Editor’s comment: We all have a responsibillity for ethical trade

Councillors banned the sale or supply of fur in Islington's markets, including Chapel Market, yester

Councillors banned the sale or supply of fur in Islington's markets, including Chapel Market, yesterday. Picture: KEN MEARS - Credit: Archant

The joke is: how do you spot a vegan at a party?

And the punchline is: don't worry - they'll let you know.

Joking aside, yes, I'm talking about being vegan again, but - don't go away! - there is a point.

Veteran Chapel Market man and traders' association chairman David Twydell is right that animals are grown for food and that objection to the fur trade in isolation doesn't make a lot of sense. So too is the objector to Islington Council's fur ban who points out that the logical conclusion is a blanket policy to turn all markets in Islington vegan.

Before I go where you're expecting and respond to that last point, I should say this: cruelty to animals is bad, but I recognise that people need livelihoods. They need to pay their rent and feed their families, and they deserve to be able to use and be proud of their skills and the businesses they have built.

But that does not mean that anyone has a right to buy or sell fur - rather, it means we all (but especially those in positions of power and privilege) have a responsibility to ensure the people who rely on selling fur should have, and should be given support to find, alternatives that are sustainable both for the planet and for them. The argument that it is simply "recycling" from the meat industry is more an argument against the production and sale of meat than it is a reason to leave the status quo unchanged. And no one needs to buy or wear fur - it's neither the only way to keep warm nor the cheapest. Its value is fetishistic: if you like the way it looks (and many don't), imitation fur has existed for decades.

And yes, personally I think animal products have no place in shops or on markets, but we live compromised lives and surely doing something is better than doing nothing?