Saturday, 2 April 2011

Pro-Fur or Anti-Fur?

As mentioned previously I am looking at the controversy around fur, taxidermy, hunting and vegetarianism for my self defined project. I have decided to focus on just fur and its history, as it is a subject that interests me and is always hot for debate. So, should we be anti-fur or pro-fur?

At one time a fur coat or stole was the height of glamour, and showed off your status. Although with the rising popularity of Animal Rights groups these garments now have a strong cruelty stigma attached to them, with many people turning their backs against it. This rise in poularity is also true for Vegetarianism and Veganism (is that the correct term?) as it makes sense that as more people become aware of cruelty involved in the production of fur more people have taken the step to not use or consume animal products. 

After all, the use of fur is (in my opinion, but still arguably) exactly the same as the use of leather - animals that are farmed or trapped for their fur also have other uses such as meat, oils for cosmetics etc, just like the cows that produce your leather shoes. Although it seems Fur is attacked much more than leather... I once read the statement that Fur is subject to more criticism as it is much easier to attack a lady wearing a fur coat than a biker in a leather jacket, although as I have never done either I can't exactly say if that is the real reason for fur to be a main focus! I personally find it hypocritical when people condemn the use of fur, then turn around tuck into a big steak... animal cruelty is animal cruelty no matter what the end product is. I am guessing this is why so many people choose to become Vegan, and not just give up milk and eggs but also more indirect products such as silk and beeswax. I have a huge amount of respect for Vegans, as from having Vegan friends I know how difficult it can be... especially when it comes to finding items such as cosmetics. 

However recently I read a statement saying that due to our need to protect harvests of vegetables, cereals, etc, millions upon millions of insects are killed as a result of pesticides, which often contaminate surrounding areas by being washed into the water by rain or blown through the air. This means that these cause a reduction of biodiversity, can be particularly harmful to birds and fish and threaten endangered species. Although even if pesticides were banned (Which is highly unlikely to happen) the land used to grow crops, and even build roads, cities and towns was once wildlife habitat, so think of all the animals that have suffered because of this! It seems the more you look into it, the more you cannot get away from animal suffering.
It seems that sometimes products that do not come from animals can be environmentally damaging, which in turn can cause suffering to numerous amounts of animals. One thing that shocked me when researching this topic was also that this is true for Faux Fur. Many people buy Faux Fur as a cruelty free alternative, although it is synthetic and usually from petrochemicals, and the production is very environmentally damaging. Not just this, but it is estimated that they will take at least 600 years to break down. The choice of synthetics can NEVER be for the sake of animals. Now are you ready for the crazy part? Leather, wool, fur, sheepskin and silk are all biodegradable, renewable, recyclable and sustainable. Compared to faux fur, and many other plastics and synthetic products, they are the greener choice. A fur coat is sustainable, extremely long lasting, can be remodeled time and time after again, and when its done with be allowed to rot and return to the Earth. Of course they contain animal cruelty, but would the contamination of habitats and suffering of wild animals not be potentially more dangerous? It raises interesting questions. Are products like cotton and hemp the only cruelty free choice, and are they enough? 

In most countries many wild animals have to be regulated, if not their numbers would greatly increase leading to overpopulation and therefore a huge increase in disease and starvation = phenomenal mass suffering for these animals, and other species which also die due their lack of food, both predators and those that eat the same food. Sadly this has already happened many times, such as in Sweden when foxes were allowed to reach excessive levels and disease killed over 90% of them. These animals are essentially regulated 'for their own good' and killed in a painless way- something depending on your view you will either see as the correct thing or not. So these animals (such as Muskrats and Beaver) do not die (completely) in vain, their meat is eaten, the fur is used (yes for clothing), etc. 

Anyway, This is getting into a mammoth post and I haven't even touched the surface or looked at fur farms and and historic use of fur. This is what I want to explore in my project, the different views around the subject and I would really like to hear your opinions on this topic, particularly the issues raised in this post. 

Are you pro-fur or anti-fur, or is it something where there is no definite answer? Is it correct for humans to interfere with animals? Can animal cruelty ever be justified? Is it possible to lead an animal cruelty free life? Is the use of synthetic clothing which is harmful to the environment justified? Is fur the 'greener' option, and is it fair to let a few animals die to protect the habitat of thousands other? I really want to hear your opinions on this subject!


Patricia said...

Absolutely 100% Anti Fur

Patricia Endersby

Patricia said...

Definitely Anti Fur

Michelle said...

I am 100% anti fur! Where to start! It's such a cruel trade, that's why fur farms are illegal in the uk (since 2003). All fur farmed animals, are kept in small wire cages often cramped and over crowded they are often driven mad, people tend to think expensive labels mean fur is farmed in a kind way, it's not. If the animals are caught in the wild, often in leg hold traps where they stay in agony until the trapper returns. When they are killed, they are either gassed, anally electrocuted or skinned alive. Fur has to be treated with all sorts of chemicals to make it durable, so it won't rot away otherwise it would just decay naturally as you wore it! I am vegan so don't buy leather but leather is a bi product of the meat industry, although they try to make you believe fur is too, it's not. Have a look on C.A.F.T.'s website (coalition to abolish fur) you might find some stuff on there. In my opinion the only species which is over populated and ruining everything is unfortunately us! Sorry to go on Emma, but you did ask for my opinion so there you go! I could go on all night! x

Emma Black said...

Thanks for the opinions! And no Michelle, I don't mind you having a rant as I know you feel strongly about this topic! I want to hear lots of different views and opinions on it :)

Actually, you might be good to interview about this project, if thats ok? Don't worry if your busy! :)

MissRhiRhi11 said...

I have to say that was a very interesting read, it is possibly the only time i've ever considered the other side of fur.
No matter the argument, I don't feel fur can ever be fully justified, but this is mainly due to the inhumane ways the animals are kept and killed.
You say fur is the same as wearing leather. I don't tend to actually wear real leather for the reason I don't wear fur but I still see a difference in it. Cows, whether we like it or not, are a very popular meat, at least in places like Britain/America. I may be wrong but isn't leather simply a by-product of this? Yes, many animals killed for fur have other uses, but it isn't nearly the same as the scale in which cows are used for meat.
And meat, generally, is important to a human diet, it is my understanding that (and this is from vegetarians and vegans I know personally, not the masses)they have to take iron pills and such otherwise you can end up getting fairly ill. Which leads me on to another point. It can take hundreds of, say, mink for ONE item of clothing, whereas a cow could feed a few people.
However the main thing is the conditions of the animals. More often than not the animals are kept in tiny cramped crowded cages where they can end up going so mad they'll eat their own limbs. They become psychologically damaged, stressed and bored. Unable to move around they develop sores and infections. The humans whom 'look after them' are often cruel and brutal and don't see them as life, just objects they can kick around.
They aren't even transported properly. The lack of ventilation and space, and the cramped conditions means many die on the journey from disease and broken bones. This is easily changeable-but does anyone seem to care?
The way they kill them also seems wrong. At least in some places they put an electrode in the animals anus and mouth and electrocute them. In some cases (though I doubt this happens so much now with the laws that have been passed) animals are beaten and strangled to death, or even drowned. Some are hit over the head with a stick, then their throats are slit. And a lot of this is done in front of the other animals, increasing their stress and anxiety.
Sadly i've witnessed horrific videos where animals have even been skinned alive. No matter what culture or country how could that ever be justified?

At the end of the day, the worst part of it is that it is for fashion, for vanity. People can say 'well there are other uses, we can use their oil and meat' but of the millions killed how many are actually used for these other purposes? They are bred and killed for nothing more than to look good on some rich person's back.

So to conclude:

-I'm not supporting the consumption of meat. I do not think the way animals are treated during that process is good either but at least in places like the UK it's better than the way animals are treated on fur farms. For the most part-i'm aware of situations such as battery farming (always try and go for organic and free range, this includes meat). And meat is important in most people's diets-pretty sure we could live without fur.
-The worst thing is the conditions the animals live in.
-You cannot justify fur for its other purposes. Take rabbits for example. Many believe their fur is a by-product of the meat when in fact because of the need for a rabbit to be 12 or so weeks old, the fur would be in better condition before this, therefore killing the rabbit for the pelt alone.
-Killing for meat is bad. Killing for beauty, is disgusting.
-I can't mention much about the environment, I lack enough knowledge. I wish there was a way that didn't require culling animals in order for them to survive...just seems so ironic.

I could go on forever in much more detail but i'm sure you'll read up on it all. And i've probably filled half this page.


Emma Black said...

Thanks a lot for your comment! I think Mink are generally killed for their fur, and the other products secondary although used from each one, I guess in a way to make as much use out of them as possible... I was once told by a Vegan friend that apparently cows killed for their meat are different to cows killed for their leather, although I haven't ever really heard anything about it so may have to look into that!

I don't know a huge amount about the environmental aspects either, I just came across them when doing my research but found it really interesting.

Thanks a lot for sharing your opinion!

MissRhiRhi11 said...

It's good that they make as much use as possible, but they wouldn't need to make the effort to make full use if they didn't kill them to begin with.

Hmm in my past research I've found it's a by product but I may be wrong.

No worries Emma, good luck in your project =)

Rhiannon xx

Jane said...

Okay, re pesticides - animals bred for meat need feeding far more lb of grain required to make a lb of meat, and their feed is also protected by pesticides. So that argument can go ;)

I think the outcry over fur is more the conditions under which the animals are raised - or how we have been told they are raised. I feel it is very hypocritical to oppose fur, which is an animal by product, and then drink milk (which involves the routine removal of newborn female calves from their mothers at birth and the routine killing of male calves since the veal crates have (blessedly) gone in the UK) or as you mention, wear leather or eat meat.

I don't know the answer, except maybe a return to decent values - abolish factory farming which would improve welfare all round, reduce pesticide use, provide a huge boost to employment, be kinder to the environment and earth and we all cut our meat consumption to sensible levels - our price of food would rise for a while, but the increase in employment alone would evetually offset this at a basic level. Just improve welfare all round. But fur or anti fur? My gut feeling says anti, but heck, to play devils advocate, it is biodegradeable, and I wouldn't bat an eyelid at wearing a rabbit fur jacket or pair of gloves from something we shot over the fields so it had a free range life and was used 9eaten) anyway.

So I'll sit on the fence and say anti fur farmed fur - but as long as I wear leather, eat meat and drink milk - I'm not going to say anti the use of another aniumal by product totally.

bluezebra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emma Black said...

Thanks a lot for your opinion Jane :) I didn't mean to say that vegetables are less eco-friendly than meat, I was trying to raise the point more that is it possible to ever fully get away from animal cruelty? Maybe I didn't make that clear enough, sorry!

I agree with you, I think the main cause for concern in many peoples eyes is the way fur farms are operated, or as you say the way we are told they are operated (as there are so many conflicting views by different organisations)

Thanks a lot for the feedback :)

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