PETA Awards Mexican Startup Desserto For Its Animal-Free Leather Made Out Of Sustainable Cactus

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Following news that apparel giant H&M is launching a new sustainable concept with its debut collection that includes pieces created using Desserto’s plant-based cactus leather, PETA has awarded the Mexican startup animal-free leather for its innovation.

H&M announced its new concept, Innovation Stories, which will launch multiple collections this year, starting with the debut collection Science Story featuring vegan leather designed by Desserto.

Founded in 2019 by Mexican entrepreneurs Adrian Lopez and Marte Cazarez, Desserto offers a cruelty-free alternative to leather, by transforming prickly pear cactus into PETA-approved smooth vegan leather.

Recognising this invention that will help boost the vegan leather market, U.S. – based PETA, (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), an animal rights organization has awarded the brand the Compassionate Company Award for the ethical treatment of animals and the designers received this news from Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA.

In a press release seen by Green Queen, Newkirk said: “Innovative PETA approved vegan leather is bringing the fashion industry closer to the important goal of ending cruelty to animals while protecting the environment.”

Process of converting cacti into leather. Source: Desserto

Innovative PETA approved vegan leather is bringing the fashion industry closer to the important goal of ending cruelty to animals while protecting the environment

Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA

PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said that Desserto’s invention is significant in helping the fashion industry make the switch towards cruelty-free materials. “With vegan leather—made with everything from fruits and fungi to kombucha and cactus—trailblazers like Adriano Di Marti show just how much the fashion world has grown, literally. PETA’s Compassionate Business Award celebrates Desserto leather for challenging the false idea that cows are commodities. Pioneers like Adriano Di Marti show how much the fashion world has grown, literally”

Desserto claims their naturally-tanned cactus-based organic material is virtually identical to animal leather, not to mention a boon for the planet, as their production process uses a species of cacti called prickly pears, which requires little water to grow and can easily survive in different climate zones. 

Prior to this, Desserto has already received six international awards.

PETA released a video that exposed the world’s largest leather producer with shocking atrocities against animals, like branding them on their faces, electrocuting, and then ultimately killing them for their skin. Apart from the extreme cruelty, converting animal skins into leather requires 130 different chemicals producing high amounts of carbon emissions.

A World Bank report stated that cattle ranching is responsible for over 80% of deforestation in the Amazon since 1970.

Aside from using cactus leather, the Science Story collection also includes pieces made from other eco alternative materials, for instance, one process includes converting castor beans into ultra-light and stretchy fabric known as EVO by Fulgar, a bio-based yarn obtained from castor oil, a renewable resource.

Alternative leather is increasingly becoming mainstream with high-end French fashion brand Hermès joining forces with MycoWorks to unveil a mushroom-based ‘leather’ travel bag made from fine mycelium, H&M making use of ‘wine leather‘ made from leftover grapes in a recent collection, and London-based accessories line Luxtra is creating new handbags from vegan mango leather

Biotechs too are developing similar solutions like Bolt Threads’ vegan mushroom leather material dubbed Myloand Fruitleather that has developed leather from mangoes.

According to a report, this trend will drive major growth in the global vegan leather market, rising by an annual rate of nearly 50% to reach a massive US$89.6 billion within the next five years. 

Lead image courtesy of Desserto.


  • Tanuvi Joe

    Born and bred in India and dedicated to the cause of sustainability, Tanuvi Joe believes in the power of storytelling. Through her travels and conversations with people, she raises awareness and provides her readers with innovative ways to align themselves towards a kinder way of living that does more good than harm to the planet. Tanuvi has a background in Journalism, Tourism, and Sustainability, and in her free time, this plant parent surrounds herself with books and rants away on her blog Ruffling Wings.

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