While veganism is most easily recognized as a restrictive diet, veganism entails other lifestyle changes as well, including the elimination of non-consumable animal products, such as leather. Growing up with horses, leather was a prominent part of my life. My saddle and bridle, for instance, were composed of leather, as were my cowgirl boots and other facets of my western wear. I am ashamed to admit it, but growing up, the fact that many of these items were made of cow skin didn’t brother me, let alone make me think twice. Today, however, I am working to eliminate leather from my life by reducing the amount of leather products I currently own and by refraining from purchasing leather products in the future.
When I became a vegetarian, I had the rude realization that while my dietary choices were improving, many aspects of my life were still not cruelty-free. For example, over the years, I have been a frequent visitor of Disneyland, as I grew up in Southern California, and one of my favorite activities was to go to a booth in Frontierland and purchase personalized leather bracelets, key chains, and more. I know that this may make you cringe, as a most likely vegetarian or vegan reader, but you have to remember, I hadn’t thought twice about where the leather came from growing up, so it would take a conscious effort for me to consider this concept as an adult. On one trip to Disneyland, in particular, my dad offered to purchase a personalized leather Pirates of the Caribbean keychain for my birthday, and despite being a vegetarian at the time, I obliged. It wasn’t until after having the keychain for a couple of days that I began to regret my decision.
More recently, I faced the personal decision of whether or not to purchase an item containing some leather: a guitar strap. My old guitar broke as the result my old guitar straps’ leather stretching out, so when I purchased my new, almost $2,000 Taylor guitar, I knew I would need a new guitar strap to go with it. At Guitar Center, I began my search for a non-leather guitar strap. While a majority of the guitar straps were not composed of leather in their entirety, the ends of seemingly every the guitar strap (where they attach to the guitar) was made out of leather. I am ashamed to admit this, but I quickly lost hope and purchased a guitar strap that had the least leather I could find. But now, in retrospect, after doing a quick search on Amazon, I have learned that there are plenty of vegan-friendly guitar straps that can be ordered online and plan to do so when I need another one in the future.
Since joining the animal saving club of vegetarians and vegans, I have learned that it is possible to eliminate animal products, like leather, from your life. But sometimes, as in the case of the keychain, or the guitar strap, it can take some extra willpower to turn a product down or find an alternative. Because many of us use the Internet, there is really no excuse for using animal products when we can so easily find other options. The next time you feel tempted to perhaps buy a leather couch, find a couch made of synthetic leather, or if you feel temped to purchase a leather saddle, at least purchase a used one to save another cow (there are non-leather saddle options available if you look for them!). Just as I will, keep searching and learning, and you’ll get the hang of it eventually.
The featured photo was taken by Norwood Themes. Find more of their work at unsplash.com.