At the very beginning of the eight-fold path of yoga stand the Five Yamas. The Yamas deal with ethics, integrity and with practicing Yoga off the mat. The Yamas help us to live a conscious, honest and ethical life. Often these guidelines and especially the first of the five Yamas, Ahimsa (the practice of non-violence), lead us to vegetarianism or veganism. But I wonder, why stop with the food? Eating vegan is great, wearing vegan even greater!
Every now and then outrageous voices surrouding ethical issues in the fashion industry become loud when tragedies such as the Rana Plaza Collapse from 2013 causes the death of more than 1100 bengali workers. But what happens after all the media attention? The wrongdoings in the fashion industry do not stop, not until we take action and be conscious about what we buy. Luckily, we are facing a changing consumer base. One that is more conscious and educated about terrible working conditions and the suffering not just of the workers but also animals. Whether it is fur, silk or this lovely leather handbag… and oh, these new shoes we need to have!
Of course, we will always face other consumers who find it more easy and comfortable to shut both eyes and ears and keep buying clothes that are convenient and affordable to shop. The task of the conscious consumers and sustainable enterprises approaching these problems is to remind that purchasing these low-cost and unethical clothes comes at a cost – at the cost of workers, our environment, and animals.
… instead of just eating vegan. How do you know what you should look out for when wearing vegan? Lack of transparency and knowledge about used materials is probably the main reason for confusion. As a first and easy-to-follow step, try and avoid the following materials: leather, any kind of animal skin, fur, down, silk, wool, angora.
A more detailed shopping guide on conscious and compassionate clothing can be found on PETA’s website. And as per April 2016 life got a bit easier for fashion lovers, animal lovers and the entire fashion industry: PETA introduced the «PETA Approved Vegan» logo. Click here for more.