Vegan Interior Design Week 1-5 November 2021

Vegan Suite Hilton Hotel Bankside London
The vegan suite at the London Hilton Bankside Hotel

With just a month to go until Vegan Interior Design Week here is a little more information on Vegan Interior Design and why it matters – whether you are vegan or not.

While the heart of veganism lies in kindness to animals, the industrialisation of animals for consumption is not only devastating for animals but for our planet too.

Did you know:

  • Nearly a third of all land on earth is used for farmed animals with over 56 billion animals killed each year in the meat industry.
  • According to The Vegan Society, animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of the Amazon’s destruction.
  • It is also the leading cause of ocean dead zones: a region of so little oxygen no marine life is able to survive there.
  • The livestock industry is the largest consumer of land and water, causing massive land degradation and pollution.
  • And, as you may know, it is the world’s largest producer of the greenhouse gas methane.

Let’s face it, this is just not sustainable and time is running out. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have warned that we have 12 years to reverse the effects of climate change.

As governments strive to reach net zero emissions by 2030, more and more people are demanding products that do not come at the expense of our health, animals and our planet.

Reducing your meat intake, going vegan and/or selecting vegan products is one of the biggest things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.

It’s no wonder veganism is growing in popularity and even those that prefer to eat meat are reducing their consumption and looking for products that do not involve animal cruelty and harm to the planet.

While there are different levels of veganism I always like to remind myself of the definition of Veganism by The Vegan Society – who coined the word vegan in 1944.

Veganism Definition - Vegan Interior Design

What Vegan Interior Design Is


Vegan interior design is about designing spaces that are animal friendly, people friendly and planet friendly with out sacrificing style.

It includes:

  •  No animal products or testing on animals
  • Plant-based
  •  Cruelty-free
  •  Sustainable and eco-friendly

Oh yes and it’s also cool as you can see from the design of The Spread Eagle pub

London's Vegan Pub The Spread Eagle - Vegan Interior Design
London’s first vegan pub The Spread Eagle. All food, drinks, fixtures and fittings are plant based and sourced sustainably where possible. Image: thespreadeaglelondon.co.uk

Why Vegan Interior Design


Vegan Interior Design is about style and function but also making informed decisions that are healthier for people, animals and the environment.

Here are some reasons why it is important to check where and how your products are made.

Leather

I was shocked to learn in the book Vegan Interior Design by Aline Dürr that leather products are not “sustainable” by-products of the meat industry.

The leather production industry is a billion-dollar industry in itself and an extremely cruel one, as highlighted in documentaries like Dominion (2018)

Leather is made from many animals including dogs and cats and even though most countries ban the import of dog and cat skins, it is virtually impossible to distinguish between these leathers.

Even if a product says it was made in Italy, the raw materials are most likely to come from the largest leather-producing countries China or Bangadesh.

In addition to the cruelty aspect, the leather production industry has a human toll too.

A report by the Bangladesh Society for Environmental and Human Development says ninety per cent of tannery workers die before the age of 50. This is caused by toxic chemicals that the workers are exposed to day in and day out.

Shockingly the toxic chemicals from tanneries often end up in local rivers, polluting water and fish.

There are also health risks for those purchasing leather goods. Toxic chemicals like cyanide, formaldehyde and chromium used on leather can off-gas for years. Meaning you breathe in these harmful chemicals which can make their way to your respiratory system.

Leather Alternatives

Vegan interior design - The Hilton Bankside vegan suite
The vegan suite at the Hilton Bankside Hotel in London used pineapple leather from Pinatex

Leather alternatives have come a long way from the days of pleather. Innovative new leathers made from apple, pineapple and wine waste are making strides in the industry.

Eco-friendly and free from toxic chemicals, the faux leathers are soft, pliable and available in different thicknesses, with some meeting the technical specifications required by the furniture and automotive industries.

I can’t wait to learn more about these alternatives at Vegan Interior design Week.

Down and Feathers


I had no idea that the majority of the world’s down (60 -90%) supply comes from live-plucked geese.

While live plucking is illegal in most countries, it happens in the main down producing countries China, Hungary and Poland.

This is an extremely painful and harmful process to the geese.

While down is soft and comfortable, it’s also the perfect breeding ground for dust mites and bacteria which can lead to respiratory problems.
I can testify to this as I get hay fever every time I sit on an old sofa with down filling.

Sustainable alternatives to down and feathers like Kapok, buckwheat hulls and natural latex will be discussed at Vegan interior design week.

Silk


Another eye opener for me was the manufacture of silk.

Did you know approximately 12 000 silkworms are killed to make the silk for a comforter ?
Most manufacture involves boiling, steaming or gassing cocoons while the pupa are still alive in order to preserve the silk threads.

Even more shocking, children as young as five are often forced to work in the silk factories according to the Human Right Watch.
Rather than being sustainable, the silk industry is just behind leather on having the worst impact on the environment – in terms of water usage, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Alternatives to silk include lotus silk, banana silk and bamboo silk. Again I can’t wait to learn more about the innovations and developments in this area.

Wool


Oh no! I cried when I learnt that wool production is not as sustainable and organic as it is made out to be.

The pollution of land and water and the emission of greenhouse gases by excessive sheep farming is devastating for the environment.

65% of Mongolia’s grasslands have been degraded by Cashmere goats eating roots of grasses which has led to major dust storms and air pollution.

Sadly wool shearing is not just like a haircut for sheep, goats and alpacas. The need for speed results in many sheep getting badly cut and hurt while being held down during the shearing process.

Then there are the health concerns too. Just like down and feathers wool is the perfect breeding ground for dust mites that can cause respiratory problems especially in young children.

Wool alternatives include Tencel, bamboo and hemp. Look out for more information on these.

Vegan Interior Design Week


Vegan Interior design Week is a five day virtual conference running from 1 -5 November 2021
Over 40 speakers from around the world will be speaking and discussing how to implement a healthy, cruelty-free and sustainable lifestyle.

From creating a Vegan Hotel to Biophilic Design and eco textiles there is sure to be something of interest to everyone. See the Agenda here.

The brainchild of award winning Australian Interior Architect and author Aline Dürr “Vegan Interior Design Week brings together a community of interior designers, specifiers, manufacturers, retailers and customers” providing a platform to see the latest ethical and material trends in the sustainable interior design industry.

Vegan Interior Design Week is aimed and vegans and non vegans alike and registration is free. Click Here

While it is not easy to find products that are not only vegan but sustainable and eco-friendly it is my hope that Vegan Interior Design Week will help to shed more light on the innovative and ethical companies that are making these products available.

Image: Vegan.Interior.design on Instagram

I will be discussing the challenges of Vegan Interior Design together with a panel of Interior Designers from around the world on Day 2 of Vegan Interior Design Week.

I hope you will join me and others as we seek to improve the health of people, animals and the planet in interiors.

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