I used to play a computer game, Where in Time is Carmen San Diego (showing my age right there with that sentence). It was my favorite game! In this game you would try to catch Carmen’s ‘goonies’ that escaped from prison and went through a time machine and were causing mayhem throughout time. One place we went was Ancient China, Genghis Khan China, and in order to get information we had to help people along the way. One woman we ran into was making silk and she needed help. So we found her worms, then fed them leaves. As soon as their cocoons were spun we put them in the pot of water and it bubbled and then a silk tapestry came out! Wow this is so cool, my 12-year-old self thought. And then I just kept moving through the game.
The thing I just realized now is that I believe the game led us to believe the worms had fun in their boiling bath and could go on to produce more silk. (I’m not 100% sure because that was quite a long time ago and such a small part of the game).
After the silk topic was brought back up in a podcast I was listening to, I decided to look into it more (silk, not the computer game).
Silk worms are gorged on mulberry leaves which causes them to make their cocoons. Once the cocoons are made the worms, fully in their cocoons are thrown into boiling water where the worms are dissolved and their cocoons become the silk fibers we know of. It takes 3000 silk worms in order to produce 1 k (about 2 pounds) of silk. “It takes about 5000 silkworms to make a pure silk kimono.”
Apparently, there are different kinds of silk too that are produced by other insects. I think one reason why silk isn’t always thought of as a ‘problem’ in the vegan community is because it’s hard for us to relate to insects and think they have thoughts and feelings. Just because they’re creepy crawly and I don’t want them in my house does not mean that they don’t feel fear and pain just like we do.
If you really think about it, silk is not just cruel but pretty gross. You’re basically wearing worm secretions. You’re laying your head on a pillow case made from worm barf. I mean that’s how cocoons are created.
I know insects are pretty low on the ‘things to care about’ totem-pole, but why do bees matter more than worms? Or ladybugs more than spiders? They all have a place in this world just like cows, dogs, and us. Being a vegan means not consuming, wearing, or using any animal products and not exploiting them. As Dr. Seuss says, “A person’s a person, no matter how small”. This goes for animals too.