I can’t be the only one who thinks that vegetable tanned leather this is related to being a vegetarian right? I hear about “Vegetable Tanned Leather” and I think it is somehow a leather industry response to a “Meat is Murder” campaign of some type. Does Vegetable Tanned Leather mean that no animals were harmed in the tanning of leather? Wait, that doesn’t make sense! Can you harm vegetables? Who is getting harmed here? What is that deal?
Man you are stupid.
This is what you are thinking here. Right?
“Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this blog is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”
This is what came to my mind first……..then immediately I thought, “Stop looking at me swan!” Ok, I am way off topic here.
I can’t be then only one who had these questions about vegetable tanned leather, right? Maybe you are not as clueless, but no one is a professional about this stuff unless you are actually interested in it. But it seems like we are interested enough to start reading this blog so, there you are. Hi.
Let’s jump ahead to the last word in “Vegetable Tanned Leather”. It’s “Leather” for you in the back row of the class. We can all agree that leather is a hide or skin product from an animal. There are a lot of different animal options here, but the most common animal for leather is cow. Moo. Leather is cow skin for the most part. Kinda creepy? Maybe.
As you know we have to murder the animal in order to get the leather right? Wrong! No cows are killed for their hides. They are killed for their meats (sometimes cooked over plywood…..see BLOG BUDDY post from May 2021 “https://www.yupgear.com/can-i-cook-food-with-plywood/“), and then the hides or skins then become available! Bonus!
This might make you angry, or sad about that, but you are probably a meat eater. If you are old enough you may have said, “Where’s the BEEF?” and meant it! Meat demand is on the rise and it isn’t going to stop any time soon, if ever. The Double-Double from In-N-Out Burger will probably keep us all in leather supply alone. I like mine with extra pickles. The burger, not the leather. If you are gonna eat meat, then you are not going to have a problem with leather.
You have a lot of choices or leather to choose from, but there are laws that protect certain animals so it is unlikely you will see a Dalmatian coat anytime soon. No gorilla chest vests for you (CLICK THIS LINK IF YOU WANT IT TO BE STUCK IN YOUR HEAD…….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyWVaZsUQjc). You ARE probably wearing some other type of leather right now though. Probably cow. Moo. It may be part of your shoe, your watch strap, a belt, or probably your wallet or purse. The stuff is everywhere. The skin was once connected to a living being with a pulse, and it had a mom. Sad, but true. Yum.
Since we started with the last word in “Vegetable Tanned Leather”, I will continue the trend and work backwards to “Tanned”. What is Tanned, or the act of Tanning? Does it involve a tanning bed?
Not this time buddy. It’s closer to “I’m gonna tan your hide” type of thing, but it still doesn’t apply. I never really understood that term other than you would be getting a spanking of some sort. What is actually is, is the process to stop the decay of the leather, and keep it pliable for use. It also makes the hide resistant to wetting. This is a necessary process if you want it to last.
Still don’t get it?
OK. Tannins are chemicals. They are extracted from different sources like oak, chestnut, birch, willow and many more plants that grow. The tannins extracted from the plants and then applied to the hides where they bind with the protein collagen in the hide which turns the skin to leather.
You can’t find an old deer in the woods who died 6 months ago and make a coat or a vest (Is that song stuck in your head now?). Without the tanning process the decay returns the animal back to the earth. You will also not find any dead deer in a tanned bed. (Did you want to say “deers” right now? You did, didn’t you.)
Ok, the last word, which was the first word, but I like to keep you on your toes. “Vegetable”. This is the item you probably do not have on your table during dinner time. You are probably not having a V8, and you probably don’t know why it is part of leather. The vegetable part of isn’t the leather part. It isn’t the skin of an apple, or the rind of an orange. You can’t make a jacket out of banan……oh wait,……those are fruits.
No potato wallets, no green bean jackets, no carrot belts. They are not the part that you use on the daily. The vegetable part the “tanning agent” or “tannins” is the color! (Again, extracted from different sources like oak, chestnut, birch, willow and many more plants that grow.) You are adding color to the leather with the vegetable stuff.
Is there “Vegan Leather”? Nope. Leather is animal hide, pure and simple. There may be a marketing push to say that a synthetic material is leather, but it is not. Plant based leather? Nope. If it is “synthetic” or “plant” based” and does not come from an animal, then it is not leather. It is most likely petroleum based, or held together with a chemical based glue. These processes may be even more harmful to the life on this planet that just using real leather.
You have some interest in this stuff, and you wanted the basic idea about it, and now you have it. The breakdown of the term doesn’t have to be so confusing. Leather is from an animal, and it gets colored & preserved through a process called tanning. The “tanned” word comes from the “tannins” which come from the vegetables (or vegetation).
Maybe the term should get an update to something more simplistic like “skin care”. That might also be confusing. Who knows. Maybe we just leave it as is, and we make this blog post required reading because it is so informative.
Thanks for reading. Comment below…..or don’t.
Also, while you are here, do not forget to shop for YUP GEAR items (CHECK OUT THE LEATHER SECTION!) : SHOP