In this guide:
- How do I know if my shoes are vegan?
- What materials are vegan-friendly?
- Are vegan shoes as good as non-vegan shoes?
- Is shoe glue vegan?
- What styles of shoes are vegan-friendly?
- Are vegan shoes eco-friendly?
Sustainable shopping is becoming increasingly popular – especially where fashion is concerned.
What’s more, vegan shoes are an essential addition for those looking to make their fashion choices more animal-friendly. But how do you know whether shoes are vegan or good for the environment?
It may seem that there can be quite a lot to consider when looking for shoes that are both animal-friendly and stylish. However, with some simple research it needn’t be so daunting.
Of course, you don’t have to identify as a vegan to shop more eco-consciously. Many plant-based alternatives and faux animal skin products are not only better for the environment – they’re usually more affordable, too.
Find out how to identify whether your shoes are vegan below.
How do I know if my shoes are vegan?
Some brands will include information about whether their shoes are animal-friendly. If you want to understand what to look for:
✔ Check the materials. If you’re looking to buy vegan, avoid materials and fabrics created from animal products. Wool, leather and fur should be obvious. Still, some other materials may also have animal products present – as with some brands of felt and flannel.
✔ Read the inner-shoe labelling. If you see the icons for leather and coated leather, this means your shoes are not vegan-friendly.
It isn’t just the outer material you need to consider. Some shoes’ inner linings are made from animal products, like wool-lined slippers. Soles, too, can sometimes be made of animal products such as leather.
These days, many high street brands typically avoid animal products unless they form a key part of the shoe design or style. It’s usually much more affordable for shoe-makers to use non-animal products – substituting real suede for faux suede, or leather soles for resin, for example.
What materials are vegan-friendly?
If you’re looking to buy vegan shoes, try to avoid materials derived from animal skin or animal-based materials. Find out what you should be looking for, and steering clear of, below.
|Non-vegan materials||Vegan materials|
|Wool and sheepskin||Faux fur and sheepskin|
|Shearling||Polyurethane plastics (PU)|
|Snake or crocodile skin||Resin|
|Canvas and mesh|
Are vegan shoes as good as non-vegan shoes?
Alternative materials, like plant-based leather, are usually just as durable as their original equivalents. With the right care and maintenance, you can keep your eco-friendly shoes looking good for longer.
Faux leather products usually contain some element of plastic to make them water-resistant. This material can crack or peel over time, so it’s essential to dry your shoes out after walking in the rain and occasionally wash them lightly with soapy water. Check out our maintenance guides for more information.
Is shoe glue vegan?
One important element to consider, which may not be first to spring to mind for vegan shoppers, is shoe glue. Traditionally, the glue used to bind parts of a shoe has contained animal-derived collagen – a protein found in ligaments and tendons.
These days, most leading brands and shoe-makers use synthetic binds and glues to build their shoes. These types of adhesives can be stronger and more affordable.
Some brands will carry information on the components of their glue on the shoe label. However, if you want to be sure, it’s best to do a little research beforehand and check for further info on the designer’s website.
What style of shoes are vegan-friendly?
Whether a shoe style is vegan or not will depend on the brand and the method of production. No shoe style is wholly vegan across the board. While some wellies are vegan and made from rubber, others may feature a sheepskin lining. It’s best to do your research and check the labelling on your shoes if you want to be certain that they’re vegan.
Are vegan shoes eco-friendly?
Many shoppers looking for stylish vegan shoes turn to faux leathers and suedes. Indeed, many high street brands use these fake animal products in their shoe designs anyway.
However, these shoes may contain plastics or use petroleum as part of their production. PU and PVC release toxic chemicals and harmful emissions when burnt, but usually at a lower level compared to the chemicals used to treat and tan real leather products.
Compared to real leather, and despite the emissions, plastic-based and faux leather shoes are generally a cleaner choice. Some brands now make their shoes from recycled plastics and cardboard, often reusing old shoes in the process.
If you want to shop in a more eco-friendly way, investigate which of your favourite brands use recycled materials when producing new shoes. Making more eco-conscious decisions when shopping for a new pair of shoes is easy when you know what to look for. Do your best to research everything from the materials, to the glue and the way they’re manufactured, and you’re likely to make the right choice for you.