Valuing life doesn’t have to stop at humans. Respect for all animals on this earth is a deeply held, and deeply felt, core belief for many. For those who are passionate about leading a cruelty-free life, this includes animals of all kinds – yes, your loveable dogs and cats, but also the alpacas and sheep of the world! The cows, the alligators and bears, too! While animal cruelty-free can mean vegan (ie, no animal products whatsoever), it can also mean sustainable and ethically sourced animal products. Let’s explore!
Factory farming for fashion, accessories and home goods has lead to unimaginable animal suffering. Overcrowded and filthy cages, windowless cells, animals force fed to rapidly expand their size, and lack of access to roam freely outside. It’s a tortured life for a sentient animal, capable of a range of emotions. This doesn’t even take into account the enormous impact factory farming has on the environment and what it does to future generations of animals.
When products are touted as “cruelty-free” we can be assured that none of these atrocious acts are being perpetuated! Responsibly sourced animal products, that treat animals with the dignity they deserve can have a valued place in any home. It is entirely possible to work in tandem with animals to have them contribute to society without humans harming them, or to humanely and respectfully use animals in a way that prevents suffering and abuse.
Let’s take the ever eco-friendly alpaca. These gentle creatures are friendly with humans and enjoy interacting with us! They trust humans, and in return humans can benefit from their extremely versatile wool. When cruelty-free herders work with alpacas they provide them ample space to graze, proper medical care, love and affection. They have constant access to fresh water, nutritious food and when the time comes they are responsibly and gently sheared, which is a relief for the animals as they enter the warmer months.
Beeswax and honey products are another great example of how humans can work with animals in symbiosis. As we’re all aware bees are severely endangered. When cruelty free beekeepers provide a safe place for hives to survive and thrive, they prevent the population from dying out. Keeping them contained in their safe environment not only keeps them from pesticides that harm them (and prevents the killer chemicals from being brought back into the hive) it also keeps them from becoming a nuisance to neighbors, who would use harsh insecticides to prevent stings and infestations. The beeswax and honey collection is done in a way that limits the stress to the hives.
Responsible use of scrap materials is another way to respectfully treat animals. Many native cultures across the world show respect for the lives of animals by purposefully using all parts so their deaths are not in vain. Producers across industries are now actively re-using everything to prevent waste from entering landfills. For example, leather scraps that are too small for purses and jackets that would normally be disposed of, are now being reused for products such as watch straps.
Having the ability to choose products that respect animals, that prevent the incredibly horrifying cruelty that is rampant across industries, empowers people to live their lives according to their system of beliefs. Understanding where your products came from, and how they’ve been treated along the way, is crucial information in order to live a respectful and values driven life.