posted 2012-02-01 09:52:23

Rebuttal to: On the West Hollywood Fur Ban

A plea for a shift in how we think about animals

Lauren Swaddel

Contributing Writer

I occasionally read the Envoy because they typically have good articles about what is going on at Hunter and on the thoughts and ideas of my peers. The article on the West Hollywood fur ban from the Oct. 5th-18th issue struck me as unusual, because never have I been so provoked reading an Envoy article.

I am a vegan—it was my New Year’s resolution after being vegetarian for two years. I became a vegetarian after being exposed to a video on the internet called “Meet Your Meat,” and critically contemplating our relation to animals, or rather the lack thereof. Most people today are fine going to the grocery store and buying meat without really knowing where it came from.

Isn’t it strange to think that a burger might have meat from over 50 cows? That a carton of milk you buy does not hold the milk from one cow but possibly hundreds? Thousands? How did the fur on your jacket or on your boots get off the animal? What conditions are these animals in? What are their lives like? Why should we care? I do not think many people know that common practices of the fur industry include gassing, trapping, skinning alive, and drowning. These conditions are appalling!

The writer of that article asked why should we not exercise our right to profit from animal products, like fur. But what is life if we cannot acknowledge the relationship we have to animals, and to the Earth? What are we if we do not extend to animals the right to a happy, comfortable existence and a life worth living? What makes our happiness superior to theirs? What makes an animal’s pain or emotional state trivial, and ours important? We all depend on the planet for our means for survival—humans, animals, and plants alike.

Our economic system has, over time, become a false priority. Personally, I want to see a change in the current economic and food systems. I hope to see a paradigm shift in the way we view animals and the Earth, towards a real, deep relationship with the planet and all that it supports.

Our current system is unsustainable and quickly depleting the Earth of its natural resources, which help us—all of us—to live. Animals are not our property. The Earth is not our property. The Earth is our home—it is where our form of life originated. It is a complex system that created carbon dioxide, oxygen, and water and life from chemical interactions. Life is amazing and there is no good, ethical reason why a chinchilla should have its fur ripped from its body for fashion. There is no good reason to cause suffering onto other creatures unless it is for your survival.

You can argue all that you want that humans are on top of the food chain, that we have rationality that sets us apart from other creatures, that because of evolution and our technology we can eventually be rid of animals and plants altogether and create our food in laboratories, but that future limits and denies us our humanity. It denies our ability to relate to other life forms and to the world as a whole.

I won’t go so far as to say that all meat-eating or animal raising is wrong, but I will say that the way we view animals as merely a resource for our own needs is flawed and incomplete. Maybe the first step is dismantling our egos and reexamining our entire society, or going to a farm or watching a video yourself to see what really happens—maybe the first step is to ask questions about the world beyond ourselves. It’s a big world, too big to just be for humans.