Following a letter from LAMBS—PETA’s Christian outreach division—to the President of Verbum Dei High School encouraging him to foster in his students compassion for all the members of God’s peaceable kingdom, the Los Angeles Catholic school has responded by pledging to remove the leather belt requirement from its dress code.

“Verbum Dei High School’s merciful decision to amend its uniform policy will make a world of difference for the gentle cows whose throats are slit for belts and other accessories,” says PETA Assistant Manager of Clothing Campaigns Christina Sewell. “PETA hopes this move will inspire other Catholic schools to honor the Christian tenet of empathy for all by encouraging students to opt for humane vegan clothing, which could very well inform other choices they make as they move into adulthood.”

A PETA video exposé of the world’s largest leather processor revealed that cows and bulls were branded on the face, electroshocked, and beaten. Animals used for leather live in extreme confinement, and often, their tails are amputated and their horns are cut off with knives, wires, saws, or hot irons—and without painkillers. In addition, turning animals’ skins into leather requires the use of 130 different chemicals, including cyanide, and leather production produces massive amounts of the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

Today’s high-tech and innovative cruelty-free leather options are made with everything from recycled microfiber to pineapples. By 2025, when these current high schoolers are in college or just joining the workforce, the global vegan leather market is set to be worth $85 billion.

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