As you’ve probably noticed, the vegan movement has grown incredibly popular over the last decade, and as numbers continue to grow, more and more traditionally non-vegan companies are offering vegan-friendly alternatives to the general public. When we think about veganism, we often first picture plant-based, non-animal derived foods and beverages.
Whilst it is true that most vegans begin by focusing on diets, those that are even more committed to the lifestyle will change the way they shop and the way that they dress. Vegan-friendly clothing is gaining momentum on a mainstream level, and there are now more vegan-friendly fashion brands and manufacturing processes than ever before.
Today we’re going to be focusing on buying a pair of vegan shoes. To many, choosing the right vegan shoes is just as important as avoiding meat and animal-derived foods, which is why we’re here to help. Here is a helpful guide on what you should consider when buying a pair of vegan shoes.
What is veganism?
Before we can start looking at helpful ways in which you can find the right pair of vegan shoes, we need to kick things off by looking at what veganism is. Veganism isn’t just a diet and way of eating like vegetarianism is. Veganism is instead a lifestyle.
Put simply, veganism is a way of living life with the primary objective to exclude, as thoroughly as possible, any and all forms of cruelty and exploitation to animals, humans, and any other living sentient beings for that matter. This is primarily through dietary and fashion choices.
What’s interesting is the fact that there are many different ways of living a vegan lifestyle. Some vegans for example, will only focus on diet, whereas others also only wear vegan-friendly clothing. Some vegans will even commit to a cruelty and exploitation-free vegan lifestyle. Whilst there are different ways of living a vegan lifestyle, the basic premise of veganism is to avoid eating, wearing, or using, any products derived from animals, or obtained as a result of cruelty or exploitation to other living beings.
A brief history of veganism
Contrary to popular belief, veganism doesn’t date back hundreds of years. in fact, veganism is relatively new as it only really came about in the 1940s. People began changing their eating habits by way of protest for how animals were treated during the food manufacturing process. In the 1960s, the Vegan Society was actually registered as a charity.
In 1979 however, the charity’s assets were moved to a new charity when it registered as a limited company. Over the years, the definition of what veganism really was would often be altered and tweaked, but the mission objective as a whole, remained the same. Nowadays, vegan living is very much here to stay, and it is growing in popularity by the day.
More and more franchises are adding vegan-friendly options to their menus. Mainstream fashion brands are creating their own vegan-friendly fashion lines, and vegan cafes, restaurants, and bars, are opening up all over the place.
Interesting Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Veganism
Now that you know a little more about where veganism began, we can now look at several interesting facts that you probably didn’t know about veganism.
Veganism saves food
Though primarily we tend to focus on how vegans alter their diets to help save animals and end cruelty and exploitation, another surprising benefit of veganism is the fact that it saves food. You see, the animals that we slaughter and butcher for meat, obviously need to be fed.
They’re often over fed to fatten them up and get more meat from them. The grains that many of these animals are fed on could feed over 1.3 billion people for the entire year. The less animals we consume, the less grain they consume, which means that there’s more grains to go around.
Veganism is very eco-friendly
These days you can’t read a newspaper or switch on the news without coming across a story talking about how pollution from cars and vehicles is responsible for climate change. The amount of pollution our cars produce however, is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the amount of methane cattle produce.
That’s right, the primary cause of climate change is methane produced by cattle reared for food consumption. Cattle are often overbred, deliberately, and as a result there is so much methane gas being produced by them that climate change is indeed apparently being set in motion. Not only that, but large areas of the Amazon have been deforested to make way for farmland to be used to raise cattle for meat.
Veganism helps save water
In some parts of the world, draught is a very serious problem. There is simply not enough water to go around and as a result, people are dying of thirst and hunger. The hunger comes as a result of a lack of water to be used for growing crops. To produce just one pound of meat, it requires over 2,500 gallons of water. Now, to grow a pound of wheat, it requires just 25 gallons of water, which is quite the difference.
Veganism is slowly growing
This statistic may sound low, but the numbers are increasing by the day. According to recent research, it is believed that around 2% of the entire western population is now following a vegan diet or lifestyle. In other parts of the world however, that number is even higher. In Israel for example, it is believed that more than 5% of the population now follows a vegan diet/lifestyle.
Veganism is good for your health
There are exceptions to the rule as it is possible to be vegan and eat junk food and gain weight. For most vegans that follow a plant-based diet complete with plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and wholegrains, one of the perks of the diet is the fact that they’ll likely live longer than average.
Studies have found that vegans are likely to live around 4 years longer than average. Not only that, but there is also evidence to suggest that vegans are 30% less likely to suffer a stroke than somebody following a typical Western diet.
Vegans help save lives
There’s no ifs or buts about it, Vegans help to save the lives of animals. In the United States alone for example, every single hour, around 500,000 animals are killed for their meat. It’s grim, it’s depressing, but it’s the truth. If fewer of us ate meat, there would be less demand for meat, and so fewer animals would die.
Not all vegan-friendly foods are marketed as such
Believe it or not, but there are some food manufacturers out there that, despite offering vegan-friendly foods, wish to distance themselves from the vegan label. Yep, it’s bizarre, but it’s true. A useful tip when shopping for vegan food is to look for food which is labelled as being cholesterol free. This is because cholesterol is derived from animal products.
Honey is controversial in the vegan world
If you want to spark up a fiery debate amongst vegans, simply get a group together and ask them whether they believe honey is vegan-friendly or not. Honey is sweet, it is a natural by-product of bees, it is very good for you, and bees are free to produce it naturally in the wild.
The main issue is that this honey has to be farmed by man, and some vegans argue that it is created via the exploitation of bees. Extreme vegan advocates believe that taking the honey is the equivalent of stealing from the bees themselves, and as a result, they want no part of it.
Other vegans however, consume honey on the premise that bees produce it naturally out in the wild, and are free to leave the hive at any time. Honey is therefore, a very hot topic in the world of veganism.
Okay, but what about vegan shoes!?
Despite the info above proving to be very interesting, you’ve probably noticed a distinct lack of shoes in an article based upon buying vegan shoes, right? Well, worry not fellow eco-warriors, because that will soon be rectified. Yep, the time has come for us to now talk shoes.
Specially, we’re talking vegan shoes. Now, when you imagine vegan shoes, you probably picture scratchy bundles of straw, hemp sacks, and other decidedly stereotypical vegan-friendly materials.
The truth of the matter is that vegan shoes are actually now a great deal more stylish and fashionable. Vegan footwear is now just as stylish as any other footwear, and with plenty of options to choose from, it’s very easy to see why that is.
What are vegan shoes?
Put very simply, vegan shoes are shoes which are made from materials which have not been obtained from animals, the exploitation of animals, or the exploitation of humans either, I.E sweat shops. Vegan shoes contain 100% natural materials and have been created in humane environments. Sounds relatively simple and straightforward so far, right?
Well, the main problem is the fact that there are so many different materials which are used to create footwear nowadays that finding the right shoes to adapt to your vegan lifestyle is a time-consuming and arduous process. As well as the materials that the shoes are made from, you also need to consider other materials I.E the glues used to stick them together, and where they were made and under what conditions.
To give you a few ideas of which materials to look for, vegan-friendly materials commonly used to make footwear nowadays include:
- And other materials made from natural fibres
Materials to avoid when choosing vegan footwear however, include things such as:
- Alligator skin
- And other materials of that nature
As mentioned, identifying the materials that the shoes are made of is easy, but one common issue is the fact that some glues used to hold the shoe together, are often made with animal products such as gelatin.
Gelatin is very common in the world of fashion, and it is obtained when connective tissue and bone is boiled together.
Lovely, right? So, even those ever-so vegan-looking hemp shoes that you’ve had your eyes on, could potentially not be vegan-friendly if they are held together by glue containing animal derivatives.
Choosing the right vegan shoes
So, now that you know what a vegan shoe is, it’s time to help you to identify a vegan shoe to ensure that there is no confusion when you’re out shopping for some new kicks. A few handy tips to remember, include the following:
Check the material
Starting off nice and easily, one of the easiest way of identifying a vegan shoe is to simply check the material and take a look at what it’s made from. if the shoe is made from leather, suede, or snakeskin for example, you know right off the bat that the shoes in question are not vegan-friendly.
Don’t automatically assume that natural materials mean that your shoes are vegan-friendly
We know that shoes made from leather, fur, skin, or other animal derivatives are non-vegan, that’s a given. The main reason why some people slip up when choosing vegan-friendly shoes, however, is that they find themselves looking for natural materials and assuming that all natural materials are vegan friendly.
A pair of shoes made from hemp may look fantastic, and may appear to be vegan-friendly, but they could very well be held together by glue made from animal derivatives, like we looked at earlier. A great way of ensuring this isn’t an issue is to check the label, which leads us to.
Check the labels
One of the simplest ways of identifying whether or not a pair of shoes are in fact vegan friendly is to simply take the time to glance inside and check the label. To begin with, it will tell you precisely what your shoes are made from, so you can identify the primary material right away.
On top of that, can also look for terms or phrases such as “vegan friendly” or “100% synthetic” or “All manmade”. If you see that the label says that it contains “other materials” without actually listing them, you will have to check with the company, or simply pass and look elsewhere.
Familiarize yourself with symbols
As well as reading the tab/labels on your shoes, another useful thing you can do when it comes to finding your ideal vegan footwear is take the time to familiarize yourself with the symbols used on the labels. If you encounter a symbol which represents the hide of an animal, this indicates that the shoe is made from, or that it contains, leather.
On the flipside, if you see a woven pattern, this indicates that the shoe is made from, or contains, natural fibres, or synthetic fibres. That’s easy enough to understand, right? Well, yes it is. The confusion arises if you encounter the dreaded diamond!
If you find a diamond shape on the label/tab, this is a symbol used to indicate the presence of other materials, which are often found in the outer sole.
This is very confusing, and a little frustrating, because you’ve no idea what these other materials are. They could be natural vegan-friendly materials, or again, they could be glues made from gelatin.
Check the company website
If you see a pair of shoes that you absolutely fall in love with right there and then, but unfortunately you’re unable to determine whether or not they’re vegan-friendly, you could take the time to check on the company website.
If the shoes are great, and appear to be vegan-friendly but you’re not 100% and you know that you really like them, make a note of who the manufacturers are, and what the shoes themselves actually are. Now, the time has come for you to do your own bit of detective work. Head on over to the company website and find out whether or not the shoes in question are in fact vegan friendly or not.
Don’t always rely on customer service
Say for example, you’re at the shoe store and see a pair of shoes which appear to be vegan friendly, but you’re still not sure for certain, you may be tempted to speak to the customer service person. If the customer service person does indeed know for certain whether they are or aren’t vegan-friendly, then that’s wonderful.
The main problem is that not every customer service worker is guaranteed to know the answer to this question. To make matters worse, some will lie to make their jobs a little easier, and will say that the shoes are vegan-friendly, when in fact they aren’t. This is why it’s important for you to do your own research when choosing the right footwear to suit your vegan lifestyle.
A lot of the time, when people are actively searching for vegan shoes, they don’t actually realize just how much choice there is out there. Gone are the days when you were lucky to find more than one different pair of vegan shoes on the High Street, as vegan fashion nowadays is more popular than ever.
Now, there are heaps upon heaps of stylish and fashionable vegan shoes which come in a whole variety of styles and designs. There are clogs, running shoes, boots, formal shoes, sneakers, high tops, and much more besides. These come in many different styles, colours, shapes, and sizes, so finding your dream vegan shoes is now easier than ever.
If you’re struggling to find the right pair of vegan shoes whilst out shopping, don’t just settle on the first pair you find, because rest assured, there are plenty more styles out there.
Caring for vegan shoes
Okay, so now that you’ve gone ahead and have purchased your dream vegan footwear, the time has come for you to learn how to care for and maintain your shoes. Vegan shoes aren’t cheap, and the last thing you want is for them to deteriorate and break down because you didn’t know how to adequately care for and maintain them. A few tips for caring for your vegan shoes include:
Keep them dry
Unlike leather, suede, and other animal-derived ingredients, the materials used to make vegan shoes are generally not waterproof. Because of this, if you were to get them wet, they would take a long time to dry out, there would be a greater risk of mould, and they would deteriorate much quicker. Trust us, if you allow your shoes to be affected by damp, the smell will not be pleasant, and they’ll look pretty awful too.
Keep out of direct sunlight
Another top tip for keeping your vegan shoes in the best condition possible is to store them out of direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will cause them to lose their colour and vibrancy, plus it will weaken the materials and cause them to break down much faster. Instead, store them in a cool, dry, well ventilated area out of direct sunlight.
Use water sparingly
Let’s face it, no matter how careful we are, eventually our shoes will become scuffed and dirty. Whereas some people would normally throw their shoes in the washing machine, or submerge them in hot soapy water, you need to keep your shoes as dry as possible. For cleaning vegan shoes, use a damp cloth and a little vinegar to remove stubborn stains. If the stain is grease-based, a little warm water and dish soap will work wonders.
You can machine wash certain materials
If you can’t be bothered with hand washing your vegan shoes and you want something that you can just throw in the washing machine, there are materials you can choose. Materials such as jute and hemp are hard wearing and they can in fact go into the washing machine. Just be sure to read the washing instructions beforehand.