Wear your heart on your sleeve! | Viva!

Wear your heart on your sleeve!

Far from being hemp-wearing, do-gooding bean freaks, veggies are full of animal impulses. Often slimmer than their carnivorous counterparts, their lissom limbs are perfect for sliding into silk-free lingerie, alluring lace, PVC or fake-leather jackets, bondage gear and faux fur handcuffs. Be cruel and cruelty-free!

Go hell for leather

Leather is an important by-product of the meat and dairy industry – earning nearly £600m every year in the UK. It comes mainly from cattle and despite the seemingly idyllic scenes of cows in fields, these only represent a small part of the life of beef and dairy cows – both of whom are used for leather. Beef cows are bred simply to eat, get big and die. Dairy cows are among the most exploited animals on the planet. Like all mammals cows only produce milk when they have offspring, so to increase productivity a dairy cow’s life is a constant cycle of pregnancy and lactation. As well as this huge physical strain, the cows suffer immense mental distress. After being allowed to suckle her colostrum – the first milk produced by the mother – within days of being born their calves are taken away to maximise the amount of milk available to humans. Female calves may follow the same fate as their mums but many male calves, unable to produce milk and too scrawny for beef, are killed. A ‘productive’ dairy cow will supply 12,000 litres of milk a year – an unnatural amount 10 times more than her calf could require. Such an excessive burden leads to protruding pelvic and rib bones, constant hunger and massively distended udders. The energy dairy cows lose is so great, most only manage three lactations before being killed.

The production of leather also has specific cruelty issues: soft leather does not come from old cows but calves, and the softest leather of all comes from unborn calves whose mothers have been slaughtered; as well as the environmental destruction of the meat industry the treatment of animal hides is a major source of pollution in itself; people who work in tanneries suffer from the exposure to the toxic chemicals used; zebra, salmon, kangaroos, seals, crocodiles, snakes, lizards, ostriches, dolphins, toads…whatever the animal, if it’s got a skin there’s a human somewhere who’ll want to wear it. The exotic leather market isn’t as glamorous for the animals involved – many having little protection and some can also be endangered.

* For more info on leather production and cruelty-free alternatives get the Vegetarian & Vegan Foundation’s free factsheet Hell For Leather by calling 0117 970 5190 or email info@vegetarian.org.uk. Also check out the More info section for leather-free links.

Fur-get it

The cruelty of the fur industry is widely reported, whether it’s from mink, racoon, chinchilla, fox, seal, rabbit and even from dogs and cats. Eighty-five percent of the fur industry’s skins come from animals living captive on fur factory farms. They can hold thousands of animals kept in crowded, filthy wire cages, develop neurotic behaviours and become sick or wounded. Fur farmers then kill them by breaking their necks while they are fully conscious or by using anal or genital electrocution. 
Wild animals caught for their coats don’t fare any better: those caught in steel-jaw leghold traps are in so much pain that some actually chew off their limbs in order to escape. They are unable to eat, keep warm or defend themselves against predators, so can die in many horrible ways before the trapper arrives to kill them. Others suffer in the traps for days until they are caught and killed. To avoid damaging the pelt, trappers often beat animals to death.

The impact of fur on the environment is huge. Like leather, fur is loaded with chemicals to stop it decomposing and its production uses up many of the world’s resources. 
But you don’t have to forgo fashion as faux fur is widely available – from gorgeous coats and stoles to sexy throws and cushion covers – and looks great (unless of course you’d rather go naked…?!). See the More info section for stockists.

Spinning lies

Silk may be slinky but it comes from caterpillars which lead anything but a sumptuous life. The silk industry is big business: Bombyx mori silk worms are hatched in a controlled environment – a female moth can lay up to 400 eggs at a time, which become hungry caterpillars, eating and eating. This is following by a week of frentic activity – 300,000 figure-of-eight wiggles to enrobe itself in silken thread – before the tranquil transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis and then a beautiful winged moth; or at least in theory. The majority don’t emerge from their cocoons this way, but are immersed in boiling water, steamed, baked, electrocuted or microwaved to kill them before they hatch to stop them from damaging the thread as they exit. The long silken filament is then unwound and twisted together with other strands to create a weavable thread.

Cheaper materials such as satin are widely available and are as attractive as silk but without the cruelty.

Nipple tassels are becoming increasingly popular and are very sexy. Most sexy shops will have fabric options, but also check out Miss Bellasis for affordable, tantalising tassels in many designs plus tips on how to twirl them!

To read more about these cruel industries and why we need to avoid them, visit www.thebigcoverup.org.uk

Vegan condoms

You can buy vegan condoms (minus the casein, a milk protein, which you can find in traditional brands) from these suppliers.