Vegan Leather Coming for Cowhide

Vegan Leather Coming for Cowhide

By fijivillage
Friday 13/10/2023
Image: Karl Lagerfeld(VegNews)

Vegan leather hasn’t always had the best reputation. Synonymous with fast fashion, it’s been known for falling apart, scuffing easily, and just not standing up to the durability of the real thing. But, in recent years, vegan leather’s quality has skyrocketed and fashion brands from Gucci to Ganni have embraced it. But, what is vegan leather?

Vegan leather is a material with a leather-like appearance that’s not made from any animal products. There are a few reasons why it exists.

First, vegan leather is made without the skin of an animal. Strictly speaking through the lens of vegan ethics, this is probably one of the most important points.

The vast majority of leather is a co-product of the industrial beef industry, meaning that it’s a valuable commodity that’s produced alongside the main product. A by-product, on the other hand, is something that is incidentally produced. Some vegan leathers are made from byproducts, or they’re co-products themselves.

Multiple studies have definitively stated that a plant-based diet is better for the planet than an omnivorous one. But, is it the same with vegan leather?

Research shows that vegan leather isn’t as bad for the environment. According to a 2018 sustainability report from luxury goods giant Kering, its impact may be up to a third less than the real thing. The level of impact depends on what the vegan leather is made from.

Cattle production is one of the most environmentally destructive sectors in the global animal agriculture industry, responsible for about 65 percent of emissions. In Brazil, cattle ranching is a driving force behind Amazon rainforest deforestation.


Overall, the meat, dairy, and egg industries are responsible for 14.5 percent of global human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, according to UN data.

In addition to this, the leather is manufactured with chromium, formaldehyde, and arsenic, which are used in the tanning process. These toxic chemicals are known to leak into water streams, promoting algae growth that causes death by hypoxia (lack of oxygen) in marine life, sending ecosystems into disarray.

The workers who tan the leather are also exposed to health risks ranging from skin conditions to cancer. According to Collective Fashion Justice, a nonprofit that promotes a more ethical fashion system, this impact is an example of environmental racism—95 percent of US-operated tanneries are overseas.

Story By : Kat Smith

Source: Veg News

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