Why has self-styled vegan, Ellen Degeneres, launched a shoe range that contains leather? Her endearing personal preference for always wearing sneakers that seem to be made from cloth, only adds to the confusion and sense of betrayal that vegans across the globe are feeling in response to the statement issued by her PR department:
“The shoe line is predominantly made with natural fibers however they will be using a little bit of leather as well.”
Leather is not merely a by-product of the meat and dairy industry; many cows are bred exclusively for their skin and it is a whole industry on its own. In fact, the meat produced from those animals is a by-product of the leather industry. Contributing to an industry that causes suffering and requires the death of innocent beings can never be excused by claiming that only “a little bit” will be used.
Two factors are probably at play here:
- Ellen still has a vegetarian mindset and treats veganism as a diet, but hasn’t taken the next step to align her actions and beliefs with the truth behind animal farming and the vegan philosophy of animal rights.
- The shoe line was created, designed, manufactured and marketed by other companies, including the Camuto Group and Bergdorf Goodman, and she is merely selling her brand name to the range. As recently as May, she spoke of her upcoming shoe line on WWD.com: “They will, like the rest of the line, be cruelty free — no leather — and they’ll be comfortable.” By May the shoe range would have been in the manufacturing phase and they would have started rolling out the marketing campaign, so she obviously hadn’t bothered to get involved in the detailed planning of the individual products if she was still under the impression that they would all be made from non-leather materials. Which brings us back to the supposition that animal rights are just not that important to her. If they were, then she would have gone out of her way to ensure no animal cruelty would be involved.
Ellen must be aware of how celebrity brings with it the burden of inviting public scrutiny on her every move. As such, she has the inescapable responsibility to speak up for the animals she professes to care for. Her spot in the limelight gives her power and wealth, but it also carries a price: the unspoken desire by her millions of fans to be an unimpeachable role model for the values she claims to stand for. We can but hope that she will move past the wave of verbal attacks on her personality and the PR nightmare that is bound to follow; to educate herself about the true nature of animal farming, examine her beliefs and truly go vegan.
This is one more example of why we should not base our reasons for being vegan on the worst cases of animal abuse and the tragedy of “factory farming” – which is Ellen’s reason for choosing her own level of veganism:
“I personally chose to go vegan because I educated myself on factory farming and cruelty to animals, and I suddenly realized that what was on my plate were living things with feelings,” said Ellen Degeneres. “I just couldn’t disconnect myself from it any longer.”
The bottom line is that animals are sentient beings and not things. Animals are someones, not somethings. The most horrific animal rights violations like rape, kidnapping, imprisonment, mutilation, slavery, the decimation of families and murder occur routinely during all animal use, even on the kindest of animal farms. And, just like any other person on a vegan diet who backslides, if Ellen had truly believed that animals are not ours to use as resources, she would never have found herself entangled in this dilemma of moral confusion.
Are you ready to find out more about the truth behind animal farming? Take the time to take a closer look and then start implementing vegan ideals into your own life. Choosing an ethical and compassionate lifestyle will be the best decision you ever make!