Why Not Wool?
Veganism isn't just about food, which often confounds people first learning about this perspective on life. People who wish to avoid animal products aren't just talking about the stuff they eat, but everything. And though most people understand and get the problem with leather or fur, wool still usually gets weird looks. Why not wool?
Since the sheep aren't hurt by shearing, and generally need to be sheared as their fleece gets bulky, some people automatically see this as being harmless. I'm not sure why since taking a chicken's eggs is just as harmless to the bird, yet its not hard to grasp that chickens are abused and mistreated in the egg industry. The same situation applies to sheep and wool. Maybe it's harder to see because it's not food. I don't know.
|Lambs are super-cute and deserve as much concern as any other animals.|
Blurry because taking barnyard photos is hard. Sorry.
His name is Puddles.
Sheep are not treated well in the wool industry, from brutally rough treatment and poor living conditions, to sliced up skin during the shearing process. I won't go into detail but you get the picture. It's not pleasant. And so, vegans do not use wool products.
This can be a debate among vegans, whether or not its acceptable to buy or wear used items made with wool. Some people say that it is fine because you are not really supporting the wool industry this way and no additional animals are harmed by you buying that used wool sweater. On the other hand, some people feel that it continues the idea that wearing animal products is fine. Or if it just creeps you out that an animal suffered for your clothes, just avoid it altogether.
I personally think it's acceptable to go with second hand since it's not contributing to the industry at all. I don't really see that the average person is going to walk past you and suddenly feel that wool is awesome because of your sweater, providing they can even tell what's its made from at a distance. That said, I don't like wool to begin because of the texture so I don't buy it one way or another.
People are trying to get away from synthetic fibers these days because they are not great for the environment (many shed tiny micro fibers that are becoming an issue in waterways). Cotton, bamboo, linen and hemp are all some great materials for clothing or other products you can try instead. But if you have to use synthetics, at least you're not contributing to a cruel animal-based industry.
It's not just clothing either. Wool is often used in upholstery, footwear and bedding products too. Check on labels before you buy, just to be sure. And its not only sheep's wool that is an issue. Alpaca and cashmere have similar concerns, though technically cashmere is combed out of the coats of rabbits or goats rather than sheared. The same basic problems about animal treatment still apply though.
While it may not be as big a part of your life as your dietary choices, it's part of being vegan that you are aware of the consequences of your decisions, whether they are food or not.