I want to talk about why leather car seats aren’t vegan if you buy them second hand. This post explores a bunch of vegan issues. It touches on a whole bunch of side issues that affect vegans and should be considered if you are vegan or why veganism is the most powerful prescription for general physical, emotional, spiritual, mental and environmental health ever.
If any of you sauntering by this itsy bitsy blog are wondering what a vegan is or what does veganism mean then let me give a quick explanation. Merriam Webster gives this definition of veganism: a strict vegetarian who consumes no animal food or dairy products; also : one who abstains from using animal products (as leather).
The Oxford English Dictionary gives this definition of veganism: n. the beliefs or practice of vegans; abstention from all food of animal origin.
I want to be a little more clear than either of these definitions of veganism offer. For me, veganism is the exclusion of all animal products as well as products made from animals. So for me a vegan is someone who doesn’t eat animal products like meat, fish, fowl, seafood, dairy products, eggs as well as honey. But a vegan should go further and a vegan should exclude the use of products made from animals like leather, wool and silk. Vegans should also, where possible, exclude the use of products that might contain animal ingredients like soaps made from beef fat or cosmetics containing animal ingredients or tested on animals. This part is harder to accomplish for sure, but it is a worthy goal.
My veganism is not an anally fascist veganism. I won’t eat a cheese pizza, but I won’t move heaven and earth to find out if my cheese-less vegan pizza has some dairy in the pizza dough.
Coming to veganism from the perspective of ethics and animal abolition, I am more concerned on eradicating suffering than I am about being a purest vegan. To my mind, it is more important that veganism is seen not as some extreme sport in ingredient identification, but that it is seen rather as an easily adoptable dietary and lifestyle practice.
I believe it would be better for 10 people to go vegan who still eat a bit of milk chocolate on occasion or eat pasta marinara when they’re out even though the pasta might have some eggs in it, than it is for 1 person to become vegan because the other 9 people think it is too hard to ask about all the ingredients of all the products they’ll buy or consume.
So if you were to ask me my guiding rule of thumb on being vegan it is this. As long as there are no obvious signs of animal products or ingredients in the items I buy I’m happy to consider them vegan. Because after all, if a majority of the population becomes vegan in the definition I’m providing, then less and less animal products, ingredients and by products will be used.
Okay, so with my vegan overview and rule of thumb it is obvious I don’t drink milk, eat eggs, eat cheese pizza etc, etc. I also don’t wear leather, wool or silk as those are fairly obvious to determine with labeling and what not.
So it brings me back to why it isn’t okay to buy an SUV even used, if it has leather seats. Now I’m okay with a vegan having a Cadillac Escalade if that is what they want, because a vegan’s environmental footprint is so miniscule that you could be a bicycle riding, no car, recycling fanatic meat eater, and a wasteful vegan driving everywhere in their Escalade will still be doing less environmental harm because diet is such a huge part of our environmental impact.
But I still digress. Let’s say you wanted to buy an SUV that is a 7 seater but you’re looking at buying a car that is 6 months to a year old so you can save 10 grand or something like that. Oh yeah, and let’s pretend that this model only comes available in leather seats. If you think you’d feel less guilty about buying a car that is used because the animals have already been killed, then I think you are fooling yourself.
If you want to save yourself any guilt at all, then buy a new car without leather seats. Most if not all of the major car manufacturers will be happy to oblige.
But if you are trying to assuage your guilt by buying a used car with leather seats because you don’t think you’re directly contributing to the death of a half dozen or so cows I think you’re mistaken. Firstly, just because something has been bought new before you, does not mitigate the responsibility you have of contributing to increased suffering.
Most people when upgrading their vehicles are going for a better or higher end model. So it would be safe to assume that even more cows are being slaughtered and more leather is being used in more cars because you are making space for it by taking that leather seated car off the lot.
Now granted, the affect of vegans on this issue is small, but as more folks become vegan and don’t buy leather products there will be less demand for leather and less cows being killed.
Also, you are diminishing and diluting the meaning of veganism by buying a car with leather seats. You’re saying that my veganism is convenience based. So long as I can save X thousand of dollars I’m okay with contributing to animal suffering and slaughter. And really, if you’re more concerned about saving money than saving lives, you’re veganism is tenuous at best. Would 4 to 15 cows’* lives be worth saving a few thousand dollars? That’s an honest question.
And for a 7 seater car’s interior I bet you’re looking at least closer to 8, 9 or more cow skins. And when you consider that perhaps a North American meat eater in their whole life eats the equivalent of only 8** cows, you’re doing greater to add to the suffering by just buying that one car! If as a vegan you can accomplish the mental gymnastics involved in convincing yourself that buying used cars with leather is still vegan. It’s not.
And most reasonable vegans that I know, including yours truly wouldn’t buy a used leather jacket, or how about a jacket with leather elbow pads. I don’t see the difference in buying a used car with leather seats. You’re still opening a void to be filled most likely with more dead animal skins. The idea that the damage has already been done is preposterous and frankly bullshit.
There are two choices as I see it, if you want to remain true to the vegan ideals. Buy a new car and negotiate for non-leather seats. Or buy a used car but a lower end model that doesn’t have leather seats. If you can’t afford the new car, then buy the lower end vehicle, if you can afford a new car then buy it or, if you want to save money, buy the lower end used car. But at the end of the day, there is no reason why you have to buy a used car with leather seats. At least as I see it, there are no viable and valid reasons as to how you can bend your vegan belief in order to condone buying a car with leather seats. Especially if you’ve been vegan for several years.
I know that many new vegans have leather shoes, jackets etc, that they are still making use of because they had them before they went vegan. I’m talking about already being vegan for some time and deciding that leather car seats are okay. There’s a difference there.
Yeah the animal is dead and you weren’t the first person to buy the car. But the same can be said for any animal product. What about those dozen burger patties that your neighbor bought for their barbecue but only used 8 of them. You didn’t buy them, why not take them off your neighbor’s hands because they aren’t going to eat them anymore. And besides, they’ve got their eye on that porterhouse steak, they just need room for it.
Think about that carefully, it’s exactly the same as buying a used car with leather seats. You’re contributing to the chain of death and violence. In the law they call it keeping the chain of custody intact. So long as you call yourself a vegan, you can’t allow yourself to be manipulated either by your own mental shenanigans or by social advertising and other propaganda into thinking that you can short cut hard choices. Yeah, it’s uncomfortable being a vegan sometimes. Sometimes you have to do without. Or to do without exactly what you want.
But we aren’t children, we’re reasoning adults who have made a difficult and determined stand against the status quo. Stand firm. Hold out and be accountable. You’ll be seen as a hypocrite if you buy a used car with leather seats. People just love to jump over vegans for “what about that leather belt you’re wearing” or “what about your leather shoes”. It’s easier to say they aren’t leather, than, well yeah, I bought a car with leather seats. You’ll be seen as a hypocrite and fairly so.
Don’t belittle your beliefs for a few thousand dollars. Seriously, you can do better than that, and you’ll be prouder too. Get the lower end model without leather seats and save even more money and more animal suffering. You don’t need navigation that bad that animals can be quietly and sadly bled to their death!
Peace out vegan freaks and wannabes.