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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Thumbs Down on Leather

August 28, 2004

I don't think I've ever heard from a more hypocritical group of people in my life than those interviewed for your Aug. 23 piece on vegans searching for leather-free autos. They don't intend to purchase leather seats because of cruelty to cows, yet they'll fill their car with plastic, petroleum-based products in the meantime. Have they ever thought about the environmental impact that mining all that biomass -- meaning, dead animals -- produces?

Then they'll drive their cars, filled with another petroleum-based product, on six-lane-wide freeways that have decimated animal habitat. I especially loved the license plate one vegan chose to advertise his lifestyle, on his Mercedes no less, "VEGANZM" -- only in America.

Instead of special-ordering a leather-free Mercedes, why not buy a used car (recycling!), then donate the leftover money to the Sierra Club or World Wildlife Federation and make a real difference?

Ashley Moore

Brea

*

We appreciated your Aug. 23 article regarding how the vegan perspective is catching on. Ten years ago if we had voiced our concern about leather seats we would have been laughed at. My husband once let his feelings be known to a car salesman, who asked "What's wrong with leather?" My husband replied, "Well, it's no skin off your back!"

But we were a fringe group. Even having money didn't stimulate merchants to give us alternatives. Restaurants are now serving delicious meat alternatives and wonderful vegetarian foods from other countries. They make faux fur now that is superior to real animal fur.

It's so nice to have alternatives. It breathes new live into our society and saves a lot of animal lives.

Nancy Shinn

George Shinn

Bonanza, Ore.

*

I've had my eye on a Toyota Prius for some time. Due to the lengthy waiting list, I've had to sit tight and watch developments in the hybrid arena. I was interested to learn more about Ford's Escape Hybrid SUV but was appalled when I discovered that the vehicle comes with a leather package. Thumbs down to the Escape Hybrid. I'll be purchasing a Prius instead.

Toyota's promise to never offer the Prius with leather has made this vegan even more likely to remain a loyal customer of Toyota. Now on to educate the wider customer base, so as to reduce the demand for after-market leather.

Eric Prescott

Los Angeles

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