Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Yeah, you know her....Check out those shoes!"

With a nod to Blondie, I address the question many plant-based eating folk get: Aren't your shoes leather?

Yes, they are. All my leather goods (and I have many) were bought before I saw where our leather comes from. (And it's really bad, folks.) Like many people, I knew it didn't come from sunshine and rainbows, but because leather is so omnipresent, I think I just subconsciously reasoned that if it were truly a cruel industry, why would leather be such a common thing to wear? Someone would have spoken up by now, right? Looking at it logically now, I can't believe how strange my thinking was and I take full responsibility for not thinking deeper.

That said, it's a ridiculously easy trap to fall into, because our culture teaches this really odd dichotomy: baby animals are cute!, "Pat the Bunny," finish your meat or no dessert, our dog is part of our family, I love the smell of barbeque lighting up in the summer! The way we compartmentalize animals into "cute and lovable" and "meat" is, when you think on it, very subjective and very strange. In another country, your dog or cat would make a nice meal. How would you argue for someone in that country to not eat your pet? Because your pet has feelings and you love it? Cows have feelings and many people love their cows. But we think nothing of ordering a burger. So what's the difference, really? They all feel, they all love, they all suffer like we do. We're all animals, after all, so the fact that other species feel what we do should come as no surprise.

And even stranger, those animals that we do eat are often the same ones presented to us in childhood and even adulthood as "cute"! Lambs, calves, chicks -- what do you think happens to all the male chicks in the egg-laying factories? --  When you start really thinking about all this, our way of relating to animals is a bit twisted, to put it mildly.

So back to the shoes.

Where do I go from here with the remnants of my meat-eating/wearing days? (No meat dress, luckily. I could never pull off a fad.)  It's a good question. At the moment, I can't afford to go out and buy all-new shoes/belts/bags. But I definitely won't be purchasing anything leather in the future. My thinking as of today is to keep these things until they wear out and then replace them with non-leather versions. (And there are some cute alternatives out there! There are many fashionable, Hollywood types who have created their own lines of shoes/bags that don't use animal products.) At least that's the thinking for now. I have a couple of leather jackets and a pair of leather boots (that don't quite fit right anymore) that I'm going to sell to a high-end thrift store. I'll then donate the money to our local animal sanctuary. Is it ethical in this new mindset to make money off of animal skin, even if the proceeds go to help other animals? I'm not sure. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, this is pulling-out-of-the-Matrix is still new and I'm figuring things out as I go along.

In short, it all comes down to eliminating as much animal suffering as possible. You don't have to look very hard to find inconsistencies in my life. I know they lurk everywhere. But I cannot express what a relief it is to be thoughtfully educating myself and pulling out of a consumer life that depends on hurting others.

I'll end on a light note and it has nothing to do with animals/food/leather. I saw the movie Bridesmaids last night with Ryan, after he told me it got great reviews. HYSTERICAL!! (Though I will say that interesting things happen after they eat meat.) :)

Peaceful Eating!


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