Is Suede Vegan? Should Vegans Buy Suede?
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Is Suede Vegan? Should Vegans Buy Suede?

Some vegans are not sure about whether suede is vegan or not. This blog will explain this question in detail.

From bags to jackets and shoes to household items, suede is a popular and versatile material, but is suede vegan? Suede isn’t vegan, though. You shouldn’t purchase suede if you wouldn’t purchase fur or leather.

We’ll go into more detail about suede in this article, including its definition, production process, and available vegan suede substitutes.

Is Suede Vegan?

Suede isn’t vegan, though. Since it is made from animal skin, typically that of a lamb, calf, deer, or goat, it is not suitable for anyone following a plant-based diet. Although there may be differences in opinion when it comes to used suede, it isn’t vegan in the strictest sense.

Similar to leather, animals must be killed to produce suede. They are sometimes skinned and dismembered while still alive at slaughterhouses, and their throats are cut. And all this after being born through forced breeding, separated from their families, and forced to live short, miserable lives on a farm that was probably miserable.

Raising animals for nubuck or other materials, like raising them for food, requires a significant amount of land and water. Climate change, land destruction, pollution, and water contamination are all consequences of the production of these materials.

Related: Is Cashmere Vegan? Can Vegans Wear Cashmere?

Likewise, suede and nubuck must be treated with hazardous chemicals, such as formaldehyde and derivatives of coal tar, in order to prevent them from rotting on store hangers. These substances have a history of contaminating the groundwater close to tanning facilities, endangering the health of locals.

Is Suede Vegan? Should Vegans Buy Suede?

Should Vegans Buy Suede?

Vegans shouldn’t purchase suede, and many people make an effort to steer clear of it. Although the substance itself is vegan, producing substitutes made of plastic is just as harmful to the environment as producing leather.

The reality is that many of these alternative fabrics are just as harmful to the environment (and the animals that live there) despite frequent claims to the contrary by the fashion industry.

Vegan-Friendly Suede Alternatives

Numerous fabrics that are suitable for vegans are offered. These differ in appearance, feel, and style, as well as in attributes like toughness and water resistance. Broadly speaking, they fall into two categories:

  1. Synthetic – These are typically produced in laboratories using various chemical processes and are at least partially derived from petrochemicals. The three mentioned are PVC, nylon, and polyester.
  2. Natural – These materials are mainly made from plants, but they can also be made from other living things, like mushrooms. Cotton, linen, hemp, flax, and Mylo are some examples.

As detailed later there also is a new breed of “plant-based synthetic fibers” that straddle the two categories above. Some do not neatly fit into either category because they use both natural and petrochemical-derived materials.

How is Suede Made?

Beginning with a killed and skinned animal—typically a lamb—suede is created. Using a chemical called lime, its hide is dried and the hair follicles are removed. After being treated with salts and oils, the hide is turned into leather using tannins (a class of enzyme).

Is Suede Vegan? Should Vegans Buy Suede?

Following this, the leather is split, separating the top from the suede-like soft underside.

The finished suede item can then undergo additional processing, including dyeing, to further soften it. After that, the fabric is prepared for cutting and sewing to make a garment or other products like shoes or furniture.

What is Suede Used For?

The name suede derives from the French term gants de Suède, which translates as “gloves from Sweden”. Due to its flexibility, suede is believed to have been a common material for gloves. But aside from gloves, suede is frequently used for a variety of other clothing items, including shoes (blue or not!).

Suede is frequently used to line various leather products as well as suede jackets, handbags, and upholstered goods. In essence, suede is a versatile material that can be used for many of the same purposes as cotton, leather, or linen.

Vegans, however, will seek out items that aren’t created from animal skins, and fortunately, there are many substitutes.

Conclusion: is Suede Vegan?

I’ll say it again: suede is not vegan. Lamb skin is typically used to make suede, but many other animals can also be used to make it. Pigs, calves, goats, deer, and other animals are also used to make suede. Without killing animals, suede cannot be produced.

Fortunately, as mentioned above, suede has many vegan-friendly substitutes. The way they resemble animal suede and the style and cost of these vary. But one thing unites them all: none involved the killing or harming of animals in any way.

Anyone who cares about the environment and wildlife will find the new breed of mushroom- and plant-based materials that resemble suede and leather to be particularly appealing.


What Does Vegan Suede Mean?

Vegan suede refers to a leather-like material that is completely synthetic and resembles suede leather made from the underside of animal hides. Vegan suede, also referred to as faux suede or fake suede, is a leather substitute made primarily of polyester or polyurethane.

Is It Ethical to Wear Suede?

Wearing suede or nubuck is akin to wearing leather or eating meat—obtaining these materials requires the same cruelty and environmental devastation that the production of leather or beef does. Animals must be killed in order to produce suede, just like leather.

Are Calves Killed for Leather?

The majority of leather produced and sold in the U.S. is made from the skins of cattle and calves, but leather is also made from sheep, lambs, goats, and pigs. In addition to zebras, bison, kangaroos, elephants, crocodiles, alligators, ostriches, lizards, and snakes, other species are also hunted and killed specifically for their skins.

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