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What Are Vegan Shoes?

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what are vegan shoes

On this blog, we introduce and recommend lots of vegan products, including vegan shoes. With so many brands claiming to be vegan, it could be hard to tell what is vegan and what is not. In this post, we will tell you common materials used to make vegan shoes, and we will introduce some brands where you can shop for high-quality vegan footwear.

What Are Vegan Shoes Made of?

Vegan shoes, like all vegan products, are made without the use of animal by-products. That means no wool, leather, suede, and other products made from living things. Below are some common vegan materials used to make cruelty-free shoes.

PU (Polyurethane)

A type of plastics made from fossil fuel. Not the most environmentally-friendly, but it is 100% free of animal products. It is also the most common material used to make vegan leather. It could often be found in shoes’ upper and soles. Sneakers made with this type of material are durable and more breathable than those made with PVC (which will be introduced later).


A material made by mostly polyamide, nylon, and PU. Because of its texture, it is a popular material for making vegan suede. It is soft, breathable, and lightweight.


Textiles like canvas, mesh, and other types of fabrics found on shoes are also vegan, as they are mostly made of cotton or polyester. These materials can often be found on running shoes, sneakers, and trainers.

One thing to pay attention to is that some canvas might be treated with beeswax, which would make it non-vegan. If you are getting shoes made with canvas, be sure to look up what kind of wax the company uses to treat its sneakers.

canvas shoes

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

PVC reached its peak in popularity in the 70s. Even though it is still used today, it is less popular than other materials because it releases potentially dangerous toxins when heated.

PVC can often be found on shoes with a shiny upper, like patent leather and vinyl. As mentioned earlier, PVC is not very breathable, but that makes it waterproof. Because of that, some rain boots are also made with this material.

Read: 14 Men’s Vegan Boots for Every Occasion


Rubber is mostly found on your soles, and it has several origins:

  • Natural Rubber – Harvested from rubber trees by obtaining liquid latex from them. The liquid latex is then processed and turned into rubber. Natural rubber is mostly eco-friendly since liquid latex can be harvested repeatedly without cutting the tree down.
  • Synthetic Rubber – This type of rubber is man-made from fossil fuels and other minerals. Since it is made with fossil fuel, it is not the most sustainable option.
  • Recycled Rubber – Recycled rubber is made from rubber reclaimed from materials like used tires and used shoes. It is the most eco-friendly option out of the three.

Even though rubber may come from different sources, they are vegan all the same since animal products are not involved.

Recycled Polyester

Recycled polyester is often made with recycled PET bottles, and it is a sustainable material as it makes use of used plastic bottles instead of using new materials.

As conscious fashion gains popularity, more brands are using recycled materials to make their products. So, next time you go shopping, keep an eye out for shoes made with this material.


Cork is not just for wine bottles, it is also used to make shoes and accessories.

Cork is a vegan material because it is made from the bark of oak trees. It is also a sustainable material because only the outer bark is harvested, and the tree itself is not harmed. Therefore, tree bark can be harvested again when it regenerates.

You can find this vegan material in the footbed and soles of some shoes, like slippers and wedges. A famous brand that uses this material is Birkenstock, which uses cork to make the comfortable footbed that it is known for.



Outdoor enthusiasts are definitely familiar with this term as it is an important material for a pair of good hiking shoes.

Gore-Tex is made with expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE), also known as Teflon. This material is waterproof as well as windproof, and it will make sure your feet stay dry on your treks.

Are Vegan Shoes High Quality?

Vegan shoes are usually of good quality, but general rules of shoe-wearing still apply.

Their materials could also affect their durability. For example, vegan leather is not as durable as genuine leather. However, if you take care of them well, shoes made with vegan leather could also last you a long time. Vegan shoes made with textiles, on the other hand, are no different from non-vegan shoes in terms of durability.

In short, you don’t have to worry about the quality of vegan shoes, for they are mostly just as durable as their non-vegan counterparts.

Read: What Kind of Fabrics are Vegan?

Where Can I Shop For Vegan Shoes?

The best way to make sure your shoes are cruelty-free is to get them from vegan brands or collections. Vegan fashion is getting more popular, so you should have no problem finding shops selling vegan goods. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few of our suggestions.



Veja is a French brand with vegan sneakers collections made with organic and fair-trade materials, and about 30% of Veja’s shoes are vegan.

Certified organic cotton, natural Amazonian rubber, and corn-based coating are all materials Veja uses to make its vegan products. Other than collections for men and women, this brand also has collections for kids, so it is a great place to shop to find matching kicks for the whole family.

Veja sells only sporty trainers and running shoes. If you are into athleisure, then you will certainly find that perfect pair of shoes to complete your sporty outfits.


For outdoor enthusiasts, XPETI has vegan options that will make sure you’re well equipped for your next great adventure.

XPETI has collections of high-quality vegan hiking boots and shoes for adventures on different terrains. Its soles feature cleats that provide lots of grip for scaling uneven surfaces, and its water-resistant fabrics keep your feet dry on treks in damp forests.

XPETI shoes have rubber toe caps that protect your feet, and its winter collections will keep your toes warm on snowy peaks. Other than its own website, you can also find XPETI on Amazon.

Be it rocky terrains or snowy treks, XPETI shoes are your best pals to conquer them all.

Beyond Skin

This is a brand with roots in the UK, and it offers designer vegan shoes for those who enjoy luxury fashion. With roots in the UK, all its footwear is designed there. It is then hand-made in Spain with premium vegan fabrics from Italy.

Founded in 2001, this brand wants to offer the world high-quality vegan shoes that exude individuality and are eco-friendly at the same time. Beyond Skin uses vegetable polymer coating and recycled faux leather lining for all its shoes.

It has a large assortment of footwear for women, ranging from posh loafers to glamorous heels. If elegance sums up your style, you can certainly find your next pair of shoes here.

Matt & Nat

Matt & Nat is a Canadian brand that sells cruelty-free shoes, outerwear, and accessories for both ladies and gentlemen. Not only is this brand vegan, but it is also sustainable.

Its shoes are made with manmade leather, recycled bottles, and cork. This brand uses only recycled plastic bottles for the lining, and recycled bicycle tires have also been introduced into its collections.

It follows ethical labor practices, so products here are not made in sweatshops or by child labor. This brand also has a wide range of products to choose from, all thoughtfully designed with style and sustainability in mind.

Read: 12 Stylish Vegan Crossbody Bags

Will’s Vegan Store

As its brand name suggests, Will’s Vegan Store is a brand that sells, well, vegan products.

Other than shoes, this brand also sells vegan clothing and accessories and has collections for both adults and kids.

This brand doesn’t just protect animals, it also protects the environment and workers’ rights. Its online vegan store is plastic-free, and all its products are carbon neutral. Its vegan shoes and accessories are made with plant-based vegan leather, and recycled rubber is used to make its insoles.

Available on its own site as well as Amazon, Will’s Vegan Store has stunning collections of oxfords, loafers, and boots that will have you looking sleek at formal events, and it also has chic sneakers that are comfortable and practical for everyday wear.

Read: 11 Chic Vegan Backpacks

As vegan fashion gains popularity, more and more stores are offering cruelty-free products, and people are starting to realize that fashion doesn’t have to come at the sacrifice of innocent animals.

With this guide, you can better identify vegan shoes, and you will have a better idea of where to buy your next pair of cruelty-free kicks.

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