Making humane choices

Everyone can take a stand against animal cruelty in their everyday life. We are all consumers, and it is money that keeps cruel industries going. The consumer dollar can be a powerful force for change, so lets use it compassionately. It’s easy to gradually eliminate cruel products from your life. Cruelty is involved in:

  • Food – The most important area of all. Huge numbers of animals (for example, close to 500 million chickens a year in Australia) suffer because of the way they are raised, transported and slaughtered for food. See the section on Farm Animals for more information, also Fish feel pain (link not done yet). To find out more about changing to a cruelty free diet, go to Why Vegan.
  • Personal products – Products such as soap, cosmetics and toiletries may contain slaughterhouse products or be tested on animals.
  • Clothing - Fur and leather are the skins of slaughtered animals, and wool also involves cruelty and eventually the slaughter of sheep.
  • Entertainment - Circuses and poorly run zoos confine animals in unsuitable conditions, rough treatment in rodeos results in animals being injured, and horses are regularly injured and killed in jump racing. Choose entertainment that doesn’t involve animal cruelty.
  • Companion animals – Every year tens of thousands of healthy cats and dogs around Australia are killed just because no-one wants them. Other companion animals are abandoned as well. Be responsible; have your animals desexed and look after them for life.

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You take a stand against cruelty every time you eat a meal without animal products. As Pythagoras said: “The earth affords you a lavish supply of riches, of innocent foods, and offers you banquets that involve no bloodshed or slaughter.”

Personal and household products may be tested on animals, or they may contain slaughterhouse products such as:

  • tallow, animal fat boiled out of slaughterhouse waste and used for most soaps;
  • gelatine, from the ligaments and feet of slaughtered animals;
  • elastin and collagen, from slaughtered animals.

Look for soap made from vegetable oils (preferably not palm oil from plantations in Indonesia which displace orangutans). Avoid products containing gelatine, elastin or collagen.

You can make sure you avoid animal tested products and slaughterhouse ingredients by going to the Choose Cruelty Free web site and using their Preferred Products List. The Choose Cruelty Free group is based in Melbourne and regularly surveys companies to assess whether they qualify for the Preferred Products List. Checks are essential because not all companies who claimed they don’t test on animals are genuine, and just because a company calls its products “natural”, “organic” or “herbal” doesn’t mean they are cruelty free – they could still be tested on animals. For more information on product testing go to Animal Testing.

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If you use Hormone Replacement Therapy, please make sure that you do not use Premarin . This brand contains oestrogens collected from pregnant mares’ urine, which condemns tens of thousands of mares to a fairly miserable life, and condemns most of their foals to be slaughtered. Read more about Premarin cruelty. There are many synthetic or plant oestrogen preparations that you could use instead. Speak to your doctor about these alternatives.
Clothing and accessories are often produced by killing animals. For example:

  • Leather and sheep skins, as in Ugg boots and seat covers, come from slaughtered animals (see Cattle in Australia and The harsh life of Australia sheep for more information). Wallets and belts can be made of pig skin (see Pigs pay a high price for people’s choices).
  • Fur, even small bits of trim around hoods or collars, comes from animals either caught in cruel traps or, most commonly, raised in small wire cages. Remember that seal pups are still bludgeoned to death for fur.
  • Akubra hats are made of felted rabbit furs which these days (after calici virus) are imported from overseas rabbit farms.
  • Feather boas or down in doonas and sleeping bags comes from slaughtered birds. Some birds are plucked alive so that feathers can be harvested more than once.
  • Wool involves the cruelty of mulesing and tailing, and all sheep eventually end up at the slaughterhouse, for more information go to The harsh life of Australian sheep.
  • Some souvenirs, such as toy koalas, may be made of animal parts, such as kangaroo skin.
  • Raw silk is boiled out of silk worms.

There are good, cruelty-free alternatives for all these products. There are many synthetic shoes, bags, belts and wallets available. If you want really high quality goods that not only avoid animal cruelty, but also sweatshops because they are hand-made in Melbourne, go to Vegan Wares.

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Photos from China. A caged dog awaiting slaughter for his/her fur (PETA). An arctic fox being removed with tongs around the neck from his/her small wire cage for slaughter (Swiss Animal Protection). China is now the world’s leading exporter of fur, but has no animal protection laws. Investigators have observed animals being skinned while still alive.

For more information go to:

Remember that you don’t have to buy a fur coat to support this cruel industry – a fur collar, hood trim, toy or pillow keeps it going.

Companion animals. An estimated 250,000 healthy dogs and cats are killed Australia-wide each year just because no-one wants them (see Death Row Pets). Most animals are abandoned, not because there is anything wrong with them, but because people no longer want the commitment of looking after an animal. Other reasons include moving into accommodation that doesn’t allow pets or an elderly person dying or moving into a nursing home.

If you would like a companion animal, first ask yourself if you can look after him or her for their natural lifespan and, if you can, visit one of the many shelters to find your companion. The Pet Rescue web site lists shelters in South Australia, where you can find cats and dogs, including ex-racing greyhounds, as well as rabbits, guinea pigs and rats. Many of the animals who are abandoned are purebred or designer breeds. By selecting from a shelter you will be saving a life and not contributing further to overpopulation by breeders and pet shops. Remember that some breeders keep animals in poor conditions, for example, so-called Puppy Mills. Please make sure your animals are desexed so that you don’t contribute to over-population. For people on low incomes, help with desexing of cats is available from Cats Assistance to Sterilise, ph 8331-0476 in Adelaide.