By Taimoor Choudhry
I used to live a life of luxury – selling diamonds, flying private jets and attending fashion shows globally – but now I am an animal rights activist on a mission to change the world! It was a life-changing moment that shifted the way that I saw the world and I knew instantly that my life would take a very different path. I had locked eyes with a bull in a market back home in Pakistan and saw the distress in his eyes. I wanted to save him – but knew that while I could not save his individual life, I could use my voice to help animals on a larger scale. At that moment, I knew that I had to become a documentary filmmaker and share important stories that are often ignored or swept under the rug.
I had a spiritual awakening and made some significant shifts, leaving the family diamond and jewelry business and packing my bags for a new life as a film student in Canada. I had given up the life that I had known for a new adventure, one that had more meaning and passion but also many unknowns. I was drawn to the idea of Anuvrat – which is a form of self-transformation to help develop a healthy society and promote the ideas of peace, social justice and sustainability. I believed that I could advocate those values through film.
The cold Canadian winters took some getting used to, but I kept warm in my Mackage parka. As an animal lover, I was shocked to learn that the trim around my hood was real fur! It was another powerful moment in my life, where I knew that I had to do something, to investigate further. For my final film project in school, I decided to focus on the issue of fur in fashion.
In doing research for my student film (titled: Real Fur), I was shocked to learn that 100 million animals are raised and killed for their fur each year. An overwhelming majority (95%) of the fur sold internationally comes from fur farms. On these cruel fur factory farms, animals spend their entire lives in cramped and filthy cages, deprived of the ability to move around or engage in their natural behaviors. These horrific living conditions create trauma for the captive animals and they can often be seen exhibiting signs of distress such as pacing back and forth, or self-mutilation.
If this was not bad enough, these animals also face inhumane deaths on fur farms – where they are killed by gassing and electrocution. I was determined to do everything in my power to raise awareness about this shocking industry and hopefully help end it!
Five years after starting this project, the short student film is now a feature-length documentary appearing at film festivals internationally, most recently at the Hamptons Doc Fest in New York. The documentary features powerful interviews with experts in law, politics, fashion, the non-profit sector and more. I began my journey as an uninformed consumer and found myself working alongside Canadian politician, M.P. Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and animal rights lawyer Camille Labchuk, to introduce a federal bill to ban fur farms. Bill C 247 is the first bill in history to be tabled in Canada and if successful will ban fur farms federally across Canada.
For this week’s Anuvrat, I invite you to help make a difference on this issue by vowing to never wear the skins of any animal and by signing a letter calling on Canada to ban fur farms. You can help by taking action at MakeFurFarmsHistory.com.
Taimoor Choudhry is a director and producer of Real Fur – an eye-opening investigative documentary about the true cost of the fur farming industry in Canada. He is also the founder of Arise Productions – which is dedicated to making change through cinema and film.