I’m Taylor Radig, and I was an undercover investigator for the national farm animal advocacy group Compassion Over Killing. You may have heard about the investigation I did into the calf ranch, Quanah Cattle Company, in Colorado last year. Working at the facility, I uncovered workers dragging, kicking, throwing and shoving newborn calves. You can see a news story on it here.

This became a national news story because in a strange twist of fate, after bringing the footage to local law enforcement, the Sheriff’s Office retaliated by charging me with animal cruelty for not reporting the abuse in a timely manner(even though it would’ve compromised the investigation to give it over earlier). Thankfully, my charge was dropped and millions of people were made aware of the common place abuses in factory farms around the country. Months later I was recognized as the Whistleblower of the Year by Whistleblower Insider.

I look forward to answering your questions. Please, ask away!

Proof: picture, and see articles above.

Comments: 3693 • Responses: 78  • Date: 

runnerdood685 karma

I've heard about ag-gag laws - can you tell us more about them and what's going on with them?

TaylorRadig887 karma

Thanks for asking this important question!

"Ag-gag" laws as they are coined, are laws pushed by the animal agricultural industry that try to keep people from exposing what is really going on in their facilities by criminalizing undercover investigators.

Some of them stipulate that if someone sees abuse they have to report it immediately or can be charged with animal cruelty themselves. The problem with this law is that although it sounds innocent, it's incredibly deceiving. As investigators, it's important for us to build a case; find out who is involved in the cruelty, how far up management knows about it, and demonstrate with evidence that the abuse isn't isolated incidents of cruelty.

Other forms of these bills prohibit lying on applications, or taking videos without the farmers consent. This last one shuts investigations down completely, because obviously a farmer would never allow an employee to take photos or video.

When these laws are passed, investigators won't go to those states, in fear of being arrested if they do, which prevents animal cruelty and serious food safety issues from being exposed

For many, these laws are not only a threat to the protection of farmed animals, but are also a threat to food safety and an ultimate threat to the public at large.

jimtsurugi80 karma

Some of them stipulate that if someone sees abuse they have to report it immediately or can be charged with animal cruelty themselves.

Is anonymous whistle-blowing ineffective? By that, I mean handing over all your evidence to your organization as an "anonymous insider" so that they may present the evidence to local authorities immediately upon receipt?

TaylorRadig69 karma

Larger organizations have more power than us investigators. We also want to continue doing investigations and the more we get involved in the public the less chance we have in continuing our work

Sophophilic26 karma

There isn't a lot of evidence if you have to alert the authorities after the first wrong thing you see.

TaylorRadig47 karma

This is absolutely correct. The law enforcement we work with are typically in small rural communities, where they know the farmer, and don't even want to prosecute to begin with. We have to gather a lot of evidence for them to even think about prosecuting.

Cuchualainn511 karma

What is the worst incidence of animal abuse you've seen? Thanks for taking the time to do an AMA.

TaylorRadig970 karma

No problem!

Probably the worst was on my first day, when one of my coworkers showed me a young blind calf. He was the smallest calf I had seen, and was so sick he couldn't even stand, and being blind made it even worse. My coworker laughed as he told me about his cloudy blue eyes, then proceed to violently kick the calf in the back over and over again, trying to get him to stand but knew he couldn't. He then decided to pick him up and throw him in a trailer where he landed right on his neck. Another calf was poisoned with iodine and left as he cried in pain(an unusual way for how calves signal pain, which meant he was in A LOT of pain), while my coworker took a break.

Stylmi420 karma

As an undercover investigator, how do you act when you witness these things?

Do you have to blend in and do the whole "Yeah! Fuck animals!" mentality, or do/can you safely tell the people to stop?

TaylorRadig479 karma

I wasn't able to react emotionally without blowing my cover.

I would never encourage the abuse in any way. I just tried to mimic my coworkers and show indifference even if I was dying inside.

Some days it was so horrible I cried for hours after work

Vulpyne182 karma

I can't even imagine the strength of character it takes to go through that and not show it outwardly. What you went through is deeply respected and appreciated! It's important work.

TaylorRadig166 karma

aw thank you so much. All of it was for the animals.

LazyDinosaur20 karma

Have you ever had to be rough with the animals in order to blend in?

TaylorRadig45 karma

I've been asked to be rough, but I found ways to get around it like all investigators do.

When I didn't do it the cruel, fast way I looked lazy to them

mcakez46 karma

I could never do what you do. Thank you for doing it for us.

TaylorRadig41 karma

Aw thanks really sweet. Are you active for animals in other ways in your community?

Stylmi12 karma

What were the people who abused the animals like?

Were they just psychopaths who enjoyed watching animals being abused?

TaylorRadig44 karma

Most aren't psychopaths like many people think. They're typically people who are living in dire poverty and just need a paycheck. Although there is absolutely no excuse for abusing animals, and abusers should be held accountable, the whole factory farming and slaughterhouse industry is set up in a way that doesn't make it hard for people to abuse animals. Workers are given extremely labor intensive jobs, with long 12-14 hour days, without benefits or a way to speak up without being fired or deported.

The workers at Quanah treated me like a daughter and were utterly numb to violence against animals, other than one comment about wanting to save an animal that had died.

Duhya5 karma

It's easy to convince people that you think what they are doing is okay. Just don't question it or show how you feel. Maybe make a joke if you can make one up. Otherwise if you tell them to stop you make it obvious you don't belong.

TaylorRadig4 karma

Investigators have brought concerns to management about animals who were suffering. Typically they have typically been told: "man up" or "just kill it"

We never ever encourage the cruelty, but just do our job within the law.

hurlcarl190 karma

What the fuck. Do factory farms hire serial killers or something?

TaylorRadig292 karma

Typically, these workers are undocumented and just need a paycheck. Though there are workers who abuse animals for fun at these facilities, the abuse as a whole is a systemic problem, not a worker problem.

Ryswick53 karma

Is it not a worker problem because they're just doing what they're instructed to do? Because it's one thing to do your job, and another thing to enjoy torturing animals.

TaylorRadig135 karma

Abuse is not okay in any circumstance and I believe people should be held accountable for that. However, workers are often instructed to work at impossible speeds and are often not given proper equipment. At a calf ranch I worked at, the workers were never even given ramps for the animals, or even pain killers when they punched holes in their ears.

However, there are workers who go above that and sadistically harm animals for fun, which has been some of the worst cruelty investigator have caught

big_onion77 karma

Painkillers for punching holes? You mean putting in ear tags? We don't do that for humans when we pierce ears.

Not saying I agree with abusive practices. My wife and I own a small farm and treat the animals as humanely as possible. We don't tag ears, but I think pain killers for ear tagging is pretty ridiculous.

TaylorRadig66 karma

I'm happy to hear you treat your animals well. As you probably know the holes that are punched in their ears for tagging cut out a significant amount of their cartilage. It isn't just a piercing, but an extremely painful procedure.

The lives of these animals are typically extremely stressful, and the least we can do is make it less painful by providing relief.

exotics95 karma

I would have frigging bawled my eyes out. Hugs to you my dear!

TaylorRadig129 karma

It's hard to see, but it's nothing compared to what these animals go through. Investigators try to keep that in mind and push through the pain because it isn't about us--it's about them.

Mcsquizzy20 karma

I imagine you had to stay undercover, and couldn't just give yourself away right then and there?

Was it hard to stay and document all of these cruelties without intervening until the 'end'?

E: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2pz9sd/i_was_a_female_undercover_investigator_on_factory/cn1cwgt

TaylorRadig19 karma

Absolutely. Some days were so bad I thought I couldn't go back, but then I pulled it together and realized this investigation wasn't about me. It was about the animals that needed me.

It's also hard leaving the animals behind.

MidnightButcher447 karma

Oh actually, just thought of another question. Does doing this AMA, and posting your picture online not compromise future investigations you may go undercover for? Or are you done with the undercover work now?

TaylorRadig829 karma

I unfortunately can't do investigations anymore because my mugshot was publicized so many places.

HiveMindNotMe48 karma

You can still investigate other industries, wait a bit get a wig maybe a prosthetic nose. This guy does it all the time: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%BCnter_Wallraff

TaylorRadig100 karma

Oh wow. Because we gain legal employment, they would recognize my name through a quick google search

gambalore6 karma

Disguises would be tough in this kind of work. I met an undercover animal rights investigator who appeared in a couple of high profile documentary films, but he partially obscured his face throughout the filming. He could change his hairstyle and wear glasses or something but if his full face got out he'd be dead to this kind of work.

TaylorRadig5 karma

I know who you're talking about!

kylekey50 karma

Once you have a successful investigation on a factory farm (especially one that becomes national news), there's pretty much no chance that you'd get another job in the industry without someone finding out your secret; you'll be blacklisted and even if you make it back in, you'd feel constantly afraid of someone finding the name/article. And you have to assume that the employer will spread your name to everyone they can, even if the media didn't report it.

TaylorRadig66 karma

That is actually not necessarily true!

RedHeavenBand95 karma

I'd like to apologize on behalf of Reddit for all those who came into your AMA to tell you how your job works.

TaylorRadig10 karma

haha! thank you

MagikalGoat350 karma

In his book Every Twelve Seconds, Pachirat suggests that his co-workers are not so much monsters as guys in desperate need of work. As any slowing down of the line can result in a loss of job, Pachirat frames the abuses as stemming from the speed of production.

How did you feel about your co-workers? You have answered a question or two that makes them sound like terrible people. Is that the case?

TaylorRadig565 karma

Thank you for this question. I had the privilege of hearing him speak at a conference, and was blow away.

I refer to their abuse as horrible because it was, and I would never want to reduce the horrible nature of their abuse because they were nice to me. At Quanah a couple of my coworkers treated me like a daughter.Other than a couple people I have worked with, they are all extremely nice to humans, but are completely numbed by violence to animals. The people I worked with and other in these industries are typically in dire poverty and just needed a paycheck to help feed their families. Although abusing animals is never okay in any circumstance, many of these workers, including those I worked with, have to get things done at an incredibly face speed or face losing their job. As an undocumented person, getting jobs is extremely difficult in general, which makes them even more likely to conform to whatever standards their company requests. As a whole, I think the animal rights movement need to more actively fight calling convictions against workers as "victories". It further pushes the idea that the problem is with the workers, and not the industry as whole. After investigations, companies like Walmart and Tyson come out saying things like, "Glad we fire those abusive workers, sorry about that," when it is ultimately their fault. As animal activists, when we blame the workers like they do, we do the industries work for them.

SuburbanLegend90 karma

What a terrific and nuanced answer, thanks for the AMA!

TaylorRadig32 karma

haha of course!

me13553 karma

I hadn't heard of you before and really came to this thread expecting buttery drama regarding eating animals, but I have to say, I'm very impressed with your answers. Certainly going to read more into your work based on that answer alone. I'm glad to see someone examine the issue as systemic as opposed to people are bad.

Let me clarify, I'm not saying animal cruelty is acceptable, but I think there's more to it then "bad people."

TaylorRadig47 karma

Aw, thank you.

I think it's important to talk about all the victims in these industries. I hope if you aren't already you will get active in your community in educating others about this abuse

Moos_Mumsy47 karma

What happens in a slaughterhouse isn't quite the same as what happens at the factory the animals live in.

I know that where I live, the pay to work in a slaughterhouse is very good and I think it attracts people who are desperate to support their families. But really, at what cost? In addition to sucking away your soul (if you have one) there's the constant threat of injury. I don't think it's possible to make it to retirement age without being disabled either physically or mentally.

TaylorRadig73 karma

Agreed. The conditions of these farms are horrible for all workers. Many of the workers are undocumented and/or in dire poverty and have no other choice but to work in these facilities.

The workers are also victims of these industries.

AkumaKyoushin325 karma

How do you not knock them the fuck out when you see this shit going on?

TaylorRadig513 karma

It's extremely difficult to keep it together as an investigator. We try to keep our focus on what really matters--the animals. If we loose our cool, the animals suffer and we put ourselves in a huge amount of danger. I would have stages where I really hated human beings, but then was reminded of all of the amazing activists fighting this abuse, that the video I was shooting was going to expose the cruelty, and hopefully get people to go vegetarian/vegan.

It's extremely emotional, but nothing compared to what these animals go through.

Radford11914 karma

When you say you would, "put ourselves in a huge amount of danger", what do you mean?

EDIT: Misquoted

TaylorRadig28 karma

If I busted out crying or start yelling at workers, they will almost know immediately that you're an investigator. These industries know who we are and have even hired people to weed possible investigators out in the application process.

When you're catching people committing acts that could possibly get them fired and/or a felony charge, they aren't going to be nice if they find out you're exposing them

Impmaster82192 karma

Are you vegetarian, or do you feel like meat is okay if the animals are raised in an ethical manner?

TaylorRadig507 karma

I am and also abstain from eggs and dairy. I decided to go vegetarian rather than eating things I found that were "humanely" certified because after my own research I found out that much of these certifications were merely a marketing gimmick, and weren't actually humane. Chickens still have their beaks painful severed, and male chicks are ground alive, and cage-free facilities were still overcrowded in a way that doesn't allow them to act out many of their natural behaviors.

cavasquezesq161 karma

Taylor, I saw you at Yale Law School a couple of months ago. Thank you for all you do. I am a District Leader for the Humane Society of the United States. What do you think is the most important, most effective thing "regular folk" can do to put an end to industrial farming abuse?

TaylorRadig187 karma

Oh awesome! That was a really fun and informative event. I would say their are a few effective things people can do to help animals raised and killed for food.

ONE: Examine how you contribute to the abuse and go vegetarian

The reality of factory farming is that our individual food choices promote this abuse by paying these industries. If we don't want animals to suffer, we need to do our best to not pay for it. *This is more difficult for those living in food deserts that may not have the same access to fresh food

TWO: Get Active for Animals

Although it's so great to be vegetarian or vegan, I hope people go beyond that and get involved in their local groups to start doing activism ( Vegan Outreach, starting campaigns against abusive companies, etc)

VeganTraveler109 karma

What do you think the impact of using Drones over factory farms will be? I like what I've seen on FB lately.

TaylorRadig78 karma

To be honest... I don't think they are going impact much at all. They will catch the environmental problems of factory farming, which will open dialogue with the environmental community, but it is unlikely they will catch any cruelty which is what really moved a lot of people into thinking about more compassionate choices.

alawa91 karma

While you were in the facility did anyone suspect you were an undercover investigator?

TaylorRadig199 karma

Yes. There was nothing I was doing wrong, but on my first day at Quanah, that calf ranch in Colorado, my worker joked about me being an undercover boss, from the TV show Undercover Boss.I think it was because I was a young white female. It continued to be a joke throughout my time there, and at one point workers all made a group joke, asking me where the cameras were.

AdmiralFacepalm78 karma

What companies are the worst perpetrators of animal abuse, if you are legally allowed to provide that information?

TaylorRadig193 karma

There are no companies that are necessarily worse than other, though there are industries that I feel are more cruel than others. The egg industry for me is definitely the worst. Birds are exempt from the animal welfare act making them even more vulnerable to abuse. If you are going to give up one product, let it be eggs.

farmerfranc110 karma

Or you could just get a couple chickens, treat them well and eat their eggs. We don't have to live in a world of absolutes.

Hunterogz154 karma

For most of us, giving up eggs would be more practical than buying, housing, and caring for some chickens.

UmamiSalami126 karma

I know right? Reading the comments of this thread, it's amusing to see what ridiculous lengths people will go to in order to keep animal products in their diet. Apparently it's more convenient to learn how to hunt, keep animals in your backyard, and make phone calls and visits to local farmsteads than it is to go to Trader Joe's and buy a couple of fucking veggie burgers.

TaylorRadig40 karma

I just laughed at this for a minute straight. This needs to be on a shareable image or t-shirt

Chatty_Cats72 karma

How often do you actually find abuse going on at the farms?

TaylorRadig149 karma

Every single time. I wish this was an exaggeration, but it isn't. Every single farm I have been to, and my other investigator friends have been to, there has been abuse.

billy_tables38 karma

Interesting - how are the farms you go to selected? Is it random, or because there’s been reports of abuse, or some other strategy?

TaylorRadig25 karma

There isn't a selection process really. We apply at jobs like anyone else, and sadly don't have to select specific farms because every farm you go to there is cruelty. I wish that was an exaggeration, but it isn't.

Sometime there are brave workers who come forward and tell animal groups about the cruelty and have sent in investigators.

zoemama72 karma

How do you feel about the exploitation and treatment of the immigrants who work on factory fruit and vegetable farms? What about people who traditionally hunt meat or fish for food? ie: First Nation People

TaylorRadig134 karma

Thank you SO much for this question.

The abuse of farm workers in all farming industries is horrific and needs to be addressed. Though there is no excuse for animal abuse, so many of these workers are in horrible conditions that they can't speak up about because of their documentation status.I think the broader animal rights community doesn't do enough alliance building with communities of color that work in these industries. The work of the CIW and Food Empowerment Project is amazing in this area.

As a vegan, I'm not at all wanting to target indigenous communities or communities who live in food deserts and don't have vegan food available. I think the animal protection movement and other vegans need to focus on people who have are privileged enough to have access to plant-based foods, or who don't need to hunt to survive

latenightcabdriving41 karma

Caring about humans and caring about animals are not mutually exclusive activities. We should avoid exploiting both humans and nonhumans, as far as possible and practicable.

TaylorRadig21 karma


jnetelle67 karma

How did you first get involved with Compassion Over Killing?

TaylorRadig83 karma

I worked as an outreach intern, where my main tasks included educating the public about factory farming, working on a campaign to get Subway to have more vegan options, and helping put together events.

jnetelle22 karma

Thanks for replying! :) That's interesting about the Subway campaign. I'll have to look for information about that online.

TaylorRadig13 karma

Please do! COK does amazing work :) I highly recommend going involved

ReadShift8 karma

What things from subway are vegan? I've been trying to figure that out and haven't gotten anywhere!

TaylorRadig10 karma

The veggie delight, and they are coming out with a vegan riblet and blackbean sandwich

mightyferrite66 karma

Thank you for your work!

A lot of my friends and family defensively say 'I get our meat from farmers markets or whole foods so it's ok' when they learn I am vegan. I don't have a whole lot to respond to them, and typically stay away from discussing other people's food intake but so often they are the ones bringing it up.

How would you respond to these types of comments?

TaylorRadig71 karma

Thanks for this question. It's such an important issue!

I think people buy these humanely certified products because they really do want animals to be treated well. The important thing to bring to light is that these animals are still systematically abused. I recommend doing it in a way that your friends or family feel empowered. Start off by saying, "Oh that's awesome you've made steps to ensure the animals are treated better." and continue by explaining that you found out that those certification really were nothing more than a marketing gimmick. Explain that the animals still have their limbs like their beaks, teeth, tails and toes, cut off without any pain relief. They still experience the heart breaking reality of having their babies taken from them and are denied experiencing life on their own terms.

Compassion Over Killing has and is still sueing companies who have been caught using "humane" labels while still abuses their animals.

For more info see here: http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/free-range-organic-meat-myth/

chartreusepoolnoodle56 karma

Thanks for the AMA. You are very brave to be uncovering what the public needs to know.

Animal abuse is standard practice on factory farms because it is more efficient and profitable. I did some research on farm animal welfare in Canada and it seems that everything is regulated internally; the rules are set up and followed (sometimes--and only because it makes better quality "product" and is more marketable) by producers themselves. My questions: who regulates welfare? Is it true that it is not legally animal abuse and the humane society/police has no authority? How can the perpetrators be found guilty and appropriately punished?

TaylorRadig71 karma

I can only speak to the laws in the United States but "welfare" is really up to the industries themselves. The entire factory farm system aims to be self-policed, and have tried to implement laws to make it that way. Animals such as birds, are exempt from the animal welfare act, making their abuses even more cruel. When "acts" of abuse are caught on tape, the perpetrators are only charged if it's illegal. Acts like thumping piglets (slamming their heads into the ground) is legal, and groups like Compassion Over Killing and HSUS can only try to pass laws to prohibit the abuse

JordyVerrill41 karma

I feel like I have PTSD from the maybe 15 minutes total of clips I've seen from the movie Earthlings and other videos. How do you deal with the things you've experienced? I can't imagine physically being there and seeing those things happen.

TaylorRadig76 karma

These images are extremely disturbing (I hope you're okay :( )

A lot of people have asked me this question and it's a tough one. Going undercover has affected me a lot, and has been a hard thing to deal with. Working standard jobs, we perform all the duties of the job, including sending these innocent animals to their deaths, which for me has made me experience a lot of guilt. However, I try to remind myself that if investigators don't go in, the abuse will never be exposed, and people won't understand that this abuse is a systemic problem in this industry as a whole.

It's really hard for others who haven't gone undercover to understand just how bad it is, but I've had the privilege of being able to talk with other former investigators that have given me a lot of support.

Acebulf32 karma

What is your opinion on PETA-sponsored groups destroying medical research labs?

Edit: Sources provided below.

Edit 2: Tl;dr Sources provided, extremists get angry.

TaylorRadig20 karma

I don't think PETA sponsors the illegal destruction of labs, but they have worked with law enforcement to get abusive labs shut down. I completely support that. Animals in labs used for invasive testing probably face the worst abuses, and I really hope one day soon that the medical industry will be more willing to switch to the animal-free alternative out there today

Ohh_Babbayyy6527 karma

If you weren't fighting for animals, what would you be fighting for?

TaylorRadig74 karma

Much of my activism is surrounded by the idea that all oppression matters and we shouldn't try one oppressive out for another.

I think it's important to note that there are small things we can do for other causes in our every day lives. For racism, being a white ally by denouncing racist jokes when they're said. For farm workers, not claiming all vegan food is cruelty-free because of the farm workers who are still abused. Empowering women, reviewing your language around how you speak about women.

However, I've been really passionate about farm worker rights the last year after working with them and seeing their lives and conditions

HoneyBaked26 karma

the Sheriff’s Office retaliated by charging me with animal cruelty for not reporting the abuse in a timely manner

Was there any fallout from this for the Sheriff? Was the Sheriff working at the behest of the farmer(s)?

TaylorRadig13 karma

He had worked in the cattle industry for over 25 years, which gave us reason to why I was charged.

I thought about suing the Sheriff's Office for false prosecution, but Colorado law is extremely complex and all they needed was probable cause to get my mugshot and cite me, not matter how off base.

MidnightButcher26 karma

Did your co-workers at the farm not get suspicious of you, that you weren't abusing animals in any way?

TaylorRadig58 karma

They didn't, I just looked to them like a lazy worker, because kicking and throwing the animals was faster and I didn't want to do that.

Also, because they viewed women as kinder than men, they typically don't think it is as strange that I wouldn't participate in the cruelty.

I_Xertz_Tittynopes20 karma

What do you think about "factory farming" if implemented properly? (Without kicking, throwing, and all that other unnecessary abuse.)

TaylorRadig63 karma

The biggest and most problematic abuses in factory farming are systemic, and aren't the additional abuse animals receive from workers. The issue is that when we raise animals for food, we put our interests above theirs. The animals in these facilities want to live out their lives, and we take away that very basic opportunity for them. In addition, these animals even without this abuse, are still confined so tightly they can't turn around, spread their wings, have their toes and beaks cut off, are castrated without pain relief, and have to endure the sickening event of their babies being taken from them at birth.

It sounds like you care about the treatment of these animals and are against their abuse. I think the best thing you can do is to slowly start adding more compassionate animal-free foods into your diet!

InimitableMe15 karma

The problems do seem to be systemic. Confining animals tightly, cutting off their body parts and castration without pain relief are things I would consider to be abuses, regardless of how commonplace they are in the industry.

If you could start from scratch and design a perfect system in which we raise animals humanely and also eat them, what would that look like?

TaylorRadig11 karma

In all honesty, because I love both people and animals, I wouldn't create a a system where animals are used for food at all.

However, I think in the industry we have now, we need to get rid of things like battery cages and gestation crates.

Meta_Digital2 karma

What about animals such as bison, quail, deer, or others that are not so caught up in factory farms? I rarely see mention of animals outside the industry and wonder if a middle ground could be presented to people who are unwilling (or hostile) to the idea of going completely vegetarian or vegan.

TaylorRadig4 karma

Thanks for this question. I think incremental change is a really good and some times a smart way to transition to a more compassionate diet.

I think those not wanting to go all vegetarian yet, should start not by switching which animal they eat, but by cutting out animal products little by little. It's easier than one would think

exotics17 karma

How can you handle it without totally losing composure when witnessing abuse?

TaylorRadig36 karma

It's extremely difficult to keep it together as an investigator. We try to keep our focus on what really matters--the animals. If we loose our cool, the animals suffer and we put ourselves in a huge amount of danger. I would have stages where I really hated human beings, but then was reminded of all of the amazing activists fighting this abuse, that the video I was shooting was going to expose the cruelty, and hopefully get people to go vegetarian/vegan.

It's extremely emotional, but nothing compared to what these animals go through and the abuse is happening whether I'm there or not.

Tvizz17 karma

What kind of risk is there to someone doing this type of work?

What about the risk to contracted farmers who have had enough and release images and whatnot of the farm.

TaylorRadig22 karma

Thanks for the question.

There is a significant amount of risk and there has been one investigator who has been killed. These industries are already on the look out for us, and know that our work hurts their business, which increases the risks for us.

I certainly hope farmers release this information, but it's rare. Though one farmer did at a Perdue farm recently. If it's their farm, I imagine, nothing would happen other than they would have their contract broken with the company.

funchy14 karma

I am involved in equine rescue and sometimes I find myself at a huge regional livestock auction. They handle everything, not just horses.

My question for you: how do you feel about those who aren't impoverished illegals who are involved in this industry?

Some of the most disturbing behavior I've ever seen was at this livestock auction. These are Americans, not poor. They're usually middle class white men who have choices and chose to do this.

I saw men kicking animals through the sides of a pen for sadistic fun. For example a crowded pen of hogs where a few had snouts sticking out between the bars: one man kicked the shouts as hard as her could mumbling something like "f'ing pig". I can only assume he didn't see me watching?

Another time I stayed after the sale. I was walking around the back of the sale barn while four men ran a small herd of steer to the loading chute. They all ran into the trailer but one who panicked and got stuck in a corner. The men surrounded it and the steer was still panicking trying to climb the pipe corral. One man kept hitting it with an electric cattle prod. One it didn't turn and run to the trailer, he hit it again. And again. And each time the steer facing the corner lunged up. The men laughed. Then they started shocking the steer for fun, a hearty round of laugher each him it jumped upward.

The auction has a long history of abuses. Every sale dead and dying animals are tossed into a dead pile around back. They get complaints about still living animals in that pile, but it takes a lot of phone calls to get anyone to even go look. Every sale I've been to has had lame or emaciated animals. Local law enforcement won't charge owners who drop off the horribly lame or injured animal. I've seen blindblind horses illegally run through the sale. The whole SYSTEM is broken. The people with the money and power are the ones who bring their animals there, run the sale, load their trucks.

These aren't poor immigrants running the factory farms, sales barns, and plants. How do they justify it?

If these people treated a dog this way they'd promptly get an animal cruelty investigator at their door, possibly lose the animal, and possibly lose the animal. When they do it to a pig or cow somehow it's not "abuse"? It's business as usual.

How do you not end up hating people?

TaylorRadig13 karma

Thank you for asking such a great question. I feel that farm workers also victims in this system, however I don't think they should not be held accountable for their abuse. The people I worked with and others in these industries are typically in dire poverty and just needed a paycheck to help feed their families. Although abusing animals is never okay in any circumstance, many of these workers, including those I worked with, have to get things done at an incredibly face speed or face losing their job. As an undocumented person, getting jobs is extremely difficult in general, which makes them even more likely to conform to whatever standards their company requests. As a whole, I think the animal rights movement need to more actively fight calling convictions against workers as "victories". It further pushes the idea that the problem is with the workers, and not the industry as whole. After investigations, companies like Walmart and Tyson come out saying things like, "Glad we fire those abusive workers, sorry about that," when it is ultimately their fault. As animal activists, when we blame the workers like they do, we do the industries work for them.

I worked at an auction too and it was absolutely horrible.

Some days it's really hard not to be upset with humanity, for their complicity in the cruelty, but I know it won't get me anywhere. Empowering people to make better choices and join a movement is far more important.

LivingInTheVoid13 karma

hi! Thank you so much for your work! I can't imagine what it was like for you to endure looking at the torture done while undercover.

My question is that I've been a vegetarian for almost four years now. I've given up eggs and milk but I've yet to be able to give up cheese. I really would like to so I could go full vegan, any pieces of advice on how to give it up?

Thank you again for your work!

the_good_time_mouse8 karma

To add to Vegantraveler's comment, Miyoko's fermented cheese book is really simple and easy to follow, and the recipes are vastly cheaper than the fermented nut cheeses in the store. It's not a substitute, though the umami taste is really strong. All you need is a blender and a dark place :)

TaylorRadig4 karma

I make her cheeses at home. Her brie is the best.

mudcatca10 karma

If you could get the general public to support passing just one law related to factory farms, what would it be?

TaylorRadig20 karma

Putting an end to battery cages hands down.

Asyumara10 karma

Do you still do undercover work? If your work gains a lot of media attention it seems it would make it harder for you to conceal your disguise.

TaylorRadig21 karma

I am no longer doing investigations. Because my mugshot was released internationally, it would be extremely dangerous for me to do investigations again.

Suraj_g10 karma

Hi Taylor...I'm very touched and inspired by your work and would love to work for such cause...where do I start?

TaylorRadig6 karma

That's really sweet. I would find local groups in your area (you can use meetup.com) and get involved that way. What area do you live in? If you're interested you can message me on FB and I can help connect you with someone. :)

If you're interested in being an investigator, you can contact the many groups that do this work like Mercy for Animals, Compassion Over Killing, and PETA.

Mr_Conelrad9 karma

Taylor, first off, amazing job with the work you've done to uncover abuses in the factory farm system. I just finished writing an undergraduate thesis on Whistleblower protections, and had I known about your investigation I would have loved to include it.

One thing I came across in my research was how whistleblowers often face persecution from their former employers. Although the criminal charges by the Sheriff's office were dropped, are you worried about any retaliation from the Quanah Cattle Company? Did you have to sign any non-disclosure agreement when you started working there?

Again, thank you for all the work you've done!

TaylorRadig6 karma

I was never retaliated against by Quanah, thank goodness. They knew though that it would be a loosing battle.

I didn't really sign much of anything. I never even got former training for much of what I was doing. I had to start giving shot to calves, and without any formal training, was just told not to get them in vein or they would die.

RYKAhowRAD8 karma

Hi there. First I'd like to say I can't even imagine how hard it must be to keep your cover in situations like that, if I were ever put in that situation I suspect I would be kidnapping calves and hiding them in my apartment pretty quickly.

Anywho I've been a vegetarian for about 7 years now and while I've always been against animal cruelty as a scientist I've also always been strongly motivated by the issue of sustainability in factory farming/most animal farming (as in its not really sustainable) and I was wondering if you guys address sustainability issues at all/what your opinion is on the sustainability of the industry from an environmental standpoint?

TaylorRadig12 karma

Ha! I definitely would love to have taken some of those calves. I have a lot of guilt for leaving them behind.

The animal agriculture industry is one of the leading polluters really on all fronts. Many animal groups do including PETA, Mercy for Animals, Compassion Over Killing, and others.

In all, if we believe in stopping climate change, we need to seriously consider how animal agriculture plays into it, and be willing to make the appropriate sacrifices to help the environment.

KerSan7 karma

I'm not sure if you're still answering questions, but here goes.

When I try to tell others of the information I have seen about pervasive animal cruelty, I sometimes get the objection that the examples I give (like the Mercy for Animals investigations) are "isolated" ones.

Is this problem truly systemic? If so, how do you defend this assertion?

TaylorRadig10 karma

Happy that you are sharing the investigations. The investigations definitely follow their investigations on social media to see how many people are sharing and what people are saying.

The problem really is systemic, yes. Just the fact that ever single time we enter a facility we caught cruelty is great evidence. These are just the ones we are able to get employed at. I wish there were "good" farms, but there really aren't. I hope that helps

addcream7 karma

Godspeed Taylor. If you get a moment to look at it, I wonder what you think of this website http://www.humaneitarian.org/ It tries to address eating "humanely raised meat."

And, of course, I wonder if you think such a thing is possible?

TaylorRadig7 karma

Thank you! The laws regarding what can be label humane, are so weak that the animals are still raised horribly. Many still have their beaks and toes cut off, male chicks are still ground alive, and animals merely only have to have access to the outdoor in free-range facilities. If we really care about animals, and we have access, we wouldn't eat them.

llieaay4 karma

You are a hero!

You have talked about how it's not the worker, it's the job. Unfortunately, I think that's often the narrative that we hear when investigations break. How do we go about bringing the focus to the actual problem in the national conversation? How can we get you interviewed on the news?

TaylorRadig5 karma

YES, just read the comments. It's heart-breaking the type of violence that folks in the movement want to inflict on these people (rape, torture) and all the racist comments that are sent as well :(.

I think the groups doing these investigations can stop calling the convictions of workers, a victory. They are well intentioned, but it further perpetuates that idea that these are rouge workers; the same message the industry itself puts out.

DashAnimal4 karma

I might be too late on this. And this will probably get lost in the thousands of comments, but thank you for doing what you do. There aren't enough descriptive words I could throw in to show how appreciative I am.

Just wondering how you deep into the investigation you had to go? Did you have to eat meet during the process at work? What did you converse about with coworkers? How do you even mentally prepare yourself from being vegan to actively working and taking the life of animals? How much of a mental toll did it have?

TaylorRadig7 karma

Aw thank you!

At Quanah I didn't have to eat meat, but at other facilities I had to eat other products. Every day though my lunch was vegan, without them ever knowing. Thank you Tofurky!

Our conversations varied really. I've talked about my coworkers families, how insane animal rights activists are, what I did on the weekend, or stranger content that I tried to avoid.

There isn't anything that can preprare you for killing an animal or watching them suffer and die. It's something that haunts all of us. I think for many of us, we tried to see the end goal; that the abuse is happening whether we are there or not and it's better to have someone there filming and handling animals more humanely than how they typically are handled.

It was extremely hard for more when I first got out of investigations. I had nightmares all the time (still do), and it's really hard for me to be around farmed animals without crying. It's gotten a bit better, but still is hard.

Mattspyro3 karma

I appreciate what you have done and believe in.

I was wondering how do you get involved?

Do you work for an organization or was this your own decision to try and investigate these farms?

I would like to help punish these people who are so cruel to animals.

TaylorRadig3 karma

Investigators will team up with an organization like Compassion Over Killing, Mercy for Animals, PETA. They all have legal teams and contract investigators to get jobs at facilities.

If you're interested in doing investigations, I would visiting their websites and send their legal department an email :) Lisa at COK can help.

alphajohnx0 karma

Serious question here, please don't get offended because I'm honestly curious, but why do you care for the animal isn't treated well when they are gonna kill it anyway and turn it into food for us?

TaylorRadig2 karma

Hey! Thanks for your question.

I think everyone is against animals abuse, and because the world isn't going to stop eating animals overnight, it's important to lessen the abuses animals endure. We all want less suffering. This can be seen in why we ask for better conditions in place like prisons, hospitals, and at dog kennels.