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25 Jan

Veganuary: Vegan swaps for your home

While veganism is familiar to most as a dietary lifestyle, many of us are starting to strive for home wares free of animal by-products. This Veganuary, we share some of our favourite alternatives…

Gone are the days when finding vegan dishes on a restaurant’s menu was a struggle. Businesses have listened to their socially conscious and health-driven customers, and now organic, vegan produce is now widespread and readily available. In addition to food, consumers have also demanded changes in the fashion industry. Faux leather clothing and shoes are now mainstream, and designers such as Versace, Gucci, Michael Kors, and Chanel removed fur from their lines as a result.

Vegan homeware and interior design, however, is still very much a niche. If you’re a relative newcomer to the concept, here are some facts for you. According to the Vegan Design website, it takes eight cows to make a leather sofa, seven sheep to make one wool blanket and 12,000 silkworms to make a silk duvet cover. It’s alarming when you start to investigate – everything from paint and textile dyes to carpets and cushions can be made from animal derivatives.   

‘A vegan, humane or cruelty-free product is one which does not originate from any living creature, is not an animal by-product and is not tested on animals.’ – from vegandesign.com

Some designers are championing the move to animal-free interiors. Israeli designer Erez Nevi Pana exhibited “Vegan Design or The Art of Reduction” at the Milan Furniture Fair. His show attracted so much attention that it was clear the shift towards the trend was in motion.

 

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There’s a lot to be said for adopting this approach in your home on a broader scale and practising vegan design. Even if you don’t follow a vegan diet and lifestyle, choosing 100%, plant-based homewares and materials come with many benefits. Eco-conscious homeowners are saying no to the harsh chemicals and unnatural toxins associated with animal-derived items in their homes. What’s more, the faux alternatives on the market can be more durable than animal-based textiles. They are easier to clean, harder to damage and are a great option if anyone in your family has asthma or other allergies. 

While turning your backs on leather sofas and fur throws is a great start, there’s more to having a cruelty-free home that you might think. From sofas and candles to paint and cushions, we share our favourite alternatives.

Sofas

Chesterfield now has a new range of vegan-friendly sofas, crafted with faux leather, velvet, 100% vegan glue and foam. If the classic lines of a Chesterfield isn’t to your taste, then the new range of Hero vegan sofas from British brand Maker and Son would look ideal in a light, cottage-style home. With quilted covers and micro springs, the design carries a cosy sense of comfort. 

 

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Wool

Instead of textiles woven from sheep’s wool or plastic-based polymers, consider naturally derived materials instead. Ralph Lauren Home’s Ariel Knit Cotton Blanket (£355) is warm and comforting. Heal’s do a great range of braided jute mats, and we also love these rugs from Weaver Green, made from recycled bottles. Their ottomans (price starting at £580 each) are made from recycled plastic and come in a range of stylish colours and patterns. 

 

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Candles

Beeswax candles are usually the most coveted because they take longer to burn and give a clean, bright light. Unfortunately, a large amount of beeswax is needed to make a candle, so it usually comes from commercial beekeepers that are not always sustainable or kind. Even non-beeswax candles will often contain stearic acid made from animal fat, used to harden the wax. 

If you’re choosing a vegan lifestyle, you might want to switch to organic, all-natural soy candles instead. Octo London makes hand-poured, soy wax candles with scents such as fennel and grapefruit. We also love the vegan candles from British brand Chase and Wonder – The Jungle is one of their new fragrances (£145). It’s hand-decorated by expert ceramicists, who carefully and meticulously finish each one of them – including the 22-carat gold, hand-painted detail around the rim.

 

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Piñatex leather

Thanks to the world of fashion, awareness about the pollution, environmental destruction and cruelty caused by the global skins and hides industry is higher than ever. According to a report by Infinium Global Research, the vegan leather industry is expected to rise to $85 billion by 2025. 

In labs worldwide, alternative materials derived from fruits, vegetables and fungi are being researched to replace animal leathers. Developed by Ananas Anam, Piñatex, for example, is a leather-like fabric made entirely from the waste leaves of pineapples.

 

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In collaboration with Cassina, French designer Philippe Starck launched a 16-piece collection of furniture upholstered in Apple Ten York, a leather alternative made from skins and waste products from the apple industry.

 

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Feather Down

Surely there’s nothing more luxurious than a thick, goose-down duvet? While down is often heralded as an ‘all-natural’ and eco-friendly material to use for padding and insulation, it’s not the best option if you want a vegan home. A wide range of industries use down in huge quantities, which is mainly taken from waterfowl birds such as ducks, geese and even swans – not birds that we typically eat in such large numbers. With concerns about ‘live plucking’ and other practices, it’s difficult to know precisely how the feathers are sourced.  

As a result, down-free cushions are a vegan, cruelty-free alternative and are rising in popularity. High-end sensory design brand Bompas & Parr launched London’s first-ever vegan hotel suite, with pillows made from organic buckwheat, millet seeds and bamboo fibres. We like the Botanic Vegan Duvets from the Natural Bed Company, and Simba’s award-winning mattresses contain no animal products. All the vegan cushions from Vegan Haven are superb.  

 

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Cotton is a desirable alternative to down, but there could be another even better option. Bamboo lyocell requires less than a tenth of the water that cotton needs to grow. Attitude makes 100 per cent lyocell bedding, which is the equivalent of a 1,000-thread count cotton.

For information about home building and renovation products that are vegan-friendly, see our article published in the Westbury Windows and Joinery Blog. 

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