I have always been convinced that being vegetarian meant not putting meat in your mouth, and that vegans were those skinny individuals who, other than not eating meat, also refused dairy and eggs. Well… it turns out that I couldn’t have been more wrong!
The other day, my friend (gone vegan) laughed sarcastically to me: “You know, I may not be vegan at all.” Then he texted me links to some articles he wanted me to read. A few minutes, and I understood what he meant: if anything, it was his diet to be plant-based, but te remaining part of his existence was not at all. I spent some time screening his everyday life and listed some of his failures, his garment being the most obvious one.
He works for an organization that imposes quite a strict dress code. No wonder his wardrobe is full of wool suits, leather belts, silk ties and leather dress shoes. He spends most of his professional life wearing stuff that is extremely formal and almost entirely animal-sourced. He says that he’s sure that some people he’s known for years wouldn’t recognize him wearing a cotton t-shirt, jeans and sneakers.
Leather is pretty much obvious, given that you can’t get any without killing an animal. Fortunately, synthetic dress shoes and belts are easily available (although good quality ones always have a high price tag). Wool, though? Wool farms are told to be as abusive with sheep as dairy farmers are with cows. I’m not sure whether he’s ironic or genuinely uncomfortable as he declares: “In my business one can get away with being completely clueless, as long as they’ve got a well-tailored suit. Cotton and linen are fine only in the summertime. Polyester and rayon…? Just visit any men’s store and they will ask you if you want to look cheap or choose wool.” His wife adds that she can’t really understand why some really good designers have no trouble experimenting with high-quality synthetic fabrics in the female fashion while the suiting industry remains so conservative. She has a point. Finally, his silk ties. Yes, those tiny little silkworms are living creatures too! Luckily, he likes the rough texture of linen and cotton so he says, he would be ready to switch.
At this point you have read about 300 words on a problem that may seem completely pointless to you. Still, it’s a pretty damn real one for my friend, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Come back for part two of this post to read more on how much animal-based products are implicated in the everyday life of any regular person.