Are Goats Killed to Make Cashmere? The Dirty Secrets of Wool
June 25, 2019
When I became vegan 2 years ago, I had no idea how wool is made, and why vegans don’t wear wool. I’ve learned a lot since about the industry and I want to share this knowledge with you to help new vegans or people who are interested in how our clothes are made.
Are goats killed to make cashmere? Goats are not killed directly for cashmere production. However, many goats die of cold stress because of having been shorn in the winter. Additionally, goats that aren’t producing wool of a certain quality are often sold for the meat industry.
While cashmere is considered a luxurious fabric, people tend to forget the realities behind its production. Unfortunately, other types of wool are made very similarly.
How Cashmere is Made
Cashmere is the wool of the Kashmir goat. It is lighter, softer, and warmer than sheep’s wool.
It is mainly used in sweaters, cardigans, shawls, socks, and anything that’s supposed to keep you warm.
There are hundreds of thousands of goats raised for cashmere since it takes the wool of 5 goats to make only one sweater.
Many fashion brands, even sustainable brands, claim that cashmere is just the best material ever. They say that their goats were treated with so much love and that they were well cared for. But honestly, brands often have no idea what’s going on on goat farms. They usually buy wool that is already woven and ready for clothing production.
Shearing is Not As Peaceful As You Think
Kashmir farms are located in Mongolia, China, and Nepal. Kashmir goats can are either combed or sheared to get the cashmere, the soft undercoat of the goats. Combing is less stressful for the goats, but it takes more time, so obviously, most farmers choose to shear.
While shearing, goats are either sat on or chained down to keep them in place. Then a person basically just cuts down the hair of the goat with a huge knife. No, they aren’t just getting a cute new haircut! The more hair they can cut down, the more cashmere they can sell. As a result, cutting into the body of the goat by accident is quite frequent which can cause severe injuries to the animal.
The other problem with shearing is that it’s a common practice to do it during the winter. Kashmir goats don’t have much fat on their bodies so they need their coats to protect them from the harsh weather. Sadly, not all the goats survive during this season.
Profit Over Lives
Raising goats to make cashmere is just like any other business where animals are used for profit. If an animal is born with disabilities, or reach a certain age, or has any other condition that prevents them to produce good quality cashmere, they’re sold for slaughter. Inevitably, there’s no way to buy cashmere without supporting the meat industry!
As you can see, goats aren’t killed directly, but they do suffer either from injuries or the cold. Additionally, goats in the cashmere industry rarely get to enjoy their life as long as they could since they are sold for meat before reaching old age.
This is the reason why vegans refuse to buy cashmere and wool in general!
Other Types of Wool are No Different
You probably see now why cashmere is not as awesome as marketed. But what about other types of wool, like merino, mohair, or angora? Are they any better?
The short answer is no they aren’t. Some industries might be a little better, and some of them are way worse. The basic cruelty is the same in all of them: unethical and stressful shearing that can result in injuries, and the premature end of life after the animal isn’t profitable anymore.
The main difference between the types of wool is the animal that is being exploited. The materials have different qualities and come in different price ranges. Unfortunately, most people only talk about which is the warmest, the softest, or the most affordable. In my opinion, these comparisons are pointless, because the animals suffer the same way in all of the different types of wool industries.
Goats Do NOT Need to be Shorn
Contrary to popular misbelief, goats do not need to be shorn! People love to believe this because it makes them feel like we’re providing a service for goats, sheep, and other animals by buying wool.
Believing that these originally wild animals wouldn’t survive without humans giving them haircuts and that they voluntarily give us their wool is simply ridiculous! Don’t worry, I was believing in this fairy tale for the biggest part of my life as well, but when I started to think about it, it just didn’t make any sense!
As I mentioned earlier, Kashmir goats are pretty much okay with us not shearing them, as a matter of fact, they need their wool to keep them warm!
There are some cases though where the situation is more complicated. For example, there are sheep that are bred to have wrinkly skin. This way the sheep’s skin has a much bigger surface and as a result, it grows much more wool. These types of sheep need shearing, but this industry has its own welfare issues such as the sheep suffering from extreme heat and fungal infections.
To sum up, we’re not doing any good to animals either by shearing them or breeding them into wool machines that are needed to be shorn. They don’t want you to steal their sweaters and they are better off without humans!
The Exposed Cruelty Pressures Retailers to Drop Cashmere
Now that fur is already banned by most retailers, our attention starts to shift to other materials that come from animals.
The cruelty in the cashmere industry has been exposed by Peta multiple times who urges companies to stop selling cashmere. Consumers are also demanding more transparency and ethical practices from brands.
These shifts will make it harder for brands and retailers to continue selling cashmere in the future.
Asos, the online retail giant has already removed cashmere clothing from their website in early 2019 amongst with some other animal materials. H&M is planning to do the same in 2020, and I’m certain there are many more brands to come.
As of today, we don’t know what vegan material will replace cashmere on the clothing racks. Will it be a plant-based material that has similar qualities, lab-grown cashmere, or will cashmere simply disappear without any alternative? We’re yet to find out!
But one thing is sure, cashmere needs to be stopped!
Do other animals die for cashmere? Raising goats for cashmere is endangering wild animals like snow leopards, wild yaks, Bactrian camels, and gazelles due to the expanding grazing land needed Kashmir goats.
What is Perino? Perino is a material that is made by combining cashmere with Australian possum fur.
Written by Csilla Herbszt, a sustainably stylish fashion blogger living her vegan life in Switzerland. You should follow her on Instagram!