An Untold Story That Had To Be Told – Director of ‘MILKED’, Amy Taylor

The dairy exposé MILKED is reeling in the awards while the Dairy Industry remains silent… In this article End Animal Slaughter’s Sandra Kyle talks to its inspirational Director, Kiwi filmmaker Amy Taylor.


Amy, you have had enormous success with your latest feature length documentary, ‘MILKED’, that is an expose on the Dairy Industry. We’ll get to that soon, but can you begin by telling us a bit about your background, including where you were born and went to school?

I was born in Christchurch but moved around a lot and then spent 7 years in Whitianga as a child, so it feels like home for me here. I went to Mercury Bay Area School but we moved again when I was 14, and I left school at 15. I didn’t go to university until 10 years later, after travelling and figuring out what I wanted to do. Then I studied marine biology which led to a Bachelor of Applied Science at AUT, followed by a Postgraduate Diploma in Science Communication at the University of Otago.

When did you become vegan, and why?  

Like most people I was totally addicted to dairy as a child, especially cheese and butter, and although I was vegetarian as a teenager (for ethical reasons, because there wasn’t much science available then about the impacts of animal agriculture on the environment and human health) it took a while for me to learn about the dairy industry. Then I discovered that surplus newborn calves were taken from their mothers and sent to slaughter, and I gave up dairy in my late teens. I also completed a diploma in Naturopathy and had written a thesis about the benefits of a vegan diet, so I was aware of of the health impacts too. It’s interesting that there’s a reason why dairy is so addictive too, it contains casomorphins so it can take a few weeks to get over the cravings. But a few years later while travelling and struggling to find vegan food – luckily things have changed! – I began eating dairy again because I somehow convinced myself it must be ok now, they must have found a way to make it without killing the calves that are seen as a byproduct of the industry. I kept those blinkers on until I had my son and somehow I instantly saw milk for what it is – a product made by mothers for their young – and how wrong it was to be consuming it from another species. Both my son Jai and my husband Mike are vegan also, I think that providing information for them (documentaries for Mike, and vegan-themed kids books and films for Jai) has really helped them understand the reasons for being vegan so they have their own motivation for doing that.

I had my son and somehow I instantly saw milk for what it is – a product made by mothers for their young – and how wrong it was to be consuming it from another species.

Did you always know you wanted to make films? How did you get into the film business?

I had always loved programs like Our World as a child, and when I was studying science at university I realised that I was also drawn to the idea of filmmaking, so I decided to combine both. Once I heard about the Postgraduate Diploma in Science Communication at the University of Otago I knew that was what I wanted to do. The teachers were world-class (including many from Natural History NZ) and they drilled into us that story was the most important thing. I loved learning about filmmaking, and my student film about Hector’s Dolphins (Beyond the Kelp) was broadcast on Māori TV, which helped give me the confidence to pursue it as a career.

Tell us about the other documentaries you have made.

The first feature documentary I made was about Moko the friendly wild dolphin who had turned up in Whakatane, just down the coast from where I was living in Mount Maunganui. I spent 6 months living in my van down there and filming in the water with Moko every day, it was an incredible experience but it had a tragic ending which is shown in the documentary I made (Soul in the Sea). That film was broadcast here in NZ and was shown in film festivals around the world. It was also nominated for an award at Jackson Wild, a festival known as the nature equivalent to the Oscars, and it was up against National Geographic and the BBC so unfortunately it didn’t win but it was an honour to be nominated. Since then I’ve been a lot busier being a mum so I focused on making short films for a while, including some for RNZ (Pig Man, Captain Aunofo, Apollo: Rise of the Poly-vegan Soldier) and one for Loading Docs (The Cube of Truth) which led me into making MILKED. 

Why did you make ‘MILKED’?

The motivation for making this film came from a growing awareness I had about the dairy industry’s impacts on people, the environment, and on animals. I began looking into the dairy industry more and seeing the damage it does to the environment, as well as the water pollution, one of the most obvious being the huge amount of native forests and wetlands that have now been turned into a monoculture of grass and cows that covers a massive amount of the country. When I saw Chris Huriwai’s social media videos about the industry we began talking about the need to do a feature documentary about it, that was in 2018 and I began filming in 2019. 

MILKED presents the reality of an industry that has a huge marketing budget to present it’s side of the story, which it does relentlessly and without reflecting the truth. I hope that people will watch the film before deciding for themselves which side of the story they believe. It’s an independent documentary and I spent nearly 3 years working on it because it’s an untold story that had to be told.

I began looking into the dairy industry more and seeing the damage it does to the environment, as well as the water pollution, one of the most obvious being the huge amount of native forests and wetlands that have now been turned into a monoculture of grass and cows that covers a massive amount of the country.

The dairy industry have been mostly very quiet about the film, they seem to be hoping that if they ignore it, it will go away. I’ve seen a lot of comments accusing the film of being fictional and propaganda etc but all of our sources are available on our website (, and as yet no one has pointed out anything specific that is inaccurate. It’s easy to make general statements to try and damage the credibility of the film (one reviewer did this by calling it ‘deeply flawed’ in the headline, without any real basis for doing so), but it’s obviously not so easy for them to find any actual fault in the research and information we presented. We have had quite a few dairy farmers contact us saying that they’re aware that these issues are real and that we need to be urgently transitioning away from dairy, so it’s not everyone in the industry with their head in the sand. 

There are some solutions featured in the film, but basically we want the industry to be honest, the government to help dairy farmers transition, and for consumers to know the truth about what they’re buying.

There are some solutions featured in the film, but basically we want the industry to be honest, the government to help dairy farmers transition, and for consumers to know the truth about what they’re buying.

I felt rather teary when I watched it at the Palmerston North premier, because I was so moved by it. It felt like a game changer to me; so convincing, and so well filmed and edited. I’m positive it is changing hearts and minds all over the world. Don’t tell me you did all the filming and editing yourself on MILKED?? Would you say it was a ‘labour of love’ for a number of years?

I would say it’s the hardest project I’ve ever worked on, that’s for sure! It was a labour of love, but it wasn’t an easy experience. It started off as a very small budget project which meant I had to juggle multiple roles, including producer, director, cinematographer, and sound recordist. I was also researching for the film and working out the story and the animations as well (Cam Orr created the animation). Then I edited a roughcut of the film alongside Annie Collins, before finishing the film with Debbie Matthews (from Farmwatch, she is featured in the film also). There was over 100hrs of interviews to go through, so the edit took a lot longer than the shoot, which was only about 3-4 weeks in total. Covid slowed things down a bit, but I’m happy that the film was made in around 3 years, I found out that Seaspiracy took nearly 6 years and I’m not sure I would have the patience for that length of time!

Tell us about the awards and nominations MILKED has received so far.

MILKED has won the following awards: 

  • IndieFEST – Best of Show
  • Spotlight Documentary Film Awards – Gold Award
  • Impact Docs Awards – Best of Show, & Award of Excellence (Women Filmmakers)  
  • IndieFEST Humanitarian Award – Grand Prize 
  • Monaco Streaming Film Festival – Best Documentary 

MILKED has also been nominated at the 20th Anniversary of Cinema for Peace.

What do you think the future holds for dairying in New Zealand, and worldwide?

I really hope that governments around the world help farmers to transition out of dairy sooner than later. As well as the fact that it’s unhealthy for people, destructive to the environment, and cruel to animals, something that most people aren’t aware of is that real dairy products can now be made without cows, and huge money is going into scaling up this industry – Perfect Day Foods is one example of a company focusing on this. The dairy proteins casein and whey are being produced in fermentation tanks from microbes, instead of in the mammary glands of cows. This precision fermentation process is how the majority of rennet for the dairy industry is already being made, and it’s been predicted to wipe out the global dairy industry in the next 10-15 years. NZ’s milk powder exports will be one of the first to go. 

Something that most people aren’t aware of is that real dairy products can now be made without cows, and huge money is going into scaling up this industry – Perfect Day Foods is one example of a company focusing on this.

Finally, are there any other projects you are working on?

I’m planning a film that follows a dairy farm transitioning out of dairy… early stages for now but I’m excited about learning more and documenting it to hopefully help inspire more positive change. I have some other ideas also, but one thing at a time!

We know that you’ll be taking some time in France after the latest awards ceremony to cycle around the French Riviera and meet up with friends. We hope you have a wonderful time! Hopefully, we can catch up with you again on your return.

Thank you Sandra! 



‘The Israeli Food Revolution’ – VEGAN VOICES writer Ori Shavit

Next in our series on the writers of “VEGAN VOICES –  Essays by Inspiring Changemakers”, is Ori Shavit.  

Ori Shavit is a food journalist and restaurant critic who used to eat everything until she became vegan about a decade ago. Since then, she has become one of the leaders of the most significant culinary revolution to have taken place in Israel in recent years.  She is the founder of the blog ‘Vegans On Top’, regularly collaborates with leading food companies in Israel, develops recipes, leads cooking workshops, and gives talks on plant-based nutrition and the vegan lifestyle around the world. Ori also founded the successful vegan pop-up restaurant ‘Miss Kaplan’ that operated in Tel Aviv. She is author of the best-selling cookbook ‘My Vegan Kitchen’, which has already sold twenty-five thousand copies in Israel. Her second cookbook, ‘Vegan Celebration’, was released in February of 2021.  


Extract from her essay in VEGAN VOICES:

“Today, Israel is a vegan power nation. It is considered the country with the highest percentage of vegans and vegetarians in the world… It has a particularly high percentage of flexitarians. About 35 percent of Israelis claim to have reduced their animal consumption in recent years.  As of the time I am writing these words more than one hundred companies and projects are offering, producing, and developing a large variety of alternatives to animal products, and the volume of plant-based products already being sold in market chains is constantly expanding. Advertisements promoting vegan products like vegan milk and vegan burgers are broadcast on prime-time TV, and almost all national restaurant and coffee chains offer customers a wide selection of vegan dishes that are clearly marked on the menu.  Even in the dining rooms of the Israeli army, a growing selection of vegan dishes is served, in light of the number of vegan soldiers having increased significantly in recent years. When you look back and see how far and to what extent this change has taken place, it is impossible to call it anything other than a revolution”. 


Review of Vegan Voices by Bruce Friedrich, Co-founder & Executive Director, The Good Food Institute:

“There are as many reasons to be vegan as there are vegans, as this lovely anthology makes clear. So many of my heroes in one place—what a treat. Read it and be inspired.”


Vegan Voices: Essays by Inspiring Changemakers
Available at Lantern Publishing & Media

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-59056-650-3
eBook ISBN: 978-1-59056-651-0

Understanding The Power of Compassion – VEGAN VOICES writer Elin Gundersen

Next in our series on the writers of “VEGAN VOICES –  Essays by Inspiring Changemakers”, is Elin Gundersen.  

Elin is a creative concept developer, writer, and coach. Her passion is to spread awareness about the need for a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle. In 2016, she opened vegan café Greenseed with André Gundersen, and in 2017, they created a vegan festival, Green Food Fest. In 2020, along with Kristine Rykkelid and Erik Musum, they founded a development company for sustainable vegan concepts, Greenseed Norge AS. Building concepts, bridgework, and collaboration for improving the world, they enable and inspire people to go vegan. They invite co-creators to contribute to all their platforms, including vegan lifestyle blog ‘Make a Momentum’. They will make history when they open LOCO, Norway’s first full-range vegan grocery store chain. 



Extract from her essay in VEGAN VOICES:

“I was adopted at thirteen months old and brought up in a Seventh-Day Adventist household. As with veganism, I loved how religious texts spoke highly of love, compassion, and kindness. But in reality, I witnessed how interpretations of the words were also used to justify judgment, hate, and violence. This hypocrisy didn’t fare well with me; nevertheless, I myself was also guilty. Growing up, I just wanted everyone to get along, to be fine and happy. Some people seemed unfazed when witnessing cruelty, but I could feel the pain of every living organism through my bones, as if it were my own. Everywhere I turned, hearts were broken, wounds were opened, and I wondered why I was placed here, if only to suffer.”


Review of Vegan Voices by Bruce Friedrich, Co-founder & Executive Director, The Good Food Institute:

“There are as many reasons to be vegan as there are vegans, as this lovely anthology makes clear. So many of my heroes in one place—what a treat. Read it and be inspired.”


Vegan Voices: Essays by Inspiring Changemakers
Available at Lantern Publishing & Media

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-59056-650-3
eBook ISBN: 978-1-59056-651-0

Future viral outbreaks are inevitable – it’s time to adopt a plant-based diet


“The COVID-19 virus has had a huge impact on all of our lives and changed the way we live – perhaps forever. But while it’s important to acknowledge the massive loss of lives and jobs and the impact of the virus on our global society and economy, it’s also vital to examine the root causes of the pandemic – and pandemics in general – if we are to minimise the risk of potentially far more damaging outbreaks in the future.
By exploring the crucial connection between the current crisis and our animal-based food system, the ProVeg Food & Pandemics Report highlights how our food choices help to create a recipe for zoonotic pandemics. By shifting to plant-based and cultured foods, we can help to minimise the risk of future pandemics as well as helping to resolve many of the other key challenges we face, including climate change, biodiversity loss, world hunger, antimicrobial resistance, and the rise of other food-related diseases.
The global response to COVID-19 has shown that we can respond urgently and collectively and that we can do so now. Together, we can change our food systems for a better, healthier, and more resilient world”.

Food and Pandemics Report | Download Now


Millions of people all over the world are cutting back on meat or giving it up altogether.  This is because of compelling evidence that plant-based is the best diet, and that over-consumption of meat and dairy leads to disease, pollution, deforestation, biodiversity loss and global warming. The animal agriculture sector is trying to fight back against the trend to veganism with counter-arguments which Guardian Environment Editor Damian Carrington, debunks here.


Read the article 

Factory farms are manufacturing our modern diseases


–   As well as Covid-10, this century we’ve had a long list of diseases spilled over from animals. 
–  The number is increasing in recent years owing to population increase, global travel and trade, and also in the ways modern farming forces humans, animals and microbes together.
–   Scientists have demonstrated a link between intensive poultry production and the emergence of highly pathogenic forms of avian flu, and a link between intensified pork production and swine flu.
–   Infectious disease is not the only consequence of industrialised farming. Others include antimicrobial resistance and elevated greenhouse gas emissions.
–   To avoid pandemics in the world we need to take a long, hard look at our relationship with the natural world, and particularly with other animals.
–   We need to acknowledge that we are manufacturing our own diseases, start talking about our lifestyle choices and the industries that satisfy them.
–   The time to do that is now.


Read the Time article here


Key Points:

We need to take measures to reduce the chances of life-threatening viruses issuing from ‘wet markets’ ever happening again.


The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, despite its name, does not sell just seafood – also available were hundreds of live animals for sale, including turtles, snakes, rats, wild cubs, as well as cats and dogs for the meat trade.


Such markets are not only present in China – they are seen all over Asia. Outside of the disease risk, these markets almost always present severe welfare issues for all the animals involved, as they watch their companions roughly handled and slaughtered for their meat.


The latest outbreak demonstrates, additionally, how cruelty and apathy towards animals is closely linked to human suffering. The illegal capture, transport, holding and slaughter of dogs and cats across Asia is simply a public health nightmare waiting to happen.


It is time that we learned our lessons.  It’s time to end live markets and the dog and cat meat trade.

Read the Four Paws article here:

See also: 






Pigs in Peril: Slaughterhouse deregulation in the US

Gail A. Eisnitz, author of ‘Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry’, and 2004 winner of the Albert Schweitzer Medal, is the author of our featured article.

In December this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will implement its ‘modernization’ plan for the slaughter of pigs (hogs).    Under the new rules, meat processing companies will be given the green light to operate without a ceiling cap, effectively a licence to kill as many pigs as they can, as fast as they can. The new laws also make key inspection duties within plants self-regulating, an inherent conflict of interest that will end up badly not only for workers, but potentially for public health and, of course, for the principal victims, the pig themselves.

As Eisnitz documented in her ground-breaking book,  pigs in high-pressure, chaotic slaughterhouse environments were still conscious after being stunned, shackled, hoisted and stuck (throats slit).  Others regained consciousness and ending up being thrown in the scalding tank, still alive, spending their last moments in unimaginable, excruciating agony.   Employees at these high speed plants routinely resorted to brutality against the animals, to vent their frustrations as they attempted to cope with the physically and emotionally heavy demands on them.

If the legislation comes into effect  this dire situation will only get worse.  Unless there is grassroots action to urge lawmakers to stop the implementation of these ill-conceived and inhumane changes, the Trump government will be responsible for jeopardizing the physical and mental health of slaughterhouse staff; consumers will be more likely to contract disease; and even more intelligent, sentient beings will die in conditions of extreme terror and agony.

Read the article here

Mooove Over Animal Agriculture: Plant Proteins Are Mushrooming

Emerging technologies spell the end of animal agriculture within a couple of decades, according to a new report from international Think Tank RethinkX. While we agree, at End Animal Slaughter we believe that the report’s authors timeline is too conservative – by 2025 most animal-derived protein will have come to an end in the western world. 

Farmers should be reading the signs now, and begin the work of transitioning.

Read a summary of the report here

A Plate of Scrambled – Roosters?

What’s behind your plate of scrambled eggs? End Animal Slaughter guest contributor SARAH OLIVER reminds us of a couple of things we may have overlooked.


It often crosses my mind that our ability to ignore the blindingly obvious makes us, and those we share the planet with, vulnerable.  A case in point is the short and painfully difficult lives of chickens.  We love to eat their flesh, as well as the fruits of their female reproductive system.  Tucking into our plate of scrambled eggs, chances are we don’t consider two major components that have been involved in producing our eggs.      One is the mysterious case of the disappearing males, the other is the ability of the modern layer hen to produce huge quantities of eggs.  No other bird in history has ever done this, for a good reason.

Before humans intervened, the ancestors of today’s hens produced around 15 eggs a year, in spring.   However, in order to satisfy our seemingly unquenchable desire to eat eggs, modern birds have been bred to lay on and on and on, at huge detriment to their small bodies, leading to them being ‘spent’ at only a fraction of their natural lifespan.

Hens can undergo horrific conditions as a result of this intensive laying.  Treated not as sentient beings but as food production units on factory farms, we can only imagine the toll on their frail bodies.  Alongside other conditions and infections, they suffer from osteoporosis.     So much calcium is used in the production of egg shells that the birds are left with brittle bones.  I once talked to an ex-chicken factory worker who said that when handled, their wings can just snap off because their bones are so weak.

The second component we miss when we are tucking into our scrambled eggs is that hens produce both male and female offspring, so what happens to all the males?    They cannot lay eggs so the Industry considers them a financial liability.   They therefore get rid of them as soon as possible after birth. For the baby roosters this means getting minced alive, (imagine throwing baby chicks into a blender) or gassed, within a few hours of hatching.  This is what we do to over 3 million baby birds each year in New Zealand.  In the UK it is 30 million, so we can only imagine the numbers of roosters macerated worldwide.

In 2001 I read an article about workers in New Zealand who were being re-organised into different roles in the egg industry.   Their new role in the production line was to feed otherwise healthy rooster chicks into the shredding machine. Their complaint was that they were ill-prepared to deal with the emotional difficulties of this role.   It is not hard to imagine how horrific such a job would be, spending your day picking out and throwing live healthy baby animals into a machine that grinds them up.  But this is what goes on, and this is what we ask of others when we purchase eggs. If we are horrified at the thought of mincing baby animals alive, then is it right to ask others to do it for us?


We live in an overpopulated world which makes our food choices more weighted than they have ever been. Bombarded with marketing and often conflicting nutritional advice on an unprecedented scale,  eating eggs and chicken meat seems to be winning on the promotional front.  We are turning away from red meat, but consuming a staggering amount of chickens and eggs worldwide.  According to one estimate, we kill more than 50 billion chickens every single year, an astronomical number that does not include the killing of male chicks, and hens who can no longer produce eggs.

Such is the prevalence of chickens, those we eat and those who lay our eggs, that there has been the suggestion that a mark of our modern world will be the chicken bone fossil record we will leave behind us.  Who would have thought that the humble chicken would be the defining characteristic of our age?

There is a huge amount of often contradictory information from the medical, food and dietary industries about the kind of food we should be eating, and we are also subjected to compelling advertising from the fast food industry. This can muddy the water when it comes to deciding what food is best for us.   I have a suggestion that may help our decision.   What if we put ethics and compassion first, then decide what goes on our plate from there?

I have a suggestion that may help our decision.   What if we put ethics and compassion first, then decide what goes on our plate from there?

There is a wealth of researched information on the benefits of eating a vegan, plant-based diet.  Fortunately,  over the last few years many plant-based alternatives to eating animals have emerged, and there is a wide variety to choose from.   Eating a plant-based diet is now easy, and like any other diet, it can be cheap or expensive, whole food or processed, depending on your preference and budget.  I think it is time that we rethink our relationship with the most prevalent, invisible, abused bird on the planet, the poor old Gallus gallus domesticus.  Just as we can only empathise, but not experience, another human’s pain, we cannot know precisely the level of suffering that goes on for a chicken. However, we can be sure that as sentient, complex, social animals, they do suffer, as they endure the cruel and unnatural life we have subjected them to.

Surely no plate of scrambled eggs is worth all that suffering.    Vegan scrambled eggs, on the other hand, are just as tasty, and cruelty-free.



Q&A: Marc Pierschel, Film Maker

1 Your film THE END OF MEAT envisions a future where meat consumption belongs to the past.   What was your chief motivation in making this film?

When I made my last documentary, Live and Let Live, one of my interview questions was what the human-animal relationship will look like in 20 years from now. I got some really interesting answers, which got me thinking about a future perspective in the first place. When the vegan movement suddently entered the mainstream in Germany around 7 years ago, I got the idea to explore the idea further in form of a documentary. I am a vegan myself so it is obviously a really exciting question to explore a future vision of a world without animal exploitation.

2 While meat and animal products continue to be consumed in large quantities in some parts of the world, the growth of veganism is a marked trend in the western world, do you agree?

Yes, absolutely. That was one of the main inspirations to make the film – the growth of veganism and how it changed from a lifestyle that was seen as absurd or crazy to something that is now quite trendy. The market for vegan foods is still growing here and in other european countries and I don’t think it will stop anytime soon especially with new innovative foods that are really challenging traditional animal products in taste and texture.

3 The production and consumption of animal flesh and products involves many industries and people – farmers and farm workers, transport workers, butchers, slaughterhouse workers, retailers, the petfood industry, admin workers, scientists, vets and so on.  In some cases, like here in New Zealand, it is a pillar of the economy.   Is the economy in danger of collapsing if we no longer produce and export animal flesh?

I asked myself this question when I was researching the situation here in Germany. And what I found was that the number of farms and famers over the last 20 years has reduced dramatically. We are now seeing  larger and larger operations farming animals in a more automated way,  so I think employment in the industry or at least for traditional farmers has been decreasing for many years, even before the rise of veganism. On the other hand the plant-based economy is growing quickly and we see that traditional meat producers are entering the plant-based market, either by producing their own vegan and vegetarian products or by investing in plant-based or cultured meat start-ups. So there are new jobs being created at the same time. I don’t think it will be a collapse but rather a slow shift to an animal-free industry.

4 In order to bring the change about sooner, what should our strategies be?

I think consumer awareness is key for broader change. And that is something that has been growing exponentially. Without awareness it will difficult to establish any sort of structural changes that are necessary on a legislative level. For example by taxing animal products or cutting subsidies. It is a tricky situation since the animal industry has such a large lobby in most countries. But with growing ecological and health related problems that are undeniably caused by the consumption of animal products I think it is far from  a hopeless cause.

5 What would a post-meat western society look like?  How will it be a better world?

There would be tremendous benefits to lots of ecological problems our planet is currently facing: Greenhouse gases from animal farming, deforestation for farm- and cropland, water shortages caused by farming as well as vast ocean dead zones from agricultural pollution. And of course there are the billions of animal lives that won’t be born only to suffer and be killed. It would be interesting how this would change our relationship with the animals that we don’t eat – I hope this will also have an effect on other exploitative practices that are still seen as acceptable,  such as animals used in entertainment,  for testing and hunting – just to name a few. A very interesting book I can recommend is ‘Zoopolis’ by Will Kymlicka and Sue Donaldson, who also have an appearance in the film.

6 Where can people see your film?

You can livestream The End of Meat at   You can also sign up to our newsletter or follow us @theendofmeat on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.  Thanks!

Thankyou for your time.