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  1. #1
    Nath6644's Avatar

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    My Moral Dilemma

    Thought it might be interesting to raise an ethical issue on these forums rather than a style-related one for once.

    Basically, I'm having a bit of trouble balancing out my moral views with my love of fashion. The issue, unfortunately, is leather.

    Now, for those of you who don't know, I'm a bit of an animal rights fanatic. I'm a big supporter of PETA and I refuse to eat meat, fish etc.

    However, I'm also a lover of traditional menswear and most of all, shoes. My leather shoe collection grew extensively before I turned veggie and I don't have the heart to dispose of them. I also love my John Rocha leather holdall and my Reiss leather gloves.

    If there were viable, fashionable non-leather alternatives, then I'd jump on it. But the point is, there isn't. I'm not sure if you if you'e seen what's on offer on 'vegetarian shoe' websites but it's pretty grim.

    So, thoughts? Is a bit of hypocricy unavoidable? Any other veggies/vegans on here have an opinion?
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  2. #2
    Black Sheep Boy's Avatar

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    Vegetarian Shoes in Brighton do better shoes than most... at the end of the day, leather is the best material to make shoes from though and it's going to look the best. Can't offer much advice as I'm not veggie!
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  3. #3

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    Given that the leather used in shoes is usually a by-product of animals slaughtered for their meat, it might be said that it is not as cruel as killing an animal solely for its skin and at least this way full use of the animal is made.

    That doesn't get you off your moral hook, I appreciate, but perhaps it helps to soften its point.

  4. #4
    Nath6644's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf View Post
    Given that the leather used in shoes is usually a by-product of animals slaughtered for their meat, it might be said that it is not as cruel as killing an animal solely for its skin and at least this way full use of the animal is made.

    That doesn't get you off your moral hook, I appreciate, but perhaps it helps to soften its point.
    This is the excuse used by most other veggies who wear leather. It's a logical one, although most vegans would scoff at it.
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  5. #5

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    So you prefer animals being killed for the purpose of our arbitrary societal aim of looking good, but using the meat for the essential nutritional value humans need is atrocious?

    I'm a carnivore through and through so I'm not here to judge, but in terms of vegan principles you seem to be beyond morally bankrupt here.

  6. #6
    Nath6644's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by rusty View Post
    So you prefer animals being killed for the purpose of our arbitrary societal aim of looking good, but using the meat for the essential nutritional value humans need is atrocious?

    I'm a carnivore through and through so I'm not here to judge, but in terms of vegan principles you seem to be beyond morally bankrupt here.
    I don't prefer it by any stretch of the imagination, but I have to be realistic about what I'm willing to sacrifice.

    Fashion isn't something shallow or superficial for me, it's a huge part of how I define my own identity and brings me great pleasure. At the moment, shoes made from fake leather just don't have the build quality or aesthetic appearance that leather ones do. Maybe in 10 to 20 years that will be different.

    For the record, I'm not a vegan, as I eat eggs and dairy products. Most veggies I know actually wear leather.

    Not only does it sound like you are judging, but you're making the classic carnivore error of assuming that because you've identified one possible element of hypocricy in my lifestyle, it improves your own position.
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  7. #7
    tristan's Avatar

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    I don't think leather is a byproduct. Both leather and meat demands increase the industry,

    I say go second hand. This way you don't waste leather lifetime and you don't support the leather industry.

  8. #8

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    IMO, posing restrictions like these on yourself is just making life harder for yourself. Animals will keep on being killed for their meat and their hides-I don't think their hides are necessarily a byproduct of this.

    At the end of they day, you just have to do whatever makes you happy.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nath6644 View Post

    Not only does it sound like you are judging, but you're making the classic carnivore error of assuming that because you've identified one possible element of hypocricy in my lifestyle, it improves your own position.
    I do not think Rusty was judging at all. After I read your first post I too had similar thoughts.
    The bottom line is that, as a vegetarian, you are in someway morally against the slaughter of (innocent) animals for consumption. Whether you like it or not, you are putting clothes and fashion on an effective pedestal above the natural requirement for humans to survive; favouring your aesthetic appearance to dietary requirements.

    Whilst you could argue that there are much better meat alternatives for consumption than there are leather-items for wearing, I still think you have overstepped the 'moral' mark into an area which relies on self-satisfaction to support any attempt at moral reasoning. By satisfying yourself in thinking that the leather was only a by-product of meat-slaughter, you are using wishful thinking to support your position.

    Also, what is this 'classic carnivore error'? I am not trying to argue against you Nath (I think it is difficult for non-veggies to really understand the ethics of all vegetarians), however such an implicit statement appears to be rather ignorantly generalise the fundamental nature of all carnivores, in the same way it would be a generalisation for me to argue that all true vegetarians would be morally against wearing leather items. It does not work like that.


    If I were you I would realise that there is no real alternative to leather footwear in the fashion-world. Leather jackets are a different story. There a plethora of styles available, so I think you would be on thin-ice in thinking that leather jackets pose a more moral alternative to actually eating meat.

    You certainly have found a niche in the fashion industry. Viable, fashionable shoes for vegetarians clearly need to be made.
    I do not envy your position at all. I think you have to accept that the industry has put you in this dilemma, offering no real alternative when fashion is so important to you. The bottom line though is that it is not a situation that really has a moral-saviour.

  10. #10
    Nath6644's Avatar

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    @Rusty: I do apologise for the outburst, I realise that it is difficult to understand where vegetarians are coming from if you don't subscribe to that lifestyle yourself.

    @Ben:

    I think you've identified the crux of the problem here, namely that the industry is not supplying viable yet stylish alternatives, at least in the field of footwear.

    Interestingly, Stella Mcartney has launched some viable alternatives for women and there are rumours that her company might release a similar menswear line.

    At the end of the day, I might have to come to terms with the fact that it's pretty much impossible to be completely consistent with a lifestyle that harms no animals at all. Moreover, you have to think about morality in terms of a moral spectrum rather than everything being black or white: regardless of whether or not I wear leather, by abstaining from meat I'm still doing a considerable amount more for animal welfare (and the environment) than other individuals. It's certainly less hypocritical, in my view at least, than being an 'ethical' vegetarian who still eats fish: an all too common phemonenon in this country.
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