Vegan in leather?

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    I recently cut all animal products from my consumption habits after waffling with it for a bit, both for environmental as well as ethical reasons. I have never ate much meat so there hasn’t been a large change in my diet, my only problem moving forward is all of the leather I bought before I made the transition.

    I have a not insignificant amount of money invested in high end shoes, belts, etc. that would not be easy for me to replace anytime soon. What would be the ethics of me continuing to wear these products while I slowly replace them with more animal friendly products? Basically, how hypocritical will I look if I refuse meat at a cook out while wearing leather loafers?

    Also, any brand recommendations for faux products are greatly appreciated!



    Getting rid of leather products you already own will not bring back the animals that died to make them. It’s also definitely better for the environment to continue to use something you already have than to purchase something new.



    I would wear and use the current leather items until they’re beyond repair, then switch to faux leather alternatives. Sensible people will not judge you for it, but dumbasses might.

    The way I see it, the animal is already dead and you got the item before you became a vegan. At least you can make sure the animal didn’t die in vain and don’t contribute to the clothing waste.



    Wear them until you need to get something new e.g. shoes get worn out. Then buy non-leather to replace the leather items.



    I’m a vegetarian, not vegan or plant-based. Personally, I have continued using leather products that I bought before I stopped eating meat. Switching to cruelty-free beauty and skincare products and cutting meat from my diet has been part of a larger process of being more mindful about what I spend my money on; with that reasoning, it seems silly to throw out or donate perfectly good shoes, jackets, and purses just to replace them with vegan products. Similarly, I continued using my non-CF moisturizer until I used it up because wasting all that product didn’t sit well with me. As my leather goods wear out, I’ll replace them with non-leather products, but until that time I’m perfectly comfortable wearing them.

    I will also add that wastefulness is one of my least favorite traits. It really, really irritates and upsets me when I see people being wasteful, mindless consumers, so this is in line with my personality generally of trying to use every product to it’s last drop.

    Oh and also, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Matt & Nat’s pleather products when it comes time to replace your leather products 🙂



    The reality is, the “damage” is already done with the goods you own. To replace them for the sake of replacement creates a greater demand on the environment. I’ve often discussed the concept of faux leather, suede and fur with vegan friends because when the goods look authentic, you’re still essentially promoting the aesthetic of animal based goods.

    You don’t owe anyone a label for yourself or an explanation for how you live your life. You don’t have to call yourself a vegan or live up to anyone’s expectations of what being vegan entails. You have decided to reduce your imprint by no longer buying animal based goods. If you’re happy with how that makes you feel, live the life you want. Whether or not you conform to someone else’s standards as a point of offense is their problem, not yours.



    Lifelong vegetarian here. I have owned dozens and dozens of vegan leather items and only a precious few (Matt and Nat, Angela Roi) have survived more than a year without looking like hell or falling apart.

    At the end of the day, most faux leather is still plastic, and it ends up in a landfill. I buy leather items pre-owned and choose alternative materials like canvas often. Don’t beat yourself up because the alternatives aren’t great.



    From a consumption point of view, buying used leather is far more environmentally friendly than purchasing new vegan leather.



    There’s no need to get rid of everything all at once unless it really bothers you. Just work your way to replacing each item until it’s all out of your wardrobe. Good vegans won’t judge you for it but the gatekeepers will – pay those no mind.



    You’re better off looking for sustainably sourced and treated leather from an environmental cull, actually. Pleather is basically a type of plastic, and the chemical processes used to make it are quite impactful, and it doesn’t last as long meaning it need to be replaced. It’s been about 4 years since i did uni, but to the best of my knowledge the impacts of polyurethane still out strip leather. Leather is a tricky one as well, as you have the impact of the animal, as well as treating – chemical treating tends to be just as bad as pleather.

    Many people think pleather is ethical because the cow didn’t die, but don’t realise the treatment process kills many more lives in terms of fish and other waterway life forms as the run off hits the waterways. The same is true of leather as well, of course, but the natural/traditional one is significantly better than the artificial/chemical based one. This is because disposal is much easier. Regardless of treatment process, if the waste is just dumped, they kill waterways as well as each other.

    So I’m gonna assume you want to be sustainable, because i can’t think of another ethical reason you’d need to ask about this for. If it was you really like cows then there’s lots of different leather you could use. If it was worker rights then you’d be trying to make your own clothes (which is still a sustainablilty issue). If it was ‘meat is gross’ you’d toss the leather stuff you already have.

    Leather is actually quite sustainable, it’s the *industry* that’s the problem. So all that leather stuff you have? Keep it until it’s worn out. Use it. Throwing it is wasteful and more about your feelings than the actual item. If it’s produced properly and cared for, a good leather jacket should out last you, for example.

    So the most ethical option in terms of having the smallest impact, (and this is based on research from a few months ago about a slightly different fashion item), you would be well served by getting a jacket made locally of culled kangaroo leather, and treated using natural tanning processes and disposed of by certified processes. The roos are culled because they eat themselves out of food (which is because humans in the first place but it’s this or extinction). Processing it naturally makes it easier for biological waste disposal. You now have a jacket that won’t wear out any time soon. You’ll find all the items you want to replace will be a similar sort of thing.

    Aside from considering the least impactful option of the garments you already have, you need to think about impact of replacing it. Lets say you had a good pair of leather pants that are still perfectly usable, and replaced them with a new pair of jeans. Cotton is hella bad for the environment, and the treatment process is even worse. The treatment is slightly different to pleather, but much the same effect, except the cotton drinks up 60k liters of water for just one pair of jeans. And that’s all you get – at least the cow can give milk or meat or dung. Cotton can only ever give cotton and a bit of compost.

    So the long and short of it is, there’s a lot more to it than it sounds like you’ve considered. Cork soled leather shoes are probably the best i can think of, followed by maybe canvas and cork? but it would need to be a hemp or bamboo canvas and you’d have to be careful of how you treated it since most fabric finishing and waterproofing isn’t sustainable (and thus not ethical). Belts are pretty easy to replace with cloth versions, but you’ll still need to check sourcing and treatment policy of the various companies.

    Sorry if this has been a bit of a ramble – i’m quite sick and it’s been a few years since I finished my sustainability degree. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as just cutting animals out of your life. It’s a big ol’ system of complications and headaches. About the only easy thing you can do is try to source locally, and reduce usage. That’s pretty universal, but does pretty much exclude you from fashion in a lot of ways most of the time.



    I still wear pre-gan leather stuff that’s in good condition and I’ve been vegan for…almost a decade? You’re good! I get it though, sometimes I worry about the optics, and like, I wouldn’t wear a leather jacket to a vegan restaurant. But I think even the most hardcore vegan will understand. If it makes you uncomfortable to continue wearing these things, you can always sell or donate them!

    For brand recommendations, I like Nicora shoes. I haven’t owned, but have heard good things about, ByBlanche and Wills London.



    It’s more wasteful to get rid of things you already owned. I try not to buy a lot of leather, so I mainly buy either non leather or buy used now.



    I’ve been a vegetarian for years but just became vegan. I have some leather shoes and a purse. I’m still going to use these items because money has been spent but I won’t be buying any leather products in the future.



    In my opinion it’s more ethical to keep and use those items. If you were to throw them away there’s an incredible amount of waste from those things, and even if you sold them that will not bring the animals back from the dead.



    I went vegan a few years ago. I still have all of the leather products I owned beforehand. One of the biggest ways that being vegan affects change is through the decisions you make with your money. We live in a capitalist society, where supply meets (meats?) the demand of the consumer. By being vegan, you say to the producer that you aren’t willing to pay money for animal products. If enough people made that decision, companies would stop making those products. If you already own animal products like leather shoes or suede jackets, you’ve already contributed to the demand of those goods. Owning them makes little difference when it comes to affecting change, unless you’re concerned about other people’s perception of you wearing goods made of animal products (even if you wear faux leather or suede or fur, people will see it and might still think it’s real. so this point seems kind of moot, imo). I wouldn’t worry about wearing them, personally, unless you’re ethically opposed to wearing them.

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