Caged Being Experiment - Interview with Reuben Jamieson-Soper

Earlier this month we put 40 volunteers a cage for 40 hours to raise awareness of factory farming.

It was hard, it was harrowing, but they did it.

One of the volunteers in the experiment, Reuben Jamieson-Soper tells us about his experience in the cage:

“We don't need to be causing such unnecessary pain and suffering to those who can't fight back. We don't need to be exploiting them just because we can”
Caged Being, Reuben

Why did you choose to take part in the Caged Being Experiment?

I really wanted to get people thinking about the conditions animals are being raised in before they are sent to the meat works. What's hard to remember is that they are unique compared to all the other products we buy in that they live their own lives, have the same awareness of self as we do before they die. Some might disagree that they are as aware as us; my qualifying factor for awareness/sentience is the ability to feel pain. I did it to try show people that the current model of where New Zealand gets its meat causes unnecessary harm and suffering to beings who feel pain just the same as we do.

What were the highest and lowest points for you during the experiment?

The highest point of the experience was definitely the people I shared the (uncomfortable) space with.

There are so many people I met who I otherwise wouldn't have which was fantastic in the short term since it made getting through the 40 hours more tolerable, but also long term I've met people who I really connected with over similar ideas and interests, many of whom I'm still in contact with both for organizing more animal-related projects and just because they're really cool people.

The lowest point of the 40 hours is a tie between A) how extremely uncomfortable the lack of space and hardness of the floor was for my back. Actually, my whole body was aching after the second night of largely unsuccessful sleep, and B) the moment I told someone I was going to try to go to sleep at 2:00pm and they told me that would mean I would be awake all night. It was the realization that I had to ration my sleep to times where there wouldn't be anyone to talk to as a way to pass time, coupled with realizing I didn't want to be conscious in the conditions I was being kept in. I was disappointed that I had to stay awake at all, which really says something for how the animals must feel in real factory farms. They don't get carpet, sleeping bags, clothes, the knowledge it's only for two days or a life outside the factory that they get to back to. This is their whole lives, and then they die.

If you could get one message across to the New Zealand public, what would it be?

What I hope people take away from the Caged Being experiment is that while the conditions we were kept in would not be fair to raise any life in that can feel pain, real factory farms are so much worse. There's a reason we're usually not allowed to see what goes on in these places. The Paul McCartney quote "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian." comes to mind and I think it applies to factory farms just as much. I personally feel if people actually looked into the conditions these beings are kept in they would be extremely upset. "We don't need to be causing such unnecessary pain and suffering to those who can't fight back. We don't need to be exploiting them just because we can. We can do better than that" 

1 August 2017