I have been knitting for over 30 years, and I *love* wool and other natural/animal fibers. I've been a vegetarian for 12 years and recently I've been seriously contemplating becoming vegan. Having to give up my love of wool, etc. has been more challenging than some of the other changes.
Anyway, in answer to your question, I think that you'll just have to do some experimenting with fibers. Linen, while it feels a bit crisp on the skein, gets softer each time you wash it. I will also be experimenting with some of these non-animal fiber yarns because I know that I must stop using wool, but it will be a process. If your LYS is not helpful, I'd try traveling to other nearby shops and ask local knitters for recommendations.