The Australia-born animal rights activist Joey Carbstrong has released his first feature-length documentary titled Pignorant. This is about the use of gas chambers to kill pigs in the UK, and how these animals are kept before they are sent to die horribly in slaughterhouses. 

Produced by Askew Pictures and directed by Carbstrong, the documentary is centred on how he and the undercover animal rights investigator Dan Sheppard managed to record footage of the pigs agonisingly dying inside a gas chamber of a slaughterhouse in Manchester, in the North of England. We also see Carbstrong investigating a factory farm keeping pigs in North Yorkshire, and a so-called free-range pig farm in East Anglia. In addition to the shocking images of the pigs dying in the CO2 gas chambers, which are the most common method of killing pigs in the UK, but also in the US, Australia and the rest of Europe, the suffering and cruelty recorded in the free range farm investigated may be one of most revealing parts of this documentary.

By interviewing experts of different disciplines, Pignorant can shed light on who are these intelligent creatures, how cruelly are they treated, how inhumane using CO2 to kill animals is, and even how psychologically damaging the work for slaughterhouse workers can be. We can see the testimony of Dr Emma Allayne (Reader in Forensic Psychology), Philip Lymbery (CEO of Compassion in World Farming), Dr Donald Broom (Professor of Animal Welfare), Dr Alice Brough (veterinarian), Dr Jane Downes (member of the Animal Welfare Committee), and Juliet Gellatley (founder and director of the vegan organisation Viva!).

In 2003, a government advisory body, the Farm Animal Welfare Council, said that CO2 stunning/killing “is not acceptable and we wish to see it phased out in five years”. Despite this, the use of this gas to kill pigs has instead increased to 88% in 2022.

In addition to the pig industry and the companies investigated, one of the strongest indictments given by this documentary is against the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), which, with its RSPCA-Assured scheme, continues to support companies that gas pigs. In the documentary we see Juliet Gellatley saying, “I think the RSPCA sold out years ago where farmed animals are concerned. They are not taking court prosecutions now for farmed animals. They pass it on to Trading Standards. The RSPCA do very little to protect farmed animals, which is staggering, really.”

Pignorant can now be watched on Amazon Video in some countries (including the UK). The trailer is available on YouTube

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.