Veganism is becoming mainstreamed in today’s society. With vegan alternatives taking up whole shelves in supermarkets and plant-based eating being endorsed by big food companies. It is safe to say going vegan is now easier than ever.
But it is often forgotten that veganism stretches beyond just eating habits. It is important for most vegans to be ethical in all relationships with animals. Vegans fight for animal rights and believe that humans shouldn’t use animals at any level. Which is why more and more fashion companies are switching to vegan alternatives in their production. But why is it that people outside of the vegan community feel no responsibility to shop vegan products?
What Is Vegan Fashion?
Fashion can be called vegan when it is made from alternatives to animal-based material and is cruelty free. There are many certification labels that guarantee cruelty free fashion, like PETA and VeganOK or look out for the Vegan Society trademark.
Vegan fashion is normally made from bio-based materials that are natural, biodegradable or reused. There is a range of alternatives used to replace materials with animal origins like organic cotton, linen or Piñatex.
Do It For The Animals
Cruelty against animals is often associated with the food industry, but is often ignored in relation to fashion and cosmetics. But the fashion industries relationship with animals is just as damaging as food and eating-habits. It is easy to forget because it is rarely addressed when we are buying leather boots or fur jackets.
Every year billions of animals suffer and die for our clothing and accessory wants and needs. Animals are trapped, beaten and slaughtered for their skin, wool and feathers. Research into live stock within the fashion industry has “repeatedly exposed widespread and relentless abuse of animals”.
So why do brands still use animal-derived products in clothing? Well leather goods have fuelled the expansion of many luxury brands, being described as “the material of the moment”. Wearing animal skins still seems to be a way to earn fashion credibility. But 20 million cows are killed each year and with the growth of the global middle class comes a growth in consumption of high-end fashion and more animals being killed.
Do It For The Planet
Animal abuse is the main and obvious reason for ditching animal-derived materials. But we also need to consider the environmental impact this fashion is having.
Leather, silk, wool and conventionally grown cotton are the most environmentally damaging materials produced by the fashion industry. Animal agriculture is responsible for 14-18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Not to mention the huge amounts of waste created. It was found that for workers producing animal-derived products “an estimated 90% will die before the age of 50” because of the exposure to harmful chemicals in the production process.
Forests play a vital role in stabilising the world’s climate. Yet deforestation is being driven by the cattle-farming sector. Being responsible “for about 80% of all deforestation”.
So Why Should We All Shop Vegan?
Fashion that isn’t consumer conscious can have negative impacts on the lives of others. This is so clear when looking at high-end fashion. Where materials like, leather, silk and fur come at a high cost, not just for your bank account but also for the planet.
Vegan fashion is all about innovation, however it is important to remember that shopping vegan or following a plant-based diet is not just a trend. Whilst Stella McCartney is producing her own vegetarian leather from recycled polyester is an exciting step for mainstream brands, we shouldn’t ignore small vegan businesses that have been apart of this scene for years before veganism became ‘popular’.
t’s only recently that veganism and vegan alternatives have been taken seriously in their attempts to “makeover the fashion industry”. It is more important than ever to have a better understanding on the production of clothing. We need to be more educated on ethics and sustainability.
The Need For Change
We are growing more aware of the impact consumerism has on the environment as well the need to gain a better relationship between humans and animals. But in practise not everyone is changing his or her shopping habits.
As a collective we need to change consumption practises in order to remove demand and drive change. The movement towards vegan fashion shouldn’t start and end with the vegan community. With more and more companies creating vegan fashion it is easier than ever to be more conscious in our buying.