What are Vegan Shoes?

In recent years, veganism has experienced a remarkable surge in popularity. It is evolving from a dietary preference to a comprehensive lifestyle, encompassing ethical choices beyond food.

This shift is reflected in a 2021 survey conducted in the U.S., where approximately 42 percent of the population stated that veganism is more ethical. This ethical consciousness has led to the rise of vegan shoes. But what exactly are vegan shoes, and how do they differ from regular shoes?

In this article, we will explore what sets vegan shoes apart from traditional footwear and delve into why more and more individuals are embracing this cruelty-free option.

What are Vegan Shoes?

Vegan shoes are footwear that does not use any animal-derived materials. Unlike traditional shoes, vegan shoes are not made from animal parts like skin, fur, wool, or hair.

Vegan shoes are instead made from materials like polyurethane, microfiber, organic cotton, cork, and even pineapple fibers. These materials offer a viable alternative to animal products without compromising style or quality. 

Vegan shoes also contribute to environmental sustainability. They often have a lower carbon footprint and support using eco-friendly materials.

Types of Vegan Footwear

A wide range of vegan footwear is available to suit different occasions, preferences, and styles. Here are some common types of vegan footwear:


Vegan sneaker brands utilize synthetic leather alternatives, canvas, or other plant-based materials to create durable and trendy designs. Corn leather, bamboo, and recycled thermoplastics are popular for making vegan sneakers. 


Traditional sandals often incorporate animal-derived materials like leather or bone-based glue. Vegan sandals, on the other hand, are crafted using plant-based alternatives. 

Materials such as pineapple leaves, apples, mushrooms, and cacti provide a sustainable and ethical option while closely mimicking animal skin’s look, feel, and durability.


Vegan oxfords are available in various colors and styles to suit various occasions.

From formal events to professional settings, vegan oxfords are a great alternative to regular leather ones. 

They are often made from high-quality synthetic leather or plant-based materials. But they offer the same refined appearance and durability as their non-vegan counterparts. 


Vegan loafers are made from apple leather, cactus leather, corn, etc.

Whether you’re dressing up for a professional setting or opting for a casual look, vegan loafers offer a sleek and sophisticated option. 

With a wide range of colors, textures, and designs, you can find vegan loafers to suit your style and preference.

Athletic Shoes

Vegan athletic shoes are crafted using synthetic leather alternatives, recycled plastics, etc. 

They offer the same comfort, durability, and support as traditional athletic shoes without using any animal-derived components.  

Materials Used to Make Vegan Shoes

Vegan shoes are crafted using a variety of animal-friendly materials. Here are some of the most common materials used for making vegan footwear.


Microfiber is a popular material used in producing vegan shoes, known for its durability. It is mostly produced from polyamide or cotton fibres. It is a cruelty-free alternative to traditional leather. It offers a soft and smooth texture, resembling genuine leather’s look and feel. 

Polyurethane (PU)

Polyurethane (PU) is commonly used as a substitute for smooth leather in vegan shoe production. Instead of solid foam, PU fibres are often employed to create durable, flexible, and breathable shoe uppers. 

PU offers similar qualities to genuine leather. Additionally, PU foam is used for the soles of shoes, offering cushioning and support. This material is ideal for various shoe styles, from casual sneakers to formal footwear.


Hemp is a plant fiber used for centuries to create cloth and is now gaining popularity as a material for vegan shoes.

As a vegan material, hemp provides several environmental advantages. It grows fast and requires minimal herbicides or pesticides during cultivation. Its cultivation also helps enrich the soil and reduce carbon dioxide levels.

Hemp is known for its durability. Additionally, it is lightweight and breathable, offering comfort to the wearer. The fabric has a slightly raw texture, which complements the use of natural dyes exceptionally well. Its high porosity allows the material to absorb colors effectively, producing vibrant and attractive shoe designs.

Hemp shoes are generally crafted using a combination of hemp and other eco-friendly materials. These can include bamboo, wool, or even recycled plastic bottles.


Piñatex is a natural fabric derived from pineapple leaf fibers. Usually, pineapple leaves are discarded after harvest. These leaves are utilized to make Piñatex.

Any unused fibers from the production process are returned to the fields as natural fertilizer, contributing to the sustainability of pineapple farming. This earth-friendly approach reduces waste and helps create a new income stream for pineapple farmers.


Cork is harvested from cork oak trees. It is known for its exceptional durability and eco-friendliness. Cork farming has a negative carbon footprint, making it an environmentally friendly choice.

Beyond its sustainability, cork possesses desirable qualities for footwear. It is naturally waterproof. Cork shoes are moisture-resistant and suitable for various weather conditions. Additionally, cork is hypoallergenic. This makes cork shoes a great option for sensitive skin or allergies. 


AppleSkin™ leather is derived from the waste generated by the apple juice industry, making it an innovative solution that repurposes byproducts. It is made in the Italian city of Bolzano.

AppleSkin™ leather is entirely vegan leather, and it is made from 20-30% apples. It contributes to reduced emissions and environmental impact. Every kilogram of apple residue used instead of traditional chemical materials saves an impressive 5.28 kilograms of CO2, making it a zero-impact material with significant carbon footprint reduction.

Why Should You Wear Vegan Shoes?

The primary advantage of vegan shoes is their commitment to animal welfare. These footwear are crafted without animal-derived materials, ensuring no animals are harmed or exploited in manufacturing. By opting for vegan shoes, you actively contribute to reducing animal suffering.

You support a more compassionate and ethical fashion industry by embracing cruelty-free footwear. Whether you are passionate about animal welfare, environmental sustainability, or both, wearing vegan shoes allows you to make a positive impact with every step you take.

How to Know if Your Shoes Are Vegan?

Here are some tips on how to know if your shoes are vegan:

  1. Material Check: Examine the materials used in the construction of your shoes. Vegan shoes are typically made from synthetic materials like polyurethane (PU) or microfiber instead of animal-derived materials like leather, suede, or fur. Look for labels or product descriptions that explicitly state the absence of animal products.
  2. Glue and Adhesives: Some shoes use animal-based glue or adhesives in their production process. Vegan shoes often use plant-based or synthetic adhesives, so check if the brand specifies its products are free from animal-derived adhesives.
  3. Certifications and Labels: Look for vegan certifications or labels on the shoe packaging or the brand’s website. Recognized certifications such as the “PETA-Approved Vegan,” “Certified Vegan,” “BeVeg Certified,” etc., assure that the shoes meet vegan standards.


Are Vegan Shoes Better Than Regular Leather Shoes?

Vegan shoes are a better alternative to regular leather shoes for several reasons. Leather production leads to the immense suffering and loss of over a billion animal lives annually. Vegan shoes are devoid of animal-derived materials and have a lower carbon footprint. They are eco-friendly and cruelty-free. They are long-lasting and as durable as regular leather.

What are Some Famous Brands Selling Vegan Shoes?

Some of the most famous vegan shoe brands are Matt & Nat, Ahimsa, Will’s Vegan Shoes, Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather, Nae Vegan Shoes, etc. All these brands provide many vegan shoe options in various styles for eco-conscious consumers who are switching to vegan products.


In conclusion, the benefits of choosing vegan shoes extend beyond personal style and comfort. By opting for vegan footwear, you actively contribute to animal welfare and promote a compassionate, cruelty-free fashion industry.

So, let your fashion choices reflect your values and make a positive impact by choosing vegan shoes that are kind to animals and the environment.

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