Uncomfortable about sleeping on animal-derived materials? Sarah Colohan shows you the best places to find vegan duvets and pillows.
If you’re starting to question whether your feather pillow is ethical, or if that wool blanket at the end of your bed is cruelty-free, you might be interested in discovering vegan-friendly alternatives like linen, cotton and bamboo, which are plentiful, affordable and – with a little planning – easy to switch to.
Non-vegan bedding materials
Down is the fine layer of feathers on a bird and is typically very soft. The down industry claims the majority of down is a by-product of the meat industry (meaning it is plucked from already dead birds), but there have been reports that 50-80 per cent of down still comes from live birds.
Silk bedding is often pitched as an alternative to down due to its hypoallergenic properties, but traditional silk is from silkworms, farmed for so long they can no longer exist in the wild.
If allowed, a silkworm would follow the natural stages of metamorphosis. Most people don’t realise that to create silk, silkworms are boiled or gassed inside their cocoons before they can further mature.
Wool is not much more ethically comforting either – check out the film Slay on Waterbear or watch some of the exposés by PETA to find out more about this industry.
Bedding often contains non-vegan materials such as down, wool, and even silk. Photo © New Africa via Adobe Stock
Ethical vegan bedding alternatives
The main vegan ethical alternatives are cotton, bamboo, linen and eucalyptus silk.
For those who don’t know much about bamboo, it’s naturally hypoallergenic and antibacterial, very soft and quite breathable. However, the main reason it is ahead of the others and winning eco awards around the world, is that it requires far less water than cotton to produce.
Panda is a London-based company specialising in all things bamboo. It has just won the ‘Best Eco-Friendly Pillow’ award for 2023. The core of the award-winning Panda pillow is made of memory foam, with the outer cover made of bamboo. It even comes with a 30-night trial period and a 10-year guarantee and retails at £44.95.
The Cloud bamboo duvet is also a national bestseller and the company has now launched a range of temperature control, antibacterial mattress toppers from £99.95. The products all feel very luxurious and have a distinctive black panda paw print.
When purchasing vegan bed linen, look for bedding made from cotton, bamboo, linen or eucalyptus silk. Photo © Vadi Fuoco via Adobe Stock
Duvet Hog is another brand to look out for – the company makes finest spun vegan-down out of recycled PET plastics from water bottles. The duvets and pillows are soft, light, warm and breathable – like real down, but without plucking a single feather.
The Duvet Hog duvet is made without chemicals or toxins and is hypoallergenic. The other fantastic thing about this brand of duvet is that you can wash and tumble-dry it at home. The company promises that they come out like new every time.
Ethical Bedding is a certified B Corp that specialises in organic eucalyptus silk, which uses 95 per cent less water than traditional cotton production – 150 litres versus 3,000 litres. It’s grown on non-farmable land in biodiverse forests and uses no pesticides, herbicides or toxic chemicals in the process.
“After years of working in financial technology, I realised my work no longer filled me with joy, and had began impacting my health. I wanted to do something that would have a positive impact on the world, and saw that building a B2C brand would enable me to spread kindness through my business,” says founder James Higgins.
“I’ve always loved nature, and the protection of the planet is always front of mind with every business decision I make, so when I discovered the incredible properties of eucalyptus, I knew this was a fabric of the future.
“I set about scoping products suited to using this as a base textile, and this was how Ethical Bedding came about. It takes about 19kWh to make our sheets, compared to 27kWh for cotton sheets. 99 per cent of the chemicals, water and waste is then reused in the unique closed loop system.”
Ethical Bedding is a certified B Corp that specialises in organic eucalyptus silk, which uses 95 per cent less water than traditional cotton production. Photo © Ethical Bedding
Another brand to look out for is The Linen Cupboard, which is based in Yorkshire. The company has been in the ethical bedding business for over 20 years and offers a range of vegan, sustainable sheets and duvets created from responsibly sourced raw materials.
The luxurious, quality filled vegan duvets are finished by hand at The Linen Cupboard’s unique, eco-friendly factory. You can find a vast vegan section and a full range of British-made bedding at linencupboard.co.uk.
And if you’re shopping on the high street, John Lewis is leading the way by stocking multiple lines of sustainable vegan duvets and bedding supplies.
Prices start at £125 for a single 2.5 tog duvet – not a cheap buy but certainly a great investment for you and for the planet.
“Our customers are telling us that they want to be more sustainable and live healthier, more responsible lives,” says Unna Patel, Partner & Filled Bedding Buyer at John Lewis & Partners.
High-street stores such as John Lewis are now offering vegan duvets and pillows to help you get a good, night's sleep with a clear conscience. Photo © Vera via Adobe Stock
“As plant-based and vegan lifestyles are becoming increasingly popular, we think these products will delight our customers, providing them with a beautiful product that will give them a great night’s sleep.
“For those who don’t know much about bamboo, it’s naturally hypoallergenic and antibacterial, very soft and quite breathable.”
Vegan hotel bedding
When it comes to commercial use, incredibly there is only one totally vegan option in London if you’re looking for a vegan hotel experience. The Hilton Bankside has one vegan suite available, created in partnership with multi-sensory design experts Bompas & Parr and given the thumbs up by The Vegan Society.
Food and design studio Bompas & Parr teamed up with Hilton Bankside Hotel to create the first ever vegan hotel suite that is completely free from animal products and materials made from animals. Photo © The Hilton Bankside
There’s everything from a plant-based check-in desk and keycard to vegan-friendly bedding and eco-cotton carpet. Plus, you can choose from a range of pillows including organic buckwheat hulls, natural kapok, organic millet husks, bamboo shredded fibre and 100 per cent recycled cluster polyester.
There’s even a hand-embroidered Piñatex leather headboard (plant-based leather made from pineapple fibres).
Another option is Bristol’s Base Retreat, a vegan retreat and small animal sanctuary with luxury rooms and cabins, using all vegan bedding.
We spoke to Jacqui, one of the owners, who told us: “Our bedding is very important to us. We have vegans and non-vegans staying, so we like to show them that comfort is very important and possible to be completely vegan. Our bedding is the Soft as Down range from Soak and Sleep. It’s beautifully soft, light, warm and cosy without the cruelty.”
Now you’ve got your bedding sorted, here’s what to eat for a good night’s sleep.
Featured photo © Boris Jovanovic via Getty Images