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High-Tech Trends & Investments Point To A More Cruelty-Free Future (I Hope)

Some interesting insights about the future of fashion from blogger/beardy hot papa Joshua Katcher:

Designers, press and editors alike continue to rationalize what happens to animals caught up in the fashion industrial complex as a necessary evil in achieving the highest quality, performance and most luxurious fibers, as if mother nature herself were meticulously positioning a leopard’s spots, arranging a reptiles scales or softening a goose’s down for the sole purpose of human use. And more often than not, the more rare an animal or cruel a process – from fetal lamb (also known as astrakhan or karakul) and calfskin (from veal calves) to angora and fur, the more heightened the perceived payoff will be. This is a strange psychological equation to say the least, but one that rules in the realm of luxury fashion. While animal agriculture is the single most environmentally problematic aspect of the fashion industrial complex, the choice to actually breed, farm, trap, confine and kill animals in order to attain their fibers will soon be obsolete thanks to a burgeoning sector of biofabrication startup businesses.

Thankfully, Katcher goes on to note that advances in technology are changing the fashion, food, and other industries very, very quickly, and money is following the cruelty-free trend. Could it finally go mainstream?

It seems that if you have an idea for creating sustainable animal products without actual animals, you’ll be in luck because a huge trend in the field of synthetic biology is taking the greatest causes of the worst environmental problems, like animal agriculture, and finding visionary solutions.IndieBio, the San Francisco-based synthetic biology accelerator, recently announced that it’s offering $250,000 in seed funding for people with ideas for these types of startups.

It’s also happening with food. New Harvest, a nonprofit that describes itself as “advancing technologies to feed a growing global population”, has helped launch companies likeClara Foods. Clara foods makes real eggs without hens. New Harvest also led Muufri, a company engineering yeast to produce cows milk without cows, to a similar accelerator. Modern Meadow, in addition to leather, has developed cultured meat, as has Impossible Foods.

I’m not a fashion expert — one look at my wardrobe could tell you that. But I do feel like something’s changing, that vegans and other advocates for animal rights and sustainability are gaining clout in what used to be called the Marketplace of Ideas. Have we reached a tipping point? And even if we do, can we remain tipped, or will we slide backward again?

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3 thoughts on “High-Tech Trends & Investments Point To A More Cruelty-Free Future (I Hope)

  1. Secular Vegan says:

    One of the problems with faux fur is that it reinforces the status symbol attached to real fur. The same could happen with fake eggs and fake meat (in much the same way that many people view margarine as fake butter). The real product becomes a symbol of affluence.

  2. Richard says:

    I couldn’t agree more. That’s why, as a general rule, I don’t like eating or wearing anything meant to look or taste or feel as though it was derived from an animal.

    However, I’m not everyone. As a practical matter, fake materials, meat, and other items help wean people off their dependence on animal products and lead them toward those that a cruelty-free.

    Everyone comes to veganism by a different path. For me, veganism is an ethical issue. For my father — who’s not vegan, but largely vegetarian — it’s a health issue. Many people are in-between.

    Bottom line: I’m a pragmatist. I care less about how people get to veganism so long as they do.

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