Comments: 208 • Responses: 38  • Date: 

JeffreyDej40 karma

who pays you to investigate?

Urlaubj46 karma

No one. I lost money in gas.

nomnomone34 karma

Are there certain companies you would recommend us buying from, and certain ones we should? (This question being based on which companies are more cruel)

Edit: Also, how did you get into this line of work? Does it pay well, or do you do it mostly to better the world?

Urlaubj50 karma

As for what companies to buy from, here's my thoughts:

I'm vegetarian, not vegan, but my principle is this: if I buy an animal product, I have to be able to see with my own eyes the way the animal is treated. I buy eggs from my neighbor, who treats her chickens like pets. I get my milk/cheese from an Amish (Mennonite) farm which hand-milks its cows and treats them well.

PETA has a useful company search tool here: http://features.peta.org/cruelty-free-company-search/index.aspx

I don't get any money from it. It's actually expensive, since I use lots of gas to drive to farms.



Urlaubj13 karma

If there was no suffering involved, yes. I'm skeptical I'd ever find a place like that though.

I4G0tMyUsername9 karma

What company do you recommend people who don’t have a farm next door buy from? Like you know, the real world.

Urlaubj5 karma

Farmers markets are in most cities. Use those!



Urlaubj2 karma

Thanks for the thoughtful comment, and I don't feel you're pushy at all.

I think that the only way we can scale up humane farming methods is to ban inhumane ones. Then the humane ones will take their place.

Thisorthose2 karma

So you burn extra fossil fuel so you can feel better about your milk?

Urlaubj8 karma

Yes. I think the lack of suffering compensates for the fossil fuels burnt.

monyouhoopz16 karma

Why aren’t you vegan?

Urlaubj19 karma

The animal movement is divided into two camps: animal welfare and animal rights.

Animal welfare (my camp) thinks the reason the way we treat animals is wrong is that it causes them suffering.

Animal rights think animals have unalienable rights, which farming/slaughter violate.

As long as an animal isn't made to suffer, I'm ok with eating it's products. If I can see with my own eyes an animal whose products' I'm eating isn't in pain, I'm ok with it. That's why I'm vegetarian.

raybone1213 karma

Could the malpractice be linked to consumer demand for cheap food?

Cheap food>lower cost of production > cheaper/less skilled labour.

Urlaubj11 karma

Yes, yes, and yes.

supadupactr8 karma

So you do this yourself, without being paid...how to you actually get to the farms in this case? Why would they even let you in if they aren’t require too?

Urlaubj4 karma

Great question! I drive there myself and park maybe half a mile away, and walk the rest, usually through a field or any other cover I can find.

I can't investigate many farms since they lock their doors. You'd be surprised how many farms leave a back door open, though, or some way in. Maybe half of them I can get into.

SysError4047 karma

You are aware that this is not only trespassing, but also Breaking and entering, potentially more. And in some place farmers won't ask before firing. Especially considering you are a threat to their families and livelihoods.

Urlaubj-1 karma

I understand.

supadupactr-2 karma

So you walk in unannounced? That’s crazy. I’m assuming you have a hidden camera and just make your way through the farm?

Also, have you gotten caught? If so, what do you tell them? You’re like a agricultural secret agent!

Urlaubj-5 karma

I film with my phone and a flashlight.

I've been spotted once, but I ran and the person who saw me didn't chase me. I'm not sure why.

ShibuRigged7 karma

What would you say the ratio, in your experience, of good to bad farms are?

Are certain types of farms better than others? e.g. smaller, local farms that serve local populations vs factory farming for large national supermarket chains, etc.

Urlaubj21 karma

That depends on the State and the industry. For example, Michigan has phased out battery cages, so their chicken farms are decent looking. Ohio hasn't (yet). I've seen Ohio's largest chicken farm, and it's a horrorshow.

There's almost no federal animal welfare regulation, so it's all state dependent, and many laws which apply to some industries don't to others (humane slaughter and transport laws don't apply to birds, for example).

Overall, I'd say most farms (75%+) disgust me. The other quarter I have problems with, but wouldn't call "disgusting."

Komm1 karma

Wooo! Michigan is better than Ohio again! Also yes, I'm super glad that Michigan phased out battery cages and made certain veal raising practices illegal as well. Do try and buy local, just not always possible, Eastern Market helps a lot though.

Urlaubj3 karma

Can't agree more as a Umich undergrad :)

youtocin6 karma

Do you think the pressures of meeting the bottom line leads to people treating the animals sadistically rather than compassionately? How do you think we can meet demand while still implementing reform?

Urlaubj6 karma

This is a huge problem in slaughterhouses especially. Animals whiz by on slaughter lines and are often improperly stunned/killed.

To be blunt, I think demand will have to drop for us to have more humane farming. More ethical farming practices = more expensive meat = less demand.

PoliticalIndemnity2 karma

So how do you propose we solve that on a large scale?

Urlaubj4 karma

I don't think that we can. I'm convinced we need to scale down animal agriculture to make it more humane.

SunmanXII6 karma

In the future, do you see a world where animal cruelty is a rare practice, but a good percentage of the population still eats meat? What does that world look like?

Urlaubj21 karma

That's a great question. Here's a start:

-Whenever an animal is having a part of it chopped off (debeaked, dehorned, tail docked), it must be asleep/anesthetized. -Animals must be given room to roam around and plenty of sunshine. -All animals must be put to sleep before slaughtered. This could be achieved on a large scale with gas.

We're far from even this.

DonVergasPHD8 karma

This could be achieved on a large scale with gas.

Could this be achieved without contaminating the meat?

Urlaubj9 karma

Gassing? Yes, a mix of inert gases would actually contaminate the meat less than some methods.

intensely5 karma

Thank you for what you do. I couldn't stomach doing this. I think factory farming is one of, if not the biggest atrocity of our times.

There should be public outcries until this is brought to an end, but unfortunately, people seem to be indifferent towards almost all animals. Speciesism sucks, and seems to be the cause of the majority of suffering on this planet.

What do think should be done to most effectively end this mass-suffering? I'm afraid hoping for lab-grown meat to catch on is not enough.

Urlaubj5 karma

Lab-grown meat will be a thing--in a few decades likely.

Unfortunately, literally billions (10b chickens are hatched in the U.S each year, near 8b slaughtered) of animals' fates are in the balance. The best practices to clean up, in my view, are confinement and slaughter.

I4G0tMyUsername5 karma

Can you show us proof of some sort that you are who you say you are? I’m skeptical you do anything but post animal cruelty videos in hopes of traumatizing anyone into not eating meat. Most of your answers are completely illogical & unreasonable recommendations.

Urlaubj1 karma

Sure, I can show you a screenshot of the video in the editing software I used. I can also show you some footage of mine in a chicken farm, with my voice in it (same as in the video). One sec.

Esc_ape_artist5 karma

So how have “Ag-gag” laws affected your ability, and the people like you, to do your job?

Urlaubj2 karma

Not for me. There aren't ag-gag laws in Michigan and Ohio. They've affected others though. That's their point.

tree-farmer4 karma

Wow, I could not believe the people in your video. I think the answer is just that some people are psychopaths, and some of those psychopaths work in agriculture.

I have a tiny farm. We slaughtered a cow earlier today, but it's was nothing like that. Our animals are gentle creatures and we know them as individuals. Yes, they need to die before they go to the butcher, but we treat them as well as we can.

The whole reason that I got into this is because I didn't want to eat food from factory farms, meat or vegetables. You don't need to go as far as I do, because there are plenty of people that treat their animals well and sell their products privately or through farmers' markets.

How do you feel about small farms and family farms?

Urlaubj2 karma

I think small farms which care for animals an excellent practical alternative.

I disagree, though, that those people are "psychopaths." I'd argue they're affected by their farms' cruel practices in the ways I outline in the video.

Spydrchick4 karma

As an investigator, have you found that some of what you have seen leads to PTSD or similar mental distress? If so, how do you cope?

Urlaubj2 karma

Nothing I've personally seen at farms has been traumatizing. There's a clip I show in the video in someone else's investigation of a worker smashing a cow's skull with a pick axe. It's hard to scrub that from my memory, but time cures all wounds.

ctothel2 karma

Why would that worker do that?

Urlaubj9 karma

Harsh farming practices affect workers psychologically. That's the point of my video.

I lay out four ways this happens in the video. There's too many questions, so you'll have to watch the video for elaboration ;)

Aximill4 karma

Is there any legislation or state laws that you see as aiding in best practices/care for livestock? I know about "Ag Gag" laws to restrict work like you do. Anything we could push for on the local level?

Urlaubj2 karma

Getting rid of Ag-gag laws is great for me. Confinement might hurt more than anything else, so laws which allows animals rooms to "lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs, and turn around freely" are a great start. Most state's don't have them.

crim-sama4 karma

Do you think ignorance and difficulty for the average consumer to avoid products from certain companies that commit certain practices while easily finding alternatives that don't add to the problem of farms like this?

Urlaubj4 karma

That's a huge problem. Finding ethical products takes work. Most aren't willing to put in the time, so they support horrific industries.

TouchMyBusBecky4 karma

Chris Pratt started something like a kind farm where the animals are treated well. Do you think forcing farms to have webcams and live stream to the public could make an impact?

Also, have you tried the meatless meat yet?

Urlaubj5 karma

I've tried the impossible meat at Qdoba. It was good imo. Tasted just like I remember steak tasting.

I'm not sure how effective that method is. I'd guess not much. A massive problem with the animal movement is that they don't verify whether their activism is effective. They need to study these things scientifically.

daddywasahobo3 karma

I personally don’t care for red meat, but my kids like beef. How can I purchase beef without hurting the earth? Or is it just bust?

Urlaubj9 karma

Do research! All animal agriculture is hard on the environment, but small farms are much better when it comes to local pollution. Visit farms yourself and go to farmer's markets. If you're ethically ok with the way you see the animals' treated, buy products from that farm's farmer's market stand.

BABOU_theOCelott2 karma

Why Orwell?

Urlaubj8 karma

He inspires me more than any other intellectual. My YouTube channel/blog won't only be about factory farming. I'll cover many topics, but try to approach them in a principled, intellectually honest way, and get personal experience in each topic, like Orwell did.

HeathenHymns2 karma

What are your opinions on lab grown meat? Seems it could essentially destroy the cattle/poultry industry if people could swallow their gmo etc fears.

Urlaubj6 karma

It is the panacea to factory farming if it totally replaces other animal products.

Lab-grown meat can't feel pain.

oh_illinois2 karma

How can you quantify which industry causes the most suffering? What are the signs that an animal is suffering?

Urlaubj3 karma

Great question!

The signs are behavioral and neurological. If the animals act like they're in pain, I'd guess they are. Also, many academic studies look into the brain science behind animal welfare (like neuromas in debeaked chickens, for example). Chickens suffer the most since they undergo the harshest practices, especially egg laying chickens.

OG_Shadowknight3 karma

Could you expand on which ways chickens undergo the harshest practices? The only unavoidable suffering by chickens is I believe that male poultry and egg-laying chicks still mostly get discarded rather than being able to ensure the sex before development in the egg. Are there other unavoidable sufferings?

Urlaubj1 karma

Great question! It starts with male layers being discarded. Then all layers and broilers are debeaked, usually with hot blades. They're then shipped from hatcheries to farms, and humane shipping regulation exempts chickens, so many die of cold/hunger/dehydration. They're then confined in cramped cages or packed in huge sheds. The ammonia from their feces burns their eyes. 75% are force molted: they're starved for 7-14 days and given less water and light to prematurely reset their egg laying cycles. They're then caged for transport and taken to slaughterhouses. Many studies show electrical stunning of poultry is questionable, so some percentage of them are aware while their throats are slit then boiled. It's nonstop suffering, likely more intense than any other farmed animal experiences. It's also on a larger scale, since 8 billion chickens are slaughtered in the U.S annually.

mycatisawhore2 karma

Any personal experiences with slaughter houses? I worked as a grunt for the USDA ages ago filing reports, and I saw all kinds of issues about teasing/torturing animals, processing animals that were too sick for human consumption, sexual assault, bribing, unsafe work conditions etc. It seemed like a nightmare.

Urlaubj8 karma

I've never searched one myself, but I don't doubt it. Slaughtering animals affects people psychologically. Also, the type of person who chooses to work at a slaughter plant is more callous to animal suffering than most.

Thisorthose0 karma

Do you have any facts to back up your assertion that

the type of person who chooses to work at a slaughter plant is more callous to animal suffering than most.


Urlaubj1 karma

Great question. Maybe I needed more qualification for that statement.

The type of person who works at a HARSH slaughter-plant is likely more callous to animal suffering than most. That seems intuitive to me.

Aggresive_Dunmer1 karma

What was the worst experience you had during the time you were an Investigator?

Urlaubj5 karma

When I found a pig with half of it's udders chopped off, bruises covering it, and a puddle of blood flowing from it's mouth.

I was also spotted once, but got away easily.

CarlMaster_C5 karma

So what caused these injuries? Did you stick around to find out? How do you select farms to “investigate”?

Urlaubj7 karma

I investigate the closest farms to me to save gas money. That means farms in Michigan and Ohio.

I don't know what caused them. I'd assume the pig (hopped up on additives which make it aggressive, in pain and on edge) lashed out at a worker, and the worker lashed back.

ctothel2 karma

Do you know why that happened? Straight cruelty? “Punishment”? Like, surely that cow had some value to the business if not as a life.

Urlaubj5 karma

I'd argue it's because, after working at a harsh farm for a long time, you stop seeing animals the way we do. You see them as objects and pests. They start to have less moral worth. I elaborate on that argument in the video.

passionseeker951 karma

Do you think the usual portrayal of animal abuse in factory farming, whether they’re standard practice, or specific abuse cases, is often exaggerated? I hear a lot people believing they’re all rare, isolated cases, and very biased (although they usually claim this without any evidence)

Urlaubj4 karma

Investigations (including mine) show you the worst footage they've collected. Most handpick the worst farms to investigate. Know this before you watch investigations.

Not all of the animal industry is as bad as investigations portray, but much is. The sad thing is this: the biggest farms, which house the most animals, tend to treat them the worst.