Holiday shopping? Leave animal skins off your list

Fur is about as nice as a lump of coal in a Christmas stocking. As you’re doing your holiday shopping this season, here’s why you should choose animal-friendly fur- and leather-free fashions for everyone on your list.

Angelina Jolie’s wardrobe malfunction at the London premiere of Beowulf earlier this month may have caused some fashionistas to think twice about adding “skintight leather pants” to their holiday wish lists. (Actually, anyone who doesn’t look like Jolie should think twice about skintight pants.) That’s fine with me, and while we’re at it, let’s cross all leather―and fur, too―off the list.

Animal skins are about as nice as a lump of coal in a Christmas stocking.

I probably don’t need to tell you what’s wrong with fur. Most people already know. Ninety-one percent of the young people who took part in a poll, for example, said they wouldn’t wear real fur. But this time of year, when stores are filled with shiny displays and everything’s on sale, you might be tempted to buy “just a little” fur, like a pair of fur gloves or a coat with fur trim.

Just remember that even a little bit of fur adds up to a lot of suffering.

From the day they are born until the day they are killed, animals on fur farms lead lives of misery. Rabbits raised to become someone’s fur collar are forced to live in their own filth in small, barren cages. Foxes, insane from stress and boredom, throw themselves repeatedly against the wire cage bars. Or they cower pitifully in the back of their cage, paralyzed with fear. The animals’ deaths are painful and merciless. Many foxes are killed by being electrocuted; minks are cruelly gassed. Rabbits have their necks broken.

So unless you’re playing Secret Santa to the Grinch, it’s best to leave fur on the store shelves.

You might also want to leave the leather boots behind, as leather isn’t exactly animal-friendly, either.

During PETA’s investigations into the leather trade in India, where much of the leather used in the United States is produced, we saw animals who were too sick or injured to walk being dragged and beaten. At the slaughterhouse, cows are bound by all four feet and thrown on their sides onto the filthy, blood-covered floor. Workers cut the cows’ throats with dull knives and leave completely conscious animals to slowly bleed to death. The cows die in pools of their own blood as their companions look on, knowing that they are next.

Cows killed in this country suffer as well, of course. After being transported hundreds of miles in all weather extremes to the slaughterhouse, they are shot in the head with a bolt gun, hung up by their legs and taken onto the killing floor, where their throats are cut and they are skinned. Some cows remain completely conscious throughout the entire process.

And if you’re avoiding toys made in China this year (and who isn’t?), the “Made in China” label on leather and fur garments should also raise a red flag. Cats and dogs in China are routinely bludgeoned, hanged, bled to death and strangled with wire nooses so that their skins can be turned into leather and fur.

So what’s a stylish Snow Bunny to do? Fashionistas can support trendsetting designers like Stella McCartney and Marc Bouwer, who don’t use a stitch of fur or leather in their designs. Budget-conscious consumers will find leather-free fashions, including shoes, belts, bags and more, at strip-mall staples such as Target and Kohl’s. In fact, you can walk into almost any mall and come out with an armful of trendy vegan clothes and accessories.

So let animals keep their own skins. With so many alternatives, there’s no need to be naughty to animals to look nice this holiday season.

Paula Moore is a senior writer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510;

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