Paul McCartney once famously said 'If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be vegetarians'... but of course they don't, and most people remain unaware of the lives and deaths of animals raised for food. But now all that is changing with Animal Equality becoming the first animal protection group to transport people inside factory farms and slaughterhouses via virtual reality technology.
This week we launched our iAnimal project, a virtual reality experience filmed over the past 18 months inside pig farms in the UK, Germany and Italy as well as a slaughterhouse in Spain. In all of these countries, and most of the western world, the majority of pigs killed for meat are intensively reared inside barren, filthy factory farm sheds with breeding sows confined to tiny farrowing crates for weeks at a time when they give birth--a sight that moved Downton Abbey actor, Peter Egan to tears as he narrated the film.
'To watch a poor sow, locked in a cage, unable to move or turn around, in a facility housing many others... a breeding facility. Lying in her own waste, unable to enjoy contact with her piglets other than by suckling them is both harrowing and heartbreaking. The experience places you in the facility, it is unforgettable.' Peter Egan
The practices that take place inside factory farms and slaughterhouses are deliberately kept hidden from the public. Animal Equality believes people have the right to know what happens in modern farms and slaughterhouses so that consumers can make informed decisions about the food they buy. Now, through our cutting-edge iAnimal project, we can open up these secretive, sinister worlds and allow everyone to experience first hand how farmed animals live - and die.
Through the lenses of the virtual reality headset, viewers feel that they are inside the farm and slaughterhouse, trapped alongside all the other animals, and sharing their fate. You stand next to a mother pig while she gives birth for the sixth time to piglets who will soon be taken away from her. You experience the extreme confinement of the farrowing crates. You witness the daily suffering that takes place inside a pig farm. You are right there when they take their last breath.
It is a powerful experience, an intimate experience, and one that moves viewers very deeply.
'I have never seen anything as shocking as this in my life. It's devastating, and completely inhumane. Virtual reality enabled me to experience, close up, for just a few minutes, the horror of the short lives of factory farmed animals, to see what they see, to get a real sense of how they live. It has shocked me deeply, and it has strengthened my resolve to help them.' Peter Egan
Over the past 20 years I have filmed inside countless factory farms and I have always felt that if I could only take people there - into the farms - so they can see how animals are treated like mere machines, people would stop eating them. Virtual reality has now made this possible and we intend to bring this experience to as many people as we can. I have no doubt that it will change, and save, lives.
Over the spring and summer we will be touring the country with iAnimal, visiting town centres and university campuses to share it with as many people as possible. iAnimal is also available to everyone on www.iAnimal.uk where you can watch the 360° film and take a virtual tour. Do you dare to watch it and see what the meat industry is hiding from you?