Going Undercover

Why Going Undercover Inside Factory Farms Is Important

Our Five Farms Series Gets A Million Views

Shortly before launching VFC, Matthew made an unusual request of his business partner: he asked if Adam would visit a typical chicken farm with him one night. As a chef, Adam had cooked and served chickens in his restaurant for many years, and had also eaten them himself. Like many people, he had never thought too closely about where chicken meat came from or what it meant for the birds, and he saw this an opportunity – albeit a uniquely challenging one – to learn more. We knew from the moment Adam agreed that this was going to be an emotional night, and he knew for certain that the experience would change him forever.

First came shock. Shock at the scale, the heat, the crowding, and the numbers. And then as VFC’s co-founders moved slowly through the shed, seeing individual birds struggling and dying all around them, Adam got quieter and quieter. It’s so much harder to watch an animal die in real life, knowing that there is nothing that can be done to help them, than seeing it on a screen when the animal is already long gone, and their suffering is over. “I am sorry,” he tells one ailing bird. “You do not deserve this.”

Matthew and Adam filmed inside just one shed of many on this farm, which is itself just one farm of many across the country and, of course, this is just one country of many in the world. When faced with 30,000 birds in one shed, the vastness of the industry comes into clear focus, even while we grieve for the animals dying at our feet.

We shared the film on our channels, and other outlets like Plant Based News shared it, too. In all, it was seen hundreds of thousands of times and it touched people, many of whom pledged to change how they ate. “That’s it for me” affirmed one man. “I’m out.”

Five Farms

Difficult as these farm visits are, we know the impact they have. And so, we invited five friends and supporters to come with us, to bear witness to the birds’ suffering and to tell their stories.

Farm 1: Joey Carbstrong

A seasoned campaigner, Joey has been inside factory farms many times before. Still, it’s impossible not to be moved when faced with the sheer injustice of it all and when he visited a randomly chosen farm with us, it was clear that Joey was overwhelmed with sadness. Carefully picking up the body of one bird, he said: “She’s only recently passed away. Her body is still warm. Poor baby.”

Farm 2: Evanna Lynch

Our next farm visit was with actress and animal advocate Evanna Lynch whose emotional response to the suffering echoed what we all feel. She found it hard to look and yet she could not look away. When Matthew helped a seriously lame bird who had become stranded on her back, Evanna took some feed and crouched down to help the ailing animal. “Poor little creature,” she said. “She’s just falling apart.”

Evanna’s film alone was seen more than half a million times.

Farm 3: Plant-Based Leon

We met Leon when he posted the absolute BEST review of VFC just days after we launched. We knew we wanted to work with him and, while a night at a factory farm was never going to allow his humour to shine through, we invited him all the same. Leon grew up in Birmingham and farms were not something he had ever really thought about. But he put himself through a difficult night to witness what birds endure on a typical farm.

Leon found it especially hard to reconcile the differences in how different animals are treated. “If this was any other animal, we’d be taking this animal to the vet instantly,” he said, crouching down beside a bird who was struggling to breathe. “Yet here I am, witnessing this animal die in front of my eyes.”

Despite the horror, he recognised the importance of seeing and understanding. “Thank you for bringing me out here to see the reality of it,” he told Matthew. “Honestly.”

Farm 4: Abbie Sibun

Abbie is a high-profile tattoo artist who spends her spare time volunteering at The Retreat Animal Rescue, where a few lucky former farmed animals get to live out their lives peacefully. While many of the birds at the farm we took her to were lame and ill, she and Matthew were surprised that there were no dead birds, especially as the work sheets had shown that 2,500 had already died in that one shed already. That’s when they stepped outside to take a look inside the dead bins…

Farm 5: Peter Egan

At the fifth and final farm, the birds were just three days old. At that age, they should be nestled beneath their mothers’ wings for protection, but these babies had never even met their mother, and were hatched inside industrial incubators.

Actor and activist Peter found the visit “truly heart-breaking”. Moments after stepping inside, he asks: “Are these dead chicks?” They look around and see the floor is littered with dead baby birds.

After an hour in the shed, and close to tears, he says: “Anyone who eats meat or poultry, or fish should see intensive facilities like this and see just how disgusting they are, and ask themselves the question: do you care?”

Our love, gratitude, and respect go to Joey, Evanna, Leon, Abbie and Peter for each putting themselves through a difficult night. We could not be more proud to work alongside you to help end the atrocity that is factory farming.

And thank you to everyone who watches these films. We know how difficult it is to see such suffering, and yet it can only end if we refuse to look away.

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