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Friedrich Mülln, Factory Farm Investigations.
Friedrich Mülln has been documenting factory farms for almost twenty years. His main field of action are investigations and data research into the animal industry. In the course of his work he published countless investigations in all the major media in Germany. His most prominent and well known accomplishment so far is the 2003 investigation into Covance Life Science in Münster (Germany) where he worked as an animal technician for 4½ months. He had been working as a campaigner against foie gras and live-plucking for almost a decade before he founded his own organization in early 2013. Since that time SOKO Tierschutz has been gaining major media attention and support from people due to successful campaigns (mink oil campaign in 2013 and foie gras campaign in 2014) and groundbreaking investigations. The philosophy of the organization is to battle the animal industry by thorough research and investigation, close cooperation with the media, and changing consumer behavior.
Caryn Hartglass: Hey everybody, we are back! Just laughing, listening to the last commercial, “Organic Gluten Free Satire.” I like that! All right we are also organic here at It’s All About Food and I want to bring on my last guest. I am very happy that we are able to connect with Friedrich Mülln! He’s been documenting factory farms for almost 20 years! His main fields of action are investigations and data research into the animal industry. In the course of his work, he published countless investigations in all the major media in Germany. His most prominent and well known accomplishment so far is the 2003 investigation into Covance Life Science in Münster, Germany, where he worked as an animal technician for four and a half months. He’s been working as a campaigner against foie gras and life-plucking for almost a decade before he founded his own organization in early 2013, SOKO Tierschutz, which has been gaining major media attention and support from people due to successful campaigns like the Mink Oil campaign, foie gras campaign, and groundbreaking investigations. Welcome Friedrich to It’s All About Food!
Friedrich Mülln: Hello!
Caryn Hartglass: Hello Friedrich! I’m so happy that we were able to connect!
Friedrich Mülln: Yeah, and the connection sometimes is a little bit weak but let’s try it out!
Caryn Hartglass: Let’s try! You are very brave!
Friedrich Mülln: Yeah, thank you!
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, so you’ve done factory farm investigations. Tell me, what was it like working as an animal technician for Covance Life Science?
Friedrich Mülln: Yeah, this was unfortunately I think a unique experience because no laboratory ever let me into this place but it was shocking, but fascinating too, how these people worked in this absolutely isolated work of animal testing. Sometimes it felt like a religious sects where they just think of some belief that animal testing works and are just absolutely isolated from everything around.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I don’t know how you could work that way and knowing how you feel and seeing what they were doing for so long, very brave!
Friedrich Mülln: It’s really hard because if you see a Macaque monkey being restrained on the ground and the animal is shouting and struggling and bleeding and being pierced in the arm it’s unbelievable!
Caryn Hartglass: So tell me what’s going on with factory farms in Germany today.
Friedrich Mülln: Yeah, Germany is still one of the big countries in the world. We’ve got factory farming. We sometimes even think of farms in the US but there’s a lot of progress because there is not only a lot of undercover investigations, like from our group, but a lot of normal people are waking up and changing how they are eating, how they are living, and it’s just a big protest of normal people and that’s a big progress.
Caryn Hartglass: What is a Mink Oil Campaign?
Friedrich Mülln: Yeah, I was questioning the same when I heard of it… I was working for so many years in animal rights and… I found out that, yeah, the dead corpses from the Minks…
Caryn Hartglass: Friedrich you are kind of coming in and out, keep going!
Friedrich Mülln: So, the oil is used for cosmetics and we exposed this that the people that maybe never will buy Mink Coats are putting this stuff into their hair and this was a big exposure that resulted in stopping the oil sale of Mink Oil in all of Germany retails.
Caryn Hartglass: I did not know that Mink Oil was used in cosmetics and hair products! Does it say it in the list of ingredients or is it called something else?
Friedrich Mülln: It’s called Mustela Oil, for example, from the Latin name of the Mink and if you see Mustela Oil it sounds like a nut, not the fat from a skinned bloody Mink.
Caryn Hartglass: Now is this a byproduct from the fur industry?
Friedrich Mülln: It’s a byproduct. People will say byproducts but money from the Mink industry, especially the United States, is made with Mink Oil. It’s relevant and it’s in high times when the fur industry is in high times. This profit they make is from Mink Oil.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay so what did your Mink Oil campaign consist of?
Friedrich Mülln: It’s pretty easy! Like the most work of SOKO Tierschutz which means, SOKO: animal welfare, but actually we are an animal rights group and we just inform the people. We look for targets that are new for topics that are fresh, sometimes ignored by all the animal groups, and then we just give it to the media and we talk with people. In the most cases, like Mink Oil, it’s pretty quickly to solve it.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow, so the media is friendly to your information?
Friedrich Mülln: Yeah, they changed then. The last years twenty years ago there were about 14 view reports on animal issues a year. Now SOKO Tierschutz now has about 40 reports a year in Germany. So they are not friendly but they are very interested and if we get really good facts they make good reports
Caryn Hartglass: Great, and what about foie gras? I know here in the United States we had two companies that were making foie gras and we had big anti- foie gras campaign a few years ago to change some regulations. Is foie gras made in Germany?
Friedrich Mülln: No, it was made many many decades ago but it’s already banned for about 20 years, like it’s banned in most countries of the European Union but unfortunately we have France, Hungary, Bulgaria, Spain and these are the foie gras producers in the world.
Caryn Hartglass: So, you import foie gras?
Friedrich Mülln: Yes, it’s a typical German thing. You’re not allowed to do it in your own country but you can just buy it from abroad, which is strange.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s the human way I think! We always look for ways around to get what we want!
Friedrich Mülln: Yeah we have the problem at the moment where one of our longest…
Caryn Hartglass: Okay Friedrich I’m going to ask you to just repeat everything you have just said because I didn’t hear it.
Friedrich Mülln: Yeah obviously the German.. the internet is really bad!
Caryn Hartglass: Haha well maybe it’s our side or maybe it’s the weather, but just start again!
Friedrich Mülln: I was just saying that most people create some kind of comfort in their brain, the milk from a nice source, from a family farmer, from the butcher next door but this was the same like with foie gras and the people just make a sense of comfort and ignore the truth.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, ignoring the truth! Well, alright so we’ve got mink oil, we have foie gras, are people in Germany eating more meat or less meat these days. Germans have always been big meat-eaters like Americans!
Friedrich Mülln: Yeah, I know this from my past because my father was a meat trader and was a really important thing in my life until I turned thirteen and became vegan. The meat consumption is decreasing. This is already a big landmark and this makes the industry really panicky at the moment.
Caryn Hartglass: Good! So it’s not increasing, that’s good!
Friedrich Mülln: It’s decreasing.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, how did your father feel about you becoming a vegan?
Friedrich Mülln: Oh he was quite open to it surprisingly because he really knew what was going on in the meat business, he knew about all this dirty stuff going on. He said “okay, if this is your decision I will support it” and he me bought me my first night vision device when I was 14.
Caryn Hartglass: Nice! Now the raising of animals for food is devastating on the environment for many different reasons. We’ve got piles of maneuver that aren’t treated properly. We are using a lot of water and the fertilizers and pesticides and herbicides going into the water are affecting the quality of water. There are a lot of bad things about animal agriculture. Is it the same where you are?
Friedrich Mülln: I would say it’s the same. Not that drastic, sometimes I’ve been in the US and I’ve seen how the people for example deal with corpses of animals just dumping them behind the farms or whatever. This is not that easy in Germany, especially because it’s a small country compared to the US but in the whole it’s the same. Our water is spoiled, our air is dirty because of all these gasses from the farms and yeah, we have the same problems. Fortunately the political way of dealing with it, are far more progressed than in the US I think.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, I see that all the time and I am excited when I see things that are happening and you are banning certain things that I don’t believe in and then disappointed when I see something get pushed through that shouldn’t be allowed. But, the European community is definitely a leader in environmental regulation and animal welfare regulation.
Friedrich Mülln: Yes and no. If I look at for example all these factory farms at the foie gras production, the black hole of animal testing with no regulations at all, ruling this dirty business. The European Union for sure has good sides but at the end a lot of lobbying groups are manipulating the politicians here and are paying a lot of money that everything is getting like it got in the last years.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay let’s talk about animal testing. I know that the European Union passed a law, I think it was last year, where animal testing wasn’t allowed anymore on cosmetics.
Friedrich Mülln: Stuff was done, yeah.
Caryn Hartglass: Is that happening or are people getting around it?
Friedrich Mülln: Yeah, anyway tests were set that animal testing for cosmetics is a really really small part of the whole animal testing industry, so it’s sometimes a tactic we see that they ban something really small just to get rid of all the protesters and of course companies can go to abroad out of the European Union to countries of eastern Europe or Russia or Asia and do the business there It’s really really difficult to control this. In the whole European Union there are only five or ten people for controls of farms for example. This is ridiculous.
Caryn Hartglass: So the big animal testing today is for drugs, pharmaceuticals.
Friedrich Mülln: Yes, pharmaceuticals, chemical, bio-chemical industry, this is a big business. There are even more test for cigarettes than for cosmetics so.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh really? Oh goodness. Yeah, we’ve seen some public service ads showing animals smoking to show how ridiculous it is to test smoking on animals. We know it’s bad for them and us. They don’t want to smoke!
Friedrich Mülln: Yeah, of course, beagles don’t want to smoke, monkeys don’t want to smoke, but actually it’s not the cigarette industry doing the test, it’s the pharmaceuticals and government health industry again that are trying to solve all the problems created by smoking. So even if you smoke one of these alternative brands, it doesn’t prevent the huge animal testing because the huge animal testing is done by only one reason because smoking creates cancer and a lot of companies are looking for getting money by helping to solve the cancer problem created by smoking.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh so I imagine the new E-Cigarettes are probably being tested on animals.
Friedrich Mülln: I’m quite sure because a lot of chemical substances are inside and here again not only the cigarette industry is doing this or the industry by the E-cigarettes, but the government facilities proximity testing. Everything has to be tested if it’s dangerous or not and we have this huge reach program in the European Union testing all chemicals again it’s killing millions of animals.
Caryn Hartglass: Alright, let’s lighten up in the last few minutes and tell me about the wonderful foods you have in Germany that are vegan and the vegan products that are coming out. Clothing and shoes, what have you got going on there?
Friedrich Mülln: Yeah, I’m really proud honestly on Germany in this aspect because we have some of the world leaders of vegan meat substitutes we just had a big action on a festival promoting vegan barbecue stuff and it was so amazing that meat eaters came there and said “oh that’s fantastic” and some of the people converted…I don’t want to use this world, but immediately saying ‘I don’t want to eat meat anymore if the substitutes are so tasty’. The same is happening with yogurt, we have a really good new cheese now and this makes the biggest breakthrough because we are winning this conflict of course with the media with exposure. At the end we are winning this conflict on the table.
Caryn Hartglass: Is there are a vegan white sausage?
Friedrich Mülln: There’s a vegan white sausage and actually it’s quite good. I still can remember from my childhood how this barbarian typical sausage tastes and also this one and the great thing is that veganism is now a really great issue in Germany. If you go to a bookstore, the first thing you see is a pyramid of vegan cookbooks and 20 years back this was something like a dream. I would never think that will happen.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah well I lived in Europe in the early 90’s. I lived in the South of France and I traveled to Munich quite often and I was appreciative of a number of things. One is you have the great reform houses where I could get my soy milk and my vegetarian products, and I’ve found in the restaurants it seemed easier there than in other European countries to explain to people what I wanted to eat and to eat vegan.
Friedrich Mülln: Yes, sometimes I still get a really strange face from the people but if I compare it 20 years ago the people didn’t get it if. I said “I’m vegan” the people would think I had some kind of sickness or whatever. Today they say “Oh you’re vegan we have some options available” or the people say “Oh, I’m vegan too!” This is happening today so I’m optimistic and I think if we go on with frequently showing the truth and advertising for good alternatives how rich vegan diet is and what a great stuff for the nature and for your own body, than we will succeed. Even the multi-billion industry has no chance at all. I am more optimistic than ever!
Caryn Hartglass: Oh I love that and I believe in it too! Friedrich thank you for joining me on It’s All About Food I look forward to visiting Germany and trying some white vegan sausage very soon!
Friedrich Mülln: You’re welcome. I am only 50 kilometers from Oktoberfest!
Caryn Hartglass: Oh great! And vegan beer!
Friedrich Mülln: Yeah, this is difficult because of gelatin and it’s cleared with gelatin but there is some vegan alcohol.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, there are some! Okay, thank you and be brave, keep continuing doing what you’re doing, I love it!
Friedrich Mülln: You’re welcome, sorry for the bad connection!
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, well I understand you and that’s good! All right, that’s the end of this program. I’m Caryn Hartglass, you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food and don’t forget my non-profit, responsible eating and living.com. We need your visits, we need to hear from you at info at realmeals.org and if you haven’t seen The Lone Vegan Preaching to the Fire yet what are you waiting for? It’s my 70-minute documentary and watch it, okay? And have a delicious week!
Transcribed by Cassandra Maldonado 9/12/2014