Sam Corlett, the star of the new Netflix’s TV show Vikings Valhalla, wore fake leather in his costume for his role as the historic character Leif Erikson, after he let production know about his vegan beliefs. 

Initially, the Australian actor was given a leather costume, but it was later changed. He said to The Hollywood Reporter: “I hadn’t worn leather in a long time, the costume at the start was all leather, and so that was quite overwhelming…gratefully, Susan O’Connor Cave, our amazing head of costume, she ended up designing a vegan armour for me. So that was really beautiful, I think it was cactus leather. It’s a funny mix because you want to be as authentic as possible, which makes sense but also, you know, the values come in sometimes.”

These sorts of coherent ethical changes in the entertainment industry are becoming more common as other plant-based and vegan actors have also used alternative fibres in their costumes (such as Anne Hathaway, Natalie Portman, Pamela Anderson, Alan Cumming, etc.), which often makes it to the press. 

The series was recorded in Ireland. Regarding the location, Corlett said, “There’s a duo called The Happy Pear who are quite popular in Ireland for being vegan chefs and I’m vegan myself so it was convenient to have their cafe nearby.”

Vikings Valhalla is the sequel of the very successful Vikings, also produced by Netflix and released in 2020. It chronicles the beginning of the end of the Viking Age, marked by the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066. Corlett plays Leif Erikson, a Norse explorer who is thought to have been the first European to have set foot on continental North America, approximately 500 years before Christopher Columbus arrived at the continent bringing the first horses, pigs, chickens, goats, and cows who, generations later, are still exploited with the same imperialist speciesist ruthlessness. One wonders how different America would be today if a vegan Leif Erikson would have joined the Native Americans to repel the Spanish Conquistadores.    

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.