Once upon a time I never would have considered there was an ethical decision to be made when selecting swaddling for my tootsies. But as a vegan, even a purchase as simple as socks needs to be done consciously. It’s not difficult to be a conscious consumer though — in fact it’s empowering. With just a little tap-tapping on your keyboard it is easy to research how the things you eat, wear and use are made. And once you have this knowledge you get to vote for companies producing goods that align with your values with every dollar you spend.
For those veg-curious popping in (hello there, you’re lookin’ well) the vegan philosophy extends beyond diet. Once I decided to become a vegan I had to re-evaluate all the products that I use in my life and whether or not they came to me as a result of the enslavement of animals. Now I know that word is a little extreme —enslavement — but don’t bolt. If you think about it, it’s spot on. It’s an accurate way to define what is happening in animal-related industries. Animals are kept under our will and made to work to produce whatever product us humans are after. Now, I understand that it is difficult for some people to see it that way. Animals are viewed as cogs in the machinery — and that machinery’s purpose it to make money. And that is the way it has been for a very, very long time, so expecting people to change their perceptions overnight is unrealistic. But I see it a little differently. I see animals as persons. And so, when faced with a decision to purchase from an industry that makes life very uncomfortable for these persons — I choose not to. So I no longer buy wool.
I promise I’m not writing to you from a soapbox. I know that will send the veg-curious among you packing as quick as you can scream, “she’s a preaching vegan, run for your life!” But I will explain my decisions as I’ve found a lack of understanding can change people’s perceptions of the vegan lifestyle unnecessarily for the worst. And if you want to find out a little more about some of the problems with the wool industry then you can click here and here. Go on, no one’s watching.
If you are a hiker, a shift worker or your house has terrible heating, plain ol’ cotton socks just aren’t going to cut it. So if you are looking for a pair of animal-free socks that are thick enough to keep your tootsies warm and your feet cushioned, there are some great wool-alternatives out there.
My favourite are bamboo socks as they are fully sustainable, produced without the use of chemicals and have anti-bacterial properties so they help your feet not to stink. They are more expensive at 14 bucks a pair but they are animal and environmentally friendly so they get two thumbs, erm, big toes up from me!
Hemp socks are also another great, sustainable option. And if you’re a cruelty-free rambler like me and you’re looking for something special to protect your paws while exploring the great outdoors, Jess over at Vegan Outdoor Adventures has put together a great list for hikers. Check it out here.
What are your favourite wool alternatives?
Emma Bailie is a freelance journalist, vegan blogger and travel-memoir writer. She is passionate about animal rights, social justice and the inner peace that can be found when dining on the tragically misrepresented potato. She has to read magazines back to front but she doesn’t quite know why. She prefers her hot chips cold but that’s just between you and her, okay?