The Manfred Karremann investigation, which was first released by vegan charity PETA Germany, reveals what the organization describes as the 'filthy, crowded' conditions in which the animals are kept, transported, and killed.
Cows killed for leather
According to Karremann, animals were transported for weeks, traveling from Europe and South America overseas and by lorry to abattoirs in Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, and elsewhere - with some of their skins ultimately ending up on store shelves in Europe and the US.
PETA says the footage shows 'weak or injured animals being hoisted off a docked ship by one leg with a crane (a process that can break their legs and dislocate their joints) and then dropped onto an abattoir-bound truck'.
It adds that when animals finally reach the slaughterhouse, they are seen being 'pinned to the ground or tied up' with their throats being cut. Workers were documented kicking a moving sheep onto a pile of corpses, where the animal bled to death.
"As the world reels from a deadly virus that originated in humans' cruel treatment and butchery of animals, this deeply disturbing video footage should set off alarm bells," PETA managing director, Ingrid Newkirk, said.
"Animals killed for leather endure enormous pain and suffering, and its production poses a risk to human health. PETA is urging shoppers to avoid it like the plague."
Sustainable vegan leather
The charity adds that more than 1.4 billion cows, goats, and sheep – and millions of other animals – are killed for leather every year, saying that 'inadequate labeling requirements make it nearly impossible for consumers to determine where leather really came from'.
"Sustainable vegan leather made from apples, cork, mushrooms, pineapple leaves, mangoes, and other materials mimics the properties of animal-derived leather without the cruelty, risk of transmissible disease, or environmental destruction," says PETA.