I have a confession to make: I’m a vegan animal rights activist who used to love UGGs.
I was in high school when I got my first pair of UGGs for Christmas. I absolutely loved them. I was that cliché girl who wore her knee-high winter boots with shorts. Embarrassing. I wore them so much that my parents got me another pair. It didn’t even cross my mind that wearing UGGs could be hurting animals.
Like so many people, shoes were shoes to me. UGGs seemed harmless. I knew that they were made from wool, but I somehow missed the part where “sheepskin” meant ACTUAL skin taken from an animal.
I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t realize the full extent of what sheep used for wool endure until I started working for PETA. I learned that lambs’ ears are often hole-punched and their tails chopped off and that the males are castrated without any painkillers.
I also learned that UGGs are made in Australia and that it’s considered “normal” in the Australian wool industry for approximately 3 million young lambs to die every spring!
What I soon realized was this: Whenever humans treat animals like products, instead of sentient beings who deserve respect, the results will never be good for the animals.
When sheep’s wool production decreases, they’re generally auctioned off and sent to slaughter.
To make matters worse, raising sheep for wool is bad for the environment. A report by the Environmental Working Group found that sheep are the biggest producers of greenhouse-gas emissions—even more so than cows. They have digestive functions that constantly generate methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Additionally, they require energy-intensive feed, which is highly fertilized with chemicals, and generate massive amounts of manure, which creates even more harmful emissions. Sheep, along with cows, are often referred to as the “Humvees” of animals.
Sheep are gentle, quiet animals who don’t deserve to be used and exploited. After learning how they suffer in the wool industry, wearing UGGs felt like a ridiculous thing to do. Why would anyone want to support such cruelty—especially when there are so many humane alternatives?
Now, I feel so much better knowing that there are no dead animals in my closet! It’s wonderful to know that you’re making a difference for animals. Plus, you can use ditching wool and animal skin as an excuse to buy gorgeous, new vegan clothing and accessories. 😉 When shopping for shoes or other clothing, be sure to pay attention to these symbols on shoe and clothing labels:
Look for cruelty-free materials like synthetic leather, PU, polyurethane “man-made” materials, waxed cotton, and imitation leather.
Avoid leather, suede, sheepskin, shearling, and nubuck.