The images in the following program are highly sensitive and may be as disturbing to viewers as they were to us. However, we have to show the truth about cruelty to animals, praying that you will help to stop it.

Vesak is among the most auspicious days in the Buddhist calendar, commemorating Gautama Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death or transition to Nirvana. It is an important aspect of the Buddhist tradition to share the wisdom of the great Master with others, so as to help remind humanity of the importance of developing compassion toward all beings. The Buddha emphasized in his teachings the importance of a vegetarian diet and taught his disciples to never cause suffering to others.

In the Surangama Sutra the Buddha explained the law of karma: “So if a man [kills a sheep to] eat its meat, the sheep will be reborn as a human being and the man, after his death, will be reborn a sheep [to repay his former debt]. Thus living beings of the 10 states of birth, devour each other and so form evil karma which will have no end.”

The Buddha’s words are just as relevant now as approximately 2,500 years ago when he spoke them. Today approximately 56 billion animals are mercilessly slaughtered annually for food around the world of which about 1.2 billion are pigs.

Pigs are gentle and intelligent, the smartest and cleanest of all domesticated animals. They are more complex emotionally than many of us may realize and have a high-level of awareness; studies have shown that they have characteristics once believed to be unique only to humans and primates. They have the ability to understand words and phrases; they have dreams and form sophisticated social relationships. Mother pigs have even been shown to sing to their young during nursing.

Sadly, however, these gentle beings, more emotionally and intellectually advanced than we ever could imagine, are imprisoned in the hidden world of factory farms, kept and bred solely for the purpose of food and profit. The torturous conditions inside these operations are carefully guarded from public scrutiny, a practice common to these murderous facilities the world over. The lives of mother pigs in the wild contrasted with those trapped in factory farms clearly demonstrates humankind’s utter greed and the horrific abuse farmed porcines experience at these facilities.

A wild pig makes a comfortable nest for her babies made of sticks, branches and grass. In the outdoors the sow might have a range of up to 2,500 hectares and feed on a diverse diet consisting of grass, roots, tubers, acorns, nuts and berries. She is able to lovingly interact with her piglets, nurture them and see them grow up healthy, happy and sound. Absolutely none of this is true for a sow in a pig farm.

The anguished life of a breeding sow, who is literally treated as a breeding machine, is as follows: She is first artificially inseminated, a painful, violative process. A pregnant sow is then confined to a narrow metal stall called a gestation crate which is on average a mere 60 centimeters wide, two meters long and 100 centimeters high. It is a prison in which she cannot even turn around. Sows must urinate and defecate where they stand. The floors are slatted so the waste drops through and the mother pig’s feet can become caught causing agonizing injuries.

The sow will spend most or all of her 16-week pregnancy lying in an extremely cramped space. The cold floor combined with a lack of exercise causes her severe joint problems and eventual lameness. The sows literally go mad, biting or banging their heads against the metal bars of the crates because the stress and nightmarish conditions are utterly unbearable. When it’s time to give birth, the sow is moved to what is called a farrowing crate. Again she is tightly confined and can only stand or lie on the cold concrete floor, making close contact with her beloved children impossible.

In 2007 vegan British animal advocate Heather Mills accompanied members of the non-profit animal welfare group Vegetarians International Voice for Animals (Viva!) during their investigation of a UK pig farm. The goal was to expose the sheer inhumanity of farrowing crates.

I didn’t know anything about the farrowing crate until Viva! informed me of it, and I was just so horrified.

I think the thing that’s really got to me with the farrowing crate, is the fact that, mothers, animals or humans, they’re mothers, they’re breeding sows, they’re stuck in a crate, in a farrowing crate. They can’t move hardly at all, apart from one step back and forwards. We’re always being told that Britain has the highest (animal) welfare standards in the world, and this is an example of it being a complete joke! It’s so barbaric and inhumane and when I go into the farm I will show that. (We just) disinfected ourselves, even though I bet the place is filthy. My legs are not good on uneven surfaces.

Now we’re going to splodge through this field and hopefully not get caught. We’re not trying to do anything illegal, but sadly the farmer won’t let us go into the farms to show these farrowing crates, because they themselves must believe, otherwise they’d let us in there, must believe that they’re not very humane. There’re rows and rows and rows. Rows and rows and rows of the same thing. Look, they’re suckling, on their mum. Look at this poor breeding sow here, the size of her cage. Now, there’s no need for this whatsoever. Why does she deserve to be in prison, because that’s what it is, it’s prison. And these poor sows are just abused. And the poor piglets, she can’t nuzzle them, she can’t interact with them. And for what? For meat! And look, there is no bedding of any kind. The reason they keep the sows in here is because they think they’re going to roll over and squash the piglets.

I mean this is horrific, and even research shows that when they’re free, more piglets live. And you know what? A lot of people won’t even believe that this still goes on. Every 160 days she has to go through the same cycle until the day she dies. She’ll probably have 10 lots of piglets and then just get discarded and used for low grade meat.

(This is) really horrific. This is where the piglets get fattened up that they take away from their moms. As you can see they’re nearly quarter of the way there. Hallo. You can see how disgusting it is, the conditions they have to live in. Why would they think that they should live in this crap? It stinks in here; it’s absolutely disgusting.

We haven’t touched them, we haven’t done anything illegal. We’ve just come to raise awareness of how this is going on. How horrific it is and how abusive it is. So take a stance and go onto and join us to outlaw this horrific behavior and abuse to animals.

All of my life I’ve been trapped in here. Cramped in the dark the smell of fear. I know that somehow there’s more to me. I know that someday I will be free. I ask myself in spite of the pain, “How can they do it again and again?” My sister, she was taken away before. I never saw her face, Because I could never turn around. But I listened to her scream. “Do they have feeling, do they understand pain?” I ask myself again and again.

After two to four weeks, the exhausted sow is separated from her piglets, typically 8 to 12 babies in any given pregnancy, never to see them again. She is then re-impregnated and returned to the gestation crate, a process which is repeated for six to eight litters, after which she too is sent for slaughter. Her precious piglets, upon separation are placed in dark sheds in absolutely sordid, jammed pens and will remain there until sent to the slaughterhouse, unless they are female, in which case their fate may be much like their mothers.

And then there are the horrifying conditions of the pigs, which are extremely clean animals, by the way, scientifically proven. But these intelligent, sensitive beings are locked in crates so small they can’t even turn around all their miserable lives. But the worst is their actual death process. You see… oh God, I have to tell you, but it’s heart-wrenching.

First, the pigs are stunned, often unsuccessfully, leaving them still conscious when they are hung by the feet and cut open with a knife. In fact, they are still alive when they are next put into a vat of boiling water, with videos that have shown them still twisting in pain. Imagine if it’s us. Imagine if it’s our loved one. Imagine if it is human.

All this for a piece of meat, dead flesh that often causes even more diseases to humans, not like it even helps us in any way. Is it really worth it? Tell me, please, is it worth it? (No!) It’s not. It’s not, you’re right.

How can we degrade ourselves into such an inhumane, heartless state of being, by supporting these cruel, heart-wrenching practices? I ask myself, “How can we justify causing that much suffering to another being, when the alternative is so easy, affordable and at hand and healthy?”

There is a place Where I can roam outside. Feel the wind in my hair, The sun beams on my face, There is a place, Where darkness cannot reach. My days will be complete. And all creatures live in love, Two and four legs walk as one. And then heaven comes.

Supreme Master Ching Hai loves this song and has a message for the artist, an Association member from New Zealand, who wrote the music and lyrics as well as performed the vocals: “Wow!” “Thanks for being a ‘real love.’”

All animals deserve freedom and the right to live the way nature intended. The Buddha benevolently said, “All beings tremble before violence. All fear death, all love life. See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?” On this anniversary that celebrates the life and teachings of Lord Buddha, let us remind ourselves of his wisdom and indeed honor the spirit of Vesak everyday by protecting animals and following an organic vegan diet, thus creating heaven for all.

For more information on Vegetarians International Voice for Animals (Viva!), please visit Thank you for joining us on today’s program. Coming up next is Enlightening Entertainment, after Noteworthy News. May a vegan planet soon be ours.