FAQ

Q: What is your position on the incorporation of recycled/reclaimed animal skins into garments.

A: Objectively speaking, anything re-used is better than new when it comes to resource extraction and production. In a perfect world, everything would be cycled through over and over until it was just not usable anymore…. and then it would harmlessly be reincorporated into an ecosystem.

However, animals are not objects. Fashion is a form of visual communication (one of the most powerful in our current culture) – so my advice to people who care about animals used in the fashion industry is to avoid any “loud” garments like fur coats, or fox tail key chains or leather trench coats…. because whether we want to or not, when we make garments look good it creates a demand, and there is a chance someone who doesn’t know it’s thrift or recycled will go buy a new garment.  No one is going to jump down your throat for having a vintage wool-blend jacket or vintage silk tie – but as long as we even consider it acceptable for animals to be exploited or killed and their body parts to be turned into objects of consumption and symbols of class/status/wealth/power/beauty, respecting and liberating animals from their current status as “units of production” or “resources” will never be accomplished.

All in all, it’s pretty easy to avoid animal products in fashion. There are so many amazing, durable, beautiful and eco-friendly alternatives- it just requires designers to look outside the box.
Q: What’s wrong with wool? Isn’t it just a haircut?
A: I wish! Momma nature gives many mammals the perfect design when it comes to staying warm and dry, so it’s no surprise that humans who lack that body-hair want to wear it themselves. Many consider wool sustainable because it’s a ‘natural’ product. But, shockingly, wool production is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, land erosion, and animal cruelty:

 

•According to the United Nations:
“The world’s sheep population is just over one billion – one for roughly every six people. Nearly half are in Asia and the Near and Middle East. Sheep are the species with the highest number of recorded breeds – contributing 25 percent to the global total for mammals.” (source)

• The impact that livestock (including sheep AKA wool) has on the environment, from the United Nations Food & Agricultural Organization:
http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html

• In New Zealand, which has approx. 48 million sheep, methane emissions from enteric fermentation, coming mostly from sheep, constitute almost 50% of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions. This has a huge impact on climate change. Combine that with erosion, water pollution, resource needs like water, graze-land, processing needs, etc, and wool becomes a lot less sustainable that we’d like to think. The breeding and perpetuation of this industry is ecologically devastating.
http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/climate/greenhouse-gas-inventory-2010-snapshot/index.html

• The Cruel Australian Live Export of Sheep:
http://liveexport-indefensible.com/facts/issues.php

• Ultra-Fine Wool production:
http://www.animalsaustralia.org/issues/ultra_fine_wool.php

All in all, from an ecological and ethical perspective, if you can avoid financing and perpetuating any industry that is not necessary and that exploits animals in any way, and takes such a major ecological toll, it’s easy to make that choice. I hope this provides some clarity in the desire to avoid using any wool for any reason.

Q: If fur is so terrible, why is there always so much of it on the runways?
A: Various Fur Industry cooperatives, much like lobbying groups representing breeders, farmers and auction houses around the world, solicit designers to use their furs. The solicitation often includes financial incentives, press incentives, free materials (fur), free training and travel, and classic wining and dining. Read this article from the New York times on this phenomenon.
Often, the fur items seen on the runways do not make it to market, and function to maintain the illusion that fur is incredibly popular, when in fact it is much less prevalent. More Info.
Q: My doctor told me I should eat meat. Why shouldn’t I take the advice?

A: The average medical doctor has a total of 3 hours of nutritional training. Taking advice from a medical doctor about nutrition is like taking advice from a dentist about fixing your computer. If you want accurate nutritional advice, talk to a nutritionist. The largest and most well respected group of nutritionists in the world says that not only are vegan diets appropriate for everyone, they are helpful in preventing some of the most deadly diseases, including heart disease and many cancers.

Q: I’ve been thinking about exploring veganism. Is there any book or reading material that you think would be a perfect primer for someone who’s new to all of this?

A: There are some great resources! First you should know about HappyCow.net – because you can use it to search for veg-friendly restaurants and stores in any city in the world! I use it every time I travel and it is an excellent resource.

Secondly, our friend Chloe Jo at the GGA has complied an impressive “best of” list for your consideration.

If you want an easy, funny, no-nonsense read on the basics of vegan 101, pick up a copy of my friend Rory’s “Skinny Bitch“. It’s brash and foul-mouthed, but hilarious and it’s the reason Ellen and Portia went vegan. If you want something more scholarly and philosophical, Peter Singer’s “Animal Liberation” is considered the Animal Rights Bible. Classic.

As for cookbooks, just try experimenting with easy recipes. The internet has every recipe on earth. For every food you like, there is a vegan version of it.

Finally – if you need ethical motivation to stick to your new convictions, watch the Joaquin Phoenix documentary called Earthlings (you can see it online) . You will never ever want to participate in any sort of animal exploitation again.


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  • Monstersavvy

    I just wanted to happily report that every doctor I’ve been to (here in the San Francisco Bay Area) has been absolutely ecstatic about my being vegan. They are really supportive, and say that it is a great choice for my health.

  • Johnathan

    Mermaid Killer just posted you on their facebook page!!! I love your blog! I came here from there and if you don’t know them already theyre a vegan clothing line who help educate people on animal issues and donate a portion of profits to charities AND they make mens and womens clothes!!! mermaidkiller.com and facebook.com/mermaidkiller. You rock!!!!

  • Tiffany Hahner

    My friend Victoria Moran just released a book. Main Street Vegan. Its about how to live a vegan lifestyle, cheaply and in the real world. 

  • Panda Bear

    how should I cite this webpage?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stan-Wigmore/100002615817147 Stan Wigmore

      Joshua,
           I realize you are a vegan and have a bias,just as I do. I am not contacting you just to create an argument but you asked for examples of critical review for the “China Study” and also about Ancel Keys’s 7 country study.,.Here are a few links that are worth reading.,(some are a long read but who said digging for the truth is easy.One need only google for reviews critical to either to bring up more than one can read in a life time.)
          As a diabetic and former vegan,I too followed the “it must be true,’cause everybody says so” path until my health and doctor told me other wise.I now have a more skeptical attitude and try to do my homework first before accept what people ,includeing the “experts”, say is true..

    http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/cancer/the-china-study-vs-the-china-study/

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/385/

    http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/07/07/the-china-study-fact-or-fallac/

    As to Ancel Keys,here are a few to consider.

    http://paleodietlifestyle.com/fear-of-saturated-fat-and-cholesterol/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Countries_Study

    Stan Wigmore

  • Dr. Jones

    I followed a plant based vegan diet for years. I am an avid runner and also a very large guy. At six percent body fat, and running five to seven miles a day, as a vegan, I was miserable. I was eating a lot of carbs and my insulin levels were high.

    I chose to become a vegan because of ethics. I stopped because of my health.

    • Johnfoval

      Hey man i got someone for you. His name is Brendan Brazier. Check out a book called Thrive diet. He is a high endurance athlete that CHOOSES a plant based diet BECAUSE of the higher performance level. It’s all about knowing what to eat. Being a vegan is so counter-culture it’s hard to learn certain details. You run seven miles a day? Brendan is a champion ultra-marathoner and also a professional triathlete. Also google “running raw.”

    • IslaKay

      Well why didn’t you just change your vegan diet to one that met your dietary needs? Vegans don’t need to overdose on carbs. You were just choosing to. There are many, many ways to get protein being vegan. 

      I train for about 3 hours a day 5 days a week and have been vegan for 3 years. I’m more fit than I’ve ever been. 

  • Dustyart

    Do you think it’s unethical for me to wear mittens that a good friend knitted for me out of wool she spun herself from one of her pet sheep? I have honestly struggled with this, but ultimately wear them because she loves her sheep and they were knitted with love.

    • http://www.thediscerningbrute.com Joshua Katcher

      I think that if they are subtle, and you’re not going around advertising that everyone should buy wool, it’s not the end of the world. The problem is that 99.999% of sheep are not “pets” and are treated horribly and are a HUGE contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (sheep make up 25% of all land mammals). So, while this particular sheep may be a happy, healthy, loved family member – using him or her for hairs changes the relationship from friend/pet to a source of textile and income. In this case, all I can is that there is no “right” answer, but if you choose to wear them, don’t make a point to brag about how amazing they are to others. Make sense?

  • http://blog.liberationbc.org Becci

    Could you tell us more about your extinct bird tattoos?? I love birds and I’m fascinated with extinct ones–and I love your blog, too! Do you have pictures of them anywhere?

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  • Em Resmith

    Was that you promoting lord and taylor on lxtv? I just wondered – I thought it couldnt be because of their huge fur dept – and I know you are crazy anti fur.. I was so confused

    • http://www.thediscerningbrute.com joshuakatcher

      I did do a commercial for L&T promoting a Charity event they have each year. I am aware of their Fur Salon and the legal case they are involved in vis HSUS w/ Saks, Nordstrom and others, and plan to have a discussion w/ them about it. I’m more effective from the inside, no? Maybe I can sway them to stop selling fur- Lord knows we haven’t stopped them from the outside.