How to Find Vegan Leather

It doesn’t get much cringier than draping yourself in the chemically treated skin of a dead animal and calling it fashion—but that’s leather. Every handbag, jacket, or pair of shoes made of leather came from an animal who didn’t want to be killed.  

Vegan leather has often been made from petroleum-based plastics like polyurethane (aka “pleather”), but now lots of companies are using more sustainable sources, like apple peels, mushrooms, cacti, bamboo, banana plants, discarded tea leaves, pineapple leaves, cork, or recycled plastic, to get that leathery look and feel. Humane options for clothing, shoes, accessories, and furniture are widely available these days. Follow these three simple steps to find them and avoid paying someone to steal animals’ skin.  

1. Know What Materials to Avoid 

Items labeled “genuine leather,” “suede,” or “snakeskin” are a hard pass. The leather industry crudely castrates, brands with red-hot irons, and dehorns millions of cows, sheep, and other animals—all without pain relief—and then trucks them to the slaughterhouse, bleeds them to death, and skins them in front of each other. Big facts.  

2. Learn What Words and Symbols on Labels Mean 

Vegan fashion is more affordable to produce, more sustainable, and obviously more ethical than animal-derived fashion—and the demand for it is constantly growing. So don’t be surprised if you like something that looks like leather and discover that it is, in fact, vegan. But don’t assume—check the label before buying.  

If you don’t see the word “vegan” on the label, look for key words like “faux leather,” “polyurethane,” or “synthetic.” With shoes, look inside toward the heel or under the tongue for info. On garments, look for the label inside the item’s neck or waistband or near the bottom. Sometimes manufacturers use symbols to denote what an item is made of. There may be a sticker on the bottom of a shoe or on the inside of a jacket. If you come across this system, you can either google the symbol or ask a store employee to help you. 

3. Know Where to Shop 

Vegan fashion is everywhere. More than 1,000 mainstream brands and specialty boutiques use our “PETA-Approved Vegan” logo to help shoppers know at a glance whether something passes the vibe check. Play around with the different filters and be amazed by all your options.  

It’s worth noting that you don’t have to rely on PETA’s logo or search online to find vegan drip. Big brands like ASOS, Zara, and Target offer lots of vegan apparel.  

A leather jacket made of human skin would look no different from one made of cowskin. What’s more, humans and other animals all think and feel; experience pain, fear, love, and joy; and want to live. Shopping is like voting with your dollar, so buying vegan items is the best flex for unsubscribing from speciesism. 

Text peta2 to 30933 for ways to help animals, tips on compassionate living, and more!

heart illustration

Terms for automated texts/calls from peta2: Text STOP to end, HELP for more info. Msg/data rates may apply. U.S. only.