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Helen Mead: I continue to protest in small ways
5:30pm Monday 6th January 2014 in Latest
LAST week my eldest daughter returned a jumper she adored to a shop.
It wasn’t that the top was too small, or shoddily made. She’d splashed out almost £40 on it to wear over New Year, but when she got it home she noticed that it was partly made from angora.
She had watched footage of rabbits, farmed in China for their fur, being plucked alive to make jumpers, hats, scarves, and gloves, for sale around the world.
Horrified, she decided there was no way she was going to wear it and returned it to the shop.
Her stance reminded me of the views I held as a teenager on fur jackets. These were very popular before the anti-fur movement in the 1980s, when celebrities appeared in advertisements wearing blood-splattered fur coats.
A student at the time, me and my friends volunteered to give out leaflets, and help gather signatures for petitions against the fur trade.
It’s good to see young people developing views about such things. I remember a pupil at my daughters’ primary school wearing a bear outfit to school as part of a fundraising campaign to help free moon bears trapped in tiny cages in China, where their bile is extracted for use in medicine.
He can’t have been more than nine or 10, yet there he was at the school gates drumming up support.
I shouldn’t have been surprised by my daughter’s reaction. My children have accompanied me on a protest against the detestable ‘sport’ of fox hunting, and have grown up hearing me rant every time I see a huntsman on the front of a newspaper, which happens a lot at this time of year.
“I’d like them all to be a fox for a day,” I bark, before cursing the horrific practice of getting pleasure from a creature’s pain.
But standing up for what you believe isn’t without its problems.
As a student, I was a member of the League Against Cruel Sports and Compassion in World Farming, but I was urged by one lecturer to leave.
He explained how potential employers could check, and potentially write you off as militant and a bad risk.
I was furious - it wasn’t as if I was going around in a balaclava, armed with bolt cutters, breaking into factory farms. But it worried me.
I would never go over the top to make my opinions known – although I would lie in the path of a hunt chasing a fox – but I continue to protest in small ways: buying free-range meat and eggs, and checking toiletries and cosmetics for animal testing.
My daughter is taking those same, small but, hopefully, effective steps and, for that, I’m proud.
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