A vegan lifestyle is not limited to the food we eat, but also the clothes we wear. You've probably heard of animal-friendly fashion and vegan clothing – but what does that mean?
For clothing to be classified as vegan, it is required that the clothing is made of materials completely without animal origin. This applies both to the fabric itself and to the chemicals used in manufacturing the fabric. A lot of animal substances are used in chemicals, which is something animal rights organization PETA checks before they can be approved.
Common non-vegan materials are leather, wool, down, and silk. Some also believe that synthetic materials, such as polyester, should be on the list because it contains microplastics that with time releases into the air and harms the animals' habitat.
How do I know if a garment is vegan?
Considering the above-mentioned animal substances in chemicals, it is not entirely easy to determine whether a garment is 100% animal-friendly or not. A good start is to check the material label. The contents of the garment are listed there and you should be able to determine fairly quickly whether the clothes contain non-vegan materials, such as leather, wool, and down. Another step might be to look for the PETA certification.
Look for PETA
The animal rights organization PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, works for the rights of animals, above all in these four areas: in laboratories, in the food industry, in the clothing trade, and the entertainment industry. A piece of clothing with the PETA certification is a guarantee that the clothing is completely free of animal origin and that no animals have been harmed/exploited/participated in (for example via animal testing) any phase of the production. Buying PETA-certified clothing is thus an easy way to contribute to more animal-friendly consumption.
Recycled & artificial materials
There are many ways to create a more animal-friendly wardrobe (besides looking for the PETA symbol), including buying clothing made from recycled materials, such as recycled wool, or artificial materials, such as faux leather.
Buying clothes made from recycled wool means that the wool is made from fabric scraps from factories (pre-consumer) or old textiles (post-consumer). In this way, no virgin wool is used and no animals are harmed during the manufacturing process.
Theoretically speaking, synthetic leather mainly comes in two varieties; synthetic and vegan leather. In practice and from a factory perspective, these two are the same thing, provided no animal substances are used in the production. It is also worth remembering that many companies use the term 'vegan leather' to describe synthetic leather because it sounds better. It is a form of greenwashing.
In trying to distinguish these two somewhat, synthetic leather is often made of polyurethane - a plastic material whose manufacturing process requires large amounts of chemicals that are harmful to both people and nature. It is therefore not a good alternative from an environmental perspective. Vegan leather can be both made from polyurethane or natural and plant-based components such as fruit and plants (for example spills, residues, and leaves from different types of plantations). The latter is a better choice in terms of impact on animals and nature but is still relatively uncommon and expensive.