PETA’s Unfair Attack on the Fur Industry

The fur industry is often targeted unfairly by members of groups like PETA. While PETA is technically against using animals in any way (including keeping them as pets!), they never seem to be as aggressive towards the meat eating populace as they are to fur wearers. In the past, PETA has gone out of their way to interrupt fashion shows, attack designers outside of their stores, and stage gruesome public displays against fur. They usually make the claim that no one should wear fur because it is an excessive luxury and the fur industry is wasteful, capturing the animals only for their fur and not using any other parts.

Donna Karan, Protest, Fur, PETA

PETA hard at work annoying shoppers.

The argument that the fur indsutry is “wasteful” is completely unfounded. While we may not think of animals like beaver, muskrat, raccoon and rabbit as conventional food, many people do consume these animals as a part of their diet. What isn’t consumed by humans is used in other ways. Mink oil is used in cosmetics, the carcasses are composted to make organic fertilizer. (In Europe, mink is sometimes now used to make biofuels!) Much of the wild-caught animal carcasses are left in the wilderness, to complete the cycle and become food for hungry birds, mice and other animals through the long cold winter. Fur Is Green has a great video on their site about the mink farms in Denmark. You can view it here, and see for yourself how the animals are treated from life to death, as well as how the rest of the mink is used.

Why would PETA waste so much time on such a small industry? The number of animals harvested annually for the fur industry barely makes a dent in our animal consumption as a whole. Of the animals slaughtered every year in North America, almost 10 billion animals are used for food, 6 million farmed-raised mink and foxes are killed for their fur, and about 6 millions wild animals are trapped. So the animals used for fur represent less than 0.1% (0.0012) of the number consumed for food. Add the millions of abandonned animals euthanized in humane shelters, millions more killes on our highways, others used for medical research, etc., and we quickly put the real impact of the fur trade into fair perspective. Put even more simply: most of us eat animals at least once a day; how often do you buy a fur coat?!

Rosa Mori, Furs, Fur Coats,

Not as often as we'd like to! Beautiful fur coats from Rosa Mori Furs.

Perhaps PETA attacks the fur industry in such a disproportionate fashion because they know that most people eat meat and aren’t going to give it up any time soon (barely 3% of the Canada’s population practices vegetarianism, with an even smaller percentage of that number living a vegan lifestyle). Why pick a fight you know you can’t win when it is so easy to prey (excuse the pun) upon a tiny, artisanal, family-run sector that lacks the financial clout to fight back? Come to think of it: if the PETA-folks had any real ethical conviction, instead of harassing women wearing fur, maybe they should be picketing motorcycle gangs for their use of leather!

The USDA has the numbers on the animals slaughtered for food every year.

The US Fur Commission has some great information on the mink industry and its by products.

Donna Karan protest image from Trendhunter
Fur coat images from Rosa Mori.

This article has been updated  July 12, 2011

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Fur Hypocrite: Tim Gunn

Tim Gunn, fur hypocrite, PETA

Tim Gunn, chairman of fashion design at Parsons.

We’ve been meaning to write about this story for some time now, so excuse the delay. Earlier this year, Tim Gunn supported an event hosted by PETA to unveil their most recent I’d Rather Go Naked ad (read more about it here, on Styleite.) The crazy thing is, he wore leather shoes to the event, and a wool suit. His explanation?

“My advocacy is really directed toward fur specifically,” Gunn said. “It’s so much more succinct and tangible, and there are lots of fake fur options. It’s not like it’s the only thing you can do. There are fewer options when it comes to leather, at least right now.” (Styleite)

Hmmm… perhaps Mr. Gunn, who is very active in fashion indsutry, and a rather knowledgeable man, missed the day that fake leather was launched? Either that, or he is a total hypocrite, using the PETA exposure to further his career and increase his exposure. And what do you think the chances are that he will forfeit wool and leather, when there are better “options”?

And to say that fur is much more “succinct and tangible” is absolutely ridiculous. Sure, a full length mink coat might draw more attention than a pair of leather shoes, however this does mean it is ok to kill cows for shoes, but not minks for coats? I had a lot of respect for Gunn before this event, but now he has proved himself to be very uneducated, or a major HYPOCRITE.

Image source.

Fur Hypocrite: Janice Dickinson

Janice Dickinson, fur hypocrite, PETA

When interviewed for UK magazine Grazia, ex-supermodel Janice Dickinson, talked about the fact that she attends anti-fur rallys. But she later admits to owning and wearing fur:

“I do have to disclose at this point – I’ve had some dead, DEAD! fur in my closet coz I got it from Fendi when I modeled for them, years and years and years ago, and I don’t want to throw it out! I have worn it when I’ve been filming in Russia – but I don’t really wear it unless it’s super cold. So there. You can’t out me for wearing fur sometimes ‘coz I’ve just outed myself!” (Grazia)

So what is the message here Janice? Is it ok to wear fur if it is from Fendi? Or if it is free? Or if it is super cold? But the rest of the time it isn’t? How about admitting it is ok to wear fur AND attend anti-fur rallys, if you are a total hypocrite.

Images from Grazia.

Congratulations to the winner of our vintage mink fur jacket giveaway, Vanessa in Germany will be receiving the coat in the next few days!