As trends toward animal-free products gain popularity, it’s clear that there must be one exception: wool.
I remember the first time I saw Peta’s anti-wool campaign. Images of bloody and battered lambs as the apparent result of the violence of sheep-shearing were shocking to me. Not because they opened my eyes to the evils of wool, but because I grew up in an agricultural community and had family members who raised sheep. I was shocked that so many people believed this to be true when I knew the reality to be different.
These ad campaigns may be very effective for people who live in urban environments because they are far removed from the reality of agriculture. Indeed, I have found strict veganism to be far less popular in communities where local agriculture is still practiced. And that’s for good reason. If you can get eggs from neighbors whose chickens you see roaming around feasting on lawn bugs, you know they are being raised as nature intended.
It’s industrial agriculture that has encouraged people to eat far too much meat and dairy. And it’s focus on animals as products to be churned out as quickly and cheaply as possible has caused inhumane treatment to run rampant. Wool farming, however, still exists in many places in more traditional forms.
Sheep have been domesticated since the dawn of civilization and bred to have fine wool coats. While it’s true that some wild breeds of sheep don’t need shearing, these domesticated sheep breeds must be shorn to avoid many health problems. They don’t naturally shed and if their wool becomes overgrown, it can get packed in dung around their hindquarters, making a breeding ground for parasites that can burrow into their skin causing severe infections. It can also cause them to overheat in summer, get twigs and branches stuck to them, and if their wool becomes too dense, they may be unable to get up if they fall over.
Many people remember the story of Shrek the sheep, who avoided shearing for 6 years after running away to live in a cave in the wilderness. When he was discovered, the wool had grown up around his face, obscuring his vision, and the wool removed from him weighed about 60 pounds. The sad fact is, that if all farms liberated their sheep tomorrow, very few would survive and most breeds would soon go extinct due to their domestic…