Can Vegans and Vegetarians Legitimately Wear Leather?

  • By Olivia Sentosa

Can Vegans and Vegetarians Legitimately Wear Leather?

Our collective appreciation of the need to lead ethical lives has increased massively in the past decade. As such, more and more people are rethinking their outlook on animal rights each year. As such, both vegetarianism and veganism have seen rapid growth in recent times as people opt for eating habits that don’t harm animals. However, the food industry isn’t alone in making use of animal products, and the fashion and footwear industry is another common user of animal by-products.

Many new vegans and vegetarians will wonder about the moral legitimacy of wearing certain products. Leather is undoubtedly the chief candidate. So, can those items be worn without guilt? Let’s take a closer look at both sides of the argument.

Cheeky Goat

The Case For Wearing Leather

There are different levels of veganism and vegetarianism to consider. However, they are often all united by the idea that animals shouldn’t be made to suffer for human pleasure. Most food production is directly linked to this, but that’s not always the case for by-products such as leather.   

Many people believe that it is still morally suitable to wear leather products. This is on the condition that animals were treated in an ethical manner. After all, making use of those natural items is better than manufacturing materials that could be just as damaging to the environment.

On a similar note of utilising resources responsibly, many would argue that throwing existing products away adds to the waste of a mistreated animal’s life. Therefore, some will decide to keep using their old leather goods until they are no longer able to serve their purpose. Not only does this prevent waste, but it cushions the financial blow of adopting an ethical lifestyle.

Even if buying brand new leather items is off the agenda, some will turn to used goods as a viable solution. This reduces animal product waste without supporting the industries by increasing the need for new items. In fact, it can be argued that taking this approach can encourage others to do the same. This then drives down the demand for newly manufactured items.

The Case For Not Wearing Leather

On the other hand, many vegans would believe that wearing leather is never a necessity. In their minds, there is no excuse that legitimises the use of those goods, regardless of how they were sourced. For starters, maintaining the popularity of those products encourages the demand to grow. So, even when the direct products come from ethical sources, the impact can support unethical alternatives too.   

Furthermore, it can be difficult to certify whether the products are genuinely from animals that were not mistreated. Even those that are not killed for meat have been farmed with the end goal of using their leather in mind. This can only impact the treatment received throughout their lives. It might not cross over into direct cruelty, but any limitation on an animal’s well-being is still bad.

Ultimately, anyone that truly cares about the cause will believe that personal enjoyment isn’t as crucial as an animal’s life. But even fashion conscious vegans and vegetarians that love the stylish look can find an alternative option. In truth, fake leather products aren’t identical in feel. However, that’s seen as a small price to pay for better animal welfare.   

Even the most passionate of vegans will concede that it’s impossible to go fully vegan in today’s climate. Everything from computers to vehicles can be linked to animal cruelty in some shape or form. Nonetheless, given that leather isn’t essential, they do have a valid argument against all aspects of the industry.

The Verdict

The leather debate is a fairly complex one, and both camps can make a strong case. Therefore, it’s fair to assume that there is no one right or wrong answer. Ultimately, it will largely come down to personal beliefs and priorities.   

Vegans that do still wish to wear leather should think about the repercussions of supporting the industry. They must also rethink where they buy those products from. Vegetarians are perhaps a little more lenient. Nonetheless, they'll still want to know that animals haven’t been needlessly harmed for the sake of clothing materials.

As for the vegans that are against using leather, it’s important to respect other people’s beliefs. This isn’t the biggest problem, and pressuring existing vegetarians to change their ways isn’t necessary. In truth, the food production is a far bigger priority, particularly if leather products come from animals that died naturally or from a meat by-product. After all, we all benefit from animal products whether we like it or not.   

Shoes by Shaherazad Block Heel with Shoellery

At Shoes by Shaherazad all of our shoes are produced using ethically sourced leather which is then ethically handcrafted in Britain to the perfectly comfortable shoe.  Our founder, Shaherazad Umbreen, has been a vegetarian since the age of nine and therefore ethical production and ethical leather is extremely important to her and her brand.

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