We made HOGWOOD to explore the reasons behind factory farming and expose the negligence and inaction by government bodies and corporations alike. It follows the brave fight to expose the truth and change the world.
SARX: Juliet Gellatley, founder & director of Viva!, discusses her passion for veganism, the production of the new documentary HOGWOOD: A Modern Horror Story and how Christians can play an active role in animal advocacy.
Tell us about yourself and when you became concerned with animal issues.
I tried to rescue animals as a little girl and my mum enjoyed reminding me of when a stray cat I secretly adopted, gave birth to three kittens in my wardrobe. My mum says I always fought for the underdog. I can’t bear unfairness – and it’s a remarkably unfair world! I think I was a born campaigner, with an inherent optimism that the world can be changed…
Tell us about HOGWOOD: A Modern Horror Story and what inspired you to produce it.
Since 2017, Viva! have recorded a catalogue of cruelty at Hogwood pig farm in Warwickshire, including extreme overcrowding; routine mutilations; cruel farrowing crates where mother pigs and their babies are in metal contraptions; sick and dying pigs abandoned in gangways; the dead left to rot amongst the living; painful lacerations from brutal assaults and live cannibalism.
We discovered that this mega-farm supplied the nation’s largest retailer, Tesco and was Red Tractor approved. Despite Tesco’s attempts to reassure its customers that they take animal welfare ‘extremely seriously’ and that they expect producers to meet ‘stringent, industry-leading requirements’, the pain and suffering continued. They would not drop Hogwood and stated that they would work with the farm to improve conditions.
Despite the farm having become like Fort Knox, we went back in 2018 to test these claims. We were confronted with scenes of abject cruelty. When we found a sow slumped in a narrow passage as three pigs, their snouts smeared with blood, took turns to gnaw at her hind legs, I stopped the investigation to call the police and a vet. Again, Tesco and Red Tractor defended the farm—as did the government.
Determined to never give up on the Hogwood pigs, we returned in 2019, this time with hidden cameras. We released shocking footage of pigs screeching in terror as farm workers kicked them, slammed gates on them and hit them with metal rods. Embarrassed by our third expose, Tesco dropped Hogwood, followed by Red Tractor.
I was a passionate teenager and when I found out about vivisection I felt desperate. One of the first films I watched was Britches, about a little monkey whose eye lids were crudely stitched up in a maternal deprivation experiment. I found it devastating and became outspoken and probably a pain in the backside! I’d do all I could to make people watch that film and others; bribery, corruption, anything! I used to sticker meat at home “WARNING: this product contains a dead animal” and moved on to supermarkets. I found it puzzling and upsetting that others simply didn’t feel the same depth of emotion about animal cruelty.
I did a degree in zoology, and switched to zoology with psychology to avoid dissection and vivisection. I was absolutely focused – I had to save animals for my ‘career’. In terms of sheer scale, by far the most animals are exploited and killed globally for meat, fish, eggs and dairy. The best way to save animals was to persuade, cajole, nudge and help people go vegan and move towards that goal.
I decided to make a documentary because the British public didn’t know how shockingly low welfare and hygiene standards are in British factory farms, and how – even when you expose severe cruelty – retailers, farming bodies, the government and Red Tractor close ranks until they are forced to act. Worse still, the law is so weak that farms are very rarely prosecuted.
We made HOGWOOD: A Modern Horror Story to explore the reasons behind factory farming and expose the negligence and inaction by government bodies and corporations alike. It highlights how meat pollutes our planet and puts us at risk from future pandemics and disease outbreak. It follows the brave fight to expose the truth and change the world.
The presenter is Jerome Flynn, best known for his role as Bronn in Game of Thrones. His narrative is intertwined with undercover footage and interviews with investigators and activists representing Viva!. The film goes onto feature interviews with a livestock vet speaking out about her horrific on-the-job experiences for the first time. It concludes with expert comment from public health expert, Dr Josh Cullimore and Oxford University researcher Joseph Poore…
In what ways can Christians play an active role in standing up to the animal suffering you helped expose?
People of faith can all help end animal cruelty by taking responsibility as both individuals and community members. Viva! has investigated most of the major players in the animal agricultural industry and the same neglect and abuse rear their ugly heads each time. As HOGWOOD the movie shows, we can’t rely on government or retailers to protect animals – it is up to us. Fortunately, the power is in our hands as we hold the purse strings. By choosing vegan we make a massive difference. The change is tangible.
All national restaurant chains now offer decent vegan options – and many like Wagamama, Yo Sushi, Las Iguanas and Pizza Express have entire vegan menus. Supermarkets are competing with each other to provide the best vegan options. Churches, theological colleges, Christian charities and other faith groups can follow suit in choosing to serve delicious vegan meals and refreshments at their gatherings. By buying kind, we are making the choice to end factory farming – before it ends us. SOURCE…