Skin Is Skin

Skin Is Skin

An omni friend of mine told me a true story over tea and tofu:

He had been walking home from work when two young women pulled up and asked him for directions. One woman got out of the car and asked my friend to write the directions down. As my friend was reaching for a pen, the woman went at him with a tazer. They struggled, and he escaped, called 911, and went to the hospital for stitches.

My friend, showing me the cut he received on his face, said he thought they wanted his leather jacket. As he told me this, I thought about how the stitching on his leather jacket resembled the stitches on his face. Skin is skin.

Who knows what these women wanted with him, but preventing mugging is a good reason to avoid leather. However, here are some much better reasons not to use leather:

  • There are plenty of alternatives. Some are much more environmentally friendly, like recycled rubber.
  • Leather is not an innocent by-product of the meat industry; leather is a co-product of the meat industry. Leather generates significant profits for factory farms, lining the pockets of greedy animal exploiters.
  • Leather in the U.S. is often imported from India and China, where conditions for animals are particularly cruel.
  • Chemicals used in the tanning process (formaldehyde, chromium, arsenic, and cyanide) pose serious threats to the environment.
  • These same chemicals are threats to human health.
  • If you’re vegetarian or vegan, non-vegans will use your leather to dismiss your claims about factory farm cruelty or the environmental destruction of CAFOs. They will call you a hypocrite.
  • Leather may be made from cows, pigs, goats, sheep, alligators, ostriches, kangaroos… even dogs and cats. Leather frequently isn’t labeled, so you don’t really know where it came from.
  • Leather often comes from babies: leather from young animals is more prized because it’s softer and less “blemished.”


For more information about leather, please visit these websites:

My friend isn’t willing to ditch his leather jacket just yet. But I’ll keep encouraging him. In the meantime, let’s hope no one decides to treat his life as worthlessly as the lives of the animals who became his jacket.

8 Responses to Skin Is Skin

  1. That’s…weird.

    Maybe one of those lesbian gangs Bill O’Reilly has been warning us about?

  2. Yeah, it is weird. Truth is stranger than fiction.

    I considered omitting the gender of the attackers from the story because I thought it might distract from the pro-animal message. But… a) I didn’t want to perpetuate sexism and well, b) it’s a true story.

    Bullies come in all forms, violence comes in many kinds, and greed comes in all shapes.

  3. Isn’t “leather” just a euphemism for cow skin anyways? Our collective linguistic wrangling really gets at your point Eccentric: “skin is skin.”

    ~ Recent blog post: Finding ‘reason’ in a ‘feeling’ ~

  4. Great post.

    ~ Recent blog post: Today’s Food Intake & Another Great Blog ~

  5. You’re right – that image is very nearly exactly what we see on leather jackets. It’s frustrating how dissonant we are on the wearing of human skin versus non-human skin.

  6. Beautiful, well written blog with such a knowlageable, critical tone! I love how you talk from a vegan’s perspective, not only about health (though that’s an important factor) but also supporting animal rights and the enviroment, which omni’s are SUPER resistent to accepting that VEGANS DO make the world a better place, in a rather simple manner, and WE’RE NOT the wierd ones here! GO vegheads!!! :D

    ~ Recent blog post: The Middle Passage ~

  7. Skin is skin, and meat is meat. Last summer I viewed the BodyWorks exhibit in Baltimore (the display of plasticized human bodies) and all I kept thinking was, It’s all meat. We are made of meat. I could not see how anyone could look at that exhibition and not make the connection. I wanted to stand in the middle of the hall and yell, “How can you look at this and then go have a steak for dinner? It’s all the same!” Except the bodies in this exhibit were from volunteers, unlike the steak on the plate.

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