India’s Cows and the UK High Street

Posted by on July 6, 2010 | Permalink

You may be wondering why I’ve been quiet on the blog, but as anyone at PETA will tell you, I’m never quiet. So while I haven’t been at PETA shouting out ideas for the next celebrity ad campaign or cheeky demonstration, I have been in India working on projects to help animals there. One of these projects is to encourage consumers in India and elsewhere to do away with leather in their wardrobes. Here’s why: We live in a global society, and what happens to animals in India is directly linked to consumer behaviour in the UK. Despite their sacred status, cows in India are amongst the most cruelly treated in the world, all for items such as handbags and shoes that are sold to consumers within India and internationally. The UK is a top buyer of leather from India.

Imagine these gentle creatures. Many of them would have spent their lives pulling loads in the field or being milked on a small farm. Then they would have been made to march to their deaths over long distances in the heat without a drop of water or an ounce of food to help them along. When these animals collapse from exhaustion or injury, handlers snap their tailbones or smear chilli seeds into their eyes in order to force them to move. Many of these animals are also sent to slaughter by lorry. Imagine how confused and terrified they’d be by the experience of being taken away from other animals they know – away from the only place they’ve known as home – betrayed by the only people they know and loaded onto a truck for the first time in their lives? These lorries careen down twisted, potholed roads at top speed, and as a result, the animals fall on top of one another. They become bloodied, their pelvises shatter, many suffocate and the living become trapped under the dead.

Those who survive this ordeal are killed in full view of one another on filthy slaughterhouse floors awash with blood, guts, and faeces. Calves end up at India’s slaughterhouses, too, and they cry for their mothers until the moment their lives are stolen from them by workers who hack at their throats with dull blades.

All this cruelty just for something to wear? Thankfully, fashionable people around the world are starting to recognise leather as hairless fur. During my trip, PETA India teamed up with fashion design duo Hemant and Nandita during Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week in Delhi for a stunning “Wow, Not Cow” cruelty-free show. The event showcased alternatives to leather, proving that it’s easy to have a look that kills without killing animals. Hemant and Nandita join other Indian and international designers such as Stella McCartney, Hemant Trivedi, Anita Dongre and Marc Bouwer who show that compassion and fashion can go hand in hand.

If you still wear leather, please take a moment to watch the video narrated by Pamela Anderson exploring the cruelty of the Indian leather trade. I’m certain that after viewing it, you’ll join us in vowing never to wear leather again. For the sake of India’s cows, please share this blog and video with your family and friends. Let’s help Indian cows regain the dignity, respect and reverence they deserve.