Most veg()ans know which foods and fabrics to stay away from, but some products that are fairly common aren't so obviously anti-veg()an, at least not to everyone. Meat, leather and fur are easy to avoid because they are easily associated with the animals they come from. Products like silk and pearls are also derived from animals, but what makes them special is the obscurity surrounding their production. 

Pearls are produced by oysters, and this should be common knowledge. But many consumers (veg()an or not) don't make the kind of connection that sets off an animal rights alarm. Pearls, wild or not, are harvested by inserting a blade into the mollusk, and prying it open to separate the two halves. The oyster's innards are then separated until a precious pearl is found. All of this is done while the oyster is alive. 

Commercial silk is produced from an insect known as the silkworm. Once again, most people know this. What many don't know is that the process of silk manufacturing is pretty gruesome. Ahimsa silk aside, most silk is produced by boiling living silkworm larvae within their cocoons to soften the silk fibers. The fibers are then attached to a reel and spun around a spool until it is separated from the (now dead) larva.

As a pretty simple guy, it took me a while to realize this even after I became a vegetarian because I don't really own anything made from pearls or silk. Furthermore, I didn't post this to be some reactionary nutcase trying to put myself above others or to get people to stop purchasing anything. Before I became vegetarian, I purchased some beautiful silk yarn and knitted myself a scarf with it. I can't really seem to part with it, and for that I have mixed emotions. My only intention with this discussion is to see what other people think, what their opinions are, and see if anyone has any similar information to share. 

Some questions I had: Has anyone (after becoming veg()an) thought about this and (along with their leather) disposed of or sold their pearls or silk, if they owned any? Why or why not? Also, has anyone else had this kind of realization regarding these products or any other animal-derived products?

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Hmmm, very interesting. I hadn't given pearls any thought simply for the fact I don't have any, and I don't know anyone who has any- that I... know of... haha. Thought provoking, I like it.

I was really surprised when I finally realized where some of these products come from. I always knew it way in the back of my head, but since I'm not exposed to these things all the time, I never really connected them with my vegetarian lifestyle. 

That's very true. The lesser-known-evils I suppose. Was shocked to read what they have to do to oysters- I always pictured it like in the cartoons, where it just pops open and someone grabs it haha.

For silk, there is cruelty free silk.

Thx for pointing at oysters, I had not realised.

I won't sell any of the pearls or silk I own.

I took a wrong decision at some point buying them though not being completely conscious of it. If I sold it for me it would amount to making money out suffering and encouraging the use of it. They'll stay where they are, tucked away in a cupboard.

Since pearls are being mentioned, an alternative could be mother of pearl made from shells found on beaches.

How do they make silk cruelty free? Just curious, never heard that before.

they collect the silk cocoons only after the silkworms hatched, leaving the empty cocoon.

Oh! Why don't all of them just do that then? Seems simple enough :(

I think it is fine for you to keep your silk scarf, but know now that in the future you will not spend your money to support the industry. Thank you for the information, honestly I never thought about the pearl thing before.

Well said Elizabeth :) Spending any money toward products that cause animal death make you no better than someone who purchases meat. Each dollar is a vote.

maybe for the reason of how silk is normally produced, here in Nepal, the traditional scarves that are used to offer to teachers and also to guests who arrive or depart, are made of some synthetic fiber rather than silk, which is what their were made of.

I have just only recently heard of ahimsa silk when I was in Rishikesh.  I think it might have been more spendy than regular silk, which might be a big deterrent for most people, unfortunately.

I am sure that many vegans have sold their old leather or other animal byproduct clothing items to rid themselves of any connection to the animal ware.  It came up in a thread once with conflicting views on whether a vegan should use the money derived from selling their animal stuff.  Some thought it was the positive thing to do and others thought it was way more negative.  I don't see much consensus on that dilemma among vegans, but that just tells me that the world of veganism isn't so cut and dry as people might think it to be.

Like Eliz, I don't see much harm in continuing to wear one's leather, pearls, or silk, guilt free if one does not contribute to the harms of those animals continually.  I take the view that what is done is done and we have to move on.  The idea that wearing such things would encourage others to buy them in stores might be correct though, but my view on that is that everyone has to make their own choices.  I live in communities that recycle articles of clothing so everyone knows that when you where something, it might not be new anyway, so it doesn't send the message that some people may think it does in supporting animal harm.

the ahimsa silk started not too long ago. it was pioneered by a person from Andra Pradesh, India


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