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So you love animals and want to live your life without compromising theirs? You may already be vegan / vegetarian, yet living an animal friendly lifestyle goes far beyond just what we eat or dont eat – we can choose “cruelty-free” in so many more aspects of our daily lives.
The Case Against the Fur Trade: Despite several hard hitting and graphic campaigns by organisations such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), fur garments continue to be marketed and sold. The desire for exclusivity overshadows the cruel facts of the fur trade – animals used for their fur are killed by gassing, trapping, strangulation, anal and vaginal electrocution. If contained on a fur farm, these animals live miserable lives in dire conditions prior to their execution solely for human vanity. Garments are also quite often incorrectly labelled to disguise the true source of the fur, which could easily have come from dogs, cats hamsters or even rats – that luxury coat doesn’t seem quite so appealing now eh?
Unless a garment is specifically labelled faux or fake, assume it comes at the expense of an animal’s life and don’t buy it. By buying items with fur trim (toys, gloves, clothes) you are supporting the fur industry. Some people delude themselves thinking that wearing fur trim “is not as bad” as a full fur coat. But not so. Even a small amount of fur causes animals’ suffering and death.
The Case Against the Leather Industry: Leather is the processed skins of animals from factory farms. Shockingly they are often skinned alive and whilst conscious. The tanning and manufacturing process to create leather products is the most economically important co-product of the highly lucrative meat industry, as the cow’s skin is worth about 10% of her total value, making it the most profitable part of her body. The ultra-soft calfskin, often called velvet skin is from extremely young animals bred for their skins, and its high value means that the meat is actually the by-product in this case. They are slaughtered as young as just 20 weeks of age.
Refrain from wearing leather and you’ll feel good in your own skin! Apart from man-made materials like microfiber, pleather, imitation leather, artificial leather, PU or PVC leather, if you can’t compromise on quality look for new innovative alternatives like vegan leathers, crafted from plant based materials.
Sheep Wool & Felt: Much of the world’s wool comes from sheep raised in Australia and New Zealand. Wool is not a simple process of gently shearing sheep who have too much wool and then making it into a garment. The sheep are bred to have too much wool, they are raised in their millions, treated roughly and ultimately slaughtered.
Sheep are castrated and mutilated without anaesthetic or pain killers and can be cut or injured in the shearing process. As they are bred to have an abnormal amount of wool, many sheep suffer from fly infestations, skin sores and wool parasites. Tragically, when they no longer produce wool they are crowded onto multilevel ships and shipped worldwide to countries where animal welfare standards are non-existent. Many don’t even survive the trip. If they do, they are dragged off the ships, loaded onto trucks, pulled by their ears and legs to unregulated slaughterhouses, where their throats are slit, often while fully conscious.
Angora: Angora comes from female rabbits who live lives of isolation in tiny cramped cages. Unable to move about and exercise, these rabbits develop painful sores and deformities. Male Angora rabbits do not make adequate wool so the majority of male angoras are slaughtered at birth.
Cashmere: Cashmere goats are raised in crowded filthy stalls and sheared just when they need their woollen coats the most, in the winter. These goats are then more susceptible to illnesses from being exposed to the cold.
Mohair: Goats raised for their mohair wool are sheared when they have their winter coat. Left naked, the goats develop respiratory illnesses and are susceptible to parasites. Weakened, many goats often die after being sheared. When their wool is no longer thick, they are slaughtered. Wool simply is not necessary; choose garments made with more light-weight and colourfast materials, such as nylon, acrylic, polyester fleece, cotton flannel, or synthetic shearling.
Down: Down is the very soft inside feathers from the breasts of geese and ducks which keeps the birds and their eggs toasty warm. Down is plucked from birds slaughtered for food or from live birds which are forcibly restrained. These animals might undergo live de-feathering three to five times during their short miserable lives confined in large warehouses. After a horrendous life of de-feathering these ducks and geese are sent to slaughter.
Down feathers are commonly found in pillows, jackets, vests, coats and comforters. Comforters are filled with the feathers of 30 – 40 birds. You can sleep comfortably knowing no duck or goose suffered and died by choosing products made from hypoallergenic synthetic down, polyester fill, or some high-tech fabrics. They are often machine washable and do not require dry cleaning like down.
Silk: When silk worms change into pupas, they live inside a cocoon made of fine threads that they spin around themselves. Instead of being able to mature into a moth, their lives are cut short while still inside their cocoon. The cocoons are immersed into boiling water until the pupa dies to obtain continuous threads of silk. To make 100 grams (3.5 oz.) of silk yarn, 1,500 pupas are killed. Millions of silk worms are boiled alive to make silk products like shirts, dresses and ties.
As you can see, clothing made from animals is a grisly business, but thankfully it is becoming easier to be more compassionate and responsible. A Google search using the keywords cruelty-free, vegan, non-leather etc will point you towards eco-friendly retailers / designers.
Animal-Friendly Cosmetic & Household Products
Many manufacturers of cosmetics, personal care and household products still conduct painful tests on animals even though NO LAW REQUIRES THEM TO DO SO. Rabbits and other animals are being blinded by having substances placed in their eyes in the infamous Draize test and still more animals are being poisoned by being force-fed toxic substances in the LD50 test. Humane non-animal testing methods do exist and are currently being used by hundreds of companies. As a consumer, you need to use your buying power to pressure companies to switch to non-animal testing methods. Buy only “cruelty free” products!
Get in the habit of reading labels. A quick flip of the bottle and attention to the print at the bottom will tell you if the company does not test on animals or uses animal ingredients. Many manufacturers will put “Not Tested on Animals” and “No Animal Ingredients” on their product labels. Don’t put cruelty on your shopping list! Check out which companies still test and which companies don’t test.
So how cruelty free is your lifestyle? Remember even small changes help alter the big picture and it would be awesome to think that future generations will bring about an end to the use of animals as food or clothing. And entertainment… that’s another story.
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