Vegan Silk Could Save Billions of Lives
Silkworm cocoon (naturally in yellow or white)

Silkworm cocoon (naturally in yellow or white)

If you’ve ever questioned if just one person can make a difference by choosing to live vegan, here is one staggering point of proof. Did you know that in order to produce one pound of raw silk, 3,000 caterpillars (Silk Moth Larva) have to be steamed alive in their cocoons? These little guys are sentient beings who produce endorphins that allow them to both feel and respond to pain. Just one person, you, can save thousands of lives just by refusing to use products made from silk. But fear not fashionistas who love the cool smooth feeling of silk, there is a cruelty free alternative out there!

When you think of luxuriously soft silk, the prickly cactus plant probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. You’ll be surprised to know that for centuries people in Morocco have been using fibers from the Saharan Aloe Vera Cactus (in the Agave family) to make vegan silk. When the leaves of this particular cactus are crushed, heated, pounded and woven into a fiber they can be dyed and turned into highly durable silk fabric.

As with most vegan versions of fabric material, the material is not only more ethical but more durable and versatile as well. This vegan cactus silk is more elastic and is even wrinkle resistant. Yes, you heard me, silk that is wrinkle resistant has arrived!

 

Now top fashion designers such as the Queen of eco-friendly fashion herself, Stella McCartney, are using this veggie silk to make high-end fashion. If you’re the type of fashionable vegan that likes to end animal suffering and look good while doing it, take a moment to shop our animal-friendly store FruitenVeg for faux leather and faux fur fashions.

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Meet the vegan Saudi prince who's asking his Twitter followers if owning crocodile-skin purses is worth the suffering caused to animals
Prince Khaled (left) receives honours from Vikram Shroff, president of the Entrepreneurs' Organization U.A.E. chapter after presenting before members in June 2015. Photo courtesy KBW Investments

Prince Khaled (left) receives honours from Vikram Shroff, president of the Entrepreneurs' Organization U.A.E. chapter after presenting before members in June 2015. Photo courtesy KBW Investments

Bin Alwaleed is the son of the billionaire investor and philanthropist Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud, also known as Time magazine's “Arabian Warren Buffett.” As the scion of one of the world’s wealthiest people, he grew up surrounded by opulence and glamour in his father’s colossal $136-million, 460,000 square foot palace in Riyadh.

Photos of the prince taken in the late nineties show a young man with a head full of thick black hair, dressed in stylish clothes and cruising with his family on an impressive yacht. In other dated images, he stands proudly before a collection he then had of roughly 200 luxury cars.

But in 2016, that same man lives below Saudi Arabia's royalty radar, dressed in sneakers and a brand-less hoodie.

At 38, he's part of the first generation that grew up recognizing climate change as a major threat. With the endless flood of news flagging the dangers of widespread drought, air pollution and animal extinction, the young billionaire has been forced to question the best use of his time and resources. Today — often flying in the face of status quo — he uses his wealth and influence to build a greener future for the Middle East.

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal is chairman of the lucrative KBW Investments, and uses his wealth and influence to make the world a greener place. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal is chairman of the lucrative KBW Investments, and uses his wealth and influence to make the world a greener place. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey

campaigning for animal rights

What's striking about bin Alwaleed however, chairman of the lucrative KBW Investments, is the depth and intensity of his interest in sustainability, animal rights and the environment. It's not a phase, but a deeply-rooted conviction developed over many years of reflection on decisions he made in his youth.

In the late nineties, for example, (he doesn’t remember the exact year), bin Alwaleed went on a trophy hunt in South Africa. It's a controversial hobby often limited to the wealthy, as luxury expeditions for exotic game can cost upwards of $50,000. He's still visibly appalled as he speaks about it, and calls the trip "cowardly."

That expedition — and the lives he took on it — is something he's never really gotten over, he says, and an experience that motivated him to start campaigning for animal rights through organizations like Mercy For Animals. On social media, he re-tweets accounts like @VeganTruther and @PETA, asking if eating beef and owning crocodile-skin purses are worth the suffering caused to animals. A loud and proud vegan for the past five years, he hasn't let a single animal product touch his plate, and has recently invested in bringing both plant-based restaurants and culinary classes to the Middle East.

Bin Alwaleed has changed his life for the better in other ways too: once a luxury car aficionado, he's whittled his expansive collection to a single vehicle, the eco-friendly Tesla Model X P90D. He no longer lives in a massive palace and buys carbon offsets for all his flights to reduce the environmental footprint of his business. Over the last two years, he's sold all his stakes in the oil and gas industry and shifted towards lighter, more sustainable operations, including high tech, management, and construction.

“I was always confused,” he says. “Should I be me, or should I be who people expect me to be? I tried to be who people expect me to be… and I just had to say, 'Screw this, I can’t do this anymore.'”

After years of consuming disturbing climate change data, he decided environmental sustainability would be a focus in his life. "You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or scientist to understand that climate change is real," he says. "I’ve seen the data out there and it is worrying, honestly."

A self-proclaimed optimist, however, he knows the planet will go on. It's humans who will pay the greatest price for climate change, he says:

"Sure, we’re hurting the environment, but at the end of the day, we’re only hurting ourselves. The environment will get hurt to a certain point and then it’s going to backlash on us. Then we're going to be gone and the world is going to go back to being the beautiful, lush place that we were supposed inhabit."

Prince Khaled tucks into the plant-based dishes of Cha-Ya, a vegan Japanese restaurant in San Francisco's bustling Mission District on Wed. Nov. 23, 2016. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey

Prince Khaled tucks into the plant-based dishes of Cha-Ya, a vegan Japanese restaurant in San Francisco's bustling Mission District on Wed. Nov. 23, 2016. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey

Prince Khaled has a very refreshing point of view also regarding vegan food and how to explain it outside the vegan community.

In the U.S., only seven per cent of respondents to a 2013 survey by Public Policy Polling identified themselves as 'vegan,' and while there are no official numbers in Saudi Arabia, it would appear that vegans are few and far between. The nation was the world’s largest importer of broiler meat in 2013, and is the biggest importer of Australian lamb.

"If I say the 'v-word,' people automatically put their guard up," says bin Alwaleed. "But if you talk plant-based, they’re comfortable and it’s easy to get along with them. I’m trying to push the plant-based movement."

Prince Khaled we salute you for your work, especially regarding animal rights and ethical fashion. Your point of view of bringing the environmental change through technology couldn't be more right. Especially in the leather and fur substitutes industry. Nowadays we have so many great options of vegan leather and faux fur that high fashion should really take it to the next step and embrace these amazing materials for the good of all of us.

Meanwhile we'll continue creating our whimsical ethical handbags from the best vegan materials available and hope prince Khaled will invest in animal friendly high fashion too.  

 

Editor's Note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length. To learn more about Prince Khaled's work on climate, sustainability, and clean energy, read National Observer's feature, Meet the vegan Saudi prince who's turning the lights on in Jordan.

BEWARE! Some designer bags are made of real crocodile skin…

If you have come so far as to read this article, we can assume you are not the type of person to buy luxury croco bags; you probably prefer vegetarian handbags.

Anyways, just so you know:

Real crocodile leather shrinks when exposed to sunlight, and that is why old croco bags found in flea markets are usually bent out of shape!

So next time your vegan fashionista girlfriend tells you there is no such thing as a luxury vegan handbag... Well, just go ahead and tell her about the croco bags ;)

XO

FruitenVeg | the never leather project

 
Luxury Vegan Handbags. There is such a beast.

If you ask any traditional fashionista to try leather substitutes, she’d probably laugh in your face – best case scenario…

And if you try convincing her to ditch her chanel clutch in favour of a vegan handbag, the conversation would be over in less than 10 seconds…

I know this state of mind cause I've been there myself – tormented even by the thought of using a vegetarian handbag.

Thing is, the world has changed so much in the last few years, offering endless, fascinating leather substitutes that are also environmentally friendly, durable, beautiful and totally vegan. Even though it's still not the common choice, many vegan handbag designers now choose to follow their conscience and create 100% vegan bags.

In FruitenVeg, we try our best to use the most exquisite materials to create luscious luxury vegan handbags that are even more attractive and interesting than the common leather versions.

Unbelievably soft faux fur, amazingly pleasant to the touch. Beautiful, exotic vegan skins that make any crocodile look pale. Fun and playful designs that keep you smiling throughout the day. High-end craftsmanship, combining all of that goodness together into stylish luxury vegan bags that will surely attract everybody’s gaze.

So if you know the fashionista I was referring to at the beginning, send her my love and show her your FruitenVeg handbag.

DO NOT tell her it is a vegan designer handbag. Keep this little secret to yourself…

Never compromise on you style nor ethics ever again.

Unexpectedly vegan. FruitenVeg, the never leather project.

 
Fruiten WHAT??!

Some of our customers find our brand name slightly confusing… We often get messages addressed to Fruit&Veg bags, Fruit and Veg bags, or even Fruiten Veg. Well, you can call us whatever you like! But the actual name is simply FruitenVeg. One word; no stop ;)

We wished our name to reflect the vegan and vibrant aspects of our handbags; and to tell you the truth, the most basic colorful and luscious designs we are familiar with are those of… fruit & vegetables! 

So on your next trip to the supermarket, try to take a closer, deeper look into these magical creations. It's really mind blowing to notice all those shapes, structures and color combinations…

XO
FruitenVeg | the never leather project

 
NEVER leather. NEVER fur.

The attraction we share towards fur has been around since the dawn of history. Men and women needed something to wear, and... taking someone else's skin for this purpose seemed like a good idea, at the time. 

Faux fur, or fake fur, was first introduced in 1929, and has been commercially available as from the 1950s.

Since then the industry has gone a long way in terms of exploring and refining these materials, up until today. The high quality fur substitutes we have nowadays are so soft, fluffy and well made, that we really don't have any need of using real fur anymore.

And just so you know...
Our customers often tell us that our faux fur is more pleasant to the touch than real fur, which is sometimes quite itchy.

 

Unexpectedly vegan. FruitenVeg | the never leather project