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Why Vegans Don’t Use Silk

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Just prior to their metamorphosis into moths, Bombyx mori pupae spin silk fibers to weave their cocoons. In nature, the moth chews his or her way out of the cocoon once the transformation is complete. But in the fabric industry, silk is mass produced through the breeding and domestication of silkworms on what are essentially moth factory farms. When the caterpillars enter the pupa stage of their development, their cocoons are plunged into boiling water. This kills the silkworms and begins to unravel the longer fibers.

Approximately 15 silkworms are killed to produce a single gram of silk. Although it is very occasionally harvested after the moth has broken free, the strands are considerably shorter and the finished product is not commercially viable on a large scale.

There are other methods of producing silk that do not result in the death of the insect; however, there are still ethical issues to be considered. “Ahimsa silk,” for example, is made from the cocoon of the Bombyx mori moth after the moth has chewed through and discarded it. The silkworms used in this method of production are still domesticated and, just like other domesticated farmed animals, are bred for the purposes of production at the cost of their own health and well-being. The adult moths cannot fly because their bodies are too large and the adult males cannot eat due to underdeveloped mouth parts. The same would be true of moths in large commercial operations, but they are killed before reaching adulthood.

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Read more: Animal Rights, Conscious Consumer, Home, Nature, Nature & Wildlife, Wildlife

written with Christine Wells,

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Angel Flinn

Angel Flinn is Director of Outreach for Gentle World – a non-profit educational organization whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making the transition.


+ add your own
3:50AM PDT on Oct 25, 2013

Human exploitation of the wonders of this planet (animal, vegetable and mineral) is mankinds biggest downfall.

4:39PM PDT on Sep 23, 2013


10:09AM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

Thank you Angel, for Sharing this!

1:04AM PDT on May 18, 2013

And the use of insects goes even further afield. I saw just today on TV someone promoting the increased use of insects as food. The FACT being discussed was that current food production is unsustainable (something Vegans are only too aware of). A high-profile Chinese cook here in Australia is already using meal-worms, crickets and cockroaches at her restaurant... But I am finding it difficult to imagine the hundreds of millions of tiny creatures that would be needed to keep an increasing world population fed...!?!

11:43AM PST on Jan 7, 2013

Thank you.

9:48PM PST on Dec 24, 2012

This is a thoughtful and well researched article. I completely agree. I own something that is made of silk that I bought before I knew where silk came from (I've had it for over 10 years), but I cannot stand to wear the thing (and I certainly would never purposely buy new silk items) because of the torture that went into making it. My favourite point in the article is the ending "We should not remove insects from moral consideration just because our knowledge about these tiny beings is incomplete. Being vegan is about embracing a worldview that is starkly different from the dominant premise that other beings exist simply to fulfill human desires. The reality is that we do not need to exploit insects, and there is no justification for using them as a resource for our own ends." Just wonderful. Thank you for existing and for writing this article.

4:01PM PST on Dec 14, 2012

I'll use this information if anyone asks me why I don't wear silk. Most people don't understand why vegans don't use silk, honey or wool. I try to explain but usually get blank stares. No matter. It's what right for me.

12:36PM PST on Dec 11, 2012

Thank you.

11:38AM PST on Dec 11, 2012

I learned a lot from this ~ thank you for sharing :-)

3:00AM PST on Dec 11, 2012

Glad I am not a vegan, it simplifies the moral problems encountered in everyday life.

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