You guys. WTF with the angora rabbit and H&M thing? First, it's horrifying. Second, I find the way people are talking about it very strange. I know this is not a pretty picture post but as a vegan fashion / style blog (or whatever), I feel like I'd be woefully remiss if I didn't mention this issue.
By now, it's likely you've read about H&M products being made with angora being yanked out of live, screaming rabbits. This is one of the first times a major retailer took action on obvious animal cruelty - they halted angora production until they could examine the supply chain and offered to take back any products containing angora sold recently. This all came about because PETA released video proof of these violent actions on angora rabbits.
In the CNN Money article, PETA representatives are quoted as saying:
PETA spokesperson Ben Williamson said consumers must pressure retailers by "turning their backs on angora." There was no humane way to remove fur from angora rabbits, he said. Animals that have their fur cut, rather than plucked, have their legs tied with ropes, and are stretched over a board or suspended in the air.
You can see pictures of the more "humane" practice here. And a photographic picture of each practice in a slideshow here. The PETA report found that half the rabbit fur farms were yanking the hair off the rabbits in patches versus trimming the fur.
And while H&M's reaction is admirable - halting what they rightly define as animal cruelty - it strikes me as weird that the rest of the stuff they do with angora rabbits is "okay". It's okay to breed rabbits for hair and keep them in cages to "harvest" this stuff off their bodies? This is how they're kept! That's okay?
It's okay to keep them in cages only to take them out, tie them up and cut all their hair off? Repeatedly? It's okay that's the only thing these rabbits know? It's okay to dispose of them when they are no longer producing? While this is a "live-harvest" (same with sheep/wool), it still means they're in crappy conditions, produces a huge opportunity for neglect and cruelty even with non-plucking harvesting. (Also, if not for this video, none of us would even know about this practice -- and that's how a lot of cruelty towards farmed animals happens. Behind closed doors with no reprieve.) And I'm pretty sure these rabbits don't live out their low-production old age on rabbit farms. They die, whether they're used to feed people or other animals, there is likely no respite - just disposal.
Is it just me, or is that royally screwed up that people really think omitting the most tragically cruel practice against these rabbits (that we know of currently, anyway) means we're doing okay? That the rest is just "humane"? This is a total mindblower for me. Like, it seems angora itself is the problem...not this one really bad part of it. All of it, dudes. All of it. Angora sweaters or scarves or gloves (or whatever) not only support opportunities for horrific cruelty but they also mean dead rabbits in the long run. I am just not okay with that.
Okay, that's my animal rights monologue for December, I guess. I have so many feelings about this - anger, disgust but also major major sadness!