Meat Is Murder?
Often at Twin Sparrow, Natalie and I get random messages from customers asking if we sell any non-animal based leather items. On rare occasion does the “meat is murder” message drop in our DM’s or email. So what do we at Twin Sparrow have to say about our animal-based products?
The case for authentic leather is simple: leather is one of nature's most durable materials. There is a reason why motorcyclists trust it at speeds of 70 mph plus, as a protective layer to save their own skin from the asphalt. Leather lasts decades, even with the normal wear and tear that comes with constant use, sunlight and water contact. This is why consumers use it on shoes, in our sunbaked cars, and in our baseball gloves. It also looks and smells better than anything else out there. Still, people need to know more.
What are the ethics of using leather hides versus the alternative leather products?
- Alternative leather products are almost exclusively made from plastics (ie. PVC, Polyurethane, etc.), thus it does not decompose for thousands of years. In the USA, only 10% of plastics are recycled and of those, the recycle lifecycle is limited because the plastic degrades in each cycle (5gyres, 2020). In 2014, the US’s biggest export was recycled plastics. These exports went to places like India and China, who would pick through and find the plastic still worth reusing. The rest ended up in landfills, fires, and our oceans. Eight million metric tons of plastic enter the oceans every year, mostly from poorer or less regulated countries (5gyres, 2020).
- Cows, however, are good for the environment. A grazing cow’s life cycle is carbon net neutral, meaning the net carbon footprint of methane and CO2 produced by a cow is neutral given the cow’s renewal energy for crops and soil. This is called sequestration- a cow's ability to take CO2 out of the plants it eats, break it down, then re-fertilize crops and remineralize the land for future crop growth (University of Florida, 2016). Their hides are biodegradable, just like all the other parts of a cow. The environment is orders of magnitude less harmed using real leather vs fake leather.
- Leather is a byproduct of the meat consumer industry that more than 99% of the western world partake in (Simcikas, 2018). Yes, we are spotlighting all of the loud vegans out there. One study showed that only 0.4% of the western world followed a true vegan diet, and around 1.5% are fully vegetarian (Simcikas, 2018). The bar of the study was set so low that you only had to stay away from animal products for two non-consecutive, 24 hour periods to qualify as a vegan. So those who shame us for using leather, don’t seem to be actually walking the walk when it comes to using animal products themselves.
- Finally, we get to the “meat is murder” theory of using animal products. Is this true or not? Well it turns out that even if you are fully vegetarian or vegan, animals and insects still had to die for your cobb salads. The difference is that most of these small lives were poisoned and not used productively. In 2017 alone, the department of agriculture eradicated 1.3 million animals in the name of clearing out land for crop production (Atkins, 2018). A study also showed that “at least 55 sentient animals die to produce 100 kg of usable plant protein: 25 times more [Deaths] than for the same amount of rangelands beef” (Archer, 2011). Often these are field mice, that burrow litters of up to six baby mice. Transversely, there are only 2.2 cow deaths per 100 kilograms of usable protein (Archer, 2011). 25 to 1 death ratio for a vegetarian lifestyle isn’t good PR for the “Meat is Murder” crowd. I guess it is good that many loud vegans don’t truly live the lifestyle. :)
Controversy is king in the age of the “twitter mob” and the “cancel culture.” We at Twin Sparrow see it and we invite the discourse. Our goal is not to point fingers, but to even the playing field & educate with our useful perspectives and research. We also realize that everyone is on this planet together and we all use its beautiful resources in the most moral and resourceful ways that we know how. We hope you feel empowered when buying leather goods.
Simcikas, S. 2018. Is the percentage of vegetarians and vegans in the US increasing? Animal Charity Evaluators publishing. Retrieved from:
Adkins, C. 2018. Agriculture killed 1.3 million animals in 2017. Published by Center for Biological Diversity. Retrieved from:
University of Florida. 2016. Grazing cattle are carbon neutral? UF/IFAS blog. Retrieved from:
Archer, M. 2011. Ordering the vegetarian meal? There is more blood on your hands. The Conversation. Retrieved from:
5gyres. 2020. The truth about recycling. Retrieved from: