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Helen Bennett Harvey promises that no animals were harmed in the making of this blog. Vegging Out is a recipe for a new way of life. Or at least a new way of eating. Pull up a chair. Contact me at: hbennettharvey@nhregister.com

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Leather poll (sounds kind of like a kinky nightclub, huh?)

I created the poll on leather mostly out of curiosity, not because I had anything interesting to say on the matter. I found the results disappointing... not because of the way people responded, but because only 9 people did so (and I know one of them was Helen).

Anyway, our sampling told us that 44% of vegetarians reading this site do wear leather, while 33% do not and 22% currently do but are considering changing their ways.

PETA (which I'm beginning to think many people view as an extremist group), has this article about the leather industry. Citing the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the article states, "Every year, the global leather industry slaughters more than a billion animals and tans their skins and hides."

My question is: would these animals have been killed anyway for their meat? And if so, should that affect one's decision whether to wear leather (say that ten times fast)?

According to this Web site, Cows Are Cool, "Leather from cows comes from animals raised for both beef and milk."

That gave me some relief of guilt, until I read further and learned that "Buying leather directly contributes to factory farms and slaughterhouses, since the skins of animals are the most economically important coproduct of the multibillion-dollar meat industry."

The site then goes on to describe the horrific conditions in which most of these cows live, which I'll spare you from.

I did not respond to my own poll (I've still got some dignity) but I think I'm leaning toward the third category, meaning I wear leather now but after learning more about it, am starting to rethink it.

What do you all think??

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Phil said...

Would the animals whose skin ends up as leather shoes, handbags, assless chaps and the like have been killed anyway? Probably.

But if for no other reason that to avoid the charges of hypocrisy that will inevitably follow, vegetarians generally should avoid it. Regardless of why the animal was killed, wearing leather is something that is fundamentally opposed to the reasons one would become vegetarian in the first place, and there's just no way to reconcile it.

Kind of like when NBA players sign a paper saying they oppose what's going on in Darfur, it's standing up for principles.

December 14, 2007 5:12 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only is leather a significant profit generator for the meat/dairy industry, it's no friend of the environment either as many of the chemicals used in turning animal skin into a substance that won't decompose are quite nasty. Of course, conventional cotton and some synthetics are also pretty bad, but I think a lot of people are under the mistaken impression that leather is some how more eco-friendly than polyester. It's not. You can make environmentally friendly synthetic and natural fabrics, but there's no such thing as animal friendly leather.

As for the argument that "if the animal was going to be killed anyway, what's the harm in wearing their skin," I'll just say this. Would you feel okay about wearing the tanned skin of a murder victim? You didn't ask for that person to be killed. In fact, you find their death morally abhorrent. In fact, let's say hypothetically that you didn't even pay for these human-skin shoes. But there they are and they seem practical and perhaps by wearing them you will help ensure that the victim's "sacrifice" was not in vain. Sound appealing?

Wearing leather symbolizes your willingness to accept the contention that animals should be treated like commodities as opposed to sentient beings.

Then again, if you're going to eat eggs and cheese, wearing leather is probably a good practice in overlooking the less obvious origins of animal suffering. (I.e., your rennet-free cheese still comes from a cow whose reproductive system was hijacked for human profit, whose calves were taken from her within hours of birth, and who will finally be rewarded for her 'generosity' by a trip to the slaughterhouse, usually when she's no more than 5 years old.)

Thanks for blogging.

April 11, 2008 3:08 PM 

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