For World Vegan Month (November), PETA India has erected sky-high messages in shopping areas in Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai letting everyone know that if they wouldn’t eat beef, they shouldn’t wear leather, either. PETA India reminds shoppers that leather is made from cows, buffaloes, sheep, goats, pigs, and other animals who wanted to live.
Cows and buffaloes used for leather in India are crammed into trucks so crowded that many are trampled, gored, or suffocated to death. At the slaughterhouse, animals with broken bones are often dragged inside and their throats are slit in full view of others awaiting the same fate. Cattle killed for beef and leather in India largely come from the dairy industry. They are either male calves, who cannot produce milk, or females whose milk production has waned. An estimated 2 million Indian cattle are smuggled into Bangladesh where their skins are turned into leather, too. According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, India also imports “cow hides and skins, including cow calf”.
A “Pulse of the Fashion Industry” report, published by the Global Fashion Agenda in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group and Sustainable Apparel Coalition, concluded that leather is the most polluting material in fashion. It is terrible for humans, too. Tannery workers often suffer from cancer and skin and respiratory illnesses. According to the World Health Organization, in the tanning region of Bangladesh, 90% of workers die before the age of 50 as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals. Most of the world’s leather is produced in developing nations where environmental and labour welfare norms may be laxer than in the West.