What Is Vegan Leather Made Of

On vegan leather, research is making great progress with the intent to one day totally replace animal leather.

Vegan leather from cactus

What is vegan leather

The term vegan leather refers to all leathers that are not of animal origin.

Starting with this definition, it can be understood that this term applies to both synthetic and plant-based leathers.

Since both are not derived from the killing of animals, from the point of view of all those who care about animal welfare they are both valid.

But their impact in terms of pollution and environmental sustainability is very different.

Vegan/synthetic leather is made from PVC or PU and often has a very strange smell due to the chemicals in it.

This odor is often described as a "fishy" smell and can often be very difficult to eliminate. PVC can also release dangerous toxins that give off this bad odor.

Genuine vegetable leather, on the other hand, is derived from fibers of vegetable origin, variously combined with other compounds.

At the end of the process, totally plant-based leathers are produced that are free of toxic chemicals, phthalates and PVC.

It could be debated at length whether or not vegan leather should be defined as leather.

According to the dictionary definition, the term leather means the material obtained from the tanning or preparation of hides (hides are the skins of animals).

Anything made with synthetic elements or derived from plant fibers could not be called leather. The term "vegan leather," therefore, is more of a term created by marketing experts to convince vegans that they are getting a product as good as real leather.

Differences between synthetic vegan leather and plant-based vegan leather.

Both are leathers of NON-animal origin, but the similarities stop there.

Synthetic vegan leather has a rather "plastic" appearance and an odor that is sometimes difficult to get rid of.

Compared to real leather, faux leather is much less breathable since the pores that appear to be present on its surface are actually printed and artificial.

Also, synthetic leather, unlike real leather, does not form a patina over time.

Vegetable origin leather represents a very vast and ever-changing world.

This is because there are many different plants that can be used to produce leather-like leather and each one of these plants brings peculiar characteristics to the final product.

The leather produced from the vegetable fibers of the Cactus, for example, stands out for its great softness to the touch, while also offering high performance in terms of durability, compared to synthetic leather.

This allows for a wide variety of applications in compliance with the strictest quality and environmental standards.

We will return below to talk specifically about vegetable leather derived from Cactus.

What is vegan leather made of

Totally vegetable leather is often produced through the waste products obtained from the production of other materials: wine, oil, etc..

There are many vegetable fibers that can be used: from orange and apple peels, to pineapple and grape skins, up to the leather produced by cacti.

Production waste, therefore, goes from being waste, which requires special processes to be disposed of, to being an important resource.

Producing leather from vegetable fibers is doubly positive for the environment:

  1. on the one hand it avoids animal breeding, which requires huge amounts of water and, when intensive, increases the emission of CO2 into the environment
  2. on the other hand, as mentioned above, we reuse waste materials that otherwise, in the best case, would have to be composted.

Sometimes we also hear talk of vegan leather or eco-leather, which basically indicates a material derived from vegetable products and which has practically no ecological footprint.

Vegan leather, therefore, can be produced either from processing waste or through plants (cacti) specially cultivated for the purpose, but always keeping in mind environmental sustainability.

In short, we have to be careful when we hear people talk about vegetable or vegan leather or eco-leather, as the terms are often considered interchangeable and end up being used with a certain nonchalance.

Sometimes, when we think we have purchased a product that we believe to be not only cruelty free but also environmentally friendly, we often end up buying a synthetic leather that has a very strong environmental impact.

What you can make with vegan leather

Thanks to modern production processes, vegan leather made from vegetable fibers can be used to make almost anything that can be made from real leather.

vegan leather processing

The costs of vegetable leather are, to date, quite high and this makes it a valuable product suitable for customers who, in addition to being ecologically and ethically aware, are also able to spend for a product that is still a niche and often made by small artisans.

At a hobby level, vegan leather can be used to make all the objects that would be made with real leather: cases, bags, book covers and so on.

On the other hand, if you leave the field of do-it-yourself, you can make upholstery for seats and armchairs as well as real tailored clothes.

Vegan leather made from cactus

We wrote above that there are many materials that can be used to make vegan leather, but here we would like to deepen our knowledge of one of them: vegan leather made from cactus.

The characteristic of cactus is that of being plants particularly suited to arid climates and desert areas, where few other plants would be able to take root and vegetate.

Extracting leather from cacti, therefore, means having a product that does not require large quantities of water, contrary to what happens to breed cattle.

Thanks to its strong molecular bonding in which the cactus plays an important role, you get a leather with high resistance to abrasion, rubbing, tearing, traction and great durability.

This organic and sustainable material can replace the use of animal leather and other synthetic materials that are not animal and environmentally friendly.

Although animal leather is very durable, it is permeable and can even rot or break if not dried quickly after it gets wet.

Cactus leather differs from others because it has characteristics that allow it to handle both moisture and liquids well, as well as being breathable and totally customizable.

Two Mexican entrepreneurs from Zacateca have created a leather brand: Desserto. It takes about 3 cactus leaves to create one linear meter of Desserto.

What is obtained at the end of the drying of the leaves' pulp, made directly in the sun, is a material ready for further processing.

Non-toxic chemical elements are added and, at the end, it is spread to obtain every shape, color and texture.

For more info check out the website: https://desserto.com.mx/