, and out of battery cages) and standard practice. There are very viable and affordable alternatives to castration. A lot of the practices, such as tail docking, debeaking, and male chick grinding can easily be moved away from.
What bands do you blast while lifting?
Good question–I love music. Some of my favorites are Iron Maiden, Cattle Decapitation, Disturbed, AFI, Slipknot, Korn, Rise Against, Marilyn Manson, Dio, Heaven Shall Burn…to name a few.
Why do people who are vegans tend to force it down others throats like it automatically makes them some form of superior being?
I have definitely heard this from other non-vegans. I think all vegans go through an initial ‘angry vegan’ stage–because quite honestly, it is so very wrong on so many levels what humanity puts animals through. Once someone is awoken to that, it is the epitomy of frustrating that other people just don’t see it. I agree, plenty of vegans will try to force it down your throat, as you say, but only because they are trying to help others see how cruel the meat, dairy, and egg industries can be.
People don’t force meat-eating on you because there is nothing that is positive and enlightening to be found out about meat-eating.