How much damage are non-vegan materials doing to our planet? - culthread

How much damage are non-vegan materials doing to our planet?

In this week's blog, Jace explores vegan fashion and whether it's a sustainable solution to the world's climate change or just another fad.


The number of vegans in Great Britain quadrupled from 150,000 in 2014 to 600,000 people in 2019(1). There are many reasons people turn to a vegan lifestyle; better health, animal welfare and eco-consciousness are some reasons to name a few, but the most interesting reason is the belief that it is the single biggest way to reduce our impact on the planet.

Now we’re not just talking about food, vegan fashion has a part to play in this too. Clothing becomes vegan when no animal by-products are used to make it. The fashion industry has long relied on animal-derived materials such as leather, wool, cashmere, and silk, but the impact that these materials have on our planet is shocking, and definitely not discussed enough.

Without animal farming, animal-derived textiles wouldn't exist, so we must consider the impact on air, water, deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions in the supply chain.

With a background in textile manufacturing, our founder Rina has always been aware of how animal-derived materials affect our planet, so using 100% vegan fabrics has been one of our core values from the very beginning.

We’ve done a deep dive into those effects for you, if you’re ready for some harsh truths, keep reading.


Planet Impact 1: Deforestation 

Agricultural production drives nearly 90% of global deforestation and the animal industry is responsible for almost 40% of this(2). Huge areas of forests or jungles are burned or cleared to make space to keep up with the demands of farming animals for materials like wool, leather or cashmere.

With the increase of deforestation, entire critical ecosystems and habitats are lost causing alarming rates of species extinction. Sadly, a staggering 50,000 species become extinct each year(3). 

Planet Impact 2: Greenhouse Gases And Air Pollution

Livestock and animal feed are also responsible for approximately 60% of direct global greenhouse gas emissions (4). About half of the emissions are direct emissions, mostly methane and nitrous oxide from farming practices, the animals themselves and their manure. The other half are emissions linked to land use and land-use changes (such as clearing of forests), and CO2 emissions from pre- and post-production sectors (transport of food, food processing, food waste, etc(5). That’s roughly equivalent to the combined global transportation sector. The rise in production and intensification of greenhouse emissions speeds up global warming overall.

Agricultural air pollution comes mainly from heavily fertilised fields and livestock waste. It then combines with pollutants from combustion creating solid particles or aerosols that can cause respiratory problems.

Planet Impact 3: Water Pollution

Farming fertilizers and soil management affect water quality by frequently discharging large quantities of agrochemicals, organic matter, drug residues, sediments and saline drainage into water bodies. This causes the depletion of oxygen in the water and high levels of contamination which harms aquatic ecosystems as well as us humans.

Currently, agriculture accounts (on average) for 70% of all freshwater withdrawals globally (and an even higher share of “consumptive water use” due to the evapotranspiration of crops(6). Intensive groundwater pumping for irrigation depletes aquifers and can lead to negative environmental externalities.

So far… not so good

The Pulse of the Fashion Industry report released last year by the nonprofit Global Fashion Agenda and The Boston Consulting Group found that three of the four most environmentally damaging materials are derived from animals: leather, silk, wool and cotton.

When looking purely at the greenhouse gas emissions of animal-based materials compared to their vegan alternatives, we can clearly see that buying non animal-derived materials is much healthier for our planet, and of course for the animals.

We’re thrilled to have found and worked with so many truly amazing vegan materials, such as lab-grown leather, mycelium (mushroom) leather, pineapple leaf leather, soy-based cashmere, recycled plastic bottles and wool made from seaweed and hemp.

Many more fabrics are being pioneered so we can work towards a no-animal cruelty future. We’re proud to use 100% vegan materials, most of which are also recycled.


  1. The Food & You surveys, Ipsos Mori, organised by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the National Centre for Social Science Research (Natcen).
  2. COP26: Agricultural expansion drives almost 90 percent of global deforestation -
  3. 10 Shocking Statistics About Deforestation -,species%20become%20extinct%20each%20year
  4. Agribusiness & Deforestation -
  5. Farming for Failure -
  6. Water in agriculture -

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