When I went vegan I wanted to do everything right. I read a lot of books, watched videos and documentaries, but I was so focused on what I eat, that I forgot things like clothing or beauty products. I didn’t really think about how clothes cannot be vegan.
So in this blog post I’m going to write about the basics of vegan clothing, and give you some ideas what you can do if you can’t afford to buy vegan clothing. Because let’s be honest, vegan and eco-friendly clothing can be expensive.
The most common materials which are NOT vegan
These are the most frequently used materials when it comes to clothing (of course there are some more, like cashmere).
Some of them, like leather is pretty obvious, because they actually kill animals for it, but it can be confusing when it comes to materials like wool. Don’t they just cut the sheep? Well, the short answer is, no. Sheep industry is extremely inhumane. I’m going to quote Emily, from Bite Size Vegan, who talks about the sheep industry.
“Regular shearing causes nicks and cuts, and in order to prevent the excess attraction of flies and a condition called flystrike, the wool industry practices “mulesing”. This is a cruel procedure in which part of a sheep’s flesh is cut off of his or her hindquarters without anesthesia. The most insane part of this practice is that it's used to prevent flystrike, or maggot infestation, but the resulting wound form the procedure can itself attract maggots and flies and cause deadly infections.
The whole reason that flystrike is an issue within the wool industry is due to the practices of industry itself. The sheep are selectively bred to have wrinkled skin so that they have more skin and thus produce more wool. This is more profitable for the industry, but detrimental to the sheep themselves. That is the hallmark of exploitation–manipulating another being to suit one’s own needs, especially when doing so results in the suffering and death of that being. This is the case within all the animal products industries: We manipulate the lives, living conditions, and even genes of these animals to better suit our needs. And it's always at the expense of their quality of life and, ultimately, their lives themselves.
The shearing process in and of itself is terrifying for sheep. During shearing, sheep are pinned down and, when they resist or struggle, shearers will hit and stomp on them and stand on their heads to keep them still. Most workers who shear sheep are paid by the sheep and not by the hour. They rush through their work, often nicking or completely cutting off ears, tails and pieces of skin in the process. These gaping wounds are then sewn up without the use of any anesthetics. So tell me, is all of that really worth a sweater?”
As you see there’s a lot of aspects of animals slaughter which seems humane from the outside, but if you do your research you will see, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
I highly recommend Emily’s Youtube Channel, I link a couple of here videos in the subject at the end of the post.
*Please note that the videos show disturbing footages
Is it expensive to buy vegan clothing?
Yes and no. It depends. In my opinion, one of the best material is cotton. There’s a lot of clothing items which are made from cotton, so if you are not sure what is vegan, you can always choose cotton as a safety option. It is also easy to replace leather with faux leather, which in some cases can be cheaper (you just need to double check, because for example for shoes they often use glues which are not vegan). I think it is also relatively easy to find faux fur, or buy winter coats without fur. These things are usually not expensive, but of course it depends on where you buy your clothes.
If you want to buy clothes which are not only vegan, but also eco-friendly and sustainable, it can be a bit more pricey. I would say it is a good idea to consider these facts too, but I also totally understand, that this is not for everyone’s budget. So please don’t feel guilty if you can only afford cheaper clothing, because at the end of the day veganism is about the effort that you want to cause less harm, so every tiny steps you can take is important!
Another budget friendly idea is to shop second hand. I’m sure there are charity shops, thrift stores or other second hand stores almost everywhere, so check them. There are also apps, where you can buy second had. (I honestly don’t use apps like this, so I can’t recommend anything)
I still have non-vegan items, should I waste them?
I made a whole video about using leather boots as a vegan. I personally think that if you have non-vegan items, you don’t have to waste them just because your changed your lifestyle. I have a couple of footwear which are not vegan. I bought them several years ago and they are still in a good condition, so I decided to use them as long as I can. But of course, if you’re not comfortable using these things, it is always a good idea to donate them (but please be mindful, instead of wasting them find a new home for them).
I started my eco-friendly and sustainable clothing brand, called Green Rebel. I design tops, t-shirts, sweatshirts and tote bags. They are made from 100% organic cotton in a renewable energy powered factory.
Check them out if you wanna see my designs (if not, that’s cool too!)
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I hope this post helps you a bit navigating in the world of vegan clothing.