Leather Ba

Why Leather Isn’t in My Wardrobe

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.

leather stuffed animal

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.


15 thoughts on “Why Leather Isn’t in My Wardrobe

  1. Laughing. I recommend Ethical Wares by the way. I should add the link, but it is Sunday and I am lazy. Sorry Mike, anyway, I might come back and add it later.

    I would add wool and silk to that too.

    Of course we all know how the meat industry survives by the by-products. Don’t we? Hence leather.

    1. Confused. Who is Mike? Did someone leave an angry comment that I missed? This post wasn’t meant to offend, just share my point of view.

      For the record, I don’t wear wool or silk either. Or Ugg boots.

      1. No, my fault, Mike is from Ethical Wares in Wales which is one of my favourite veg/cruelty free suppliers, used to use them mail-order before on-line shopping was invented. Consistent, reliable and excellent quality. The sorry was to him for me being too lazy to put a link!

        I totally agree with you. It is interesting how ‘ethical’ vegetarians (ie those who don’t want to eat animals rather than those who choose not to for personal health reasons) happily buy animal by-products when there are adequate alternatives.

        I haven’t chucked all my wool/silk out. But that’s on grounds of waste. So I’m sitting here wearing a wool pullover that is nearly 20 years old. I just wouldn’t buy it any more. (I try and avoid buying anything). There is an argument against synthetics ie petrochemical and environmental damage, but we all have to decide where our priorities lie. My main ones are in not buying dead animals.

      2. Oh, haha – I’m with you now! No worries, I Googled the brand. Thanks for the recommendation. =)

        Yes, I just find it strange. I think a lot of people are just naive about leather goods and where they come from.

        I don’t think I’ve ever owned silk – just satin, its cheap counterpart. ;-) It seems very wasteful to just chuck out all old items because they are wool/silk etc. I think it’s more important what choices you make now.

        And lastly, totally agree with you on the synthetic argument. But the leather industry contributes an awful lot to environmental problems, and I don’t know much about it but I am sure wool production isn’t too kind either. It’s very hard to make 100% ethical, guilt-free choices but main priority is not wearing dead animals as well.

  2. I enjoy leather products because I got to a stage in my life that I got sick of having to buy shoes every few months. I walk a lot so fake leather just didn’t cut it. From an environmental perspective, it is better to buy 4 pairs of good quality shoes that will last years than 12 pairs over the course of a few years which are all destined for landfill. We live in a very disposable world.

    What I don’t get though is when companies call it “vegetarian leather” and charge more.

    1. And that’s fair enough! However, if you also eat meat I think that’s very different.

      To each his own but for me, I don’t understand being an ethical vegetarian but then wearing leather so I thought it made an interesting topic!

      I do agree with you on overpriced ‘vegetarian leather’. Perhaps it’s good quality synthetic material that lasts an age? None of my shoes (not that I own that many pairs!) are expensive so no, they don’t last forever. However, I have synthetic sports shoes and they are the only ones that really get a massive work out and they are lasting me just as long as any of my old leather sports shoes did. =)

      1. Hey, that is good that your sports shoes are lasting. Sports shoes really can get a work out!

        Though I have had leather shoes that break too, I feel they are worth fixing, while synthetic shoes I generally throw away when they break. I had a pair of synthetic boots fixed once but they broke again in a different spot not long after so not worth it.

        I am no seamstress, but I will put a needle and thread to clothes that need it. it seems to be rare these days though to fix clothes when they are worn.

        It does depend why you do things and everyone has different ethics. For me, I try and eat free range meats where possible. But I have never really heard of any distinction of free range leather.

      2. I sew up my clothes too! I can’t count how many cardigans have had their seems re-done and just last week, I sewed the underwire back into my bra! Haha!

        I have synthetic shoes fixed if it’s the heel but not much you can do when they get holes or the coating wears off. Luckily, I work in a very casual office and am in Converse or even flip flops most of the time! ;-)

        That’s a good point, actually – I’ve never heard of free-range leather either. I’m sure there must be ‘organic’ leather out there but I imagine it’s probably rare and expensive.

  3. I never thought about it before. Maybe because I can’t afford anything leather! I say, but cheaper synthetic materials and use the money you would’ve spent on leather, on a good cause! Put your money to better use! :)

  4. Shoes made with man made materials instead of leather are terrific. There are so many styles everywhere, you don’t have to go out of your way to find a vegan store.

    1. Agree! My favourite sneakers are Macbeth’s Elliot range and I have loads of cute leather-free flats and boots from different stores/brands.

      I just like the idea of supporting completely veggie/vegan shoe brands as well. :)

  5. So has anyone actually found any free range leather anywhere? I’ve been buying fake leather shoes, and found it a slog. I crave a pair of cowboy boots and unless you’re a kid they don’t seem to make them in fake leather… Any help would be much appreciated!

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