As we learn more about veganism and the cruelty free lifestyle, we also learn more about different products that we see in every day life that we never even considered in the past. One of these products is silk.
For most vegans who abide by the general rule of not eating or using any animal products, the concept of silk not being vegan is quite clear. Silk is a substance derived from an animal (or insect) and therefore it is not vegan.
But what is silk? Where does it come from and is it cruel to use silk?
What Is Silk?
In general, silk is produced by the insect larvae undergoing metamorphosis, however, certain insects, such as the raspy crickets, continue to produce silk throughout their lives.
In the natural environment, insects produce silk for a number of reasons ranging from shelter to reproduction.
Where Does Silk Come From?
Commercially, the majority of silk is produced by the silkworm, the caterpillar of the Bombyx mori moth. They spit out a substance called fibroin, which is made up of digested leaves and protein, from two salivary glands. They then use this to spin a continuous thread to form their cocoon where they rest to mature.
The Cruel Side
If silkworms were allowed to reach maturity, when they develop into moths, they will damage the cocoons and therefore the valuable silk. To prevent any damage to the silk, manufacturers kill the silkworms while they are still in their cocoons by either baking or boiling them. Once dead, the manufacturers will soak the silkworms and their cocoons in water to aid with unraveling the silk.
Additionally, some manufacturers skip the spinning process altogether and kill the silkworm before they even start spinning then extract their glands to produce silkworm gut.
What are your thoughts on silk? When there are many vegan and cruelty free alternatives, will you continue to buy silk products?