Is leather a by-product of meat industry?

Is leather a by-product of meat industry?

Are you thinking of buying a gorgeous leather bag? The brand is to die for, it’s handmade, it will last for years, and you will look fabulous. What could possibly be wrong with that?

Well, there are several things that went terribly wrong when leather became an industry, because the ever-increasing profits were, and still are, the only thing that matters.

Leather companies will argue that leather is more sustainable than synthetic products. And they could almost have a point. But once again, the problem goes much deeper than that. Even though there are non-toxic ways to do the tanning process, for leather to be transformed in proper material to sew, most brands, even the more luxurious ones, prefer chemicals. They are cheaper, faster, and achieve the look they are after. However, these chemicals are carcinogenic and contain arsenic. They are forbidden in the USA and the EU. So, what did American and European brands do? They started buying their tanned leather somewhere else.


About 80% of the leather we have access to comes from China. There is also a growing supply chain in Brazil and India. As you know these countries aren’t known for their great living conditions. People are often desperate to work, they are not highly educated, have little to no resources, and therefore they don’t have much of a say in their work place.


This resulted into entire cities being polluted, agriculture fields being destroyed, because only 20% of the water used in the leather industry is treated. That means that 80% of polluted water runs freely in rivers. People are dying of asthma and tuberculosis. More and more children are born with mental disabilities. Skin problems are incredibly common, and cancer is spreading faster and faster. It’s the horror story most brands don’t want you to know.


If people are treated this way, can you imagine the atrocities animals endure? Let us mention just a few. They starve cows, force animals to work non-stop for days, and torture them. We are terribly sorry that we must share this, but that is a reality. But we believe that if more and more people knew, we could change it.


For example, it was found that several high Fashion Brands use calf skin, because the softer the leather, the better it will look and feel, so they take the calf directly out of the womb of the cow, before the baby is ready to be born. This is even worse when you take into consideration that cows were proven to be very intelligent. They feel emotional pain, like many other animals. When their calves are taken from them, they get depressed and feel it badly.


We know this is a lot to take in. We are used to trusting brands, and this reality is unthinkable, unimaginable.


Places like China don’t even specify from which animal the leather they produce comes from. Even though most of it comes from cows, you can be wearing anything from goat and ostriches to even cats and dogs.


It’s true that to produce faux fur, manufacturers can use synthetic materials that also harm the environment. However, this argument is no longer true to many vegan brands. There are more and more environmentally friendly materials, from recycled ones to fabrics like piñatex! And when it comes to the durability of leather, it’s true that leather does last longer. In fact, much much longer Archeologists found leather products that are thousands of years old. So, imagine leather in a landfill, it will be there forever, releasing all those chemicals into the atmosphere.


But we are here to expose one of the greatest misconceptions of this industry. The idea that leather is always a by-product of the meat and dairy industry. Of course, a part of it is a by-product, but the truth is that in a lot of developing countries, where they can’t feed the animal properly, they will just kill it for their skin. For example, the skin of a cow is a most profitable asset.


Thus, if you don’t have any resources, you won’t give your food to the cow. You will do whatever you can to get the most skin out of it. The problem isn’t the people doing this. They usually don’t have other options. The problem is again the great demand, and then the need for supply. Millions of cats and dogs are killed for the same reason. It has nothing to do with their meat. We must understand that leather is a business by itself, like any other.  Farmers want to make ends meet however they can, and usually it’s harder for them because businesses want to profit as much as they possibly can, and so they exploit not only the animals but also the farmers. The story we tell ourselves of the happy cow that is gently killed, and then used in a respectful manner, where every part of is utilized for our survival is just not true.


Once more we as consumers can have a say in this. We can stop buying, and demand that both people and animals involved in all of this are rescued and taken cared off. Down below there will be some references for you to understand how horrifying all this is. We must take a stand, and we must do it now!


The Toxic Price of Leather


One Green Planet Article


The Guardian Article


Thank you so much for your time, we know this is a heavy topic and we would love to know your opinion on it.

Have a beautiful day,



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  1. I really liked your page and concept. But I think I this article is truly blown out of proportion. I understand some of the point raised in this article maybe true but it does not reflect the majority of the leather industry. There is good and bad everywhere you go but you are not representing the good, honest, hard working tanneries all
    Over the world. I have seen manny tanneries spend a lot of money in improving tanning method to go greener when they dident need to. How on earth can a tannery pass a dog leather as cow leather? A dog is nearly 10 times smaller!! How can farmers care for the cow skin more than the meat which will feed his entire family for a week. How can skin be more expensive then meat??? How many farmers will rip out calves from cows belly? You think this process is easy without damaging livestock? Please be fair with your comments as you are not showing the hard working people who have farms and tanneries. Who follow the law and make sure no laws are broken. By testing leather, making sure it is safe, making sure farmers look after animals.

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