The vegan lifestyle is taking over the fashion world as more and more top designers are using animal cruelty-free materials to make their designs. I'm all for stopping animal cruelty, but I want to know some more information about this mysterious "vegan" leather all my favorite stores are selling. Here's everything you need to know about vegan leather before making your next purchase.

I have been on the hunt for a new bag, and as I've scoured the mall and the Internet I keep coming across one thing: vegan leather. When I first read the label of a bag claiming to be made of vegan leather, I was puzzled. Isn't it just called faux leather? Is pleather vegan? There are plenty of materials out there that don't use animal by products — are those "vegan" now too?

After a little research, most of my questions have been answered. Here's what I found out about vegan leather.

While the vegan lifestyle  has no technical ties to environmentalism, the two seem to be connected in many people's minds. Whether or not vegans on the whole are more environmentally conscious, I don't know - but vegan leather is by no means green.

Vegan leather is usually made by layering plastic on top of fabric until it creates a leather-like material. In the past this plastic was PVC - like the kind of plastic used to make pipes in your house – but now many designers are using polyurethane. While this may be a step above PVC, most kinds of vegan leather are not fully biodegradable making them harmful to the environment. [via Huffington Post]

Even though it's not the best for the Earth, vegan leather does have some major benefits. If animal rights are a priority for you, this is certainly the way to go. In addition to being cruelty-free, vegan leather is also nicer to your bank account. The days of tacky pleather have passed, and vegan leather is now a believable substitute for the real thing. It is even known to be waterproof and wrinkle-free, meaning it should last longer than real leather items. So if you're looking to save animals and some cash, vegan leather should be at the top of your list. [via The Cut]

While the term "vegan leather" still leaves me a bit confused (I mean, it is an oxymoron), I think I have all the knowledge I need to be an informed shopper when it comes time to make the leather vs. vegan leather decision.

Have you ever purchased vegan leather, Lovelies? What do you think of this new faux leather trend?

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