I document animals in factory farms, puppy mills, bull fights, zoos, fur farms, at slaughter, in animal fairs, after they have been rescued, and more. I am not always invited in and I always have to leave the animals behind. I have photographed humans' complex relationship with animals in over fifty countries for fifteen years and my images have been published by media outlets around the world and used in hundreds of animal rights campaigns. I founded We Animals and co-founded the Unbound Project and am releasing a book focusing on captive animals in June 2017.

Proof: https://twitter.com/WeAnimals/status/848283912711352320

Thanks for chatting everyone, this was great! I've wrapped up the AMA now but am happy to stop by later and answer any more burning questions. My best to you all!

Comments: 330 • Responses: 71  • Date: 

stonewallb77 karma

Jo-Anne, do you view lab-produced meat (via culture tissue sample, cloning, etc) as a viable ethical alternative to slaughtered animal meat? As a vegetarian who gravitates around bio-ethics issues, the advances here have given me some hope that factory farming could someday become obsolete. I really hope so, anyway.

Edit: a name. Fuck.

joannemcarthur131 karma

I'm all about supporting lab-grown meats. Memphis meats and the Good Food Institute and others have my full support!

joannemcarthur67 karma

Ok, time to sign off! I want to do that thing we're not supposed to do on AMA which is plug our work or projects in some cheesy sales-y way. So, um... no big deal, but I have this HUGE new archive, a compilation of years of work in one handy place, a searchable database available for free to anyone helping animals. Spread the word. Use it. Take part. The animals need us. They need to be seen. Their suffering needs to end. www.weanimalsarchive.org This is my gift to animal advocates and to animals. Thanks for helping me to help them.

LJE53652 karma

Can you tells us about an uplifting experience you've had on one of your trips? I see a lot of people asking about how you cope with the difficult things you see on your investigations, but what keeps you going? Do you have a favourite story you try to remember on the harder days?

joannemcarthur109 karma

I often remember the sweetness and forgiveness animals demonstrate. Ron the chimp, who is on the cover of the We Animals book, was kept in a 5x5x7 foot cage suspended above the floor for most of his life before being rescued by Save the Chimps. He was such a lovely and gentle guy. His story is here: https://www.amazon.com/We-Animals-Jo-Anne-McArthur/dp/159056426X/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377030078&sr=1-6&keywords=we+animals

I've met bears who were kept in "crush cages" for years before being rescued, bears who have had their paws cut off to make bear paw soup, and yet after their rescue (the lucky few), they are kind to humans. Pretty special!!! I do try to focus on the good happening out there. There were 17 foxes rescued from a fur farm in Poland just the other day. I have a big, beautiful, positive project called Unbound, w/ my co-author Keri Cronin about women on the front lines of animal advocacy. www.unboundproject.org

joannemcarthur76 karma

Also, about "what keeps me going". Being able to contribute to the change. However tiny my contributions, it's better than doing nothing. I'm extremely motivated to contributing in any way I can to end animal suffering

Kelsiee0825 karma

Beautiful!! Excuse me for contributing...On the topic of bears, what do you think of the legalization of hunting bears in hibernation ?

joannemcarthur76 karma

I can't believe that's even a thing. I just can't with that one.

joannemcarthur39 karma

I can't believe on one's asked me what my favourite food is! Isn't that important? ;)

Kelsiee0827 karma

what is your favourite food? ;P also best advice on how to maintain a vegan diet and get all of the nutrients needed?

joannemcarthur70 karma

Anything with pesto is my favourite food :) And kale caesar salad.

I love that the bookstores and blogs and the cyberworld are now overflowing with information about delicious, healthy, vegan food. My personal, non-medical advice is to just eat a variety of vegan foods. Bright, healthy, fresh, dense, bean-y, nut-y, fruit-y, carb-y, tasty, etc. I also take supplemental vitamins, but probably everybody should (herbivore or carnivore).

medicaustik37 karma

Hey Jo,

Thanks for what you do. It makes a difference. Work like yours led me to veganism.

What do you think we can do to combat the "out of sight, out of mind" type people who refuse to face the violent videos and photos? You know the type, the type who says "Oh I can't look at those, they make me so sad." and then proceed to have a nice meat dinner as if there is no major cognitive breakdown occurring.

Also, what if you were like, trapped on a desert island, and it was just you and your dog, and you had to either eat the dog or die, would you still be vegan?!

joannemcarthur45 karma

Hahahaha! The desert island question. Amazing :) Yeah, I would never eat my dog, but then again I never really have to confront this question or my ethics around b/c this scenario will never happen! And it won't happen to any other vegans either :)

As for the cognitive dissonance we see everywhere, every day. I don't blame people for not wanting to "face" the images, my images, and all the videos out there. It's horrifying and confronting. To face animal cruelty is to face our complicity in it, therefore face our inconsistencies ("I love animals" / "I'd never hurt an animal"), and generally we don't want to do that. As for how many of us bury our heads in the sand b/c "meat tastes good"...it's sad, and frustrating, but I don't focus too much on convincing those who don't want to be convinced or who are not ready to talk about it. If they've seen the images, at least a seed has been planted. Maybe that person digging in to their steak will make some changes down the road, especially as this conversation about AR (and health and environment) becomes more prevalent.

medicaustik15 karma



I'm not bitter about the amount of silly questions I get about being vegan.

joannemcarthur21 karma

:) :)

Seriously, though: where do you get your protein?


breegaudette34 karma

Hey Jo. Have you found that after years of doing this work, your faith in humanity has increased or decreased, in general?

joannemcarthur112 karma

Hey Bree! Yeah, that's super complex, isn't it? We as a species are a big problem for this earth. We've damaged it almost beyond repair, and we've killed off many species, and we torture billions. My heart hurts a lot, as I see and confront and think about these problems every single day. However, I like people :) We can be compassionate. We need to be better educated, and we need to be inspired to act as good people, good stewards. I try to cultivate the goodness in people and I am not alone in doing so. I do get disheartened at how things are going here on planet earth, but, I just do my best. I take one step at a time, one foot in front of the other, every day, doing my best to contribute to education, awareness, and change. And I have to be happy with that. Happiness is an important ingredient in activism and growth and forward movement.

breegaudette17 karma

Mhm, I hear you. Is there one particular activity or space that you put yourself in that re-balances you, if you're ever feeling overwhelmed? I'm still looking for mine. :)

joannemcarthur37 karma

I like reading, and being at sanctuaries. My dog was my home and my salve but he passed away 8 months ago. It's been rough. I really like chilling at sanctuaries though :)

joannemcarthur22 karma

Running and exercise also really helps me.

Yerok-The-Warrior30 karma

What do you think about the work of Temple Grandin as it pertains to the humane treatment of slaughter animals?

joannemcarthur47 karma

Well, she's put a lot of effort into making slaughter a little less completely and utterly terrible. But I do wish that, seeing as she professes to understand animals (and I believe her), that she would focus on asking us to end slaughter. But that's not her mandate. She eats animals. She makes a lot of money at what she does.

Yerok-The-Warrior14 karma

Thank you for your reply.

As a meat eater myself, I really do look forward to a day when lab-grown meat becomes a viable option.

joannemcarthur63 karma


In the mean time, there a lots of tasty plant-based foods out there! Dig in :)

joannemcarthur22 karma

Hi there! I'm looking forward to answering your questions about photography and animal rights, or, well, about "anything" :)

Kelsiee0820 karma

Hi Jo! As an aspiring animals rights and conservation photographer...I was just wondering, How did you get started into your career? By that I mean what kind of steps did you take towards your success and what tips and tricks would you recommend for anyone inspired by you and this career?

joannemcarthur21 karma

Hey there. I answered this to an extent in the question from "slowbroadable", but if I can add: just jump in to as much work as you can. Take a lot of photos. You can only improve if you're shooting a lot, and studying what other good photographers have done. You also don't need to go far to photograph animal issues. There are stories to photograph everywhere, in every country.

melflaelff20 karma

Hi Jo! I just wanted to give you an internet hug and say thank you! You are doing amazing, difficult work that not many could do. Do you feel like society is becoming more aware of animal welfare?

joannemcarthur30 karma

Yes, it's become more aware. There's more humane education in schools. More media coverage of animal issues. There's a growing acceptance that these issues are important. The field of ethology has taken a strong foothold and those scientists are making great contributions. We now have animal rights lawyers, vegan chefs, all sorts of people using their skills and knowledge to make the world a better place for animals. We need to employ more of our resources to keep things headed in this direction.

joannemcarthur19 karma

Wow, 2 1/4 hours of questions. This flew by. I'll wrap up in a few moments....

Kelsiee0817 karma

What kind of things of things do you do to physically and mentally prepare yourself for what you will see on an excursion? What is it like having to leave he animals there and not be able to help them at that time ? Also, have you shut down any places/factory farms for their treatment of animals in your pictures?

joannemcarthur37 karma

Yes, some places have closed because of the investigative work I've done, or other investigators have done. Investigative work is necessary, unfortunately. A lot of the cruelty happening out there is perfectly legal. We need to show it and see it, not just when farms might have an open-door visitor day, when everything is clean. Two of the three farms I visited in this gallery were closed due to the investigative work we did. Photographers are often looking for their unique story. I found mine when I realized I could combine my passions: my love of photography, with my concern for animals. That was over 15 years ago. I could make the lives of animals visible, thus contributing to raising awareness and creating change, when it comes to animal cruelty.

I'm not sure how one really can mentally prepare ones self for seeing cruelty. You have to stay professional and do the work, do the best work you can, because you might not get another opportunity.

Kelsiee089 karma

That is Great that you had shut some down! What a wonderful feeling it must have been. What kind of investigative work do you and your team do? How do you find the places that are "off the grid" ?

joannemcarthur17 karma

About finding places to visit, to document, google earth is the friend of many an investigator! Also, sometimes you just have to show up at a place. Which I realize can be costly, and not fruitful. When we arrived in Laos looking for the macaque farms, we had no leads. We had to just start talking with people.

Kelsiee085 karma

Did you ever find that some people were not willing to help locating these places in fear of getting in trouble with the authorities ?

joannemcarthur10 karma

Nope. Well, I mean a lot of people just don't get involved at all b/c of fear. I don't work with those people though! From country to country, there's always a good group of investigators to work with, who will get things in place, get a security team together, etc.

joannemcarthur13 karma

You can see thousands of my images at www.weanimalsarchive.org They were shot in around 50 countries. You'll get an idea of the investigative work I've done!

joannemcarthur17 karma

Thanks for the chats everyone. I'm signing off now. My best to you all!

Slowbroable17 karma

A pretty obvious biased question incoming! How would someone with no college degree get into working for animal welfare full-time?

Being incredibly inspired by people like David Attenborough I've just decided to complete my high school education in the age of 21 because I've finally realized what I wanna do. Being a part of actively protecting animals. But in the shocking amounts of educational paths to walk it's hard to know where to start!

Being a photographer I'm sure you've meet a lot of people who got into this from all kinds of straits of life, what would you recommend? Thanks for doing this AMA, can't wait to read your book (and I hope you'll show up to talk about your project on next years Nordic Light in Kristiansund, Norway)!

joannemcarthur21 karma

Hey! All of my training was very hands on. I interned for anyone I could. Learned the trade of photography by watching and helping. I volunteered for everything. Just immersed myself in photography and the "how to's". I also volunteered with animal groups doing interesting work. It took a long time for this animal work to be visible or sustaining. We always have to work really hard to get a footing. I'm so happy to see that more and more people are taking up the camera, or using their skills, whatever they may be, to make the world a better place for animals. That what I often tell people: figure out what you love to do, and find a way a way to do that out in the world. If there is a will there is a way! You don't necessarily need to go to school to do it, either. Such was the case for me. I did get degrees in English Lit and Human Geography, but not photography.

Slowbroable7 karma

Thank you, great answer! I guess I better log off the computer and start gettin' active, huh..?

joannemcarthur27 karma

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back — concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:

that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.“

  • quote attributed to Goethe

barn0wl2914 karma

Hi Jo! First of all thanks for everything you do for the animals! you are an inspiration. My question is, when and why did you get involved with animal rights?

joannemcarthur23 karma

Photographers are often looking for their unique story. I found mine when I realized I could combine my passions: my love of photography, with my concern for animals. That was over 15 years ago. I could make the lives of animals visible, thus contributing to raising awareness and creating change, when it comes to animal cruelty. I got so heavily involved in animal rights as well because I saw that there were so few people taking it up. They have so few defenders.

jolg4210 karma

Hi :) I discovered your (great) work not too long ago. Do you know other people that are doing that too?

joannemcarthur25 karma

More and more people are taking up the camera (both stills and video, and with drones!) to document animal cruelty. Thank goodness! When this work is done well, it opens up new audiences. We're seeing these stories and these photos going mainstream, finally. So, yes, I know lots of other people doing this work; I meet them in different countries all the time. We need them quite badly! It's also good to see when non-AR photographers take up the camera to document animal abuse. It shows that it's not just "the bleeding hearts" or whatever label they want to put on us. Animal cruelty is a serious, legit, terrible, widespread issue. We need to see it, we need to cover it.

joannemcarthur17 karma

The We Animals team and I actually interviewed a whole bunch of animal rights photographers, or photographers who have covered animal issues. You can find those here: http://weanimals.org/blog?entry=244

joannemcarthur14 karma

They are people like Jan van Ijken (Holland), Tamara Keneally (Australia), Patrick Brown (Thailand), Shannon Johnstone (USA), Timo Stammberger (Germany)

thurn_und_taxis10 karma

Hey Jo,

Thanks for the work that you do. I'm wondering, what are your thoughts on our obligation to animals like insects, crustaceans, and other "simpler" life forms? Obviously unnecessary cruelty to any life form is wrong, but do we need to treat lobsters (for example) with the same respect and care as bears or elephants?

I don't have my own answer to this, by the way - just curious to hear your point of view.

joannemcarthur38 karma

Oh, lobsters! They are lovely, complex creatures, they definitely deserve our consideration as well. They often mate for life. It's been documented that they "hold hands" with one another. Er, claws. I'd recommend the book "What a Fish Knows" by Jonathan Balcombe. As for killing the "less intellectually involved" animals, well, they still have a reason for being here, they are part of the ecosystem, they serve a purpose, not only to the biosphere for to themselves. They too want to be alive. Few animals commit suicide (ok maybe moths?); life wants life. I say, just live and let live. We don't know what that insect is thinking, what it wants to do, what its plans are. Best to just let animals do their thing.

joannemcarthur16 karma

goblueM11 karma

They often mate for life.

Please do not perpetuate this myth popularized by Friends. It is demonstrably untrue.

I highly suggest reading Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson. Fantastic book.



joannemcarthur2 karma

Interesting. Thanks!

morecilantro10 karma

What books / documentaries / podcasts / activists / etc. in the vegan movement would you recommend?

Also I love you and the work you do! 💚

joannemcarthur23 karma

Your handle is awesome. #allthecilantro #ilovecilantro

Actually I have a project which features women on the front lines of animal advocacy. The Unbound Project. www.unboundproject.org and we have an fb page. I hope you'll check it out!

I loved the films Blackfish and Cowspiracy, and of course I will mention the one that I'm in, The Ghosts in Our Machine!

moistthundercunt8 karma

What is your opinion on PETA and the way they go to extremes such as claiming shearing sheep is cruel or having peoples animals put down?

joannemcarthur10 karma

I think there's a lot of misinformation out there about PETA euthanizing animals, or why they'd do it or advocate that. It'd be best if you looked at a statement from them or find an article by a reputable source. Shearing sheep is actually a scary thing for sheep. If you've witnessed it, you've seen that it's done quickly, they are tossed around a lot, they really get manhandled and they get a lot of nicks on their skin. Overall it's not a nice procedure for them.

moistthundercunt20 karma

I've lived on a farm and most of my extended family own farms. I've seen enough sheep sheared that if i tried to count I would probably fall asleep. The sheep don't get tossed around or manhandled any worse than a baby getting a diaper change. As far as nicks on their skin goes this is pretty rare and certainly doesnt leave the sheep covered in blood. Would you agree that maybe if there are issues they are with specific farms and maybe the industry as a whole shouldnt be punished but only the farms that are proven to do wrong?

Either way shearing is much more humane than the alternative, letting the sheep overheat and die.

joannemcarthur22 karma

Sheep definitely need to be shorn and it can be done gently, indeed. For sure, some farms are worse than others, to animals. And I've seen a lot of farmers who are really proud of their animals, and they have a decent life until they go to their deaths. I think we don't need to put animals what we put them through. Whether it's for food, fur, wool, medical testing. There are other ways of eating, keeping ourselves warm. As you know, most animals on farms have no autonomy. And all go to their deaths prematurely. I love the mission statement from Edgar's Mission sanctuary: If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others, why wouldn't we?

gorgeousaurus-9 karma

Let's please not forget that PETA funnels money to ALF, a domestic terrorist organization

joannemcarthur22 karma

Do you have some special intel on that PETA information? Careful! :) It's interesting that liberators, and by extension, investigators, are deemed terrorists, when they have never hurt anyone, and yet billions of animals are getting killed by us, and that's legal. Ag-gag has come to the US and it is a growing concern in other countries as well. People who want to document the mistreatment of animals should not be penalized. Cruelty needs to be seen so that it can be exposed and so that things can change; so that laws can change, so that there's more accountability.

ZeroSternritter178 karma

Do you have any pets ?

joannemcarthur21 karma

I've rescued animals since I was a kid and have always shared my home with rescued/adopted birds, rodents, foster kittens, and my beloved dog Samson. Sam died 8 months ago. Right now I don't have a house full or room mates like I usually do, so I can't readopt b/c I'm on the road about 8-9 months a year. The house doesn't quite feel like a home without being able to care for them, but, it is what it is for now.

cinnamontheo7 karma

Hi Jo! As someone who takes animal rights and welfare very seriously and close to heart, I realised that with such I couldn't not be vegan! And I have loved every second of such and wouldn't go back. Are you a vegan yourself? And if so how has this affected your work? Thank you!

joannemcarthur30 karma

Good work! I love being vegan as well. I became vegan April 1st 2003. That was my first day as an intern at Farm Sanctuary. You have to, while interning, out of respect for the rescued animals there and for the staff and volunteers. It seemed a bit extreme to me but I found that being vegan fulfilled me spiritually, intellectually and physically. I no longer had to deal with inner conflict regarding animals or animal products I might have consumed. As a vegan, I was causing no harm. So it’s been 14 years now. For me, veganism is not a deprivation but a joy!

joannemcarthur23 karma

I do encourage anyone and everyone to just keep reducing the amount of animal products they eat. Imagine if everyone did just a bit. It would actually change the world. Billions of lives would be spared. It would help the environment. It's great for our health. There are so many reasons to stop eating animals, or to start with, just eat fewer animal products. I know a lot of people...most people...won't drop all animal products from their diets overnight.

majaul7 karma

Hey Jo-Anne! Love following your work on several social medias. My dream job would be to work on a sanctuary. What is your dream job? Is it what you do now? Greetings from Denmark

joannemcarthur12 karma

Thank you. Well, despite what I have to see/experience, what I do is my dream job, b/c I'm helping animals as best I can. I feel like I'm where I need to be. If we achieve animal justice in the near future and all forms of animal exploitation end, I'd still like to photograph. Happy animals or people. Or, work in a book store :)

joannemcarthur7 karma

Yeah, my dream job would probably be to work in a sanctuary as well. With part time work at the local book store, too ;) I loved interning at Farm Sanctuary; the physical work felt so good. And being around the animals. Maybe some day :)

imtoolazytothinkofit7 karma

Dogs or cats? Pick wisely.

joannemcarthur33 karma

Why are they my only options? I <3 bears.

Ok I'll play along: dogs.

Sickened_but_curious6 karma

What is your opinion on animal research for medication purposes (not talking about cosmetics and such, which for a good reason is forbidden in many countries)?

Did you ever get the chance to see a lab from the inside?

joannemcarthur5 karma

I've been in a few labs, yes.

There are scientific advancements that mean we don't need to use animals. I think that, if they can't grant us permission (and I doubt they ever would), that that gives us the right to use them. www.neavs.org offers a lot of interesting solutions.

joannemcarthur15 karma

Sorry, I meant that if they can't give us permission, then we should not do it.

_Terciopelo_6 karma

Hey, I want to bring to your attention something that gets very little attention - because people don't care so much about snakes.

Rattlesnake roundups - they still exist in America, and they're absolutely disgusting and legal...


Snakes mouths are sewn shut so people can take pictures, and then they're brutally killed:


For what reason? It's ridiculous. Snakes are an important part of the environment and keep rodent populations in check.

If this cruelty was happening to Eagles or any other American animal, there would be massive uproar.

Maybe you can try and bring more attention to this topic? Please..

It's always the fluffy, cute (I think snakes are cute, I keep several rattlesnakes as 'pets' in Europe), animals that get all the attention. Like tigers, bears, chimps, elephants.

Not many want to stick up for the snakes, people will run huge campaigns for other species of animals, but will happily brush this under the carpet. It's shameful.

There are some 'reptile people' who have tried to bring awareness to the abuse. But they won't have as much influence as you could.

joannemcarthur3 karma

You'll be happy to know that I have photographed the Rattlesnake Roundups in Texas. The work was widely circulated and continues to be. Even National Geographic ran our video. Here's the video: http://weanimals.org/gallery_multimedia.php?id=24 and here are the photos: http://weanimals.org/gallery.php?id=101#ph1

And an org you'll want to follow: Advocates for Snake Preservation, based in Arizona.

Thank you for caring about snakes!

medicaustik5 karma

Best meal you've ever had?

Guiltiest pleasure food?

Also, what are your thoughts on buying vegan products from companies that are largely non-vegan? ie. Ben and Jerry's - I know some people in the vegan community don't want to support companies that produce non-vegan food.

joannemcarthur18 karma

I think that it's important to buy, say, the Ben and Jerry's icecream. It shows that there's a market for it. It increases demand, and normalizes that particular vegan product.

Best restaurant meals have been at Vegan Restoran in Estonia, and Rise Above in St. Catharines, Ontario.

Best meals are always home cooked, though: brown rice, steamed broccoli, tempeh, tahini dressing. And anything w/ pesto.

shockshockshad2 karma

Ugh I passed by Vegan Restoran a few months ago when I was in Estonia, and didn't go because it was too crowded. I should have waited

What made you enjoy it so much? What did I miss out on?

joannemcarthur2 karma

They now have an english cook book. Get it! IT's called "Celebrations with Vegan Foods" by Mikk Magi and Loore Emilie Raav

Pigrancher2125 karma

What sort of livestock farms have you been to and what were your experiences? Also where were the farms at?

joannemcarthur8 karma

I've been to farms on five continents over the last decade. A lot of those photos and the archive are available for you to see. www.weanimalsarchive.org

aliens34 karma

Hi Jo, Thank you for what you do. If you can't make it your life's work, what would you say is the most effective way people can help animals?

joannemcarthur5 karma

Figure out what you love to do and find a way of making it your life's work...even if that has to be part time, or quarter time :) We will have longevity in our contributions if we are enjoying doing it, if we are good at it. Yes, it's hard to do your life's work full time. Most of us can't. Just do it as much as you can.

vegmemer4 karma

Hi Jo-Anne,

I really like the new repository of photos of animals being used by humans. There's a lot of great photos there, obviously often very heartbreaking.

You are very passionate about documenting animal exploitation, and I was wondering if you had ever considered documenting animals suffering in the wild? Either through human involvement via climate change, or even animals suffering because of natural processes. I feel like that is a very neglected area, given the sheer amount of animals who exist in the wild.

I feel like it would be interesting to see an un-romanticized version of nature, as your photography style is definitely incredibly honest and intimate.

Thanks for all of the work you have done and will continue to do!

joannemcarthur13 karma

I love this. Yeah, some documentaries and some photographers show things as they are, in the wild, and thing can be devastating for those animals. No one gets out of life alive and few of us have a nice quiet exit. Wild animals will be lucky if they just die in their sleep. Same goes for us. I will always focus my lens and my stories on the effect we humans have on other animals, though, b/c the We Animals project is about showing what we're doing, what we're doing wrong, mostly, and what we (as consumers) can do to extract ourselves from these terribly abusive systems.

It's sooooo important for us to be showing the effect on climate due to factory farming and I'm glad to see there are some fantastic reportages on this in recent years. Animal abuse doesn't stand alone. It overlaps with environmental abuse (farms, run-off, polluting waterways, climate change, erosion, etc), human rights and labour rights (underpaid immigrant workers, and the injury levels in slaughterhouses is quite high), and on and on.

Finglished4 karma

Hope this is not out of the line but... Would you rather fight a horse sized duck or 100 duck sized horses?

joannemcarthur20 karma

I'm a lover not a fighter.

Woaas3 karma

What criteria do you use to select the projects you work on? You must be swamped with requests and suggestions pertaining to animal rights. So how do you filter out all the information and find your passion projects?

joannemcarthur8 karma

I used to just say yes to everything, which is why I've amassed so much material (you can see it at www.weanimalsarchive.org). Now, as you suspect, I have to choose. I try to work with organization who have a great impact, who are media savvy, and who hopefully can pay my air fare and offer a per diem! I do all of this work for free and that's not sustainable, so it's great when orgs can offer support. Yeah, the passion projects are often bear-related, but I can't just photograph bears and sanctuaries :) I'm glad more and more people are shooting at and exposing factory farms. It's horrible, exhausting work.

Kelsiee082 karma

I was going to ask if you normally pay for your own air fare and hospitality or of organizations had contributed. it must get pretty pricey, no ?

joannemcarthur5 karma

I always did commercial photography to cover my expenses for the We Animals project. It means I always worked a lot, but I enjoyed that. Now the We Animals project is sustained by supporters, at www.patreon.com/weanimals and by organizations who help me get to where I need to be, or pay me to do the work that used to be 100% volunteer. I'm truly grateful!

13twist3 karma

What is the worst thing you have seen?

joannemcarthur26 karma

I don't think there is a worst. I've met hundreds of thousands of suffering individuals. I look in their eyes and I take their photos and have to leave them behind. It's horrible. Whether they are a fox at a fur farm or a hen crammed in to a cage, or an elephant chained up and swaying back and forth, living alone with a travelling circus.. it just hurts to see what we're inflicting on animals. Ugh. I've seen a lot of terrible things. Sorry I can't name one just now. They suffer such loneliness and deprivation. I feel for them all.

Kelsiee083 karma

What are the main places you had interned at/showed your work to? Would you ever accept an intern/apprentice to learn as you do ?

joannemcarthur7 karma

There are investigative teams you can join up with. Look at which orgs are doing investigations in which countries and contact them to have a meeting and see if they need people.

Kelsiee083 karma

Great! Thank you, I will need to continue to build up my portfolio first i'm sure, but i will definitely look into some organizations... im sure they won't hire someone who doesn't have some sort of experience under their belt. The dream location in the midst of many, would be to eventually go to Africa for the Elephant and Rhino Poaching.

joannemcarthur6 karma

Showing work is so important. It should be 50% of the work. Not just the shooting but the showing, getting it out there, getting it published. Sadly a lot of photographers are bad at marketing their work. I'm not great at it either. We should NEVER do a great story and then just put it in a gallery on fb or let it sit on our hard drives.

Kelsiee083 karma

So in that case how would you recommend marketing your work? Taking it to magazines or newspapers or other companies that would display your work? Sadly, I've heard a lot of the "Big Time" places don't take in a lot of freelance work and stamp their name all over it instead of yours. Though, im not sure if its true or not.

joannemcarthur6 karma

No, more "big time" newspapers and magazines are legit, and give credit where it's due. It's more the on line world of social media where your work will get poached time and time again, or not credited. I do things a little differently, I give my work away for free to anyone helping animals. Here is that searchable database: www.weanimalsarchive.org But yes, pound the proverbial pavement with the blogs, magazines, newspapers, etc. It's thankless grunt work that none of us want to do! But it needs tobe done. Or hire PR, if that's an option for you. Or take some basic training in PR; there are pitch guidelines out there for us to use and learn from.

Kelsiee082 karma

I am trying to start a blog of my own, I'm in the process of building my website at the moment. But once i get more working flowing and building my portfolio I may consider reaching out. Again, just worried someone may steal my work or not give credit where it is due

joannemcarthur4 karma

In the world we're in, this is inevitable, sometimes. But, on the bright side, your work is getting out there and being seen. That's important.

joannemcarthur4 karma

I interned with and assisted a lot of photographers. I'd have loved assisting photojournalists but those I knew worked solo :) As for interning w/ me, it's a bit of the same thing...I tend to need people doing the computer work and outreach, less so field work.

Kelsiee083 karma

How often in a year would you say is spent travelling and working than being home? Of all the places you have been, which was your favourite and is there anywhere you haven't been that you would like to go to?

joannemcarthur6 karma

These days I'm on the road 8 or 9 months a year. It's a bit over the top. It's a bit much. I miss home, but I also miss my partner (who lives in Denmark), when I'm in Canada. It's a very long distance relationship! However, I realize that anyone I'm ever dating will be in a long-distance relationship with me, even if they live in my house, ha :) I get really tired from travel, but, I'm still extremely, extremely compelled to keep at it. Endless itchy feet. Endless curiosity and the need to see, experience, take pictures, tell stories.

Kelsiee082 karma

That was going to be my next question... if travelling so much has made it difficult to maintain relationships with both partners and keeping in touch with friends?

joannemcarthur4 karma

Well, it makes for a different sort of life. I wouldn't change it. It's engaging, exciting, rewarding.

Gullex3 karma

Thanks for what you're doing, animals need more advocates.

So I guess I have to have a question. What's your favorite vegetarian recipe? I urge you to try buffalo cauliflower.

joannemcarthur11 karma


I wrote a few of my fave food in some of the questions below.

Broccoli is amazing. Pesto is amazing. Tempeh is amazing. Salads are amazing.

aurora3723 karma

Hi Jo-Anne-Thank you for all the work you do!You are going where others fear to tread or in my case, I couldn't cope with all the horrific scenes without having a breakdown. So what do you do to prevent burnout from stress? How do you maintain a positive outlook?

joannemcarthur10 karma

I take things one day at a time. I put one foot in front of the other. I have to be happy with the changes I can effect. I just have to be happy with that. I'm happy to be able to contribute to this movement. I encourage others to do whatever they can, in any way they can, to contribute. Whatever works for you is what you can do.

joannemcarthur8 karma

There's a great book called Aftershock, by pattrice jones. It's a great guide for many of us who find it hard to cope with all the suffering we see. https://lanternbooks.presswarehouse.com/books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=163127

joannemcarthur9 karma

Also, I've been lucky to be able to have therapy on occasion, which has given me coping tools.

platypocalypse2 karma

Are there any particular countries where conditions for slaughterhouse animals are above-average, or at least humane?

joannemcarthur9 karma

Some slaughterhouses are calmer than others, for sure. All, however, are terrible places for animals, where their lives are ended without consent. "Humane" and "slaughter" don't really jive in the same sentence. I think to be humane is to save life. Maybe not the answer you were looking for, but... !

CaliBerner4lyf1 karma

Have you seen Carnage by Simon Amstel? Do you think it is possible for western society to become vegan within the next 100 years? If not where do you think we are headed?

joannemcarthur11 karma

We need to head that way, especially as our population continues to grow. Seven billion is already unsustainable at the rate we consume. Would be great if we just fed crops to people, rather than feeding them to cows, which create methane gas, and then eating the cows. All the water wastage as well. We do need to head towards a plant-based planet. Whether we can do it, I don't know, but as long as we are making every effort to head in that direction. I'm not so concerned with "will the world / western society be vegan?", but rather are we putting in enough effort to get us going in that direction. There's still a lot of work to do. More and more people are taking it up, which is fantastic. For every reason: animals, environment, health, justice.

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joannemcarthur3 karma


animalsR4loving-2 karma

Please don’t answer this question if it makes you uncomfortable, OK? 4-parter: 1. are you single? 2. if so, do you date men? 3. if so, do you entertain marriage proposals from vegan men? 4. if so, how many do you get per day, on average? (trying to figure out my chances) :-)

joannemcarthur4 karma

  1. No.
  2. Yes.
  3. Maybe only from the guy I'm dating :)
  4. No marriage proposals per day. :)

animalsR4loving1 karma

Crushed, but also happy for you. :-) Keep up the amazing work!

joannemcarthur2 karma

Haha! ...Sorry...?

Thanks, I will! :)

UniqueUsername171-10 karma

Why are animals so delicious?

joannemcarthur15 karma

Why are veggie burgers so delicious? #nom