Is wool vegan? What about silk? Isn’t leather a by-product of the meat industry? As a vegan, these are all questions I get asked regularly. Being a vegan isn’t just about not eating animal products, it’s also about not purchasing any animal products whatsoever – whether that’s make-up, clothing or even cleaning products, it can be a minefield to navigate.
Here are some commonly asked vegan clothing questions that should hopefully help you make the right decisions when buying clothes.
Is wool vegan?
The short answer is no. The long answer is slightly more complicated. As a vegan, I have vowed to remove animal products from my life as much as reasonably possible, therefore by purchasing wool I would be contributing to an industry that sees animals as products for human consumption.
Many would argue that sheep need to be shaven, and wool is a necessary by-product of a sheep’s existence. If this is the case, then what happened to sheep before humans decided to shear them for clothing? Did they all just die under the weight of their own coats? Clearly not.
In fact, sheep have been selectively bred to produce more wool than their ancestors. Several generations of this breeding has meant that sheep, specially the merino breed, need to be shorn in order to avoid them dying of heat exhaustion.
Not only is this a valid reason to not purchase wool, but it’s also important to remember that every penny you spend is your vote. If you don’t believe animals should be used for clothing, then be sure to check the label inside the garments before you buy – there are plenty cruelty-free alternatives to wool available in the shops, so there’s no need to purchase the fruits of this unnecessarily cruel and antiquated practice.
What about silk?
Is silk vegan? That’s another good question. When you think of clothing made from animals, you generally think of leather and its more exotic alternatives like snake and crocodile skin. However, silk is also a product make from the silk spun by a specific breed of worms, which form cocoons at the pupal stage.
Silk is another example of a moral stance vegans take when choosing not to contribute to an industry that exploits animals for human gain. Although silk worms are not directly hurt by the farming of their secretions, the worms are in fact killed in the cocoon stage – otherwise we’d be overrun by moths! It is estimated that five silk worms die for every gram of silk produced. When you put this into a global perspective, it’s clear to see that this is another unnecessarily cruel practice that you can easily choose not to subscribe to.
Isn’t leather a by-product of the meat industry?
This is another common question asked by people trying to catch-out vegans (believe it or not, it happens all the time!). In this current day and age, cows are going to die whether you choose to eat meat. Therefore, buying leather isn’t directly hurting the animals – is it? Wrong. The majority of leather, in fact, comes from cows in India, which are abused, poisoned and beaten in order to produce the “highest quality” leather.
From transportation to the slaughtering, these cows live a miserable life. As with wool and silk, there’s absolutely no need to wear an animal’s skin in the 21st century. There are several companies selling high quality leather alternatives, including Vegetarian Shoes and Melie Bianco
Hopefully this has helped shed some light on these commonly asked vegan clothing questions. What do you think – is wool vegan? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!