The vegan lifestyle encompasses a broad range of considerations. Going vegan isn’t just about your diet, it also includes careful selection of the products you use and the clothing you wear down to your footwear. Finding truly vegan sneakers can be a big challenge. Not all shoes advertised as vegan are authentic. This is why we’ve prepared a guide to help you know how to find authentic vegan shoes, and how to tell the difference between the fakes that disreputable companies attempt to pass off as the genuine article. Here is everything you need to know about identifying and acquiring vegan sneakers.
What are vegan sneakers?
The term vegan means that no animals were harmed in the creation of the product that falls under this category. It applies to the materials and the manufacturing processes involved in producing the final result. When it comes to sneakers, you won’t find a vegan sneaker that features leather uppers because leather is made from the tanned hide of animals. According to OluKai, vegan sneakers are made of materials that do not correlate with animals. They are made of 100 percent synthetic fabrics and leather alternatives.
The benefits of Vegan sneakers
Vegan sneakers are not made at the expense of the life of an animal. There are no inhumane practices for harvesting fur or leather involved. The processes for creating vegan sneakers are usually more environmentally friendly. They leave a smaller carbon footprint which means that they’re a better alternative for the earth and all of its inhabitants. Another advantage of vegan sneakers is that they are usually less expensive than footwear that is made of genuine leather. By wearing vegan footwear, you’re doing your part to help improve the health of the planet for everyone.
How to identify vegan shoes
Vegan Kicks offers a few tips on how to make sure the sneakers you buy are truly vegan. It starts with understanding the differences in vegan versus animal-based materials. When you read the product descriptions or speak with a sales representative you can learn a lot about the components of the sneakers. Some sneakers are labeled as “vegan leather.” Check out our list of vegan materials to familiarize yourself with the materials that are free of animal-based components.
Vegan leather is made of a variety of different materials. The first such materials were made of polyurethane and polyvinyl chloride which are both plastics. They are still in use and qualify as vegan, however, there are better options that are better for the environment than these plastics.
Vegan material made from plants
Biobased polyurethane is from the starch refined from forage corn that is not edible. The synthetic leather is waterproof, breathable lighter than animal leather, and durable. It is environmentally friendly and sustainable with no known drawbacks.
Pineapple leather is also marketed under the name Pinatex. The material is made from the leaves of pineapple plants. It’s environmentally friendly and sustainable because it is made from discarded pineapple leaves. It is recycled material from plant waste that cuts down on landfill. The synthetic leather is breathable and lightweight, however, it must be created with a petroleum-based resin that isn’t fully biodegradable. It still qualifies as vegan.
Natural and Recycled Rubber
Rubber is a natural product that grows on rubber trees. It is environmentally friendly and sustainable. Rubber can also be recycled and further eliminate waste. It is commonly used to make the soles of shoes or for rubber boots.
Cork is a plant-based material that is breathable, antibacterial, and fully biodegradable. It is a safe and healthy option that is used to make the sole of a shoe. It is a sustainable source that is safe and healthy, but cork has a distinct visual appearance that cannot is only appropriate for some shoe styles.
Microfiber may be made from either natural or synthetic fibers including nylon, polyurethane, and others. it is similar to suede. It is breathable, lightweight, and soft. Although vegan it can be harmful to the environment by causing pollution from the tiny threads that are not biodegradable.
Goretex is a vegan material that is breathable, lightweight, soft, windproof, and waterproof. It is made of partially sustainable materials as well as synthetics.
Waxed canvas is made from cotton fabric or canvas and processed with beeswax or paraffin. Some waxed canvas is vegan and some are not. It is sustainable, waterproof, and durable, but the type that is made of beeswax is not vegan. Only that made with paraffin, which is petroleum-based and less environmentally friendly is truly vegan.
This is a vegan microfiber that looks and feels like suede. It is a synthetic polyester fabric that is not biodegradable and not fully sustainable.
Recycled PET Bottles
This material is made from recycled plastic bottles. It is versatile, machine washable, and sustainable. The material is similar to plastic and used for the soles of shoes most often. It is not biodegradable.
Polyvinyl Chloride is a leather substitute that is vegan, yet not eco-friendly and not sustainable. When heated, it releases toxic dioxins.
Polyurethane is a vegan leather that is made from fossil fuels. Exposure can lead to health issues. It is not entirely eco-friendly or sustainable. Refer to the list of vegan materials when choosing the brand and model of the sneakers. According to Space Coast Daily, there are a few other symbols that you would be aware of when researching the brands and materials used. Symbols that reveal more about the materials include a “Woolmark” that lets you know that sheep’s wool is a component in the fabric that takes it off the vegan list. The symbol looks like interwoven toenails. Symbols that appear as crisscrossed horizontal and vertical lines indicate textiles that incorporate suede or leather from animals in the material.
Which brands are known for producing vegan sneakers?
Space Coast shared its list of prominent brands that are trusted sources for obtaining vegan sneakers. Unfortunately, few of the major brands carry vegan sneakers, but several companies throughout the world do offer them as imports. Here are a few of them.
Veja is a vegan company from Paris, France. The shoes are certified as vegan, and they are also classified as being fully organic and safe for the environment. They offer unisex shoes in a broad range from leisure to work styles. They source shoes made of organic cotton and wild rubber from artisans who hand-craft them in Brazil.
Thousand Fell is a shoe manufacturer in New York City. This company sources their vegan shoes from a factory that is owned by a family in Brazil. Sneakers produced by Thousand Fell are designed in New York City but made in brazil with a focus on durability.
Ahimsa is a fairly new shoe manufacturer that is based in Brazil. The company launched in 2013, specializing in high-quality shoes crafted of vegan leather and microfiber. The Ahimsa shoe factory is certified as being 100% vegan.
Native Shoes is a shoe manufacturing company based in Vancouver, Canada. The business launched in 2009. It specializes in shoes made of animal-free microfiber leather.
Seven Best Vegan Sneaker Reviews
To complete our guide to getting vegan sneakers, we end with a review of the 7 most highly recommended by Smartly Vegan, a company that is concerned with pointing consumers in the right direction.
7. Veja Women’s V-10 Vegan Sneakers
These sneakers are stylish and comfortable. They’re made of 100% vegan materials from a trusted brand name. They feature a removable sole, stylish faux leather and are advertised as a gender-neutral sneaker. The feminine aesthetic makes this sneaker a women’s shoe than for men. They are made in a classic skater shoe styling and go well with casual attire. The fabric is breathable to keep your feet cool and dry. The rubber sole is made of a solid piece to make them water-resistant.
6. Ahimsa Men’s Vegan Sneaker
This model is a flat style shoe that features 100% cotton uppers. All materials in this shoe come from sustainable and environmentally friendly sources. The shoes are black and unisex. These shoes are suitable for men or women. These sneakers are well-built and designed for durability.
5. Tom’s Women’s Del Rey Sneaker
Toms is a brand that specializes in the production of vegan sneakers from sustainable sources. The design is a bit off the beaten path, but they are nonetheless stylish and functional. They feature a low-top design. Every new pair of Tom’s sneakers bought triggers a response from the company to donate one pair of sneakers for free to a needy child. It is worth noting that these sneakers do need breaking in. Most consumers report that they are stiff at first, but they conform to the shape of your foot with extreme comfort after the first few times they are worn.
4. Biankina Capri Vegan Sneakers for Women
These are the original classic style sneaker style hand-crafted in Spain. The shoes feature breathable vegan canvas material. There are no adhesives used in the creation of these shoes. A process of vulcanization is employed to bond the canvas uppers to the rubber bottom. These shoes are fashionable and comfortable. The materials are 100% vegan with a natural rubber sole, cotton canvas upper, and midsole. Natural elastic is used to make these shoes easy to slip on and off. The laces allow you to adjust the degree of snugness. Biankina plants two trees for every pair of shoes sold.
3. Matt & Nat Women’s Hazel Vegan Lace-up Sneaker
The Matt & Nat brand is known for its vegan handbags and now a line of sneakers. The shoes feature vegan textiles in a soft fabric that is stretchy and comfortable to wear, yet firm enough to support the feet and ankles. They are lightweight yet durable. The solid rubber sole is grippy to make it safe to walk on most surfaces without slipping. These sneakers are made in the USA by a reputable vegan accessory manufacturer.
2. Nae Men’s EFE Double Zipper Vegan Dress Sneaker
This creative vegan brand uses the acronym NAE which is the abbreviation of No Animal Exploitation. In addition to a commitment to producing vegan shoes, the company ensures that the manufacturing process involves sustainable practices. This is a Portuguese company that uses 100% vegan materials. The double zipper design is minimalist but suitable for casual dressy occasions.
1. Saucony Originals Men’s Jazz Low Pro Vegan Sneaker
Saucony is a shoe company that focuses on producing affordable high-end shoes. Their migration to vegan styling is a recent venture, but the vegan sneakers are authentic and 100% made with vegan materials. Saucony is a high-end brand with a strong reputation in the footwear industry. These sneakers feature a high-quality padded canvas with grippy rubber soles. They are available in four colors.
Notable mainstream brands in vegan styles
Adidas makes a few vegan sneakers that are guaranteed to be free of any animal ingredients. Adidas offers these stylish sneakers in a classic style with a narrow fit, lace closure, and soft materials. All the materials used in the creation of this shoe are animal-free. The lining is textile. The uppers are PU-coated recycled synthetics. The outsole is rubber.
Reebok Vegan Sneakers
Reebok features a plant-based sneaker that is 100 percent vegan. The materials used are castor beans, algae, and eucalyptus. The Forever Floatride GROW is their first plant-based shoe made of plants and agricultural elements. No need to worry. Veg News assures us that the other “agricultural” ingredients are not animal-based.