Saying Adios to Leather

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.

NoLeatherBtnMy 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.

 

7 thoughts on “Saying Adios to Leather

  1. That’s a tough one as leather has become so much part of our existence as just another type of “material” hasn’t it? I watched a program on tv that said that people think that leather is just a by-product of the meat industry so it doesn’t matter (the old “better to make use of ALL of the animal” argument), but in fact, leather is in such demand and fetches more money for quality leather than meat actually does that it is reversed in many cases: leather drives the cow-sacrifice industry. As a population, we might be better off pushing for a reduction of using leather goods if we want cows to be saved. Either way, it’s great that you’ve rid yourselves of that bad omen couch in your meatless abode! 🙂

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  2. Great post. I felt much the same after seeing Earthlings and I too had to be rid of all animal based items including leather and wool. Even faux fur made me cringe and had to go. Thanks for sharing your revelations with others. Here’s hoping more and more people make the connection and care enough to change to more ethical purchasing practices.

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  3. Such a great post. I am new to your site, and I was struck by this because I am in a similar situation. I am recently vegan (go veg heads!) and have been a vegetarian for over a decade prior. I have decided to no longer buy any leather, but what to do with the leather I have? My wallet, that I LOVE, is leather. And I honestly feel like a hypocrite whenever I pull it out and use it. I know it is every person’s individual choice, but your post has given me food for thought. I may be looking through my items soon and not only minimizing what I own, but also making choices that are right for me. Glad I found you! Cheers–

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    • Hey there! Thanks so much for writing and sharing your comments (and for following my blog!). It’s such a hard decision and I think you need to do whatever feels right for you. Confession time: I still own a pair of leather heels, that I’ve had for 6 years now. Would I like to get another cruel-free pair? Of course! But, I’ve already bought these in my pre-vegan days and I’m planning on wearing them until they fall apart. My husband owns a leather wallet that he’s had for 8+ years (I think since I’ve known him!). His next one will definitely be vegan, but until then, why not continue using it? I guess I could’ve done the same with my leather couches, but I just hated sitting on them every single day. I might get that way with the shoes, too – who knows. But, don’t feel like a hypocrite. Your consciousness has opened up and you’re on the right path – that’s all that matters.

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      • Thanks so much for your reply, Alison! It is such a confusing situation, right? I will say it makes me feel better that you and your husband both have leather items that you continue to use. I think the best we can do is to make better choices going forward and not beat ourselves up for our leather heels and leather wallets. Thanks!

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