The following guides will help make your vegetarian and vegan shoe shopping experience more rewarding.
Please note, this is still a work in progress!
Vegan and vegetarian shoe shopping guides
Vegan shoe companies – 100% vegan, ethical shoe companies and stores.
Vegan and vegetarian friendly shoe companies – Shoe companies and stores that are not solely vegan, but offer a good choice of vegan and vegetarian shoes.
Vegan shoes on Etsy – There are plenty of Etsy sellers offering handmade vegan shoes. Here’s my growing list.
What’s the difference between vegan and vegetarian shoes?
Usually nothing. They are often terms that are used for the same thing – shoes that are not made of leather. This, however, is not 100% accurate, as true vegans don’t use any animal products at all. This can include things like wool and beeswax, which are fine for vegetarians to use but are of animal origin and therefore unsuitable for vegans. So while a vegan shoe is suitable for vegetarians, not all vegetarian shoes are suitable for vegans.
In this blog, I generally write about vegan shoes, but I also point out vegetarian shoes I know are made with non-vegan materials.
What about glue?
The glue used in the shoe making industry can vary company by company and also sometimes in the same company (I guess it’s down to whatever good deal they can get at the time). Supposedly synthetic glue is becoming the norm now, but many companies still use animal-derived glue. While leather is usually (but not always!) clearly marked / listed, glue is not. This means not all synthetic shoes are 100% vegan and it’s impossible to tell without asking the company.
Glue is a byproduct of the leather, dairy and meat industries. This means no animals are actually killed for glue (unlike leather, which is not a byproduct in many cases, but the actual reason animals get killed) and using the bones and other disgusting parts that get boiled down to make the glue is therefore less wasteful. On the other hand, it does increase the value of these industries and obviously our ultimate goal is not to increase their value.
As I’m not a purist, I don’t always check what glue is used in the shoes I buy or recommend on here, though I do try to buy much of my footwear from either 100% vegan companies or companies that are PETA / Vegan Society approved, as that means the shoes are 100% free from animal derivatives. I do make a note when I know for certain what glues are used and which companies are 100% vegan.
It’s up to you how far you want to take this, which will undoubtedly depend on what’s available to you, your budget (100% consciously vegan shoes are often more expensive than buying cheap synthetic shoes) and how strict you are. My personal belief is that reducing consumption in an affordable, sustainable way is something that shouldn’t be scoffed at. Not everyone is rich / privileged enough to afford to be a purist.