Cruel cotton, non-vegan avocados and why WOMB questions labels

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We live in times of aggressive debates. The constant, never-ending stream of news, fake news, opinions, arguments, research, counter-research, proves and disproves is overwhelming. WOMB has since its beginning been advocating for a cruelty-free lifestyle. We promote designers and makers who don't work with animal-derived products and materials, we follow the vegan diet and opt for a holistic lifestyle where humans are a part of the bigger ecosystem, not its dominant masters. We cannot help but notice that the debate around the vegan lifestyle and diet is getting more and more aggressive though. And this week we want to share with you some thoughts on antipathetic veganism and strict labelling.

Vegan: meaning...?

For us, veganism has never been solely about the diet. It is a lifestyle following a set of values: no cruelty, empathy, connectedness. Which is why in the past, we have published posts like this one, where we kindly asked people not to shame "bad vegans", rather support one another in even the slightest lifestyle changes that can contribute to the greater good and elevate us collectively as a society, a group, a tribe.
For a long time, we thought that negative thoughts and comments towards "bad vegans" were coming from non-vegans, but recently we've seen an emergence of...

The Vegan Domestic War

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After reading posts like this one, it becomes more and more clear that every single action, every single thing can be traced back to some form of cruelty. Questions were raised whether cotton can be labelled "vegan" since the production process can be highly unethical, both when it comes to worker-exploitation and use of pesticides that harm our planet. The debate continues when brands like LaBante London claim products and materials harmful for the environment, like PVC, as non-vegan!
And while we're happy to see individuals and brands question the status quo, become more curious about the manufacturing processes and dig into the supply chains, we simultaneously see the debate become more aggressive and in some cases simply... petty! The recently raised discussion whether avocados can be labelled as vegan is a great example of a very strict mindset that in our opinion might be missing the actual point. You wouldn't eat avocados because the fruits need bee pollination, but you would bluntly shame another vegan if they ate it? Where's the empathy in that?
Or are we the ones missing a point here?

Certain people identifying as vegans wouldn't butcher a cow, but they would verbally butcher or expose one another on social media - absolutely disturbing!

The point here is that any and every extremity is limiting and… harmful in the end. The beauty of life lies in its flexibility, its changes, the way we adapt, learn and discover new things… Which is why we aren’t buying into labels. We admit that usage of certain word and notions like “vegan”, "cruelty-free”, etc.. is necessary to identify certain values and roughly define the personal and/or company ethos (especially in the age of digital keywords!), in order to connect with like-minded people, open up for debates and so on. That said, these notions are for us inspirational guidelines rather than a fixed framework.

Be an empathetic and inclusive vegan (even if you don’t follow the diet!)

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... is essentially our message to all of you out there. We are not trying to discourage you from studying, asking questions, raising debates. But we do encourage you to look further than your own nose tip!
Actually, we insist you do so.
How can we make a positive change without keeping a positive tone of debate? How can we make a positive change when we act disrespectfully towards others just because their values aren't fully aligned with ours? If you wouldn't eat a steak for dinner out of your love and empathy for animals and other living beings, you probably also shouldn't shamelessly judge another person just because they did.

... or because they wore a cotton T-shirt.

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