Many years ago, when my parents purchased our family home’s first leather couch and placed it in the living room, I refused to sit on it. I sat on the rug on the floor to watch TV for about two weeks out of protest. I may not have been comfortable but my conscience was.
As a firm believer in not eating animals, I won’t wear them either. Or put my cash and cards in them. Or upholster with them. Personally, I don’t understand refusing to put a chunk of cow flesh on your plate, yet happily stocking your wardrobes or filling your home with said cow’s skin.
Now, although I don’t agree with it personally, this isn’t a tirade against people who wear/use leather products. I am just genuinely confused about vegetarians that do. And I know several of them.
I understand it if you’re a vegetarian because you don’t like the taste of meat, or don’t eat meat solely for health reasons but if you don’t eat animals for moral or ethical reasons, how do you draw that line?
For any veggies that argue it’s for convenience or out of habit, I just have to say that it’s not difficult to forgo leather. There are so many alternatives to leather out there. No, my winter boots may not last for years on end but they are a fraction of the cost of their leather counterparts and I get to update each new season or two; my synthetic jackets are adorable and keep me warm; I don’t need cow skin to carry around my wallet and lip balm successfully; and despite what fashion magazines say, leather pants look good on no one and belong in the 80s with Mötley Crüe.
Once, when discussing the topic of leather, one veggie friend said to me, “It comes from cows that are killed anyway and I’d rather the rest of the animal didn’t go to waste.” Well, I agree in the sense that of course I would prefer that leather came from cows who were also used for beef, rather than using different animals in each industry and therefore, killing more animals. BUT. With her logic, why not just eat the meat?! If that cow has died for your shoes, are you causing it extra harm by eating its meat?
And whilst we’re on that line of reasoning, it doesn’t all come from “cows that are killed anyway”. Soft leather comes from calves not always used for veal and that super-soft, super-expensive stuff? That comes from unborn calves whose mothers have been slaughtered. How awesome are your gloves now?
On top of that, not all leather products are made from cow skin. Soccer/football boots are generally made from kangaroo leather. Suede usually comes from lambs – though goats, deer and calves are also used. Leather overcoats are usually deerskin. And crocodiles, pigs, elk, fish, sharks, ostriches and dogs are just some of the other animals used for leather products.
As leather labelling isn’t always specific, you can’t always be sure exactly what animal you are wearing.
As I said, this wasn’t meant to be a tirade against people who wear and use leather products (although, I appreciate I can get a little carried away). I just think that if you are choosing to be a vegetarian for moral or ethical reasons, yet still wearing/using leather, you should be educated in your choices.
Because ignorance is most certainly not bliss.