Most people are well aware that fur comes from animals that are cruelly trapped or raised miserably in tiny cages, yet we constantly turn a blind eye to leather, which is produced in exactly the same way.
Brushed off as a byproduct of another industry, leather is an animal’s skin too, and it’s not just cows that suffer; calves, goats, lambs, ostrich, alligators and even cats, dogs and horses are all exploited to make shoes, bags, belts, clothing, upholstery and innumerable other products.
Logic tell us that in the case of leather, the animal is going to be eaten anyway, so obtaining the leather is just an added bonus, but leather is much more than just a byproduct of the meat industry.
The arguments against using fur usually revolve around the barbaric treatment and slaughter, along with most people being unable to justify animals being killed solely for fashion purposes, but these same moral principles can also be applied to leather.
Wherever the leather comes from, be it spent dairy cows, newly born lambs, dogs bred in Thailand and falsely labelled as cow skin, or kangaroos imported from Australia, in every instance the animals are cruelly confined or viciously hunted, poached and trapped before being skinned.
More than half of the world’s leather comes from India, where animal welfare regulations are virtually non existent or rarely enforced. A large majority of these cows are condemned former dairy cows that have endured a lifetime of unimaginable cruelty that are then shipped thousands of miles to the only two states in India where cattle slaughter is still allowed, and in some cases all the way to Bangladesh. Before even arriving at the slaughterhouse, many of these animals are too sick and injured to even walk, and once at their final destination their death is far from painless.
Not all leather comes from the food industry; many animals are hunted and killed specifically for their skin including zebra, deer, ostrich, seals, snakes, dolphins, crocodile…the list goes on and on. Understanding where or who your leather comes from is hard to discover as most leather products are simply labelled “Genuine Leather.”
Recent investigations have shown that some “Genuine Leather” products are actually the skin of cats and dogs. During an 18 month undercover investigation in Asia, the Humane Society of the United States found dogs and cats raised in disgusting, dark, cramped conditions and brutally slaughtered by having their throats slit before being turned into wallets, purses and golf gloves destined for Europe and the United States.
Those in favor of leather say that the alternatives are often petroleum based and are wreaking havoc on our environment so they are in fact no better, but doesn’t have to be the case as there are plenty of animal free options that are also earth friendly. Another important factor to bear in mind is that the leather industry is equally environmentally devastating, utilizing dangerous mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives and cyanide-based oils and dyes in the tanning process, so surely choosing products that don’t involve animal suffering is still the lesser evil. Compared to the millions of tons of plastic products that the general public purchase annually, one pair of good quality synthetic shoes that could last for years doesn’t seem so bad after all.
What’s your take on hating fur but loving leather? Do you think it is hypocritical?
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
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