Shareholders Ask Elon Musk to Make Tesla Cars Go Vegan

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Tesla Model S Car

Rear facing child seats in the Model S electric sports sports sedan in Boston, Massachusetts.

Photographer: Ann Hermes//The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

Tesla Motors Inc.’s Model S sedan already ditched gasoline. Now two shareholders from Texas want the electric-car maker to stop using animal products as well.

At the company’s annual meeting Tuesday, Mark and Elizabeth Peters, shareholders from Hurst, Texas, urged Tesla to eliminate the use of animal-sourced materials for interior components such as leather seats. One of their proposals would reduce the use of such products, dropping them by 2019. The other asked Tesla to explore becoming the first “cruelty-free” premium car brand. Stockholders rejected both, according to a filing Wednesday.

“Tesla does offer a vegan option to customers who express that this is a priority for them,” Khobi Brooklyn, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “If they want no leather in their car, the customer would choose the Multi-Pattern black seats which have a synthetic leather trim and then custom-order a vegan steering wheel.”

Tesla has received a handful of such orders, Brooklyn said.

Elizabeth Peters said her husband, Mark, had to go through “extreme measures” to get her a vegan Tesla as an anniversary gift.

“Tesla can continue to fill cars with the skins of sentient beings that suffer unspeakable horror,” said Peters, who said she grew up on a veal farm. “Or, Tesla can adopt one of the many faux-leather interiors used by Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, BMW, Infiniti and others, that are cruelty-free.”

Tesla’s board had recommended a vote against the two proposals, saying that exploring alternatives to leather might “impede or delay” the the Palo Alto, California-based company distracting it from higher-priority tasks.

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A representative from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals later asked Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk if the animal-rights group could help the carmaker find vegan alternatives to leather.

“We’ll look into it,” Musk said.

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