Elon Musk to Put Vegan-Friendly Seats In the Sportiest Teslas

Racecar driver Leilani Münter approves; so do we.

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Ashlee Vance sat down to dinner with Elon Musk, and describes in her biography of the Tesla mastermind how he inhaled “fried lobster soaked in black squid ink” and then finished the leftovers of the author’s steak. An ironic image, given the recent media hype that Tesla will now provide a synthetic leather option in all its electric cars to cater to the vegan crowd.  

Like Apple, Tesla and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are organizations that thrive on image. And if you buy the image they put forth, you likely have some skin in the climate-change game. The environmental philosophy shared by both entities is part of the reason why Musk responded to pressure from PETA this week to offer a full selection of synthetic materials for all the Model S and Model X rolling off the Tesla line.  

Until recently, if you wanted a custom, vegan-friendly interior in one of the more powerful, high-end Tesla models, you had to special order it. Sort of like asking for an In-N-Out Burger “animal style.”

But it’s not just PETA’s demands that swayed Musk. According to The New York Times, uber-cool race car driver, environmentalist and all-around badass Leilani Münter contacted Musk directly and pleaded with him to get the cloth seats she desired.

The hype around the new vegan option begs the question: Does this really help the environment? In short, yes. Musk started Tesla Motors in part to reduce carbon emissions and to prove that electric cars are the future of transportation. It has been shown that synthetic-leather is better for the environment and reduces waste used to produce real leather.  

It’s a win-win for Tesla, which now has the tempeh loving, daiya cheese-eating vegans on his side. So watch out. According to Munter’s website “Never underestimate a vegan hippie chick with a race car.”