Veganism is on the rise in the UK, with half a million Brits now choosing a lifestyle that cuts out meat, dairy and other animal products in our diets. But what about at home? Leather, down, fur, silk and wool are the obvious places to seek replacements, but animal products (and materials tested on animals) can find their way into paint, candles and accessories too.
If you’re not vegan, it still pays to be clued up about what you’re putting in your home. People with certain allergies can benefit from synthetic alternatives, or plant-based products and natural fibres – linen, cotton and hemp – that contribute to a healthier, chemical-free home.
In some cases, going vegan means finding specialist manufacturers. This can come at a price, although mainstream retailers are wising up to the trend and adding animal-friendly choices to their offering.
For many products, the plant-based or man-made alternatives to fur, wool, leather and silk are cheaper, and just as effective as the real thing.
“Changing your buying habits can be challenging especially if you don’t know if or where alternative products exist,” says Emily Turnbull from vegan interior design company Studio Can Can. “I want to help people on their journey by making compassionate shopping much simpler and more enjoyable.”
We got Turnball to recommend some of her go-to brands and we’ve added our own favourites to curate a selection of vegan homeware ranging from statement furniture down to ethical home fragrance. Some of these have the Peta seal of approval and we’ve checked out the cruelty-free credentials of the others with the makers.
Shard Ochre Throw: £26.99, Vegan Haven
Merseyside-based Haven Home Interiors has a vegan offering that is a great source for all things ethical and animal product-free, and you can shop happy knowing the whole offer has been put together with this in mind. There’s a good selection of throws and recycled blankets with a traditional look, but our pick is this vibrant yellow ochre design. It’s made only from acrylic, but it’s just as cosy as wool. It’s also a bit of a bargain.
Rockett St George Faux Cowhide Vintage Style Two-seater Sofa: £625, Rockett St George
Rockett St George is another brand commended by Peta for its efforts in vegan homeware and this two-seater birch wood-frame sofa is Turnbull’s pick for anyone who likes the look of animal hide but is after a cruelty free alternative. It’s a dead-ringer for the real deal and feels authentic too. There is also a similarly retro-style armchair in the collection.
Auro Natural Emulsion Paint: £44 for 5l, Organic Natural Paint
Many commercial paints contain casein, a protein that derives from milk. Auro has a specialist range of paints that are casein and cruelty free, based on organic oil resins and plant-based pigments. They’re also free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can cause ill health and allergies. It gives good interior coverage and comes in a surprisingly wide selection of colours.
Geometrie Triangle Shelf: £95, Future and Found
“This is a really simple, modern-looking shelf,” says Turnbull. Made from sustainably sourced birch plywood, it’s by London-based design duo Geometrie. It’s British-made and comes flat-packed but with pre-drilled holes in the brackets so it’s easy to mount at home. At 60cm (and 24cm deep), there is enough space for books and other bits and pieces. If you want more shelf space, put two together.
P.F. Candle Co. Travel Jar Candle: £12, Urban Outfitters
Most candles contain animal products (typically beeswax or stearic acid), so if you’re vegan look out for soy wax candles like those from Californian brand P.F. Candle Co. The fragrance oils are derived from fruits, herbs and flowers and the packaging has a rustic touch. The travel version is a handy size but still burns for a decent 20-25 hours. Le Labo candles are also a vegan alternative, if you have a larger budget.
Cottonsafe Natural Mattress Vegan Choice: From £519, Cotton Safe Natural Mattress
This vegan mattress comes recommended by Turnbull. The brand’s USP is that its products are made without any toxic chemicals, like the fire retardants commonly used elsewhere. Items are stitched with flax thread rather than glued, so there are no adhesives involved (it is often these that contain animal products). There is a good range of sizes – from a small single to super king – and parents take note, there is a children’s version in the pipeline.
Ikea Tejn rug: £10, Ikea
This is a small synthetic rug that’s good for draping over chairs too. The perfect symmetry of Tejn is a slight give-away that it’s not a real sheepskin, but if you’re after the feel rather than the look you won’t be disappointed. A 65mm-deep pile gives it the warmth and cosiness that’s expected of a real sheepskin. The Tejn rug won a PETA vegan homeware award in 2017.
Muuto Restore Storage Basket: £75, Heals
Felt brings texture and tactility to the home, but the material is often made from matted wool or fur fibres which are not vegan-friendly. Muuto’s popular Restore basket is made from polymer felt, part of which comes from recycled plastic bottles. It’s thick and beautifully formed, and holds up to long-term use whether for books, toys or firewood. It comes in 12 colours.
Little Tree Furniture Mary Rose Sideboard: £545, Barker and Stonehouse
Trees support habitats for mammals, insects and birds. When buying wood furniture, look for manufacturers that source from managed forests (where at least one tree is planted for every tree felled). Even better, opt for vintage furniture or pieces made from reclaimed wood. This sideboard is made with wood from old shutters and boats that still sports flakes of coloured paint.
Soak&Sleep Supremely Soft As Down Duvet: £30-100, Soak&Sleep
For a duvet with vegan credentials, opt for microfibre over feathers. Synthetic alternatives have come on leaps and bounds recently, convincingly replicating the soft, light and warm feeling of goose down. Clusters of microfibers make this duvet feel like the real thing, and the 233 thread-count cotton case lends a luxurious feel. It’s machine-washable at 40C for easy care.
The Verdict: Vegan furniture
The Shard throw from Vegan Haven is a good example of how shopping vegan doesn’t mean compromising on style, or paying a premium for your lifestyle choices. It’s bright and cheerful, dispelling any myths that a vegan home has to be sombre or hippyish. Most importantly, it is just as cosy as a real wool throw.
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