Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Dilemma

After watching part of the documentary, Earthlings, I've found myself with a dilemma.  As a vegetarian, I do not eat any form of animal flesh.  However, up until viewing the film, I didn't have a problem purchasing good made from leather.  In my naivety, I've always thought that leather was a byproduct of the meat industry and that, until people stopped eating animals, there would always be a surplus of leather.  This thinking made me feel that I was not complicit with the cruelty perpetrated in the factory meat business.  However, my thinking was very wrong.  This film showed me that the meat and leather industries are two very different industries and that the leather used to make my shoes and handbags is not made of skin from the animals slaughtered for consumption.  Leather comes from animals slaughtered for the sole purpose of being made into leather.

Beth, at My Plastic-free Life recently posted on facebook about a similar dilemma.  In making a hotel reservation, she was asked "foam or down" regarding her pillow choice.  What a choice!  She's a vegetarian who is vehemently opposed to the use of plastics.  I am also not a fan of synthetic materials that are not likely to break down in landfill or, if they do, will leach toxic chemicals into the environment.  Therefore, I'm now facing the "leather or pleather" question.

So, what is an environmentally conscious vegetarian to do?  Of course, canvas is one option, although canvas shoes or handbags are not always appropriate.  I could minimalize my problem by choosing to keep my shoes and handbags as long as possible, to buy shoes that can be resoled and/or repaired, and I can buy used.  The first two options are certainly doable.  And I do keep my shoes and bags for years.  Also, I can purchase used handbags as I have in the past.  Consignment shops often have very nice bags, sometimes with the tags still attached.  However, as I typically wear an odd-size in shoes (6 wide), I can never find my size at consignment shops - I can barely find them in regular shoe stores.  And of course, I do need to remember to buy canvas or similar when that option is appropriate.

None of these options are ideal; however, they will at least reduce my personal demand for leather and soothe my conscious just a little.


Shona~ LALA dex press said...

This has been an on-going conversation with many people.

My close vegan friends (neighborhood social circle) choose pleather or canvas, hemp, etc. For me this is not an option all the time (I do eat goat cheese + identify as a vegetarian) because I walk to work + am really hard on shoes, I want them to last a long time otherwise this goes against my striving for minimal waste + I really hate pleather! BUT I did buy a pair of 2nd hand never worn pleather boots this winter, a well-known brand, + they lasted 2 1/2 months before they started to tear at the seams + then peel. My leather shoes, purses + belts last for yeeeeears + I buy basic + classic styles so I can wear them for yeeeeears.

In e-mail conversations with a vegan blog friend in Nova Scotia, she says she wears leather because in the frigid Canadian winters hemp does not cut it.

But overall, it's definitely an ethical + environmental dilemma.

Cherie said...

Shona, I'm inclined to go with your thinking - to stick to long-lasting leather but keep it for years.

Wow, you live in a neighborhood with vegans?! In my area, I'm looked at as strange because I'm a vegetarian. In fact, I recently had a woman tell me that "you have to eat meat" because it's not healthy otherwise. This from a woman who is obese and trying to get disability for her various illnesses, including diabetes. That's what I'm up against. :|

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

If you have the $$ I just found this company


Some super cute shoes, read the "Our Philosophy" link too. Hum... if only my good shoe mojo would help me find a pair at a thrift shop.

I just found out we have a raw food group that regularly meets, but mid-day on Fridays. Yes, I was rather shocked how many vegans I know in one of the most unhealthy states! I look like the food heathen eating goat cheese.

Cherie said...


Cute but yikes! A bit pricey...

Not only vegans, but raw foodies!? Lucky!

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

And yet another find:


There are definitely options if you have the funds.

We live in a bedroom community to Nashville (L.A. south + the reason why Nashville has the only Trader Joe's in TN), this is also a university town, Sandor Katz who wrote "Wild Fermentation" lives in the area + The Farm is only 100 miles from here. These are major contributing factors to some very liberal food beliefs in my area.

And then there is the flip side, those who tell you to eat meat because it's not healthy otherwise + collect disability (or have a lawyer helping with their disability appeal). Unfortunately this is a larger portion of the population than vegan raw foodies.