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:
- Leather Facts
- Cows are Cool
- Why Vegan? Leather Facts
- Compassionate Cooks’ Food for Thought Podcast: Leather, Not An Innocent By-Product
- Guide for Leather Alternatives
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.