My first blog after the end of the 737 streak
From time to time, one of my readers asks me about our use of animal products—other than their food products like flesh, milk or eggs. I am primarily talking about their skins for our shoes, hand-bags, coats, car seats, furniture, etc.
Recently I received this note from Linda after she posted this comment under my recent blog: A reader’s question gets to the heart of “4Leaf for Life.”
“Actually, Jim and anyone else who is curious, the leather goods business is one of the primary reasons that beef and pork prices stay low. More affordable means more accessible to more people and we’re all in favor of as many people as possible eschewing meat. Plus, for me anyway, it’s hypocritical and expedient to rationalize wearing flesh when I would never eat it.” Linda D.
I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and my perception is that you’re not adverse to learning from your readers. So, I’d like to elaborate a little on my comments about leather.
First, as I said, the leather industry actually subsidizes the beef industry and, to a lesser degree, the pork industry. Beef prices would be much higher if the hides weren’t sold for leather goods. Without the domestic leather business, in fact, beef would be beyond the average person’s budget. More expensive beef = less consumption = improvement in our collective health and less environmental damage.
In addition, the process of tanning hides for leather is very bad for the environment. Not only does it require a lot of energy, it requires the use of dangerous chemicals including formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, arsenic, and chromium, which results in particularly hazardous waste.
Thanks for listening. And thank you for the daily posts over the last two years. I’ve enjoyed them, as well as the comments from other readers.
Sincerely and thank you, Linda D.
My response. Dear Linda, You bring up some interesting points in your memo about leather—so interesting that I would like to share my thoughts in this blog. While reading your note, I was thinking about the age old question, “Which came first? The Chicken or the Egg?
As for cattle and leather? Which came first? Raising them for their meat or for their hides? As I mentioned in the earlier blog referenced above:
My work is all about diet, health, and the environment—I pay no attention to the leather coats, shoes, car seats, etc. I figure that they’re by-products of the meat industry and would be outrageously expensive if there were no meat industry. When the meat industry goes away, so will my leather purchases.
So it’s probably that comment that triggered your suggestion that I can learn from my readers. I can—and I do. I must confess that there’s a lot I don’t know about the economics of selling meat without the leather products or selling leather products without using the meat for food. No doubt, each of them make the other more affordable.
Personally, I think that all of our industries built on the exploitation of animals are disgusting and would like to see all of them go away—even horse racing. But, I am also a realist and realize that they won’t all be going away anytime soon.
And, as a realist, I must package my message so that it will not only reach the non-vegan masses—but that it will also influence millions of them to move toward more plant-based eating. If I come out against horse-racing, hardly anyone would ever listen to me—about anything.
I mentioned a 4Leaf business model that’s in the works. We must develop healthful products that are attractive to a large percentage of the population. Once we reach them with our products, we can gradually and gently educate them relative to the staggering consequences of our food choices all over the planet. I truly believe that there’s never been anything more important in the history of the world. “No less than our future as a species hangs in the balance.” —T. Colin Campbell, PhD. From my earlier blog:
It’s all about marketing. If we want to change the world by moving people toward a diet-style of mostly plants, we’d better figure out an attractive way to package our product. We decided that we need a POSITIVE and attractive way to define a healthful diet. We also want it to be flexible, simple, delicious, inexpensive and easy—with no calorie counting, etc. That’s why we came up with 4Leaf for Life.
As you know, I sometimes describe myself as an activist, blogger, speaker and author. I am also a businessman. And, like John Mackey at Whole Foods Market, our business has to make money if it is to survive and grow. That doesn’t mean that we will compromise our core beliefs—but it does mean that we will strive to produce health-promoting products that will appeal to most of the carnivores out there. How will we do that? Stay tuned.
Thank you very much for your comment and your note, Linda. We’re on the same page. By the way, my current car has leather seats and my living room furniture is mostly leather (from the old Ralph Lauren offices in NYC–where I once worked). I also have some leather shoes and jackets.
I am not going to throw all that stuff out (that would be wasteful), but—because of what I have learned from you—I will be buying much less leather in the future.
FYI, my last pair of boat shoes were 100% man-made fiber—as is the ski jacket that I am wearing at this moment as I type this blog.
Sincerely, be well and continue to be considerate of all creatures, Jim
PS: Anyone know what they do with all those chicken feathers—from the nine billion dead chickens a year in just the United States? I bet they don’t just throw them away.
Other blogs dealing with animal rights. I notice that I have published 29 other blogs that relate to the “exploitation of animals” topic. Here are a few of them; you can find the rest under the “Suffering of Animals” category in the upper right column.
- The blog that triggered Linda’s comment. A reader’s question gets to the heart of “4Leaf for Life.”
- Animal rights & veganism. What comes to mind for most folks?
- Speaking of horses. Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Willie Nelson…
- Animal suffering. An oft-forgotten consequence of our food choices.
- Sunny Acres Farms—Home of Happy Farm Animals This one contains a most unusual video that drives the point home.
Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to email@example.com
International. We’re now reaching people in over 100 countries. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or get blog notices by “following” us in the top of the right-hand column. For occasional updates, join our periodic mailing list.
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Got a question? Let me hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.
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—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation