Hyderabad: Stepping up efforts to stamp out livestock slaughter in the country, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, has urged the Council for Leather Exports (CLE) to promote vegan or plant-based leather production.
Writing to Sanjay Leekha, chairperson of the CLE which functions under the Commerce and Industry Ministry, PETA India has urged him to advise the organisation's members to move away from the slaughter of cows and buffaloes for producing leather goods.
Currently, the CLE members' directory lists cow leather, cow calf leather, buffalo leather, and buffalo calf leather suppliers.
The initiative, by the animal rights organisation, comes in the run up to Cow Appreciation Day which is observed on July 13.
According to PETA India functionaries, Cow Appreciation Day was created by a US fast-food chain, as a marketing gimmick, to sell slaughtered chicken products over its competitors' beef, but PETA US has routinely hijacked the day to tell the public that both cows and chickens matter and that neither want to be killed for food.
"Vegan leather is the future, and we don't want India to be left behind. Market reports show that ever more shoppers are demanding plant-based options, which are friendly to animals and the environment," PETA India CEO Manilal Valliyate said.
PETA India has pointed out that demand for vegan leather is growing fast, citing Infinium Global Research estimates that the market for vegan leather will reach nearly $90 billion by 2025.
PETA India has also identified some of the factors behind the boom, which include concerns over tannery waste in the Ganges, which is causing human health problems and creating agricultural wastelands, as well as workers' rights issues, since the toxic chemicals in leather production cause many to suffer from skin diseases, respiratory disorders, and various cancers.
"CLE members should start producing leather using only plants and other non-animal materials, thereby empowering farmers, sparing animals' lives, and protecting human health and the environment," Valliyate elaborated.
With major international companies experimenting with vegan leather derived from plant sources such as wood pulp and mushrooms, PETA India is batting for leather produced from plants that grow in abundance in India, like bananas, grapes, apples, pineapples, and coconuts, or from related agricultural waste and discarded temple flowers.
In visits to markets, transport routes, and slaughterhouses with CLE representatives in the past, PETA India has documented the horrific conditions that animals experience in Indian slaughterhouses.
Cows are dragged from vehicles in which they have been packed so tightly that they suffer broken bones.
Video footage shows slaughterhouse workers slitting animals' throats without stunning them and in full view of other cows.