Advantages And Disadvantages of Vegan Leather

There are different kinds of textile alternatives I’m personally pretty excited about Pinatex®, which is a leather like material made from pineapple leaves waste. However, PVC and PU are the ones that resembles leather from animals most and also the ones that are most commonly available, so the pros and cons list are based on these.

The pros

  • Vegan leather is cruelty free – no animals were hurt in the process
  • There’s been no toxic tanning process
  • Vegan leather (also known as pleather) is quite affordable
  • Vegan leather can be made in some qualities and colours leather can’t provide

The cons

  • Vegan (synthetic) leather is essentially plastic; it’s a microfiber that’s made from petroleum = oil, which is a non-renewable resource.
  • To transform oil into vegan leather requires chemicals,
  • Depending on where the products are produced there can also be a concern for the people in the production of vegan leather.
  • Synthetic leather such as PVC is not breathable – think sweaty, stinky feet.
  • The quality can vary making vegan leather less durable.
  • PVC and PU can’t biodegrade. It breaks into smaller and smaller (plastic) pieces.
  • Vegan leather doesn’t give as leather does (which for me is a big con when it comes to shoes)

The alternatives you should look for and the questions you should ask

So, leather is bad, and vegan leather is bad. Are we never supposed to buy new shoes again you might ask? Well, the most sustainable choice obviously would be not to. But, a girl’s gotta have shoes, right? Here’s what I do when I look for shoes these days:

  1. I ask myself whether I really need them – painful question I know.
  2. I stay away from PVC and PU – because no one needs more plastic in their lives.
  3. Can I find any made from any of these materials; especially Pinatex®
  4. Which material is going to be most durable for what I need the shoes for? I still lean towards good quality leather boots for winter, but my sneaks can definitely be made from cotton.
  5. If choosing leather shoes, I make sure they are vegetable tanned or made from recycled or upcycled leather products.
  6. Are these good quality? Will the vegan or the leather shoes last me longer? – Durability is so important in my eyes.