The production of leather products has a similar concept as the dairy industry, namely that it is a by-product of the meat industry. It is often assumed that leather is only a by-product of meat and that buying and wearing leather does not contribute to this industry. This is actually a misconception, as leather contributes to the profitability of the meat industry and animal husbandry, and much of the leather sold around the world comes from animals killed primarily because of their skin.
Unlike some animal ingredients, leather can usually be spotted quickly. It is found in clothing, shoes, belts, gloves, handbags and other accessories, and in jewelry. Unexpectedly, they can also appear on certain non-leather products, e.g. leather buckles on a canvas bag, or on a leather label on jeans. Leather is also often used for upholstered furniture (sofas, chairs, deck chairs, car seats).
Most leather is obtained from cowhides. Leather is also obtained from other animals; pigs, goats, sheep and lambs, cats and dogs, deer, moose, buffalo, oxen, horses, kangaroos, snakes, lizards, alligators, elephants, ostriches, fish, sharks, and even sharks are all among the victims in the leather industry . Products resulting from their deaths are commonly used as clothing and many of them are advertised as “exotic” materials.
Cows killed for their skins in the leather industry are exposed to unbearable pain; cutting, third-degree burns, tail and horn removal – all without painkillers. In slaughterhouses, they are often cut up and skinned while they are still alive.
Pigs killed for their skins spend their lives overcrowded in dirty cells and most of them never see the light of day. Their testicles are cut out of their testicles, their tails are cut off, their teeth are cut in half, their ears are mutilated – all without painkillers. Many pigs are steamed alive in cisterns with boiling water to make their skins softer and hairless.
Millions of kangaroos are shot every year in Australia because of their skins. According to the proposal of the Australian government, orphaned young and wounded adult kangaroos should be killed by beheading or shot in the head in order to “destroy the brain”. When hunters kill a kangaroo mother with a kitten in a bag, they simply pull the puppy out of the bag of the mother’s dead body and walk it to death or let it die in pain.
Despite its prevalence, leather is easy to replace with either natural or synthetic alternatives such as e.g. cotton, hemp, rubber, acrylic fibers, artificial leather.
And what are new vegans supposed to do with the leather items they already have at home? Many firmly believe that the only appropriate measure for these items is a decent burial. After all, these are the body parts of once living beings.