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

100 Days of Fur: Day 1

A few months ago we were trying to figure out the reasons why people don’t wear fur. Is it because of the animal welfare? For most people, I don’t think so. We all know that animals are a part of our lives, we eat them, use them to make our shoes, and we wear them on our bodies. So we have accepted that as humans, we consume animals, and providing it is done in the most ethical and sustainable ways possible, we are ok with this. I realised the reason why I don’t wear a lot of fur is beacuse I am scared of people giving me hassle.

When I thought about it, I realised that it was wrong. So wrong. How can I let someone with different beliefs than me try and tell me, or intimidate me, into not wearing what I want? It is morally wrong. Just like animal rights activists don’t stand outside Safeway and scream at people buying steaks, or no government should tell a woman to cover her face, no one should make me feel uncomfortable for wearing fur. But then I was told it isn’t the case. No one will bother you when you wear fur, I was told. Everyone has told me that aside from the rare dirty look from a teenager, they have never been hassled when wearing fur.

Day 1: uneventful.

So I decide to put it to the test, and wear fur for 100 days straight. My Montreal fur-wearing friends obviously have very few problems, as it is quite common to wear fur there. But in Vancouver, the situation is different. Animal right activists have been, well, very active recently. I want to see what will, or what won’t, happen to me if I wear fur for 100 days. This has become an experiment to benefit everyone who has a beaufiul rabbit jacket, fox collar, or mink coat, and is worried about the consequences of wearing them. I’m hoping to prove that fur is not only warm and beautiful, but it also very safe to wear.

I’ve got a few rules, or shall I say guidelines, that I am following during these 100 days.

  1. I will wear a visible item of fur every day that I leave the house (it is unlikely that I will ever have a day where I don’t leave the house, because I have a dog that needs to be walked, but if I am sick in bed, I may not be able to wear any fur. I will, however, wrap myself in a rabbit blanket for the benefit of the experiment.)
  2. Items can include coats, jackets, scarves, collars, shoes, etc… anything that has a visible piece of real fur on it. I’m aiming for the larger pieces, but I also don’t want to be seen wearing the same few coats every day for the next few months.
  3. I will photograph my outfits occasionally, and I will write a post at least once a week updating you on anything that happens
  4. I’ll be honest about the negative stuff, although I am hoping there won’t be any
  5. I’m staying anonymous throughout this experiement, simply because I don’t want the activists making my life hell, and ruining the experiment.

Today, day 1, I wore my giant hooded fur jacket with knit trim. I haven’t quite identified the fur the jacket is made out of, since I bought it vintage in Paris many years ago, but it is very warm. I went to Ikea and wore the jacket inside the entire time I was in the store (hours…) and then I went to lunch at my aunt’s where everyone asked me whether the coat was real or not. A few said it was beautiful, and I didn’t encounter a sneer or negative comment the entire day. Success!