The hunt for vegan-friendly footwear can be difficult, especially when many of the most popular shoe brands use at least some leather in their designs. For example, at first glance, you wouldn’t automatically assume a pair of Vans has leather. Then, you look closely and realize the signature side stripe is oftentimes — you guessed it — leather. While many mainstream brands like Doc Marten and Birkenstock have their own vegan lines, the options are sometimes more limited. Plus, there are some pros and cons to buying vegan options from companies that contribute to animal exploitation with their other products. So, let’s discuss some of the best options for vegan footwear out there and weigh the pros and cons of buying vegan options from non-vegan companies.
Exclusively Vegan Brands:
KOI Footwear is a 100% vegan brand with a huge variety of trendy styles. Whether you’re looking for some platform sandals or a pair of white sneakers, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something on this site. Their prices aren’t outrageous despite the fact that, according to their “ethics” page, they “continuously work hard to ensure our production and supply chain is ethical.” The brand is gaining popularity and is sold on mainstream retail sites like ASOS and DollsKill as well as from their website directly.
This German shoe brand is a great alternative to more mainstream sneaker brands like Vans and Converse (which also have vegan options but aren’t exclusively vegan). Not only is this brand 100% vegan, but all their products are made sustainably and are certified fair-trade.
Non-vegan brands with a vegan selection:
The ethics of buying vegan shoes from non-vegan companies can be tricky. When Burger King started selling the Impossible Burger, for example, some vegans didn’t want to purchase it because that would mean they’re giving money to a company that pays for animals to be exploited. While this is true, it is also important to increase the demand for easily-accessible vegan products, whether food, footwear, clothing, etc. Therefore, while buying from all-vegan companies is preferable, buying the vegan-specific options from a company can help increase the demand for such products and make those products more mainstream and visible.
This French brand is a bit pricier than some more mainstream brands, but they have an extensive vegan collection and makes a concerted effort to produce their shoes sustainably and ethically. Their shoe options closely resemble New Balance, Adidas, Reebok or Nike sneakers in a variety of colors and styles–but without the leather or other animal products.
If you’re a fan of ultra-platform, more alternative-style shoes, both these brands have a huge vegan collection in a wide variety of colors and styles. And, if you’re a fan of Doc Martens, these brands are both oftentimes cheaper and have a wider variety of vegan options.
Most Converse sneakers are made of synthetic materials and are held together by a non-animal-derived glue. To make your search a little easier, you can go to the filter tab and select “canvas” under material to ensure you don’t accidentally select a suede/leather option. If you’re unsure, you can check the details of the product and what the shoe is made of is almost always listed.
On the Adidas website, you can filter for “vegan” and find several great options for both athletic and more casual-style sneakers.
Birkenstock also has a fairly large vegan selection to choose from with multiple designs and colors to choose from. I own a pair of vegan Birkenstocks, and they are in great condition despite having owned them for several years now.
Finally, Doc Martens has a vegan collection with a few different styles to choose from. These shoes are definitely high-quality and made to last a long time. I have had my pair of vegan Docs for a few years and they still look good as new.
Making sure we consume products ethically is a great way to increase your impact on the fight against animal exploitation, climate change, and all the other issues that veganism helps to minimize. Even making the choice to purchase one pair of vegan-friendly shoes instead of a less-ethical alternative can have a significant impact. So, next time you’re looking for a new pair of shoes, hopefully these websites will help you find a vegan-friendly option that matches your personal style.