Veganism has impacted every aspect of society and culture. For strict vegans, their dedication will go far beyond what they eat. Fashion has come to terms with the fact that animal abuse and cruelty have no place in fashion. It is now easier than ever to find stylish, vegan-friendly clothing and accessories. This article will discuss the non-vegan clothing materials that you should avoid and some of the best alternatives.
What Clothing to Avoid as a Vegan
If you’re new to the vegan world, it can be a minefield knowing what you can and cannot eat, and equally what you can and cannot wear. Thankfully, these days, dressing vegan, does not mean you cannot be a fashionista.
Dressing vegan is simple, once you know what materials to avoid.
The first step in identifying vegan-friendly clothing is to read the labels. The label on clothing items is generally located at the neck or waistband. Shoe labels can be found under the tongue.
If you are unsure of the materials and garment is made out of you can either avoid buying them or ask the store assistant or contact the manufacture directly.
It has been our experience that when you contact manufacturers, they are happy to help. What’s more, companies are often keen to have the fact that they have not listed all of the relevant materials pointed out, as they are aware that the vegan clothing market is a growing industry that they want a slice of.
Non-Vegan Materials to Avoid
Leather is probably the most common non-vegan clothing material on the market. Luckily, these days there are plenty of ‘leather look’ alternatives.
The majority of leather sold in the U.S. is made from skins from cattle and calves. However, leather can also be made from sheep, lambs, and goats.
Other species are also hunted for their skins. These include bison, kangaroos, and elephants as well as alligators and ostriches.
Buying leather products supports this industry, which perpetuates the problem.
The solution is simple, buy faux leather alternatives such as cork, cactus, pineapple, or mushroom leather.
Suede is leather that has been softened.
The majority of suede is made from the skins of young animals, such as lambs, calves, and can be found in bags and shoes.
Microfiber is a great vegan alternative to suede, while faux suede can also be purchased.
Sheep are the main source of wool, while Merino wool is derived from Merino sheep.
However, there are many different types of wool and you will need to look out for these different terms on clothing and accessory labels.
- Lambswool– from lambs
- Cashmere– from goat
- Angora–from Angora rabbits
- Mohair– from Angora goats
- Merino–from Merino sheep
- Alpaca– from the South American Alpaca
- Llama– from the llama
- Vicuna–from the South American camelid Vicuna
- Camel– from camels
- Qiviut–from the Alaskan musk ox
The wool is taken from the animal via the process of shearing.
This, in itself, may not seem humane, however, sheep shearers are often paid by how quickly they work.
Due to this, they have no regard for the animals. They are often manhandled, causing nicks and cuts to the animal.
Moreover, they are bred for the purpose of producing wool via sheering with the ultimate result of the animals being slaughtered for their meat.
A vegan-friendly alternative to wool is acrylic. It resembles wool, in look and feel, but it is 100% synthetic.
With the amazing look and feel of synthetic wool available, there is no need to use animal-derived wool.
Fur is the most controversial animal product that is used in fashion.
Fur-breeding animals spend their whole lives in filthy, cramped cages, often without adequate medical care.
Fur farmers use the most cost-effective killing methods, such as suffocation and electrocution, to kill their animals, which obviously causes them a lot of pain and distress.
Faux fur is readily available so there’s no reason to wear real fur.
Down is made from feathers plucked from ducks and geese. These ducks and geese are normally plucked of their feathers when they are alive.
Live plucking is not legal in the US and EU. However, the majority of the world’s down is from China, where live-plucking and animal rights legislation is virtually non-existent.
It can be used in jackets, comforters, pillows, and coats.
Never fear, there are plenty of vegan-friendly synthetic alternatives to down, available on the market.
If you want to find out more about the harvesting of goose down, Plucked Alive: The Torture Behind Down and Goose Down Practices Called Animal Cruelty
Silk is the fiber silkworms weave to make their cocoons. They produce the thread from small holes in their jaws, which are then used to make their cocoons.
In order to gather the silk, worms (moths) are steamed or gassed in their cocoons whilst they are still alive. This prevents them from secreting an alkali which they produce to eat through the silk, so they can emerge from the cocoon.
Silk was once used far more widely than it is today, the invention of nylon in the 1930s substantially reduced silk’s share of the clothing market.
However, silk is still readily found in men’s suits and ties.
Other Non-Vegan Clothing Fabrics
Above, we have listed some of the most common non-vegan clothing items, however, there are a lot of other fabrics that you should stay clear of.
Below we have listed an alphabetical list of non-vegan clothing fabrics for you to make life easier.
|Other Non-Vegan Clothing Fabrics|
|Mother of Pearl|
|Mousseline de Soie|
*may be vegan if not combined with other materials
Check out this article on how to shop for sustainable fashion in order to protect animals and the environment.
Other Non-Vegan Products That May Be Used In The Production of Clothing
There are a number of other animal products or animal-derived ingredients that can be used in the production of garments.
Although not necessarily resulting in the death of the animals, they certainly rely on the exploitation of animals, and sometimes cruelty to animals, in their production and should be avoided by ethical vegans.
Animal-derived glue is made from boiling connective tissue and bones of an animal. Animal-based glues are often used to glue shoes and handbags.
Animal Based Dyes
Red dyes are made from female Cochineal insects. This insect has been used for many years because it is resistant to light decay. They are killed by being shaken on a board, in hot water, or in the oven. It takes nearly 70,000 cochineal bugs to produce just 450g dye, regardless of the process used.
A few hundred tons of dye are made each year from South America and the Canary Islands. This means that millions of Cochineal bugs are killed to make the coloring.
Animal dyes to look out for;
- Cochineal (red)
- Lac insect (red, violet)
- Murex snail (purple)
- Octopus/Cuttlefish (sepia brown)
Yes, that’s right, buttons!
Some buttons are made of bone, shell, or even horn. These are more commonly found on more expensive clothing.
They are easy to forget as they are not always listed on clothing labels, so are something that you need to look out for.
Although bees are not purposefully killed for beeswax. There can be a lot of cruelty associated with bee farming.
Did you know that queens will often have their wings clipped so they cannot move colonies?
Is Vegan-Friendly Clothing Expensive?
Vegan-friendly clothing does not have to be expensive at all. A lot of vegan clothing can be cheaper than animal-based clothing as they are made from cheaper, synthetic materials.
However, do not be fooled, there are a lot of expensive vegan designers such as;
- Stella McCartney
- Elizabeth Olsen
- Mara Hoffman
- Leticia Credido
- Vanita Badlani
As with all fashion, there is something available at all price ranges.
Final Thoughts: Shopping Sustainable Fashion
A lot of mainstream fashion is not keto-friendly, there is a lot of non-vegan clothing out there on the market. Some items such as real leather would result in the death of animals, others will be animal-derived. Some vegans will not wear anything which has resulted in the death of an animal. as opposed to ethical vegans who will not wear anything that is derived from animals. There are plenty of vegan-friendly clothing lines out there though which use synthetic fabrics to create fashionable pieces, meaning that you do not have to compromise your ethics for fashion.