On 2 January 2019, Channel 4 Dispatches aired a documentary called The Truth About Vegans.
In the documentary, Dispatches made several allegations about Viva! and our investigation of Hogwood Farm.
Viva! agreed to be interviewed on the condition that we could film the entire interview to show if our comments were taken out of context; however because Dispatches refused, we declined to be interviewed as it was clear the producers had a pre-determined agenda. When Dispatches contacted us, the bulk of production had already been completed and Viva! had been positioned as vegan extremists.
This is the real truth about vegans:
- The owner of Hogwood Farm has never been targeted by Viva!. – we are entirely peaceful and do not advocate violence. We have never targeted or harassed individual farmers. In contrast, we regularly receive threats and a supporter was targeted at a Hogwood vigil when a dismembered fox’s tail was pinned to their windscreen with a threatening note. The pig skull shown in the documentary came from local woodland, where the owner of Hogwood Farm had been dumping masses of pig bodies and leaving them to rot. The programme also did not explain that the vigils that Viva! has attended always took place opposite the factory farm, not the owner’s home.
- We strongly believe the public has a right to see what is happening inside intensive factory farms. Our campaign has always been in the public interest; showing the realities behind misleading labelling on animal products and powerful marketing campaigns by the animal agriculture industry. It is only by revealing the truth that the public have become aware of large scale legalised animal cruelty and widespread abuse of antibiotics and the urgent need for reform.
- The RSPCA confirmed multiple times, including on social media and in letters to our supporters, that they do not endorse the low welfare conditions on Hogwood Farm. In one letter they state: “… we do not endorse the low welfare conditions these pigs were kept in and would encourage Tesco to improve standards across the farms which supply them.” The documentary mentions inspections ‘approving’ the farm – we assume these are by Red Tractor, the industry marketing scheme and the Animal & Plant Health Agency who are both well known for approving appallingly low standards of animal welfare.
- Many conditions on Hogwood Farm are indeed legal. The low welfare conditions on the farm were precisely what we wanted to expose. Hogwood is not a small family farm, it is a mega intensive factory farm which can hold 16,000 pigs. The purpose of this campaign was to highlight how horrendous the legal standards of UK farming are and to show Tesco and their customers what they are buying into.
- Our investigation videos are truthful and accurate. When filming our investigations, it is our policy to pan out and show the scale of animal suffering. We will always focus on individual animals as it is important to tell their individual stories, but we always balance this by filming their environment as this gives context. Please see our FaceOff investigations at www.viva.org.uk/faceoff to see how we reveal not just individual animals but also their living conditions.Over the last 20 years and more, Viva! has built a reputation for accurate and professional undercover investigations which have been reported in almost every major newspaper, often attracting double page spreads. They include the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Independent, Sun and others.
Unsurprisingly, Dispatches did not contact us before approaching the owner of Hogwood Farm, interviewing a representative from the National Farmers’ Union and contacting a supposedly independent vet – who has been working in the industry for 50 years.
If Dispatches had contacted us earlier in the production of their documentary, prior to agreeing an unfair and biased portrayal of veganism, we would have supplied evidence to disprove all allegations and also to show how the owner of Hogwood has distorted the truth.
Viva! is at the forefront of showing how animals in Britain’s factory farms are treated. We share a positive and inclusive message, and help people on their journey of compassion. Hogwood is just one example of how mega pig farm – one which supplies a national supermarket chain and carries the Red Tractor seal of approval – treats animals. Tragically, farmed animals are given almost no legal protection.
How you can help
Help us take a stand and submit a complaint to Channel 4 and Ofcom.
You can either submit an online complaint on the Channel 4 website or email the Head of News & Current Affairs.
Contact Channel 4: www.channel4.com/4viewers/contact-us
Contact Dorothy Byrne, Head of News & Current Affairs: email@example.com
Contact Ofcom (The complaint to Ofcom must not exceed 1500 characters): https://ofcomforms.secure.force.com/formentry/SitesFormCSLEStandardsComplaints
Support for our work helps us keep investigating animal cruelty and bringing the truth to the British public. We continue to fight for a better world for animals.