Many more people are considering the vegan lifestyle than ever before. There’s a whole range of reasons for behind this decision—it’s often less expensive, better for the environment, healthier, more socially aware more ethical and cruelty-free among other reasons. What might come as a surprise though there is more to being a vegan or committing to a cruelty-free lifestyle than just changing one’s diet. For one, there’s are all sorts of dilemmas and challenges facing vegans out in the marketplace. From leather seats that come standard in a new car model to finding bath and body products not tested on animals, there are pitfalls for those attempting the vegan lifestyle around every corner.
One such pitfall is in the world of fashion. Fashionistas switching to the vegan lifestyle are often in for a rude awakening when trying to reconciling their love of fashion with their new lifestyle decision. Some changes are obvious—fur is out for one—but others are less obvious. Lots of designer shoes and bags are made with leather, which is obviously also not part of a cruelty-free lifestyles. That silk blouse isn’t necessarily considered cruelty-free and neither is that wool scarf. Down and other feathers are also not part of the vegan wardrobe.
But what are the alternatives and how to tell the difference between the materials when shopping? PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has a Compassionate Shopping Guide that is actually a great place to start for explanations of why various materials aren’t considered cruelty-free and where to shop to find alternatives. Shoestring has also shared a list of 10 cruelty-free fashion designers and the High Low shared a list of 5 vegan designers who incorporate their values into their collections.
So that’s all and well and good for style conscious vegans as far as clothing, but what about jewellery? Many fashion jewellery designs are not cruelty-free at all…think about the recent feather earring trend. But what should stylish vegans be on the lookout for?
Mainly, watch out for jewellery designs made with the following components:
Bone, horn, feather, shells, leather, silk, wool, felt, suede, mohair, angora, pearls and some bead dyes (i.e., the dye carmine, one the most popular natural red dyes, is actually made from the cochineal insect).
Don’t worry, there are plenty of alternatives available. The most important thing is to be an informed shopper.
Here are 6 tips on how to incorporate cruelty-free jewellery into your new vegan lifestyle.
- Wear vintage or re-purposed jewellery designs. As long as you aren’t contributing to the current demand for animal products, I see no reason to not wear a vintage silk-strung pearl necklace.
- Look for jewellery designs with made with alternatives to leather, silk and wool, etc. Faux leather, cotton and other natural fibres, synthetic yarn and felt, fake pearls and synthetic dyed beads are among the alternatives. Additionally, other natural elements like wood and stone are an alternative to horn, bone and shells.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Whether shopping online or in-person, if the components of a jewellery piece aren’t easily identifiable and there’s no label, do not hesitate to ask for more information.
- Don’t be as impulsive when shopping. Redefine your definitions of need and want to be more in line with your vegan values.
- Find a handful of shops that are your go-to spots for cruelty-free designs. Don’t wait until the last minute before that big wedding to find a pair of earrings to go with that dress.
- Use social networking sites (like Twitter, Pinterest and Polyvore) and online shopping sites like Etsy to find cruelty-free jewellery designs.