All About Animals Used for Clothing

Cows Used for Leather

Cows Used for Leather

Cows are curious, kind-natured animals. They love listening to music, and when you get to know them and build their trust, they may like you so much that they’ll lick your face, just like a dog! Cows get excited when they solve problems and enjoy playing with beach balls.

What Is Leather?

Did you know that some shoes, jackets, belts, bags, and even footballs are made from cows’ skin? We call it leather, but what you might not know is that this material comes from killing and skinning gentle animals and treating the skin with toxic chemicals so that it doesn’t rot. Then products are made out of it. But cows don’t want their skin to be stolen and turned into products—they need it to live! And there are lots of vegan materials that humans can use to make the same types of products instead.

This Is What’s Done to Cows Used for Leather

A lot of leather comes from cows who are raised on factory farms, where they are forced to live in crowded, filthy conditions and are defenseless against the cruel things that workers do to them—like branding them with red-hot irons, burning off or cutting out their horns, and cutting off part of their tails—all without painkillers. After a miserable life trapped in a shed or locked in a little stall, these animals are crammed into trucks and hauled to the slaughterhouse. Many are still conscious when workers hang them upside down and slit their throats.

o-Anne McArthur, spain, dairy and veal farm, cows, overgrown hooves© Jo-Anne McArthur / Animal Equality

Lots of Other Animals Are Used for Leather, Too

It’s not only cows who are used to make leather products. Every year, millions of pigs, sheep, goats, ostriches, and even kangaroos suffer terribly before they’re killed for their skin. And some leather products that come from China are actually made from dogs and cats, and that’s not listed on labels, so it’s hard to tell whose skin you’re wearing. But no matter which animal a piece of leather came from, it’s wrong to wear it, because no animal deserved to be harmed.

Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

Don’t panic the next time you go shopping. It’s really easy to find shoes, clothes, and other items made from vegan materials like organic cotton, Tencel, modal, or Piñatex. Just read the labels! So many great vegan leathers are available now, too, including ones made from cork, mushrooms, grapes, and even apples. Vegan shoes and other gear are usually more affordable than leather ones and can be found just about everywhere. Not only are these materials kind to animals, they’re also much more sustainable, so you can feel good about buying and wearing them.