Travellers through airports in Bengaluru, Delhi, and Hyderabad are in for a jolt – the message “Was She Killed to Make Your Carry-On? Cruelty Doesn’t Fly. Choose Vegan” showing a cow’s body as a leather handbag will adorn airport luggage trolleys ahead of Cow Appreciation Day (12 July). The new trolley ad by PETA India will stay up throughout July.
Cattle used for leather in India are denied food and water during gruelling journeys to slaughterhouses in all weather extremes. Crammed into overcrowded trucks, many are trampled or gored to death. By the time they arrive at the slaughterhouse, they often have to be dragged inside, where their throats are slit in full view of others awaiting the same gruesome fate. While cow slaughter is prohibited in most states, cows, bulls, and buffaloes are killed in various parts of India for meat and leather.
Apart from the cruelty to animals inherent in its production, bovine leather is the most polluting material in fashion, and animal leather production contributes to the climate catastrophe and often makes tannery workers fatally sick. According to the World Health Organization, in the leather tanning areas of Bangladesh, 90% of leather workers – many of whom are children – die before the age of 50 as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals.
With the global vegan leather market expected to reach US$80.55 billion by 2028, there are now more ways than ever to avoid vile leather products, from luxurious synthetic materials to plant leather made from pineapple leaves, cork, fruit waste, recycled plastics, mushrooms, mulberry leaves, teak leaves, discarded temple flowers, coconut waste, and tomato composite.
The future of fashion is stylish and vegan, as scores of leading designers, including Gaurav Gupta, JADE by Monica and Karishma, péro by Aneeth Arora, Rina Dhaka, Masaba Gupta, Vikram Phadnis, Rocky S, Akshat Bansal, Siddartha Tytler, Shyamal and Bhumika, and Ranna Gill have pledged to be animal leather–free!
Cow Appreciation Day was created by a US fast-food chain as a marketing gimmick to sell slaughtered chicken products over its competitors’ beef, but PETA US has routinely hijacked the day to tell the public that both cows and chickens matter and that neither want to be killed for food.