Most vegetarians who stop eating meat for ethical
reasons also take measures to avoid contributing to the
suffering and death of animals (and even insects) in other
capacities. For instance, a number of vegetarians refuse to
wear leather and silk because they see it as an ethical
violation of their respect for all living things.Vegetarians who refuse to wear silk argue that the process
involves unnecessary cruelty to moth larvae. Rather than
allowing the moth to grow and leave the cocoon, silk
manufacturers boil the larvae alive, causing them to suffer
and writhe, in order to obtain longer strands of silk.
Leather, by contrast, does not directly contribute to the
suffering of animals in most cases. In most cases, leather
is made from the byproducts of animals that would be
slaughtered for meat, rennet, and other animal
This is precisely why many vegetarians who have an ethical
dilemma with meat have no problem wearing leather: because
they do not see it as the primary reason for killing the
animals, but instead a byproduct of the slaughter.
However, certain groups of vegans oppose wearing leather
on the grounds that it indirectly contributes to the
suffering of animals.
These vegans argue that contributing money to the companies
that own the slaughterhouses (and sell the byproducts for
leather, etc.) is just as bad as actually purchasing and
eating meat yourself because you are still contributing
money to the continuation of institutionalized animal
This is certainly something to consider if you are
currently a vegan or a vegetarian for ethical reasons.
It may have been tough to give up meat in the first place,
but if you are truly committed to the cause and you
believe the arguments are strong-enough, you may want
to avoid clothing purchases that will aid institutions
that cause animal suffering.