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This VR Film Takes Viewers Inside a Slaughterhouse

It’s a pig’s-eye-view on what it’s like to live waiting for death.

So far, VR films have taken viewers everywhere from Ebola-stricken Liberia to Syrian refugee camps.

But now, Animal Equality, an international farmed animal advocacy group, want to take you inside the grim and gory heart of a pig slaughterhouse. Their new project "iAnimal" literally plants viewers amidst a bunch of cramped pigs as they either await slaughter or give birth to piglets within tiny cages.

"From our perspective, using VR is the best way to convey to someone what it's like to be an animal inside a factory farm or a slaughterhouse," Toni Shephard, the executive director of Animal Equality, told me over the phone.

"When we're filming inside the metal cages where pigs give birth, as it's at the pig's eye-level, viewers see the bars next to them. It feels confining and you get a sense of what it's like to be locked inside one of these crates," she added.

The group teamed up with immersive video startup Condition One, and spent 18 months filming the interiors and conditions of cramped pig farms and pig slaughterhouses in several European countries, which included the UK and Spain. Their aim is to raise awareness among the general public and politicians in a bid to improve the conditions for animals, and get people to consume less meat.

"Factory farms and slaughterhouses are some of the most secretive places in our society. They are deliberately hidden away because the meat industry knows that when people find out about these places, they'll be completely disgusted," said Shephard.

While the group were granted access to a slaughterhouse in Spain, they slipped into pig farms at night in the UK and Germany, filming when nobody was around.

Animal Equity launched its UK tour just last month, and the group will be taking iAnimal to the campuses of the University of Durham in Scotland next week. Shephard said that students and lecturers who'd watched the film so far had all been pretty shocked by what they saw.

"The vast majority of people just don't know that that is the reality of modern meat production," said Shephard.

Next up, Animal Equality will be heading over to the UK political party conferences to try and make politicians face up to the realities of intensive meat production.

"Politicians like to tell people that we have the highest welfare standards in the world, and say that 'people can proudly buy British meat,' but the vast majority of politicians have never been inside a factory farm," said Shephard.

"We really want to take the factory farm to them and get them to watch it and say, 'hand on heart, can you honestly say this is the highest welfare in the world and that people should be proud to buy these products?"