Juliet Gellatley (BSc Zoology & Psychology; Dip CNM nutritional therapy; Dip DM direct marketing) is the founder and director of Viva! – a campaigning charity based in Bristol, UK and its sister group, Viva! Poland – www.viva.org.pl.
Even as a young child Juliet was rescuing animals and once secretly adopted a stray cat who gave birth to three kittens in her wardrobe. Later, it was a trip to a mega farm used to showcase factory farming, that turned her vegetarian. While visiting the pig unit, Juliet witnessed the barbaric and cruel conditions these emotionally intelligent animals were forced to live in:
“As a teenager I witnessed the sheer scale of animal suffering – rows upon rows of pregnant pigs confined to cages, gnawing on their metal prisons. There was one particular pig which has stayed with me forever. At the end of a row of sow stalls, there was a large boar who dragged his exhausted body towards me. He looked straight at me, his sad, deep eyes staring into mine. In that moment, I knew I would dedicate my life to saving animals.”
Juliet went vegan in her twenties when she witnessed a male calf being torn away from his mother to be killed as the industry’s trash. She recounted the experience to Vegan Food & Living:
“Four pregnant heifers arrived in the field alongside my garden. One of them unexpectedly gave birth to twins. One little calf died and the other a perfect little bull calf amidst the long grass one sunny evening. I stood and watched as the mother lovingly licked her baby from head to foot, unhurriedly, calmly and with transparent contentment. Then she rose to her feet and gently nudged the little calf to his feet with her muzzle.
The next day, the farmer arrived and scooped the calf into his arms and walked away with him, his mother following behind without any need of tethers, concerned for the welfare of her son. I found out that after just one day, he and his mother were separated as they always are – she to be milked, he to be sent on an exhausting journey to Italy to be confined in a small veal crate. I went vegan.”
At university, Juliet studied Zoology and Psychology (to avoid having to partake in dissection and vivisection) and knew by this point that she would spend her career fighting for animals.
She later studied direct marketing in the evenings to help take the vegan message to the public. This was followed by a three year part time diploma with the CNM, where, in 2008 Juliet became a qualified nutritional therapist.
She used the knowledge for her many talks on the health benefits of veganism but also treated people one-to-one to help them heal through diet.
In 1987, Juliet started working for the Vegetarian Society as its first youth education officer before becoming its head of education then campaigns director, and created the first National Vegetarian Week with the support of Linda McCartney. Her campaign SCREAM!! took the truth about factory farming into the nation’s schools for the first time. The result was a network of youth campaigners across Britain which dramatically increased vegetarianism amongst young people.
By working closely with education authorities, her CHOICE! campaign increased the number of schools offering healthy vegetarian main meals from 13 per cent to 65 per cent within 18 months. She launched and edited the first veggie youth magazine in the UK, Greenscene. After her adult campaign Feeding You the Facts, a survey revealed that vegetarianism in Britain had doubled in one year. She left the Vegetarian Society as director in 1994 and founded Viva!.
Viva! launched on 26 October 1994 from Juliet and Tony Wardle’s then garage in Church Minshull (near Nantwich and Crewe in Cheshire). Tony was Instrumental in helping Juliet found Viva! and at the time was a television writer and presenter and owned a TV production company, Vanson Wardle Productions. He was drawn further into Viva! until he closed his company and became associate director and chief copywriter (and editor of Viva!Life) of Viva!.
The beautiful and kind author, Audrey Eyton, donated £20,000 to the group, and everything was bought with this money – from computers to franking machine – to the all-important first campaign materials. It was make or break with the launch appeal – and fortunately, it was make (a little)!
Viva! launched to a very packed house at the Union Club, Gerrard St, London on 26 October 1994. Media present included MTV, BBC Radio One, Daily Mail, Universal Pictorial Press, Vegetarian Living, Young Telegraph, Everywoman, The Guardian, BBC Veg Good Food, Looks, Just 17, BBC TV (SE/London news), The Independent, Channel 4’s Food File, Smash Hits, as well as Geoff Baker (Paul McCartney’s press agent). Professor Richard Lacey, Michael Mansfield QC, Rose Elliot, Ingrid Newkirk and Benjamin Zephaniah and many others were also there. But Juliet always remembers her mum and dad being present!
The debut campaign was Convert-a-Parent, which did precisely that and helped young people convert their parents to vegetarianism, receiving extensive media coverage. Juliet co-wrote and launched numerous guides on all the main vegan issues, which continue to be updated and a popular resource for vegans, vegetarians and meat reducers today.
As part of The CRATE campaign, marches and rallies for young people carried the issue of live exports to 14 regional cities. They were the AR first rallies specifically for under 19s – where speakers were all children. Half the rallies were covered on regional TV, reaching millions with images of calves being transported to crates in Italy. Juliet sees children as offering the best hope for a more compassionate tomorrow, and so Viva! established a network of 120 trained school speakers who carry the vegan debate into secondary schools across Britain. It also ran very successful campaigns, including SCOFF! (Schools Campaign to Oppose Factory Farming) and ACT! (Animal Campaigns for Teenagers).
To date, one of the most horrific experiences of Juliet’s career was filming inside a UK pig abattoir. However, her efforts proved worthwhile when the footage was shown on national and regional TV. Viva! campaigns against mainstream and religious slaughter and stopped brutal ‘home slaughter’ by persuading DEFRA (then MAFF) to ban it.
One of Viva!’s most successful campaigns has been its opposition to the sale of ‘exotic’ meats in British supermarkets – crocodile, ostrich and kangaroo. One by one it targeted each supermarket and they withdrew from the trade – Tesco, Morrison, Somerfield, Asda, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Booker Cash and Carry. In doing so, Viva! has virtually destroyed the ‘exotic’ meat trade in Britain. Both the ostrich and kangaroo industries acknowledge that Viva!’s campaign was responsible.
As a consequence, Juliet was invited by Australian animal groups to visit Australia and do a media tour where she debated with the kangaroo industry several times. The international TV programme, 60 Minutes, flew Juliet to Australia to make a feature on her campaign to end the massacre of kangaroos and she was given the Australian Wildlife Protection Council’s annual award for outstanding achievement in 1998. In 1999, Juliet won the Daily Mirror’s first Linda McCartney Animal Welfare Award (part of the Pride of Britain awards), nominated and presented by Paul McCartney.
One reason Juliet set up Viva! was to investigate farmed animal cruelty – as almost no one was exposing factory farming in the UK. In December 1999, Juliet launched a campaign against the factory farming of ducks, Ducks out of Water. Viva! was the first group to campaign on this issue, and Juliet filmed on duck farms with the footage used on GMTV and BBC News. Five months later, ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Harrods and Marks & Spencer had removed Barbary meat from debeaked birds and main producers were forced to improve welfare conditions. In 2004, the campaign was relaunched to target Marks & Spencer after filming in their supplier’s farms. After a consumer campaign and a Day of the Ducks (where Viva! supporters held protests outside 200 stores), Juliet and then campaigner, Justin Kerswell, met Marks & Spencer in June 2004; two weeks later the supermarket giant announced the withdrawal of factory farmed duck.
Viva! helped thousands of meat eaters to save their health with its BSE Helpline. During the foot and mouth crisis, Juliet instigated the production of a nationwide door-drop of the It’s Time To Go Veggie flyer (words over a photo of burning cows) – that led to a massive number of requests for free Go Veggie packs. Juliet and Viva! staff travelled across the UK doing demos and photo calls on this issue, and conducted many media interviews on the hypocrisy of farmers, animal cruelty and the way forward.
Juliet later directed a campaign, It’s Time To Go Veggie, to celebrate Viva!’s 10th anniversary. It included the Incredible Veggie Roadshows (all vegan) at venues across the UK and planned to end at Wembley, London in November 2005. However, the Roadshows were so successful, Viva! continued to tour throughout the UK. Its roadshows grew into the national level Viva! Vegan Festivals.
Juliet has spent many harrowing years investigating the UK’s pig farms – filming undercover and researching the industry.
Juliet and Viva! supporters saved some pigs’ bacon with the Babe campaign, linked to the film of the same name. The resulting ongoing campaign, Pig in Hell, exposes the appalling conditions of Britain’s factory farms. The footage was shown worldwide by CNN International and detailed information appeared in various magazines. Viva! also investigated the farrowing crate – where mother pigs are locked in cages for 28 days each time they give birth – exposing major suppliers of supermarkets in the national press.
Other campaigns directed by Juliet include the Dark Side of Dairy, DirtBusters and Dirty Meat (on the illness of animals creating unhealthy meat) and Piggles. Between 2012 and 2014, Juliet directed campaigns to fight cruelty alongside the excellent Justin Kerswell (often working with intrepid and brave investigators) to expose foie gras, pig mutilations, goat farming, dairy cows on Cadbury farms (including a male calf being shot at a day old), the unwanted of the egg industry – the little day old male chicks being crushed or gassed; and with Veronika Charvatova and Justine Butler on White Lies (exposing the impact of dairy on animals and our health).
In 2015, Juliet decided to talk to camera inside factory farms for the first time. She exposed the dreadful state of hens at Bird Bros inside so-called ‘enrichment cages’ (pictured below) and then pigs in mega farms in Wiltshire and Norfolk (pictured above). She launched both under the campaign name, Face Off, which was Viva!’s first investigation footage to go truly viral.
She followed up the success with Face Off Dairy and along with colleagues Lex Rigby and Laura Hellwig, filmed in several dairy farms who supply the biggest global brands.
In 2017, Juliet and Mary Frankland, Director of Dean Farm Sanctuary, teamed up and rescued a sow, Hope Apple Blossom, and her family of piglets from slaughter. Hope’s dance of joy became a viral internet sensation. Viva! and Dean Farm later returned to the same farm and, thanks to donations from Viva! supporters, rescued Britain’s Loneliest Sow – Dotty, who gave birth to five piglets soon after being liberated.
In the same year, Juliet and Viva! began an epic three-year battle with Hogwood Pig Farm in Warwickshire, after receiving a tip-off from locals about the horrific conditions. Viva! investigators visited the farm several times between 2017 and 2019 and eventually, after a hard fought and emotional campaign, both Red Tractor and Tesco dropped Hogwood farm. You can now find out about this campaign in a documentary Hogwood: a modern horror story featuring Jerome Flynn and directed by Tony Wardle. It is available on Amazon Prime.
Juliet directs Viva!Health’s campaigns with wonderful, committed staff Dr Justine Butler (and previously, Amanda Woodvine and Veronika Powell). Campaigns include: Safeguarding Children’s Health, Fishing for Facts, White Lies, Globesity, Have a Heart, The Big D (diabetes and diet) and Break Free (osteoporosis). She organised and was a keynote speaker at the influential White Lies talk in 2006 along with health campaigner, Justine Butler. With Viva!Health staff, she launched a range of fact sheets on health and nutrition issues.
In 2012, Juliet recorded three of her most popular talks:
Why You Don't Need Dairy
Wheat-eaters or Meat-eaters?
Two later talks that attracted live audiences of about 800 on how eating animals destroys wild animals, and Hogwood are here:
The year 2020 brought with it a new threat to humanity: Covid-19.
In response to the pandemic Viva! launched two new campaigns, spearheaded by Juliet with Dr Justine Butler helping with research on 3 in 4 and Veronika Charvatova on Slash the Risk. Its 3 in 4 campaign drew attention to the dangers of zoonotic diseases and urged the government to end factory farming before it ends us.
The Bunker: Will COVID take meat off your plate?
During coronavirus, Juliet was the main guest on many Podcasts including The Bunker, a mainstream political podcast.
Later in the year, Viva! launched its Slash the Risk campaign to place huge billboards in the West Midlands and Bristol to reach 12 million people. One reveals the risk from factory farming and urges people to try Viva!’s new V7 and go vegan for one week; while another urges people to protect themselves from severe Covid symptoms by going vegan.
Juliet recorded a series of explainer videos to answer your FAQs about Coronavirus and pandemics – viewed by over two million within three weeks.
Despite the challenges of Covid-19, Juliet investigated Flat House farm in Leics with colleagues Lex Rigby and Laura Hellwig. Juliet confronts the owner of the mega farm – a place she describes as complete purgatory for pigs.
Juliet decided to launch Viva! in Poland. It was a country that had been hugely restricted in free speech and where vegan organisations had been banned, so the launch of Viva! was met with great excitement. On 27 November 2001, Viva! Poland was born – its debut being Journey to Death, a campaign to end the live export of horses from Poland for meat. It resulted in the number of horses suffering export dropping from 100,000 a year to 30,000 a year with massive public and media support. Tony Wardle researched and wrote the report for the campaign and made a heart breaking video.
Viva! Poland has grown under the excellent direction of Cezary Wyzynski, into the largest animal rights group in Poland with major campaigns against fur, vivisection, animals in captivity, carriage horses and factory farming. We – of course – are at the forefront of promoting veganism. Viva! Poland also runs an animal sanctuary near Warsaw with over 200 animals.
Juliet co-authored the widely acclaimed book The Silent Ark with Tony Wardle – the first book to reveal the importance of vegetarian diets in protecting the world’s environment, its animals and people. It was published in 1996 by Thorsons.
She is also author of the Livewire Guide to Going, Being and Staying Veggie, an extremely popular book on the vegetarian issues aimed at young people, and Born to be Wild, a call to end all animal cruelty and why animals matter. Both were published by the Women’s Press.
Juliet has also authored or co-authored several guides such as The Soya Story, Vegetarian & Vegan Mother & Baby Guide, Why You Don’t Need Dairy, Healthy Vegan Kids, Nutrition in a Nutshell, Murder, She Wrote and Planet on a Plate. And reports such as Ducks out of Water, Pig in Hell, Going for the Kill (religious slaughter), Nowhere to Hide (ostrich farming), Under Fire (kangaroos killed for meat and skin) and Nanny State (dairy goat farming). See all our Guides and Reports.
Juliet continues to direct all aspects of Viva!, working with an incredible staff team, as well as write features, give public talks at many regional and national events, organise various fundraising events and dinners. And – well out of her comfort zone! – walked 25 miles and climbed three mountains and later swam a mile in Lake Windermere – for Viva! of course
In this open and candid conversation, they talk about her childhood, what led Juliet to become the founder of Viva and the future of intensive animal farming.
It’s World Vegan Day so what better time to meet the boss of vegan campaign group Viva! the magnificent Juliet Gellatley.
Award-winning animal-rights activist and Founder of vegan charity Viva! Juliet Gellatley is the latest to feature on Plant Based News Podcast.
Jerome Flynn and Juliet Gellatley promote the launch of HOGWOOD: a modern horror story
Here Juliet is interviewed by Sky News which has a 26 million weekly reach and distributes radio soundbites to almost every commercial radio station in the UK.
Juliet Gellatley debates veganism on BBC Sunday Morning Live
Juliet explains why veganism is better for the animals, the planet and our health in a live panel discussion, joined by Dale Vince and Tim Shieff.
Dairy Debunked in Under 5 Minutes
Animal Emergency: Facing up to what our diet means for all life
The Origins of the Coronavirus Explained in 1 Minute
BBC Radio: Juliet Gellatley takes on the British pig industry
BBC One: Is Meat a Moral Issue?
VeganTV interviews Juliet in 2010