I was watching the new episode of the Our Hen House TV show, and Jasmin was talking about her vegan tap shoes. Someone from her tap class had asked her why she wouldn’t get “quality” shoes for the sake of art. If you read between the lines, this person was asking Jasmin why she wasn’t wearing leather shoes. You’ll have to watch the new episode to hear Jasmin’s response, but it made me think about a conversation I recently had with a friend of mine.
My friend was excited about his purchase of new vegan Doc Martens, but at the same time he was torn because he had supported a predominant leather manufacturing company. The internal debate for him was does he buy vegan products from non-vegan companies to show them that this item is in demand, or does he buy from a completely ethical, cruel-free vegan company to support their efforts? It’s a tough call, and I don’t think there is any right answer. Personally, I think it’s great to encourage corporate giants to integrate more and more vegan products into their line of goods. And I also think it’s wonderful to support vegan companies so they can thrive and succeed.
My husband, Kevin, and I recently made a tough decision with selling our leather couches that we had had since before we went vegan. I was torn – I wasn’t sure I wanted someone to buy them without knowing the horrifically cruel process the animals endured, but I also couldn’t have them in my house any longer. Even our dog hated to sit on them. She knew. I felt really bad selling them to someone who was as clueless as I was a few years ago. I wanted to educate her on how they were made and how awful leather is, but I bit my tongue so they could find a new home.
I believe keeping leather items that had already been purchased before going vegan is completely up to each individual. My friend told me about her vegan friend who still bought used leather products because she felt the animal had already been sacrificed. That’s this person’s opinion, and everyone is entitled to their view. To us, we couldn’t help but think about what had happened to the animal when we sat on them every day. I believe the important thing is that when making conscious decisions, to always be cruel-free going forward.
It does still amaze me that I was vegetarian when I bought those couches, not connecting the dots that leather is made from animal skin. I finally learned about the extremely cruel conditions in which the animals suffer when I watched Earthlings. As we told family and friends that we were getting ready to sell the couches, we got a lot of questions wondering why. People thought they were in good condition and extremely comfortable. When I told them that they were leather and non-vegan, I could see their wheels turning and possibly not comprehending at first. But after explaining more, I believe – I hope – they became more aware of the fact that I didn’t want to sit on dead animals anymore.
Selling our leather couches made me contemplate that the names of so many products mask the truth so the consumer doesn’t have to think of the horrible cruelty it entails to make the item. Would people buy leather if it were called something different? Would they buy it if it were called dead cow skin? And what about that lady from Jasmin’s dance class – would she ask Jasmin why she wasn’t wearing leather shoes if she knew what happened to those poor sentient creatures?
I know it took a long time for me to lift the blinders and see what really happens when leather is made, and I just hope that the more animal rights activists share with others, their eyes will be opened to the truth as well.