Why don't vegans use or buy silk?
Why I was devastated when I found out how my saris had been made
I began following a plant-based lifestyle within about a year of making the shift to a plant-based diet.
I love wearing saris and many of them are made of silk. It's a lovely material which is soft and fragile. But there was a dark side to silk which I had no idea about and I was in tears when I found out.
The process of making silk
Producing silk involves freezing or boiling silkworms whilst they're alive in their cocoons.
If the silkworm was allowed to develop and live, it would turn into a moth and chew its way out of the cocoons to escape. The chewed silk strands would be shorter and less valuable. Thus they are killed to ensure that they get as much silk as they can from each cocoon.
Approximately 15 silkworms are killed to make a gram of silk thread. About 10,000 silkworms are killed to make one sari.
Is there a kinder way to make silk?
Silk can also be made without killing the silkworms. Eri silk or "peace silk" is made from the cocoons of Samia ricini,which is a type of silkworm that spins a cocoon with a tiny opening in the end. Thus enabling them to crawl out of the opening without damaging the strands of silk. However, Eri silk represents a very small portion of the silk market. Thus many vegans find it easier and safer to simply not buy silk products at all.
Ahimsa (non-violence) silk is made from the cocoons of Bombyx mori moths after the moths chew their way out of their cocoons. This means that less of the silk is able to be used but the worm isn't killed. It also represents a very small portion of the silk market.
What's wrong with alternative ways of making silk?
Eri silk and Ahimsa silk are problematic because they involve the domestication, breeding and exploitation of animals. For example, the adult Bombyx mori moths cannot fly because their bodies are too for their wings to carry them and the adult males cannot eat because they have underdeveloped mouth parts. There is a great deal of harm caused to the silkworms that are bred to maximize silk production.
So some of the reasons that vegans won't use silk are because silkworm is either killed, exploited or enslaved in order to produce a luxurious material.
Why I won't use silk
Everyone is different and most of us are riddled with ever changing emotions, which often play a huge part in how we think and act. For me, knowing that these worms are boiled or frozen alive or that they are deformed and can't eat or fly; is simply unjustifiable. Therefore, I won't buy anything that contains silk.
"Without knowledge action is useless and knowledge without action is futile."
- Abu Bakr