THE BLOG
23/12/2013 05:22 GMT | Updated 19/02/2014 05:59 GMT

What the Angora Farming Exposé Means for Animal Rights

Since PETA's much publicised exposé on angora rabbit farming was released, several retailers have decided to stop stocking the product in their stores, which is good news, but it's likely that it's a calculated decision, now that the ugly face of the practice has been revealed to the public.

The biggest name is of course H&M, who has stopped angora production with immediate effect following the video evidence, although it's hard to imagine that retailers had no prior knowledge about the barbarity of the practice.

Of course, as consumers, our greed for more, and cheaper, garments drives the need for cheap production of items such as angora wool, and there will always be enough vacuous airheads for the conscience-free end of the fashion industry to cater to.

The video in question depicts the rabbits, who are locked into tiny, filthy cages by themselves, being tied down and having their fur ripped out of them. The sound of their screams is truly blood curdling, and the depth of their misery shows how low we have sunk in our desire for material goods, at any cost. Vanity is a deplorable trait, never more so than when it creates such suffering in others.

An argument that is often raised when material like this is shown centres on the idea that animal rights campaigners only care about the 'cute' animals.

"What about the chickens and pigs and cows?" the opponents cry, with a lack of originality and motivation that has nothing to do with the chickens and pigs and cows, and more to do with resisting any evidence that threatens the cosy idea that luxury garments are procured ethically.

Basically, the campaigns given more prevalence are the ones most likely to capture the public's imagination, and therefore have a greater chance of success.

It's absolutely impossible to live a life that will not impede upon the well-being of others to some extent, but even if you are following a vegan lifestyle, it's prudent to understand the level of your complicity in the fate of these animals.

In going for the 'cute' angle, the campaigners are adopting the opinion that every little counts. Most people are not going to stop consuming meat or dairy products (which is a whole other article). However, many people, once exposed to cruelty of angora production may decide to stop buying angora products. This is a step in the right direction.

Psychologists talk of the phenomenon of people mentally blocking the connection between the meat on their plate, or the leather in their shoes, and the animals that have been killed to provide that steak or pair of stilettos. It is much harder to put up that block when faced with videos depicting a reality that is a million miles away from the happy, corn-fed, free-range ideal that the advertisers like to promote. Whether an animal is organic, free-range or 'humanely-slaughtered' (an oxymoron if ever there was one) it's worth remembering that all these creatures have a level of sentience, and their last thought on the kill line will be that they do not want to die.

Any creature will vociferously hang on to the last vestiges of its life with the energy and desperation that any human being would. The argument that they would never have even been born unless destined for the plate or handbag factory is a deeply flawed one: a life of constant misery followed by a terrifying and violent death is far worse than no life at all.

Most simply put, not consuming animals' flesh and secretions, or wearing their skin or fur would just be kinder, though it's unlikely to become widespread as a lifestyle choice.

When animal rights' groups such as PETA bring issues like angora production to the foreground, it educates the consumer, allowing them to make a choice, and it seems that many have, at least in the short-term, made the choice not to buy more of these products.

While this still leaves the 'less cute' animals languishing in their own suffering, surely any step forward is progress?