Guide to Vegan Handbags

Guide to Vegan Handbags

The path to eating more consciously almost always leads to living more consciously in general. And part of that is aligning all the stuff we buy—clothing, makeup, accessories, cleaning products, etc.—with our values. Today we’re taking you on a vegan handbag adventure to help you find a compassionate and ethical purse, satchel, briefcase, backpack, duffel, clutch, or any kind of bag you need to carry your belongings.

Ready to give your leather handbag a cruelty-free upgrade? You have a few options.

  1. Shop from vegan brands. Yes, these do tend to be a bit more expensive, but it is a great way to vote with your money and support the kind of companies you want to exist in the world.
  2. Look for “accidentally vegan” synthetic handbags at mainstream stores like Target or Walmart.
  3. Buy secondhand. This is the most eco-conscious option of all, and a great way to save money! You can find secondhand shops both online (like ThredUp, Poshmark, and Tradesy) and in person at your neighborhood thrift stores or local Goodwill.

100% Vegan Handbag Brands

There are dozens of vegan handbag brands sprouting up with kind and fashionable options for the conscious consumer. What a time to be alive! Here are the most notable brands that we’ve explored and love.

Vegan Leather Bag from JW Pei

Vegan Handbag Materials

If not leather or suede, what is a vegan purse made from? There’s an exciting array of materials used to make vegan bags—from simple cotton to eco-leathers like mushroom leather or even pineapple leather! Here are a few of the most common materials to look for:

  • Apple Leather
  • Bamboo
  • Cork
  • Cotton
  • Leaf Leather
  • Mycelium leather
  • Nylon
  • Pineapple leather
  • Polyester
  • Recycled Plastic
  • Vegan leather
  • Vegan suede
  • Rubber

How Can I Find An “Accidentally Vegan” Handbag?

Finding your perfect vegan purse can be easier than ever. When you browse for “accidentally vegan” handbags, you’ll find the most luck at big stores that carry lower-cost items (since non-leather bags are generally much more affordable than leather). Look for these labels:

  • All man-made material
  • All synthetic materials

Also make sure the bag doesn’t have a leather symbol.

What Should I Do With My Old Leather Bags?

Great question! First, note that there is not one single “right” answer to this question—if and how you get rid of your leather goods is up to you. Here are a few options:

  1. Use your non-vegan items until they’re totally worn out, and commit to buying vegan items going forward.
  2. Donate your leather items to a homeless shelter where they can be given at no-cost to someone who can’t afford to buy these items.
  3. Give or sell them to a secondhand shop (there are even online thrift store like ThredUp) so that someone else can use them until they’re worn out (which may prevent them from buying new leather).
  4. Pass them on to a friend who you know will get use out of them.

We don’t recommend throwing your non-vegan items away. The damage is already done, the animal was already killed, and resources went into producing this product. To discard it is wasteful. Consider this excerpt from our Vegan Belts Guide:

While it may not “feel good” to wear or use items that aren’t aligned with your ethics, the reality is we can’t go back in time and un-buy items we’ve purchased. If you just throw them away, that animal died in vain. There are people in need who can’t afford clothing, and to throw away something that’s in usable condition is needlessly wasteful. Accept the imperfection of the situation and just commit to making more conscious buying choices going forward! 

If you’re still unsure about how you would like to handle the animal products you purchased before you went vegan, listen to our Vegan Clothing & Fashion episode of the Plant-Powered People Podcast.

What’s In Gina’s Vegan Purse?

In this video, World of Vegan writer Gina House shares what she carries in her vegan purse!

More Vegan Living Guides:

This vegan purse guide is not sponsored but may contain affiliate links, and shopping through these links supports our work at World of Vegan. Thank you!

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