I’m Brooke, and I eat meat and wear vintage fur on occasion. Now it’s your turn to confess. It’s ok. There’s animal products hidden in just about anything from candles and condoms, to fertilizer and beer. No need to point fingers because very few of us are truly free from using animal goods in our daily life. Instead, let’s be honest and have an open dialogue about our use (and misuse) of the animals that share the earth with us, and what to do about it.
You know the saying, “everytime you point a finger at someone, remember that three are pointing back at you”? When you point your fur-hating finger at others, your other three are holding the fork you’re eating your factory-farmed chicken with.
If you’re a strict vegan who follows the rules 100% of the time and investigates your every purchase, this is the time for you to stop reading because it isn’t meant for you. Before you go, hats off to you (and not one made from wool, feathers or fur). Who’s left standing? About 99% of us.
The Vegetarian Resource Group study (including a 2016 poll conducted by Harris Poll) estimates that 1.5% of U.S. adults are vegan. For the other 98.5%, I posed the below questions about what’s right and wrong, and to ask that we examine our own decisions before pointing the finger at others.
I’m a 98.5%-er
- Growing up in Mayberry
This isn’t a lecture; I’m a 98.5 percent-er. I grew up on a farm in rural Minnesota. Whether my dad was gutting fish, or butchering deer and chickens, I didn’t shy away. Dad made my sister and I leather bracelets out of his hides, and he showed me how to melt and mold bullets. He would tell stories of my grandpa and great-uncle butchering cows in the red-stained snow and making head cheese in the basement. Mom fried up livers and gizzards. A classmate’s dad owned the fur trapping store in my little, hometown. Sounds like living in Mayberry, walking down the gravel road with my fishing pole!
(From my Father’s Day blog post, Like father like daughter.)
- Wearing Vintage Fur
Fast forward to today’s time, I own and wear fur pieces passed down generations from my family. My favorite is a raccoon vest built into a knit jacket from my mom.
I posted this picture from my wedding where I was wearing vintage fur, and someone commented that it was sad if it wasn’t fake fur. I assumed they were a vegan animal rights advocate, and I immediately acknowledged that my picture would appear distasteful to someone from a different lifestyle than my own. But then I took a moment to look at her own pictures showing off her “protein” (AKA dead animal on a plate) meals. Were they cage-free, free-range, organic happy chickens? No mention of that! Or could they barely stand in their crowded cage, with their beaks removed, having never seen the light of day? To approve of the murder of 25 million chickens every day in America, while pointing fingers at a stranger re-wearing a coat made from animals killed before many people in America had electricity seemed hypocritical.
- Eating Meat
I first thought about writing this article as I was batting food poisoning after eating raw fish from a French oceanside seafood restaurant. Hmm. Maybe the creatures of the world are trying to tell me something?
Now that you know I’m as guilty as you, let’s get to the ‘meat of the matter’. (Sorry, I can’t help myself sometimes.)
Read beFUR you point fingers
Hate fur but approve of factory farming?
There’s so many documentaries and online videos (ie. the graphic From Farm to Fridge: Have mercy on animals) devoted to exposing the treatment of animals in factory farms, that there’s nothing I can say that hasn’t been said. If you don’t already, start looking into where your meat is sourced from. Or if you attempt to eat mostly-vegetarian meals, like the “meat-free” woman in my opening graphic, do you know how the animals are treated in the bodycare, home goods and vegetarian products you consume? It becomes more and more clear that none of us are innocent, or right.
Why is ok to kill one animal but not another?
It’s ok if it’s not ‘hot’? Is that what meat-eating fur-haters are advocating? I agree that rabbits, chinchillas and fox are beautiful creatures and should not be raised for their fur. But pigs, chickens and cows are beautiful too! If a cow is killed for its meat, it is then cruel to use its hide for purses and rugs, or to hang its skull on a wall?
We all have room to learn and grow and little room to judge.
Also, what about the million critters accidentally killed every day on American roads? What do we do with their furs?
What about animals accidentally killed?
Have you heard of Petit Mort Fur? They get a Native Gypsies two thumbs up for their gorgeous tastes and use of upcycled materials! The company exclusively sells (what they’ve coined) accidental fur. All furs come from wild and free animals that died of natural causes. I’d love to meet owner Pamela Paquin, and do a video blog following her and her manufacturing process on Native Gypsies. I get excited just thinking about it. 2017 goals!
Is wearing faux fur better?
If a woman walks down the street wearing roadkill, vintage fur, or faux fur, people see F-U-R. Are we sending a message that it’s then ok to wear farmed fur? Do our clothes need to come with disclaimer signs?
If you wear faux fur and its made with acrylic polymers derived from coal or petroleum, is that really an improvement over wearing fur in regards to its environmental impact?
To take it a step further, who made that faux garment, and what conditions were they working in? If you’re not familiar with fast fashion, check out the Native Gypsies blog post on The true cost of fashion, on how our fast fashion consumerism demands impact disadvantaged workers in other countries.
What to do with vintage fur?
If you refuse to wear fur and you own one, do not throw that out! The hoarder in me can’t bare the thought. Donate your fur to PETA, who donates coats to the homeless. Or if you’re an animal lover, donate fur to Born Free’s “Fur for the animals” campaign drive. The fur taking up space in your closet will become bedding or comfort for orphaned and sick animals.
Yes, it IS the cutest darn thing you’ve seen today!
Meet the MEAT you eat
Unless you hunt, trap or farm animals, we don’t typically have to see the faces of the creatures we eat and wear. Sometimes I wonder if some people even realize that the meat they buy on the shelf at the store had a face. If you did look it in the eye, would you think twice about your purchases?
Last winter, I ordered fish at a hotel restaurant in Slovakia (where we were living while my husband played hockey for a team), and it was served gutted but with the head, scales and fin fully intact. Despite growing up salmon fishing on Lake Michigan, I was taken aback. I told my husband that every time people use animal products, it should come with the animal’s back story or have its face intact, so that consumers recognize the sacrifice that was made for them.
Throwing Away Meat?
Meat is not one of my favorite food groups. In fact, it would be the first one I’d throw out of the food pyramid (or pie) if I had to choose. That being said, I try to never actually “throw out” meat. Most of our food groups can be composted after their spoilage date, but what about meat? That was a living, breathing creature, sacrificed for human consumption, and it’s too easily discarded in the trash.
Will we eat meat in the future?
I can’t see into the future, but considering the environmental impact of billions of humans consuming animals on a daily basis, my guess is no. At least not to the degree we do now. The documentary Meat the Truth examines the impact of the meat industry on our environment.
With clean water scarcity concerns in our world’s future, large animals might be the first to get cut (no butcher pun intended). Huffington Post reports that it takes over 1800 gallons of water to “grow” your 16 ounce steak. Even a small animal like a chicken requires over 500 gallons of water per pound. If I have the choice between a month of showers (500 gallons of water) or eating one pound of chicken, I can guarantee you I’ll be squeaky clean!
What’s the ‘right’ thing to do?
Until the world goes entirely vegan and animals aren’t killed on our roadways, what is the right thing to do? Cancel that. There’s no right answer here. For starters, how about we tuck our pointer fingers back in and look at ourselves. What can we do to become informed consumers, and not only concerning animals? Ask questions. Learn. Buy quality clothing and keep it, or purchase second-hand clothing. If you wear fur, wear vintage fur or fur from animals not raised for their skins. If a vegan and vegetarian lifestyle isn’t something you’re willing to commit to, try Meatless Mondays. Learn about where your meat comes from, how it’s raised, and its living conditions. Vote with your dollars.
Everyone, and everything, has a story. Let’s hear yours.
We want to hear your recommendations and suggestions! Are you educated on the animal industry, or do you have a perspective that could enlighten me or the community of readers to see this topic in a new way or make a positive change in our lives? We’d love to hear from you!