Like most vegans, I haven’t always been this way. Yep, I used to be a fancy meat-eating, designer leather wearer (and occasionally fur and feathers too). Because I went vegan for health and not for animals, I was even able to justify some non-vegan clothing choices for the first year or so of my journey. You see, I love fashion, particularly high end fashion. Vegan fashion (specifically vegan leather) just didn’t register with me. And although many luxury fashion houses are agreeing to rid themselves of fur, animal-based leather is still the mainstay.
Vegan leather. Really???
I get it in a way. I grew up equating animal leather with quality. Shoes that weren’t made from an animal were considered to be cheap and inferior. But as I matured and educated myself as a vegan, I quickly began to understand that controlling my eating wasn’t enough. Yes, by avoiding meat and dairy consumption, I greatly reduce my impact on animal suffering and the planet. But just as I take no shorts in my eating, I’ve had to deprogram myself and choose compassion in every aspect of my life.
It’s the compassion for me.
I’m not “vegan on weekends” or “vegan, but I eat fish.” I eat nothing that comes from ANY animal anytime. No, I don’t eat honey, so it only makes sense that I apply the same discipline to my closet and embrace vegan fashion from head to toe. That means no more animal leather for me and a full embrace oof vegan fashion, but what about my shoooooesssss??? My bags???
My old stuff is just so good.
I’m no Imelda Marcos, but I have some shoes and bags from my pre-vegan life that I REALLY like. I’ve questioned myself though. As a vegan, should I still be wearing my previously purchased animal leather? Does it send the wrong message? Does it confuse people? After much introspection, I’ve decided that there’s no way I will throw items that I worked HARD for into a landfill to please people who don’t even know me. What would I be proving? And to whom would I be proving it? The point is what I do now and what I’ve BEEN doing for years. I don’t buy animal leather and that’s what really matters.
But where do I go from here?
As we’re slowly getting out more, it’s time for me to get back to fashion and let my loungewear go. With clothes, it’s so easy. I stopped buying anything with fur or feathers from day one. I don’t buy leather clothing, but shoes and accessories have been the last frontier. I was a teen when plastic leather “pleather” was first introduced in fashion and let’s just say it wasn’t received well. All transitions require education and a subsequent mind shift, so I’ve been researching vegan leather alternatives.
This vegan leather is different.
The pleather of the eighties has undergone a facelift, especially with luxury brands. In fact, the new and improved pleather is joined by MULTIPLE plant based leather alternatives. An internet search offered up at least 20 different types of vegan leather, either currently in production or in development. I’m almost ashamed to admit how shocked I was to find all of the options. Like I said, the programming was so strong that I had no idea how far we’ve come. I’d blinded myself.
Well, no more. Vegan fashion me.
From leather made from mushrooms to leather derived from cacti, the fashion world is opening up to ethical change. I’m following suit. As a matter of fact, I took my first baby step into designer vegan leather this week – a Telfar shopper. I’m excited to buy it because it’s the still relevant it bag and the inclusive message behind their brand really speaks to me. It also didn’t hurt that it’s super cute, roomy and it cost almost a fraction of what some of my older bags cost.
So talk to me.
What did you do with all of your old, pre-vegan life leather? Do you still buy animal leather? Have you considered vegan leather? Are you having a hard time embracing vegan fashion? Do you own any and if so how do you like it? No judgments here; just constructive conversation that moves us consistently closer to the goal of compassion and the ethical treatment of animals.