It is hard to avoid the use of animals in everyday life, from plastic bags to car seats, animals are used all over the place. We put a poll on Facebook, asking vegans if they still wear animal products, clothing made out of materials like wool or leather. The options were:
I still wear the leather/suede/silk... that I own but I don't buy any more
I don't wear animal products at all
I buy leather, etc. I have no problem with it
The industry of getting materials from animals is cruel, but this isn't widely known. Animal products are included in so many everyday items and it is hard to avoid them. Especially when friends and family buy gifts that include wool, silk and other animals based materials. For some people it isn't realistic to remove all of these items, by selling them, giving them away or throwing them out.
"I couldn’t afford to get rid of all of my things straight away but I have gotten rid of almost everything now. Just a few things left. I own a couple of wool items that were knitted for me by my mum and i just cant part with them. But everything I buy now is vegan and cruelty free. There are so many options these days i dont really find myself wanting for anything"
The majority of people, 56%, still wear their animal based fabrics, they don't buy them anymore, but they will use what they have. It can be hard to turn your back on all animal products when you first go vegan. This could mean giving away your favourite jacket, a scarf knitted by your Nan, it's not as easy as bagging it all up and giving it to charity. Then there's the expense, to replace everything that you need could be pricey. If you previously only bought leather shoes you will find that having to buy new shoes, even if you buy second hand, would cost a lot of money. There is also waste to consider, what if your leather shoes are fine when you're wearing them, but they look a bit mangled when you take them off? How would they look on the shelf of a charity shop? Would they photograph well for an online auction? Probably not. This would mean throwing the shoes away, more waste, nobody benefits. It may be better to wear the shoes until they fall apart and then replace them with a vegan alternative.
"I still wear a leather bike jacket for protection but I don't like it and will get rid when I can afford a good quality fibre replacement."
40% of people don't wear animal fabrics at all, they gave them away or sold them, with a few people saying that they didn't want any money from them, they just wanted them gone. It can be hard to wear old clothing when you turn vegan and see things in a new light. Those feather earrings that you used to love wearing in the summer were pulled out of a bird, a live bird. Those trainers with the leather trim that were so comfortable are now a cow that went to the slaughterhouse. When you go vegan it can be impossible to separate the item from the suffering caused to make it. This can mean that giving items away is the best solution for you. Charity shops can take those items and turn them into money which is used to help those in need. Makeup and other beauty products can be given to womens' and homeless charities, a lot of things can be used to help others.
"I find it difficult to connect with something that has already been turned into a product so wearing leather shoes isn't a problem for me even though I understand that they've been part of an animal. I know the process of production from living being to skinning to tanning to sewing and finally the shop shelf and purchase. Having said that I will never buy leather unless it's second-hand. As someone who deeply cares about the environment I would rather the leather didn't end up in landfill where it'll decay and release methane."
"I gave away all of my makeup, perfume, and toiletries that were not cruelty free when I turned vegan, I found the transition actually helped me get out of that ‘consumer’ mindset because I replaced them with cruelty free, vegan alternatives and now have only what I need and not a ridiculously overpriced collection from brands that are always encouraging you to buy more. I didn’t want to bin them because I think to create more waste is worse than giving them to someone who will use them. I’ve also given away my leather handbags and only shop secondhand but not for any items derived from animals. Household items such as washing liquid, cleaners, etc, I used up prior to replacing with cruelty free, sustainable alternatives. I found shopping around for those quite challenging what with all of the green washing but have found Peace With The Wild to be massively helpful."
The poll did show that 0.1% of responders continue to buy and wear animal fabrics, that they have no problem with these items. It is a common misunderstanding that sheep need to be sheared, that using leather prevents waste, birds shed feathers anyway. This isn't the case. Sheep are bred to grow huge and unnatural amounts of wool. Producing leather is not a natural part of a cow's lifecycle and feathers are collected by live plucking, not collecting feathers that the birds have left behind.
"Why don’t most of you wear wool?
It’s not a dead animal? It’s a sheep that has been sheered because it needs to be sheered otherwise it will be a big heavy ball?"
The animals don't want us to be wearing their skin, fur, wool, scales or feathers and they really don't need us to wear them either. We don't grow our skin for someone else, we don't grow our hair to make a jumper that we'll never see. If you feel okay wearing these things then you go ahead, but there are plenty of animal free alternatives and not all of them involve man-made materials.