Bafta win for vegan farmer who gave away his herd

Vegan farmer SM Farm

Jay Wilde, the vegan farmer who gave away his herd to an animal sanctuary to save them from slaughter, is the “star” of a documentary that this week picked up a Bafta.

Entitled ‘73 Cows,’ and the work of film-maker Alex Lockwood, it picked up the award in the best short film category at Sunday’s event.

Jay (pictured) handed over his beef herd to a Norfolk rescue centre rather than selling them – meaning he took a loss of £50,000 – sparking huge media interest.

The story of how the Ashbourne, Derbyshire, farmer struggled with his conscience is at the core of the 15-minute film.

Already a vegetarian when he took over the farm following his father’s death, he later became a vegan.

Believing his personal feelings were at odds with the beef industry, he decided to pass the cows on to an animal sanctuary to save them from what he described as a “terrifying death”.

Speaking to the BBC in July 2017, following his decision, he had felt a “duty” to keep the farm going after inheriting it from from his father in 2011.

However, he found it “difficult” parting with the animals and that he was “betraying” them when he sent his cows to be slaughtered.

Jay, who still cares for 17 cows on the farm, hopes to get permission to erect polytunnels on his land so that he can grow organic produce.

He is also looking at opening a bed and breakfast on the farm, turning it into a “vegan destination”.

The ‘73 Cows’ film was already a winner before this week, having earlier picked up the grand prize at the 2018 Ottawa International Vegan Film Festival.

Jay said the film accurately reflected the isolation and desperation he felt on the farm. “It’s true to life, unfortunately,” he said.

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