Written by Jasmine Howard
We all love to feel like we’re doing our bit for the environment and for some, that means going vegan. However, while we put thought into what we put on our plates, do any of us stop to think about the things we wear?
According to the Vegan Society, the UK launched more vegan products than any other nation in 2018, making it the biggest food trend of that year. And it continues to grow. Down every aisle of the supermarket, you see vegan alternatives. What once was one small shelf in the refrigerated aisle, now has a whole section to itself. It is estimated that the meat-free market in the UK will grow to £658m in 2021, which is a huge increase from 2016.
Vegan cafés are popping up all around the UK, offering wholesome, filling plates at reasonable prices. Gone are the days of restaurants offering one vegan option (If you’re lucky!). Now, vegan food is everywhere. Restaurants often have a separate vegan menu which just proves that they are catering to such a heightened demand.
It is no longer a struggle to be vegan. You no longer feel as though you are “missing out” while your peers eat meat. As a child, I was often bullied for being vegetarian as I was a minority in the year group. The growing number of vegans and vegetarians in schools today means less bullying and more acceptance of those following the vegan lifestyle, which in turn provides a happier working environment.
The beauty industry is the largest contributor to non-food vegan products, owning a whopping 82% of products launched in the UK last year. Fashion brands in the UK have been slightly slower on the uptake, with footwear leading the way. Doc Martens are a brand that has really stomped their way into the vegan market, with their sales increasing 70% due to their new vegan range. With sustainable fashion being the phrase on everyone’s lips, vegans and non-vegans alike are on the hunt for alternatives to the classic leather.
Having grown up in a partially vegan household, and being a vegetarian myself, I am aware of the benefits of living the vegan lifestyle. I always bought leather shoes as I was informed that they provide better support than plastic shoes but felt guilty. I’m not eating the cow, yet I choose to wear it. Does that make me less of a vegetarian?
This time last year, I decided to invest in a pair of vegan Doc Martens as I loved my leather ones and longed to be more sustainable in my fashion. Recently, more and more fashion brands have been adding vegan labels and collections to their stores, making veganism more accessible to everyday people. Even your usual high street brands are jumping on the vegan bandwagon, with stores like New Look collaborating with the Vegan Society to create a collection of vegan shoes and handbags.
Personally, I believe vegan fashion will certainly become more than just a dietary trend and spread further into the fashion industry. With increasing amounts of consumers becoming concerned about sustainable fashion, brands are having to supply this demand and produce cruelty free and vegan lines. What is currently dearer will most likely become more affordable in the future as retailers realise that sustainability shouldn’t be a luxury fashion choice. Places all over the world are enforcing a ban on fur, with California and Slovakia being the most recent to contribute. Artificial furs and leather are the way forward!