Clothing & Cosmetics  > Meat and Leather -- Two Sides of the Same Coin


Compassionate Friend, Spring 1998 --- Beauty Without Cruelty India


Goat meat or mutton, despite its poor quality, is the most popular meat in India. 95% of raising goats and sheep continues to be on traditional lines. These animals are owned by landless farmers who migrate from place to place with their herds which feed off mainly wasteland grass, also garbage. 60% of the animals, numbering over 16 million -- one-third of which are kids, die due to untreated diseases and the remaining 40% are slaughtered for their meat and skins. Ailing animals or those below optimum weight and age are sold in the market to middlemen for slaughter and are subjected to the same cruelties as other slaughter animals. Lambs and young goats are also slaughtered for meat. Goat hair and the fleece of sheep is used by the wool industry; and goats' horns are commonly utilized for making buttons.


Sensing financial reward in raising goats intensively, several company have decided to turn the unorganized shepherd-centered activity into an industrial-scale business. We request readers not to invest in the so-called lucrative goat livestock ventures. Without sufficient patronage such projects will not be taken up or flourish.


The Central Institute for Research on Goats has organized seminars for making this 'poor mans's cow' into 'rich man's kamdhenu' in spite of the mortality rate in farms being almost double than what it is in free-grazing conditions. Under new technology plans, training will be imparted for higher productivity, crossbreeds and broiler goats (like broiler chickens) will be created, and eventually goat producers' co-operatives will be established. If we do not protest now, 'goatery' in our country will follow in the footsteps of poultry and we will see the setting up of a National Goat Development Board.


The Nimbakar Agricultural Research Institute, Phaltan in Maharashtra, has imported South African Boer goats with whose semen Indian goats are artificially inseminated. The result is a creature with a goat's head and a cow's body -- the aim being to 'grow' more meat.


Those who care do not eat meat, nor use leather. Footwear is the most common application for leather. It is also the only use of leather that is often defined as a need by vegetarians. The average leather footwear utilizes several animals' skins: tough cattle hide for the sole, thinner and differently tanned and processed calf leather for the upper, still thinner goat skin for the inside lining and machine pressed leather fining made into a leather board for giving appropriate strength and flexibility placed in between the outer and inner soles.


Leather, hide and skin are also used in garments, belts, gloves, handbags, wallets, purses, watch and other straps, linings, trimmings. Most of it is from slaughtered cows and bulls although 20% of the world's goat skin is from India. About eighteen square feet of leather is obtained from an average sized cow or bull in India. For example, a leather jacket is made from approximately ten square feet representing 55% hide of a single cow or bull and if also lined with leather, the skin of two medium-sized goats; and a leather briefcase from five and a half square feet representing 30% hide of a single cow or bull together with the entire skin of approximately three small goats used for the inside lining and the compartments.


If ever you are tempted to eat meat or use leather, remember Dr Albert Schweitzer's words:"I am life, which wills to live, in the midst of life, which wills to live."