Most people following a vegan diet does not support the exploitation of animals, whether it means for food, cosmetics or clothing. Naturally, this often does not apply to those who only eat vegan as a way to lose weight (or only does it for health reasons). As you can probably guess I belong to the first category, meaning that I will not wear anything made from animal products. Yes, that includes fur, leather, down, wool, silk, cashmere etc. I find it to be completely ridiculous that all industries that exploit animals are still legal. Honestly, if you were to kick or hit your puppy you risk facing charges, but if you tortuously kill an animal inside a factory then you are completely in the clear… Words cannot even describe how furious this makes me, when seeing this blatant speciesism.
For the majority of the time I was vegetarian I did not wear leather or fur (I have NEVER worn fur), which I immediately linked to the animals at such a young age. Like you might know, I went vegetarian at the age of 8 and stopped wearing leather when I was 9-10 years old. I still remember how guilty I would feel whenever I wore leather shoes, to the point that I would literally cry for the cow that had to die for my shoes. After that I just could not stomach wearing or even the smell of leather. However I had somewhat of a blind-spot for wool, down, silk and cashmere, because I could not see how it would hurt the animals, which used to be my same approach when it came to eggs and dairy. Now that I am a lot more informed I know that that is not the case, and I really wish to share the knowledge I have learnt (and still learning) with all of you, in hopes of at least making you a more aware customer.
So here is a complete list of products that should be avoided when following a vegan lifestyle, and I also listed the reasons why you should not buy/wear such products!
What is wrong with fur?
Why you should not wear fur is pretty much a no-brainer for people by now. The fur-industry has taken a lot of heat during these past years and protests are regularly being set up. The fur industry is revolting, disgusting, apprehensive and beyond vain. Fur is by no means necessary for us to survive, and it is absolutely infuriating that it is still legal to treat animals this way. Luckily enough, finding out if something is real fur is relatively easy nowadays. The price for real fur is incredibly high, and you can usually feel (and see) if something is “the real deal”. Personally I do not really wear fake fur either, just because I feel so uncomfortable having people ask me if it is real or not since I have such a strong point of view on this topic. But if you are interested, you can easily find faux fur products!
What is wrong with leather?
I have to admit that I find it somewhat sad that so many people protest against fur whilst walking around in their leather shoes. The only main difference between fur and leather is that fur is only for vanity’s sake, whereas leather is more closely linked to the meat-industry (yet not exclusively so). It does not change the fact that millions of cows, pigs, sheep, and goats are slaughtered for their hide every year. They are castrated, branded, dehorned and have their tails docked (all without any anesthetics). Just imagine the excruciating pain they have to endure, all for a pair of boots or a leather jacket. Can you really put a price tag on someone’s life?
NB: If you are on the hunt for nice fake leather products but are unsure whether it is real or fake pay attention to the following things. When reading the label (or information about product when online shopping) look for names such as faux-leather, manmade-leather, all manmade materials, pleather, synthetic. Also you can usually tell by the price, since the vegan leathers sell at a fraction of the price! On the picture to the right you can see the symbol that shows that the product contains leather.
What is wrong with wool?
Sheep are dependent on their wool, to weather extreme temperatures. Like you probably have learnt by now, money is all that matters in today’s society. And since the farmers are usually paid by quantity rather than the amount of work they preform, most of them completely disregards the animals’ welfare. When you buy wool products, odds are that the wool originates from sheep who were raised in Australia, and is then routed through China for processing. Millions of sheep are then shipped from Australia to North Africa and the Middle East to be slaughtered, and I can guarantee you that they are not humanely transported. This means that wool, like most of the other animal products listed here, are directly linked to the meat-, egg- and dairy-industry. Due to all of the transporting back and forth, it obviously takes it’s toll on the environment as well.
NB: Keep in mind that the label does not always say wool. Look out for products containing pashmina, angora, cashmere, shearling, camel hair, and mohair, because all of these are made from animals. See the picture to the right for the symbol that are listen on products that contain wool.
What is wrong with down?
Down is usually found in products such as pillows, jackets, and other interiors. Down is plucked from ducks or geese, either before or after slaughter (and if done before, it is of course without any anesthetics). The birds are often plucked so hard that their very skin tears open, and some even have to go through this process several times during their lives. As if that was not bad enough, a lot of these birds are also the same ones that are used to make Foie Gras (“fatty liver”). The process of making Foie Gras has been labeled as one of the most horrendous ones, and is made by cramming a food tube down the bird’s throat and force-feeding them until their liver becomes diseased and expands up to 10 times the original size (hence the word, “fatty liver”).
What is wrong with silk?
Quickly said, silk is the fiber that silkworms weave in order to make cocoons. Worms are often steamed or gassed alive in their cocoons by the manufacturers in order for them to obtain the silk. This is not in any way humane.
Overall I hope that this post has opened your eyes to the cruelty these animals endure, or at least has better informed you so that you can avoid supporting this industry the next time you go shopping. If you liked this be sure to check back to this post whenever you find that you are questioning your decision to lead a cruelty-free lifestyle, and share this to others who might need a dosage of reality.