Do You Know Who You’re Wearing?

Me with Scotch (cat) and Dali (dog) wearing boots with man-made materials.

Me with Scotch (cat) and Dali (dog) wearing boots produced from man-made materials.

Fa la la la la la la la AH! How often do you think about what your clothing is made out of before you put it on? If you were like me just a year ago, the answer would be never. Call me naïve or just plain dumb, but I didn’t have a clue on how the leather shoes I strapped on my feet every day were created. I was in the dark about how the living beings were dragged to their deaths and sometimes skinned alive just so I could make a fashion statement. I first learned about these horrors earlier this year when I watched “Earthlings,” a powerful documentary that is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. Over the course of this past year, people – even non-vegans – shared articles and videos with me about how animal skins are used for clothing, from “Uggs and Their ‘Uggly’ Reputation” to the abuse of dogs and cats in China for fur. Since becoming vegan in January, I’ve learned so much about how we use and abuse animals for own greed. The most important lesson I’ve absorbed is that it’s someone not something, and that someone is not our property.

Shopping for others this Christmas was extremely different (in a good way) than it has been in years past. My husband and I took the time to check every single label to ensure the material was vegan. It may sound tedious, but it was surprisingly invigorating! Knowing that I wasn’t unnecessarily harming an animal was powerful. It’s kind of like the diet portion of being vegan. I know exactly what I’m putting into my body by eating a plant-based diet – and by scouring the list of ingredients on the rare occasion that I’m eating processed foods. By reviewing the labels on the gifts, I knew precisely what the product was made out of and that it didn’t hurt or kill animals in the process. Before I went vegan – even when I was vegetarian for three years – I wasn’t this meticulous. Half the time I didn’t know what was going into my body, much less what I was wearing. So, my question for you is one that I wish someone asked me years ago:

Do You Know Who You’re Wearing?

Even when I became vegan, I thought shearing wool was a cruel-free process, but as I did more research I found out the ugly truth. The abridged, non-graphic version is that sheep farms are much like the factory farms that grow animals to become meat on our plates. The farmers cram the animals together and horrifically abuse them – all to just make a pretty penny. This year, I’ve been exposed to the fact that anything made with animals is going to involve cruelty.

So, if you don’t want to be left in the dark like I was, start finding out the facts about animal exploitation. Read PETA’s article on “16 Things You Need to Know Before Buying that Sweater.” Watch Earthlings or other documentaries. Read this article about how leather is more than a by-product of the meat industry. Inform yourself on living a cruel-free and compassionate lifestyle. With so many great resources out there to help you along the way, there is no excuse to not become educated on this topic. After all, it is Christmas, and what better gift is there than giving someone their life?

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