Is Your Furniture Cruel to Animals? That Leather Couch Is the Least of It

Concerned about animal cruelty? You might abstain from eating meat, or at least very much of it, and mink coats are not exactly the thing these days, anyway. But if you’re patting yourself on the back while snuggled under an angora blanket, we’ve got news for you: The furniture and decor in your home can be cruel to animals, too.

Welcome to the latest movement in the home decor world: cruelty-free furniture! We’re talking couches made of faux leather, pillows stuffed with down alternatives, and other substitutes for animal skins or materials. A whole host of home furnishing manufacturers are on board too, including Ikea (which offers vegan leather sofas), Crate and Barrel (animal-free upholstery), and Land of Nod (soy-based foam cushions).

And—surprise!—the offenses stretch far beyond the obvious culprit of leather (and contrary to popular belief, animal skins are not a byproduct of the meat industry). Rugs, blankets, and furniture stuffing are often made from wool, the product of an industry repeatedly accused of abusing, maiming, and killing sheep. Comforters and pillows are often made with down, feathers that are live-plucked from geese.

And if you truly care for all animals regardless of size, you might be horrified to learn that silk lampshades are often made from fibers obtained by boiling silkworms alive inside their cocoons. Why have all that on your conscience when you can easily find perfectly fine furnishings without this black mark in their past?

“It’s never been easier to furnish our homes without animals, as more and more companies are offering fabulous vegan options,” says Lisa Lange, PETA’s senior vice president of communications. “Compassionate consumers are snapping up these eco-friendly items because they understand that a home should be a haven, not a showcase of suffering.”

Benefits of cruelty-free furniture

The benefits of cruelty-free furniture go far beyond just knowing that no animals were harmed in the name of furnishing your home.

  • It’s healthier. “Vegan alternatives are healthier,” points out Deborah DiMare, founder of DiMare Design, which exclusively offers vegan design for residences and businesses around the world. “Animal skins and hides that are used for furniture are treated with toxic poisons that penetrate our skins. Vegan materials are gentler, cleaner, and overall more beneficial for newborns, babies, children and adults.”
  • Easier to clean. “Faux leather does not attract dust, insects or hold moisture,” DiMare adds; it’s also more scratch resistant than real leather. Meanwhile, “rugs made from cotton or synthetics are easier to clean and more stain resistant than those made from animal skins.”
  • Hypoallergenic. Those who are allergic to animal fur and feathers will be a lot less sniffly if they switch to down or fur alternatives in their pillows, bedding, and cushions, providing a better night’s sleep.

DiMare also says that transitioning to a cruelty-free home can be easily done whether you’re sticking to a budget or looking for something more high end and luxurious.

How to find cruelty-free furniture

Want to learn more? DiMare Design offers an accredited online course called Vegan Design 101 for professional designers and anyone looking for cruelty-free decor. The website also includes links to shop anything and everything you might need to decorate your home humanely.

“I want to make it easy for the busy parents and for the designers,” says DiMare, who went completely vegan three years ago, after watching PETA’s investigation into China’s dog leather industry. “I don’t want there to be any excuse for anyone who wants to go vegan in their decor.”

If you’re interested in switching out some of your decor to cruelty-free alternatives or you’re ready to completely veganize your home, consider some of these options—all of which get a thumbs up from PETA, DiMare, or other animal rights experts.

Vegan leather chair

Vegan leather has come a long way since the “pleather” you may know from the past. Today’s animal-free leathers are as soft, breathable, and as comfortable as the real thing; this vegan leather chair ($178.99, also comes in six unique colors to fit any home decor motif.

Faux fur throw

Enjoy the luxurious feel of fur without all the cruelty, thanks to this faux-fur throw ($44.45, made from polyester as well as synthetic/imitation versions of fleece and sherpa.

Wool and silk-free area rug

Many rugs are made from wool and silk, but this colorful, vintage-inspired, shed-resistant rug ($274, is completely animal-free, making it a statement piece in more ways than one.

Tencel bedsheets and linens


Tencel is an extremely soft fabric that is made from wood cellulose in eucalyptus plants—an excellent alternative to silk and wool. Tencel can be found in sheets, pillows, mattresses, and more, including this duvet cover and sham ($59.99-$79.99, West Elm). 

Down-alternative pillow

If you’re up for a high-end splurge, consider this cute throw pillow ($240, DiMare Design), which is stuffed with a down alternative. It’s also 100% vegan and actually Certified Cruelty Free.

Article by Wendy Herman