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My persnickety grandma fancies a Steelcase office chair with 2 choices of seat material: Brisa ultrafabric or Elmosoft animal leather (see red underlines beneath). Steelcase apprised her that

Elmo uses just Scandinavian cows. All Scandinavian cows are dairy cows and are born naturally, grass fed and natural feed. They aren't raised for their beef like South American cows.

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We assume and agree that we can't definitively know the conditions of the cattle whence the hides were plucked. How'd we know if Elmo lies that they never kill a cow for its hide, but they can take it off a cow that dies of natural causes?

I chose Brisa, believing that 'the ideal world is one without animals and/or their products for consumption, regardless of how well they've been treated. [So I'm] are placing a negative value on their existence, and to be consistent[,] must believe it's better for them to not exist at all..

She'd pick artificial leather, but Steelcase doesn't offer it. Thus she's picking Elmosoft.

Her arguments that veganism doesn't forbid animal leather:

  1. As long as you're not creating the demand for these industries, then I don't see any harm. But using animal products that you already have isn't against the concept, directly.

  2. Most leather is made from elderly milking cows, or from cows slaughtered for food. So by using the leather, you're not wasting an already dead animal.

  3. Vegan orders an Uber, car arrives and it has [animal] leather upholstery. If they get in the car their money is financing leather. Are they no longer vegan?

Her arguments that animal leather is more practical than Brisa.

  1. Cleanup. Dirt/mud, liquids, and crumbs are generally far easier to clean up.

  2. Leather lasts longer. They'll eventually crack and rip but long after cloth seats do.

  3. Leather seats don't take in smells like cloth seats do.

  • In your edit you say Scandinavian breeds aren't raised for beef. So what happens to the carcass? It's just thrown away after the skin is removed? – Nic May 23 at 1:31
  • @Nic Hmm, not sure. But my grandma didn't press further, as this suffices to convince us that we won't buy ElmoSoft. – Greek - Area 51 Proposal May 23 at 4:20
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The leather product (ElmoSoft) sold by this company (Elmo) is definitively NOT taken from a cow that died of natural causes. The clearest proof is from their supplier code of conduct in which they clarify that they will only purchase the skin of cows which were bred for food purposes.

[Elmo] will deem the products of animal origin ... which have not been obtained from animals bred for food purposes ... to be non-compliant.

On their their website they indicate that elmosoft material is made from "Grain leather from Scandinavian cattle". Many Scandinavian breeds are bred for milking, and another source confirms this.

Elmo Leather uses only Scandinavian Dairy Cattle.

To put it bluntly -- that leather is the skin of deceased dairy cows. It seems bizarre to claim that the product of their life (milk) is not suitable for vegans, yet the product of their death (their skin) is perfectly suitable for vegans. As a practising vegan I would definitely not buy this for myself nor anyone else.

Your grandma's arguments #1 and #2 are economic arguments about byproducts and coproducts. Those arguments are addressed in this other question: How much is leather a byproduct of meat production?.

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