Carrot Jacket - © 2015

What on Earth is ‘Vegan Leather’?

Okay. Here’s an issue that majestically spans the equally quirky but (usually) widely-separated realms of Food and Fashion. I’ve just stumbled across a premiere reference to something called ‘Vegan leather’. I’m looking into it – and I’m afraid I’m not gonna like what I find out…

Real Vs Vegan Leather - © takingyoufrompointatob.comFake, Faux or Vegan Leather can be made to look just like the real thing…

So… What IS Vegan Leather?

Might be Leather that contains no animal products. Read: Plastic/Vinyl.

Might be Leather from cows fed only vegetable products. But cows already eat only vegetable products. And the cows, themselves, would still be animal products.

For the Star Trek fans out there… Might be Leather from cow-like creatures raised on a planet much like our own circling the giant star Vega in the constellation Lyra. Not likely. Vega is 25 Light Years away.

The answer is…

None of the above!

A recent article in Eluxe Magazine says Vegan Leather is actually made from natural materials – Cork or Kelp, or even Paper, Waxed Cotton Cloth or Tree Bark. – processed into sheets of stuff you’d swear was regular faux Leather, which is made from petroleum-based plastics.Turns out there are a number of unpleasant chemicals involved in the processing of some types of Vegan Leather, too.

Now… Just to make things more confusing… Some Vegan Leather producers use conventional plastics (usually poly-urethane) in the manufacture of their products, so they can imprint them with popular patterns and textures, making them look and feel more like real Leather. But, because those products contain no animal materials, they deceptively call them ‘Vegan’.

Also, there are two distinct classes of ‘vegan Leather’. One aims to look and feel like real Leather. The other is meant to be a replacement for Leather in garments, bags and shoes and often doesn’t look like Leather at all.

It’s hard to know what kind of Vegan Leather you’re getting in a new shoe or garment. But one thing is sure: The more the ‘leather’ looks like real Leather, the less likely it is pure or even predominantly ‘Vegan’!

As you might surmise, there are many bloggers and fashionistas who have rather negative opinions of Vegan leather.

But my bottom line is, marketing types have just decided they’ll sell more Plastic and Vinyl if they call it something that sounds more pleasant to the ears of environmentally-conscious customers, like Vegan Leather. And don’t worry: I don’t see anybody trying to market Cork, Tree Bark, Paper or Cotton for any food product any of us are likely to want to eat!

~ Maggie J.