Around 3% of the world’s population is composed of vegans while 5% are vegetarians. The figure is expected to grow as more of the population acknowledge the benefits of veganism from healthier lifestyles to taking a stand against animal cruelty. Veganism goes beyond eating plant-based foods though because it also about a cruelty-free lifestyle abstaining from wearing clothing, shoes, and accessories made from animals or their by-products. Fortunately, there are many choices when it comes to advocating ethical vegan fashion.
Choosing Vegan Clothing
Veganism is not a passing fad nor is it a crash diet. It’s all about a lifestyle choice to protect creatures against all forms of cruel practices by avoiding animal products. Some may choose to convert because of health needs while others do so to avoid contributing to the abuse of farm animals. While the first step towards promoting better animal welfare is to eat only vegan food, another way is to ditch fashion that is non-vegan.
But, how do you choose vegan clothes? The simple answer would be to purchase garments that are made without animal products. Goods such as leather or a fur coat are easy to see, but others are difficult to spot. Hence, the first step is to read labels before buying garments. The Textile and Wool Acts require that labels contain pertinent information, namely: fiber content, country of origin, and manufacturer to inform the consumer. Federal labeling requirements for textile and wool products are enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ensure that these laws are followed.
In general, natural fabrics make great clothing materials. They are breathable, kind to the skin, and are comfortable to wear. For vegans, natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, hemp, ramie, and flax are suitable as they are not sourced from animals. Wool and silk, on the other hand, are obtained from animals and silkworms. Synthetic fibers are also appropriate to wear for vegans. Viscose, polyester, nylon, rayon, acrylic, and spandex are man-made fibers that are made into clothes and accessories. They can be mixed with natural fibers to produce clothing.
Alternatives to Animal-Based Materials
Being vegan does not mean that you ditch your fashion style forever. The good news is there are many alternatives to animal-based materials. If you appreciate silk, go with viscose, a type of rayon fiber that can imitate natural cotton, silk, or linen. Nylon, milkweed-pod fibers, polyester, and ceiba tree filaments are other alternatives. They are easy to find and are usually less expensive than silk.
Love your leather belts? Look for ‘vegan leather’ tags. They are made of different materials such as recycled nylon, polyurethane (PU), and some plants. An alternative to wool is tencel or Lyocell made from wood cellulose. Hemp and soybean fiber look great on sweaters, cardigans, and other knitwear. Major brands already offer wool-free coats or cruelty-free sweaters. Moreover, innovative fashion designers are teaming up with manufacturers to produce high-quality cruelty-free materials. Vegan fabrics created from cotton, recycled polyester (rPET), and twill are efficient possessing wicking properties and are better for the environment than wool, angora, or fur.
Today’s fashion conscious consumers have enormous choices and being vegan does not prevent anyone from wearing trendy outfits and accessories because there are cruelty-free options that are available out there. In the future, material innovations will only get better giving vegans a vast range of alternatives.