Have you ever wondered why vegan leather is even a thing? Honestly, we'd never even given it a second thought. I mean, faux leather jackets are hot, right? That is we didn't until a friend of ours over on Google+ asked this question on a post of ours...
"Ok, so I can partly understand the whole fake meat thing but why on earth would any vegan want to look like they're wearing dead skin?"
When we first saw this we were taken aback, so much so that we double checked who posted it to be sure it was a real comment and not someone trolling us. But when you really stop and think about it, it's a really good question, right? It's one that really hits deep and hard at the heart of what it means to be vegan. It's the kind of question that makes your head hurt the more you think about it.
Why on earth do we have this love affair with faux things like leather and meats? If we find the thought of the real thing disgusting why are the mock ones OK or even desirable?
During the course of the conversation another friend of ours, Mary Kay DeLost, pointed out that she uses her own collection of vegan leather items to spark conversations with non-vegans. They are almost always totally shocked that such awesome stuff is available...
If there is a style we like, it's great to have a cruelty-free alternative. And what better advertisement for that fact than to actually wear it? I've been complimented on jackets, shoes, boots, etc. that I wear and people are stunned when I tell them they're not made from animals.
At times it has sparked a conversation about veganism and I welcome that! I always encourage people to do some of their own research and see the cruelty that goes into making animal-based clothing. Then check out the alternatives, to see that they can wear what they like without harming a single animal (or the planet).
Making people aware and getting them thinking is key. And if they change their minds to live a cruelty-free lifestyle, that's a big win in my book!
For our part, we think the answer to "Why vegan leather?" has got to do with cultural norms and what we are used to. Fitting in, so to speak. It's important to remember what a BIG change going vegan is for folks.
Heck, looking back at our vegan journey...
It took me WAY longer than I'm proud of to accept I HAD to do this if I wanted to live easy in my skin. Some folks, like my daughter, just "Get It" and have no trouble simply making the adjustment overnight. The vast majority of others, like me, need to baby step themselves into change. Too much too soon and they just shut down and stay where they are.
Why Vegan Leather? To Make Vegan Easy!
So, if we want to enable folks to become and STAY vegan, we need to help people make the changes that have the biggest impact on the lives of animals and that are helpful to our planet first. Namely, NOT EATING MEAT OR DAIRY. That's a really BIG step for most folks. We should not overwhelm them by demanding they give up everything that is familiar along with it.
One change at a time.
So if new (or old) vegans need/want mock meats! We'll help them find them. If they want faux leather items. We'll help them find them. Of course we'll also help them see that other intrinsically vegan items are just as good and desirable in and of themselves, too.
All that is to say that, while we appreciate the philosophical point, "Why Vegan Leather?", our friend, Nick Dalzell brought up (If you want to read the entire conversation on Google+ you can do so right here), easing folks into veganism and KEEPING THEM THERE is more important to us at this time. Do you agree?