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Vegan shoes? But what does it actually mean?

Added
2020-06-22
Vegan philosophy is becoming increasingly popular. Nevertheless, most people narrow down their understanding of veganism only to the choice of food. In fact, being vegan involves not only avoiding animal by-products. It is also about adopting a lifestyle in harmony with the nature. Being vegan impacts all of your purchase decisions, even when it comes to shoes. Let’s explore what vegan shoes are and how to know them when you see them.

Vegan shoes – fabric

Vegans try to avoid all animal by-products. They will look for alternatives to natural leather. One of such options can be faux leather. It looks like natural leather, but no animal was hurt in the production of this material.

It should be pointed out, though, that not every synthetic material is considered vegan. Even if it is not an animal by-product, it may have adverse impact on the environment and then it is off-limits for vegans. It is the entire production process that matters, including the origin of raw materials, manner of processing and time needed for decomposition. If any of these aspects has adverse impact on the environment, it is not a good option for vegans. They will not appreciate such materials.

Therefore, we cannot say that vegan shoes are just any shoes not made of natural leather. There is more to it. Vegan footwear should be made of materials whose production process, dying technology and decomposition time are in line with sustainability principles.

However, you should consider not only the outer, but also the insole and insock of a shoe. These elements are often made of leather or wool, which means such product cannot be classified as vegan.

Vegan shoes – glue

Another important element when classifying shoes as vegan or not is glue. Many types of glue used for shoes are made of animal by-products, such as leather production waste or bones. These are mostly casein or gelatine glues, most popular in the production of shoes. Shoes made with such glues cannot be classified as vegan, because not all of the elements used in the production process are consistent with vegan philosophy.

Sole in vegan shoes

The last element that can be of importance to vegans is the outsole. Animal by-products are hardly ever used for it, but it doesn’t mean outsole should be disregarded altogether. You would still want to know how it is made and how long it will take to decompose. The more environment-friendly the production process is, i.e. the less carbon dioxide is emitted, the better. Decomposition time is also important. Quickly biodegradable products are the leader in this category; you will find them in shoes labelled as 100% vegan.

How to recognise vegan shoes?

The abovementioned requirements defined for vegan shoes show that recognising vegan shoes is not at all that easy. There is one thing you can be sure of: natural leather shoes are definitely not vegan. All the rest is a terra incognita: when faced with shoes made of other fabrics, you can hardly ever say which of them are vegan unless you have detailed information on the origins and production process.

This is not to say vegan shoes cannot be found. On the contrary. You can find them, because there are certificates that will help you make the right choice. They prove the origin of the fabric and the type of glue used. That’s how you can be sure that specific shoes are consistent with vegan philosophy. You can also find shoes labelled as 100% vegan, which is an unmistakable sign that a product complies with all the requirements and principles important for vegans.

Designer vegan footwear

While looking for vegan shoes, remember it’s not only small niche brands with small-scale production that offer such footwear, but also major brands of worldwide fame. One of the brands that deserve a mention here is Dr. Martens, which can safely be dubbed as the pioneer of this trend among large footwear manufacturers. First vegan models appeared in 2011 and helped the brand regain its former glory. This is why Dr Martens boots, popular a couple of decades ago, can now be seen in the streets in a new, environment-friendly version.

Also major sports footwear producers, such as Adidas or Nike, offer vegan shoes, although this line accounts for a small proportion of the whole product portfolio. However, vegans do appreciate the fact that they can wear designer shoes without having to compromise the lifestyle of their choice.

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