Is Leather Actually Edible?

It seems pretty uncommon that anyone would ever end up in a situation where they're fighting for their own survival these days. Between all the technology and communication devices we have available to us, all the cities and towns scattered throughout the country, and the reliability of transportation, being lost in the wilderness or forced to fight for your own survival is probably something you don't need to worry about.

That being said, it never hurts to know a few things just in case you ever end up in a wilderness survival situation. There are some tactics (like finding running water and foraging for edible plants in the wild) that a lot of people are probably aware of, but what about the more intense predicaments? We've all either heard stories, read books, or seen movies where someone is forced to eat leather for survival purposes (check out Charlie Chaplin in "The Gold Rush," via YouTube), and while it seems pretty hardcore, is it actually doable?

Leather is edible, but only some kinds

Should you ever find yourself in a desperate situation, or maybe if you're ever just super bored, know that you can in fact eat leather, but there are some things you should know first. According to Favored Leather, "Leather is absolutely edible. Leather largely contains 60–70% water and 30–35% protein making it absolutely fine to eat. However, the best leather to eat is the one not tanned." If you are in a dire situation, keep in mind that different items are tanned differently, and some are still edible.

"Vegetable-tanned leather is commonly used for saddles, holsters, belts, and wallets," says Favored Leather, and is still edible after boiling it for a few hours to soften it. Other tanning methods utilize chemicals that make the leather inedible, like shoes, wallets, and luggage (via Favored Leather). "To eat a piece of leather, you must have access to water and fire as you will have to wash and boil the piece of leather very well before ingesting it," we're advised. Boiling will soften your potential meal. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you're forced to eat leather to survive (we're hoping you never do), at least now you'll know what is and is not edible, and how to prepare it if necessary.