Whether it has something to do with the environment, personal health issues, ethical beliefs, or a sincere desire to stop animal cruelty, we all have our reasons for becoming vegan.
However, I feel compelled to remind you all that being vegan is more than removing animal products from your diet. Veganism also encapsulates the complete elimination of ‘animal-based’ materials, such as skins, furs, feathers and so on, from all your fashion choices.
It is about ending the killing of animals for their skins, the cease of poisoning animals in laboratory tests under the excuse of manufacturing apparel, accessories, shoes, makeups, creams, and even adhesives.
Veganism is not just about your diet. It is about everything that relates to animals and their welfare. It is about the end of animal cruelty, in any shape or form and you might hate me for this statement but, if you only care that no animal products ‘poison’ your diet, you’re not vegan but just someone on a plant-based diet.
Nowadays, the number of self-proclaimed vegans is on the rise. Boasting on social media that animals and the environment are at the very top of their priority list, they’ve become ‘vegans’ to protect the planet and all life forms on it.
Or so they say…
But let me ask you, now that you’ve had your vegan dinner: ‘How vegan did you feel while paying for your vegetables with money you took out of your Olimpia Bottega Veneta bag made from Nappa leather…?!
Like it or not, you don’t really care about animals if you continue to wear them, no matter what excuse you might come up with. By continuing to wear animals you’re sending a signal to your family, friends, colleagues that it is ok to do so, no matter how well-intentioned you might be.
Can you imagine how hypocritical you look while preaching veganism to your children while wearing your leather jacket?
The same applies to fashion brands. A brand does not suddenly become vegan just because it has launched a new pair of shoes made from vegan materials.
Granted, the vegan fashion landscape is unnecessarily complex. Plagued by confusion, greenwashing, and false advertising, it is hard to know what and who to trust.
Even PETA, (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation) a charity dedicated to establishing and protecting the rights of all animals, is not immune to this problem.
Vegan fashion, according to PETA, comprises clothes, shoes, and accessories that contain no leather, fur, wool, skin, exotic skins or any other animal-derived materials.
PETA logo is an attempt at labelling ‘compassionate’ businesses while helping ethical consumers shop with confidence, safe knowing they’re not supporting animals cruelty and exploitation.
Therefore, all fashion brands owning the “PETA-Approved Vegan” logo must be 100 per cent vegan in their offering. But, that’s not always the case…
The most common mistake most fashion buyers make is the conclusion that “if a brand has a vegan product in their offering, then the entire brand can be defined as vegan.’
But I wonder, how vegan is a fashion brand that manufactures on the same production line, with the same tools and machinery, vegan shoes on Monday and trainers from dead animals the day after?
False advertising and greenwashing might work for some fashion brands now when consumers are still confused. Sales might go up for a short while, but in the long run, customers will punish you; you’re cheating them, derailing their attempts to showcase the cruelty-free value they believe in and stand for.
Here are some popular brands that are mixing – whether intentionally or unintentionally – products made from vegan-friendly materials with animal-based products, using the ‘cruelty-free’ label in their attempt to ride the vegan hype:
Famous for their ‘vegan-friendly’ footwear, Veja has almost achieved the status of ‘must have’ brand of trainers, for vegans from all over the world. The French label is also known for substantial investments aimed at improving the welfare of people that work in their manufacturing units.
The brand has expanded fast across the globe in the last three years, including the United States and the UK, with a strong online presence in the shoes and trainers market.
However, despite the ‘vegan’ image the brand has managed to construct, not all products are vegan. Veja makes both, animal and vegan products on the same production line, so how vegan is Veja to you?
Mark and Spencers’s advertising page for vegan footwear reads: “these vegan shoes and boots have been lovingly crafted from animal-friendly materials so that you can step out in style with a clear conscience. Step out in style with a clear conscience?
How clear is your conscience M&S, knowing that you’re also selling leather shoes boldly advertised on your website as “made from real leather for that unmistakable quality feel and a durable finish”?
How clear is your conscience, knowing your vegan shoes are manufactured in the same factories where animals were slaughtered for their skins and their meat?
Freewaters is an American brand with outlets in the UK, popular for its casual shoes and trainers. Just like Veja, the brand uses profits to fund worldwide projects involved in providing clean drinking water to isolated communities.
Thankfully, to date, Freewaters has financed over 80 related projects in the Philippines, Kenya and Haiti. However, while most of Freewaters sandals and trainers are vegan, the brand also manufactures footwear from animal skins.
So Freewaters, where is the spirit of ‘veganism’ when are you when you give water with one hand and take blood with the other?
Dr Martens is an English footwear and clothing brand, headquartered in Wollaston in Wellingborough. The brand was quick at embarking on the ‘veganism’ trend seeking to capitalise on the fast-growing demand of animal-free products by launching a new line of vegan shoes.
To reinforce the offering, the company’s latest marketing campaign states: “Dr Martens understands that the vegan lifestyle is a conscious choice not to be compromised.”
Let me tell you Dr Martens; the vegan lifestyle has at its core the fundamental concept of cruelty-free. So if I may ask, from all your products, how many of them are cruelty-free?