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Natural Fiber Welding employees wearing Mirum belts. The belts were produced to show one potential use for Natural Fiber Welding’s plant-based leathers. Photography by Evan Jenkins

Can This Tiny Midwestern Startup Become the Beyond Meat of Leather?

Fashion designers, environmentalists, and car companies are desperate for someone to invent animal-free leather. This Peoria, Illinois upstart thinks it can.

In September, Luke Haverhals, a 41-year-old former chemistry professor from Peoria…