Vegan clothing is a market that is particularly illustrative of the social responsibility inherent to Veganism. The use of water-based and cruelty-free dyes help support a cleaner and more humane supply chain. Vegan t-shirts offer consumers a much-needed option to extend their animal-free lifestyle beyond the kitchen. While the Vegan clothing market may seem super-niche to many, it has been a rapidly-growing sector in recent years and looks to only be moving upward.
Vegan vs. Vegetarian
While Vegetarians refrain from eating animals, Veganism involves the abstinence of cheese, milk, leather, and any other product that has animal-derived ingredients. This includes a wide range of products not just confined to edible goods, often encompassing little-known ingredient nuances.
People may choose a vegan lifestyle for any number of reasons ranging from environmental and ethical to solely health-based. Companies such as Everything Vegan have found tremendous success by offering consumers non-traditional vegan options—such as Vegan-friendly clothing. These types of products do well to illustrate how Veganism is much more about lifestyle choices than simple dietary preference.
Animal Products Everywhere
Veganism can arguably be considered as much about ethical and environmental issues than it is about food. It goes beyond the bounds of what you eat and focuses on the entire supply chain of the products and services you use. If you are opting to go Vegan, you’ll need to do your homework. If you rely solely on common sense and intuition, you’ll likely still be exposed to animal derivatives.
Many products that don’t at first seem common suspects of animal by-products are, in fact, loaded with them. In addition to obscure animal ingredients, it’s also responsible Veganism to consider how the products were made. For example, the cosmetic industry is notorious for using cruel animal testing practices in their product development. While this might not always result in animal ingredients in their products, these companies still result in the killing of many creatures. Below are some non-Vegan ingredients and products that you might not spot at first sight:
Beer is made from hops and other yeasty ingredients, right? Sure there are some Brands out there that probably put beef jerky in for shock value—but as a general rule, one might assume beer is free of any animal ingredients. Isinglass is a compound taken from fish bladders which are used to help clump together stray clumps of yeast during the filtering of many wines and beers. Not all beers use methods like this, and there are many Vegan-friendly beers on the market. Check out PETA’s full lineup of Vegan-friendly beers.
Among the many animal ingredients used in cosmetics, one particularly odd one is Castoreum. This compound is derived from scent glands located close to the anal tissue of beavers. It has been used since antiquity for various purposes and it continues to be used today to add favorable aroma to certain perfumes.
Castoreum is also allowable as a food ingredient and can be listed as ‘natural flavoring’ and still be within legal FDA guidelines (R). Bustle has a good lineup of cruelty-free perfumes that should help adhere to any Vegan’s standards. In addition to the animal ingredients, many cosmetics are first tested on animals that—in the best cases—confine those animals to a life of caged living.
Nothing can ruin a Vegan’s day like telling them their favorite T-Shirt was printed with ink that has been tested on animals or sourced from the shells of 100,000 beetles. You can do so many things right when adhering to Vegan lifestyle choices and still be blindsided by new facts such as these. Many poorly-understood practices are used in order to produce synthetic dyes common to most shirts.
These dyes are often tested on animals as well, often in very cruel ways. There are some half-measures to reduce animal deaths, such as the enucleated eye test (EET) which only uses eyes from previously-slaughtered animals (R). This saves live animal testing, but still acts as a system supportive (and dependent on) the butchering of animals.
Commitment to Cruelty-Free
There are a lot of budding Vegan markets out there, though Vegan clothing displays a particular interest to us. It’s one thing to avoid things like wool, down, and leather—but not always such an easy feat when getting simple items like t-shirts. To fully ensure a shirt is produced completely through Vegan-accepted means, you have to audit the entire supply chain.
This includes the chemicals used during the processing, the dyes used during the artwork application, and even the labels. If you’re truly committed to supporting the Vegan culture, you’ve really got to be prepared to do your homework. Cruelty-free clothing may seem like a flavor-of-the-week option to those non-Vegan readers but Vegan clothing is as much a staple as food to those totally committed to the lifestyle.
Dyes are notoriously harmful compounds and often represent the very worse of the commercial industry. These products often contain toxins dangerous to health, are produced in environmentally-damaging manners, and often tested on animals. One of the most-overlooked dye industries is that of artificial food coloring, which harbors some truly inhumane testing practices. As noted by YourDailyVegan; this often involves testing on pregnant animals, and performing c-sections to remove the still-developing fetuses to gauge potential impact.
Killing for the sake of killing. To help avoid as many of the dangers as possible, Everything Vegan relies on organic, water-based dyes for their products. These unique types of dyes allow for the use of safer ingredients, less environmentally damaging dye processes, and a truly unique feeling dye. Water-based dyes soak into clothing rather than sitting on top. This allows for a softer, more natural feeling shirt that is also softer on the environment.
Veganism isn’t for everyone. As with every lifestyle movement, there are those that only hitch themselves to the bandwagon to be ‘cool’. These are the types that will buy anything with ‘Vegan’ written on it. For those committing to a more inclusive lifestyle—due diligence is one of the biggest aspects of Veganism. Beers can contain animal products, foods almost always do, and even the most natural clothing materials in the world still rely on animal testing sometimes. It’s a minefield, and it’s no hat trick to get tripped up. Vegan clothing brands like Everything Vegan are great examples of socially and environmentally conscious companies helping to make things simpler. By paying close attention to these types of brands, you can help ensure that your efforts to remain cruelty free aren’t in vain.