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More than vegan: Why we cannot be satisfied with an “animal-free” product

More than vegan!
Vegan, and all good? Unfortunately not, in many cases. There is more to it.

Vegan synthetic sneakers made of synthetic leather. Vegan winter jackets made from down substitutes. Vegan backpacks, vegan cosmetics, vegan food anyway: Vegan is used everywhere as THE label.

The abandonment of animal ingredients, ridiculed by many a few years ago, is a trend and has arrived in the mass market. Many products that have always been manufactured without animal ingredients are labeled and advertised as vegan all at once.

But new products are also conquering the market, and more and more customers are taking advantage of them.

On the one hand, this is legitimate and also good because it leads to products containing animal ingredients being improved and new materials being developed.

But this trend also means that, even with regard to the manufacturing process and its social and ecological effects, problematic products, just because they are not directly based on animal suffering, get a better image than they deserve.

Vegan products don’t necessarily have to be sustainable

What is the intention of those who are interested in a product being vegan: Is it important that animals are not directly processed and damaged or is the idea of ​​offering “all” animals a functioning ecosystem and a habitat received – because the product often does not guarantee that. Quite the opposite: in case of doubt, you buy a product that exploits the ecosystem to a very conventional extent and creates the same poor social conditions for employees in production.

It is about wages, the promotion of equality, and social security when we speak of “fair”. In addition to value creation, which remains largely in the country, these are important foundations for a functioning state – especially in countries that currently do not share our basic principles for livelihood. For the actual idea of ​​veganism, it would be counterproductive if the trend in the mass market was: “The main thing is somehow vegan”.

Consumers have to expect that a vegan product also meets certain minimum standards in terms of production and sustainability. This pressure should make it a matter of course for manufacturers.

Ultimately, there is no point if the product labeled as “vegan” puts as much strain on the ecosystem as the conventional one, and we continue to decimate the habitat of a diverse, functioning ecosystem – the big problem for all wild animals too.

A mixed culture, for example, is usually more fragmented and therefore more complex than a monoculture that is managed with large machines. At the same time, the machines used in industrial cultivation cost a lot of money and thus, in turn, feed an exploitative, extensive production.

Ethletic’s claim is more comprehensive and goes beyond seals

It is also a decision whether you want to spend a lot of capital on loans, or whether you want to give it to people themselves. Anyone who buys vegan-labeled products is an animal lover and, according to the assumption, actually wants to protect wild animals and the entire ecosystem.

Our claim for Ethletic is therefore broader and we invest time, work, and capital in many areas for a more holistic approach.

We offer a 100 percent vegan product that is intended to both preserve the ecosystem and improve and protect the social standards of the employees.

A fair wage is just as much a part of it as clean, safe working conditions and the protection of the personal rights of the employees of our production facility in Sialkot, Pakistan.

We consciously forego all avoidable, non-renewable raw materials wherever possible – for example synthetic adhesives. As a final product, the shoe only contains small amounts of non-renewable raw materials. The ends of the shoelaces and the metal eyelets as well as the thread for sewing are still the exceptions on some models.

What you can tell from the seals we carry – Fairtrade for our cotton, FSC for natural rubber – does not represent Ethletic’s reality. Organic cotton from small cooperations, which is grown in mixed cultures and thus enables more species richness, makes a big difference to industrially grown organic cotton. The same applies to the FSC seal – you see it even more often than the vegan seal, on the chocolate packaging as well as on the garden chair.

But we carry a 100% FSC seal for the latex milk, which forms the basis of our shoes: This proves that it is not a mixed product, as is the case with the bulk of the products, no, the natural rubber is 100 percent from sustainably managed plantations. In the selected cooperatives in which the raw material is processed, the added value for the employees involved is again higher.

A seal can hardly reflect these realities.

Unfortunately, many of the crises of our time are man-made. Like climate change, so is the corona pandemic.

Experts like the biologist Simone Sommer agree: the corona pandemic would not have come about without humans.

The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) writes on its website: “When forests and other habitats are destroyed, humans profoundly change the structures that have evolved in ecosystems. If we penetrate these ecosystems or even destroy them, pathogens lose their host and look for a new one – often this is a single person. ” The US-American author

David Quammen writes about this “spillover” effect: “Where trees are felled and wild animals are killed, local germs fly around like dust that rises from the rubble.”

The unnatural closeness of humans and wild animals is fatal. The point is that humans are pushing back the ecosystems more and more, that our actions, the actions of mankind, are still destroying the foundations of life for all of us, hardly slowed down.

In times of crisis, the effects of growing inequality also become visible in society. It is a normal process of capitalism when the wealth of individuals increases and poverty increases to the same extent. In economic crises, these processes run much faster and become clearer.

In contrast, an intact ecosystem and stable social structures give us the greatest security.

As “exhausting” as this may seem, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be lulled into security by certain seals alone.

We often take a look behind the “green”, “animal-friendly” shell. With all the challenges, it is nice to experience when people work together to do something better – and help and support each other along the way.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support.


Text: Annika Langhagel, Beat Urs Gruber
Photos: Header by Joshua Welch, main photo by Daria Shevtsova via