January 4, 2010

Vegans say: leave animals alone. But if we don’t “use” animals, will they go extinct like the Tiger?

If all humans were vegan, would non-domesticated animals go extinct?

When I interviewed Michael Pollan some months ago, I asked him why he ate meat. He said he’d given a lot of thought to it, and came to the conclusion that as long as the animals were humanely treated (before being, well, butchered), it was okay. He admitted it was a tough issue, but wondered allowed how many cows or sheep or turkeys or chickens would survive at all if we didn’t eat them.

It’s a valid question, even if the morality is dicey at best. You can’t get much more well-loved and famous than tigers, elephants or polar bears. But all are on the verge of extinction in our lifetime (four of nine species of tigers are already extinct, and more are on the verge this year).

The following Facebook conversation was prompted by our recent post on elephantjournal.com: Wool may be Natural, but it’s Cruel.


Jill, as a knitter, I would have to say in my experience, this is the exception, not the rule. Most shepards of finer wools love their flocks like their own children (I know many) and their job is more a labour of love than a profit-making industry. This might be true of more commercially sold wools to the clothing industry perhaps? This is why I buy local and know my sources. There is corruption and cruelty in every industry, this is why you know where you buy from and find reputable sources, and avoid the bad ones.

Shannon, if only it were the exception! Do these shepards of finer wools you mention ever slaughter their sheep?

Generally, even if the wool supplier doesn’t practice mulesing and other standard cruel pracxtices, the sheep are eventually slaughtered, their families are separated and sold off, and their lives do not belong to themselves. And in … See Moremany cases, it’s extremely hard to tell where a wool product originated.

My Internet search for humane wool turned up an organization that boasted to be the first sheep farm in the United States to be “certified humane” by major “humane” organizations. However, it also offers “flavorful lamb cuts.” I suspect that like “humane meat,” “humane wool” is an oxymoron, unless perhaps it comes from such private individuals/shepards on a subsistence scale, rather than companies exploiting animals for profit … but even then, I’d be wary.


Waylon Lewis

Something like 99% of wool, apparently, comes from Australia, and most of that is Merino, which is not fit for hot climes, thus the infections, the mulesings…well, read the article, the gent who wrote it is far better informed than I!

I think by being vegan, we’re just saying that we don’t need to “use” animals at all for clothing. We don’t need wool when there are plenty of earth-friendly, cruelty-free alternatives. Animals are not here on earth for humans to use.

I don’t care if the dang farmer kissed, hugged and spoiled his little sheepies all day long and every night. I “… know” plenty of people who race horses who loooove their little horsies. But in the end, the horses’ lives come second to profit.

Power to the animals. (Animal power salute.)


Waylon Lewis
I hear you, but how many horses or sheep are going to survive the next century if, like tigers and elephants (about to go extinct in wild, 4 species of tigers already have) we humans have no “use” for them? Damned if we as a society will care to put aside much land for them when we can’t even agree that fighting climate change is worth investment … See Moreas a society–when climate change effects us all directly. Ideally, we can learn to live in harmony, be of use to one another, and truly cruelty-free. It’s a tough issue, I hear you.
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