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"Vegan" is probably a word you've heard before. This revolutionary new lifestyle trend has experienced astronomical popularity spikes in recent years. More and more prominent individuals and groups, including celebrities and massive companies, have embraced the vegan code of living.
However, you might currently think of veganism as something which is entirely restricted to diet. When you think of the words "vegan" or "veganism," your mental images might be restricted to tofu burgers and colorful salads. You might not be aware that many vegans also extend their philosophy to the purchase of household goods including soaps, shampoos, cleaning agents, furniture, clothing, and - yes! - even mattresses.
But wait, you're probably wondering right about now. How can a mattress be vegan? What makes it vegan? Is it just the materials? And how can I tell if the next mattress I purchase meets vegan standards or not?
Luckily for you, Brand Name is here to help! We're going to take you on an exciting journey into the fascinating world of vegan mattresses. By the end of this article, you will know exactly what makes a vegan mattress - and even how to spot one in the wild!
Before we get into just what makes a mattress vegan or not, we first need to establish a solid, working definition of the term "veganism". Luckily, the answer here is fairly straightforward:
Veganism is a philosophy which revolves around avoiding or entirely abstaining from animal products. This is not limited solely to edible animal-based goods, such as meat, milk, eggs and cheese, but also to things such as genuine leather (made from the hide of cows or other animals), wool harvested from sheep, or feathers from various species of bird. Reasons for pursuing a vegan lifestyle are many but include: maintaining your personal health (as many animal products are also common allergens) and a dedication to low-impact or "green living," which focuses on helping the environment and limiting the destruction of animal species and habitats such as rain forests and rivers.
While the general definition of veganism is fairly straightforward, each individual vegan chooses their own path - which elements of the lifestyle they will embrace and which rule they will follow. For example, dietary vegans only avoid animal products in the foods they eat, but do not mind purchasing animal-derived clothing or household goods. Meanwhile, strict or ethical vegans avoid animal products in all areas that they possibly can. Typically, ethical vegans believe that humans should not kill or harvest products from animals for any reason, and strongly support the total abolishment of any and all forms of animal cruelty.
Vegans who avoid animal products in all aspects of their life will typically also want to purchase a vegan mattress (in addition to vegan pillows, sheets, blankets and other associated bedroom items). However, you do not have to be a vegan to purchase a vegan mattress. Vegan mattresses may also benefit those who have sensitive skin (especially if you experience frequent skin irritation or rashes) or certain allergies.
Of course, you're probably still asking one major question - what makes a mattress vegan or not in the first place? Of course, mattresses are not made out of meat, milk or cheese. However, you may be surprised to learn that, throughout history, a number of different animal products have been used in the manufacture of mattresses - even in some areas which might be quite unexpected.
The most common and obvious example of an animal product found in mattresses is wool. Wool is sheared from various species of "fluffy" animal including but not limited to sheep, llamas, alpaca or yak. It is considered to be extremely soft and comfortable, which has led to its wide use in goods ranging from clothing to carpets. Many mattresses have outer layers or covers made from wool. However, wool is harvested from animals, and therefore a mattress which uses wool in any capacity cannot be considered vegan. Instead of wool, similar but plant-based fabrics such as cotton and hemp may be used.
The other animal-derived item frequently found in mattresses might be a bit more surprising: feathers. Throughout history, feathers from various birds such as chickens, geese or ducks have been used as the inner filling of pillows, comforters, futons, and, of course, mattresses. Nowadays, the emergence of feathers as an allergen has led to some manufacturers moving away from them or using synthetic, factory-produced feathers instead.
It is possible to find other animal products in your mattress, such as the milk-based substance casein, which is sometimes used to make the exterior of mattresses smoother. However, wool and feathers are by far the most common offenders.
Another important factor to consider is animal testing. Ethical veganism also opposes the use of animals to test out products such as chemicals. Recent laws in countries all over the world have begun to outlaw animal testing as a form of cruelty. However, some countries have not yet fully outlawed animal testing for certain consumer goods. A mattress which has been tested on animals cannot be considered vegan, even if it is otherwise made from synthetic or plant-based materials.
Natural latex is typically a vegan substance. It is harvested from the rubber tree and no animal products are involved in its manufacturing process. Latex is strong, soft and durable all on its own, so there is no need for wool or feathers to be used.
In addition, natural latex is inherently resistant to mold, mildew, bacteria, insects, fire, and many more potential dangers. Therefore, natural latex mattresses do not need to be treated with chemical fire retardants, mold or insect repellents, or any other artificial add-ons which many other mattress types are forced to use. As these substances are sometimes tested on animals, their absence in natural latex mattresses serves as an extra guarantee that the final product will be vegan.
There are a lot of mattress sellers out there promising vegan mattresses to their customers. With the rising popularity of veganism, hearing this is no surprise! It is important to remember, however, that "vegan" is not necessarily synonymous with "organic" or "all-natural". Chemical-based products, such as synthetic latex or polyurethane foam, can still technically be vegan if they do not use any animal products or animal testing in their manufacturing process. So it's always important to take a look at exactly which words a seller is using to describe their mattresses.
At Brand Name, we use exclusively natural latex which is harvested from rubber trees using a sustainable, environmentally friendly, cruelty free process. The latex is then formed into its distinctive mattress shape using a process which relies on air, pressure and temperature rather than excessive chemical add-ons. Our mattresses are both more comfortable and more durable - not to mention higher quality - than any chemical-based alternative. If you're still not sure just why you should choose natural latex, you can read our guide here or learn more about the latex harvesting process and the life cycle of the rubber tree over here.
Of course, a commitment to the ethical vegan lifestyle or an opposition to animal cruelty may be sufficient reasons for you to choose a vegan mattress over one which is not. However, did you know that vegan mattresses have even more benefits on top of those obvious ones?
Vegan mattresses are just as firm, comfortable and durable as their non-vegan counterparts. They are also typically more breathable, allowing air to pass easily through their various layers without retaining excessive heat or moisture. They are also, as we mentioned earlier, naturally resistant to mold, mildew, bacteria and many other various nasties.
This stands in direct contrast to animal-based fibers such as wool, which - due to their high protein levels - are known to provide a fertile habitat for bacteria, mold, dust mites, and many other unpleasant critters. A wool-based or feather-stuffed mattress would need to be treated with a practically overwhelming number of chemical repellents when compared to its vegan alternative.
So whether you're a lifelong vegan, a newbie just starting out, or someone who's merely interested in the lifestyle or is looking for a high-quality, cruelty-free option, a vegan mattress just might be right for you! And what better place to start than with Brand Name's signature natural latex? Head over to our amazing catalog here to start browsing your practically endless options!