A subject I’ve been thinking about lately is that of wool. I have been doing some research and obviously wool is NOT vegan. Well, as in the case of honey, wool is an animal byproduct, and so, just by the very definition of the term “vegan,” it cannot be classified as such. But I decided to dig a little deeper, because hey, the sheep have to be sheared in order for their survival, right? Wrong. There are plenty of wild sheep that do not need the help of humans to shed their winter wool.
Then I was thinking, “Well it doesn’t really hurt the sheep if they are sheared, right?” Wrong again. Most of the sheep that are used for wool production are farmed in the same way as any factory farmed animal. Most sheep are confined in very small spaces, standing knee deep in their own excrements, and ridden with flies, and therefore, also maggots. The sheep used for wool are bred to produce the maximum amount of wool in the shortest amount of time, and many sheep die of heat exhaustion during the warmer months.
Also, the wool needs to be sheared before the spring and many die from cold exposure. Once the sheep have been exploited for their wool, they are shipped off to other countries to be slaughtered and sold for their meat. Most of the countries they are sold to have little slaughter regulations and some are even dismembered while still alive. So yet again, here is another product to be mindful of when making your purchase decisions.
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I would like to comment that this article does not describe every single wool farm in the world. There are plenty of farms who raise and shear their sheep humanely, but it is difficult to find out where wool comes from. Certain countries are known for their inhumane treatment of sheep and others treat their animals very humanely. If you want to be safe, it’s better to just avoid wool altogether.