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Guide to Vegan Shoes: The Best Brands for Boots, Sneakers, Heels, & Beyond

Ready to upgrade your closet with some ethically produced animal-friendly vegan shoes? Welcome! We wrote this guide to vegan shoes for you.
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Whether you’re looking for sustainable sneakers, hide-less heels, fur-free flats, sheep-sanctioned sandals, satin stilettos, fashionable vegan leather boots, the best vegan hiking boots, or any other style of footwear, you can find the perfect pair without harming a soul.

Below we’ve included a list of the most popular fully-vegan shoe brands. You’ll also find a round-up of vegan-friendly brands that offer at least some vegan shoes. And finally, we suggest a few Big Box stores that are likely to carry “accidentally vegan” shoes—an option that’s especially useful if you’re shopping on a budget.

If you’d like to dive deeper into boots specifically, check out these guides:

Speaking of which, don’t forget about secondhand shops! Buying shoes secondhand may not be for everyone, but it is the most sustainable option of all, and it will save you money, too! Plan a fun excursion to your local thrift store and see what treasures you can find. Or, hop over to an online thrift store like ThredUp where you can browse available footwear (and clothing) to your hearts content.

Guide to Vegan Shoes with men's manmade blue suede dress shoes in a garden.

What Are Vegan Shoes?

If the idea of “vegan shoes” seems a little bizarre to you—since, well, shoes aren’t food—let us take a moment to explain.

Those who choose to live a vegan lifestyle in an effort to avoid harm soon learn that it’s necessary to look beyond our food choices. Cosmetics, body care, cleaning products, home goods, and clothing are all areas that require examination. 

In the simplest terms, vegan shoes are shoes made without any animal products or by-products. No animal hide, leather, suede, wool, fur, snakeskin, alligator skin, other varieties of skins, or glues made from animal parts. If a shoe doesn’t contain any animal products it is technically vegan. But beyond that, many vegans look for shoe brands that have ethical business practices, are sustainable, and are consciously produced. 

vegan shoes made from pineapple leather and hemp from organic garments

100% Vegan Shoe Brands

Today it’s easier than ever to find comfortable, stylish, well-made vegan shoes. Brands like Wills Vegan Shoes in London and MooShoes in New York City have been leading the way in making ethical and sustainable shoes available to the masses. What a time to be alive!

Here are the most notable brands that exist today. Many of these brands are vegan-owned, and while some come with a heftier price tag, you can step into their shoes proudly knowing that you’re supporting a company with strong ethics.

100% Vegan Shops That Carry Shoes

Vegan-Friendly Shoe Brands

These brands are not fully vegan, but they do offer some clearly-labeled vegan options.

michelle cehn wearing casual white converse style shoes that say vegan on them

Shops That Carry “Accidentally Vegan Shoes”

  • DSW
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Payless

…and many more large chain retailers with generally lower-cost items. Unfortunately it will be nearly impossible to determine what type of glue is used in these shoes (read more on this below). While shoes at these stores that are labeled “synthetic” or “all man made” are likely vegan, there is a small chance they are made with animal-based glues.

Shopping from a vegan brand is of course the most ideal, but few people are in a position to invest that much in their shoes. Make the choice that feels best for you and your family.

Vegan Birkenstocks

In 2017 Birkenstock launched an entire line of vegan Birkenstocks including many of their most popular styles. These are made from microfiber, jute, cork, and manmade Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA), and are available in many colors and prints. If hippie living is in your blood, these are calling you! Vegan Birkenstocks range from $70 – $115 brand new, but occasionally you can find items from The Vegan Collection on sale or used. 

Dr. Marten’s Vegan Shoes

Have you been dreaming of vegan Doc Martens? Well, dear reader, you can have your choice of animal-friendly Dr. Marten’s—from the classic lace up boots and platform boots to oxford shoes and gladiator sandals. They range in price from around $90 to $200 new, but if you’re lucky you can snag a well cared for pair secondhand. 

vegan dr martens shoes on the doc marten website

Vegan Hiking Shoes

We have an entire guide to vegan hiking boots to help you choose the best option for you. Plus, several of the vegan brands listed above offer hiking shoes. Astral is just one brand with vegan hiking shoes made animal-free!

Astral Vegan Hiking Shoes

Materials Used to Make Vegan Shoes

Say farewell to animal leather, reptile skin, and fur. No thank you! Animals need their skin far more than our feet do—especially when there is such an exciting array of plant-based and manmade materials used to make vegan shoes. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Acrylic
  • Bamboo
  • Canvas, Corduroy, and Denim
  • Cork
  • Cotton
  • Nylon
  • Polyester
  • Polyurethane, Pleather, and Recycled Plastic
  • Rubber
  • Vegan leather and pineapple leather, mushroom leather, apple leather, leaf leather, and more.
  • Vegan suede and microsuede
Vegan Label in Vegan Shoes Photo of Boots from Wills

What About The Glue In Shoes?

You may have heard that most shoe glue contains animal collagen and therefore isn’t vegan. And you are partially right. Yes, there are animal-based glues made from various animal parts and by-products such as bones, skin, ligaments, and flesh. And yes, these animal glues were once the main source of glue used in shoes. However, today it’s becoming less common for brands to use animal-based glues—thank god!

There are many synthetic adhesive glues available now that companies like Converse, New Balance, and Nike are turning to (all three claim to use exclusively animal-free glues).

But here’s the tricky part. How can you tell if a pair of shoes is made with vegan glue or animal glue? Unfortunately, in most cases you can’t simply by looking at the shoes. Even a detailed visual inspection with careful label-reading and website scrutinizing won’t reveal what the shoe glue is made from. So, you do what vegans have become so adept at doing. Ask the company!

Here’s a sample message for you to use.

Hi friends at [Company],

I absolutely adore your shoes! I’m hoping you can help me find out if there are any animal products in the adhesives (glues) used in your shoes? I’m vegan and want to make sure the glues are fully vegan before I place my order. Thank you so much! 

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

Contacting a company in this way will not only help you get to the bottom of your quandary, but it will also demonstrate to them that their customers care about these issues and are actively seeking consciously produced animal-friendly shoes. Many companies have shifted their practices because of customer messages like this—they can make a world of difference for animals.

Beautiful Blue Faux Suede Vegan Flats With a Vegan Symbol Label From Wills Vegan Shoes

What Can I Do With My Old Non-Vegan Shoes?

This can be a tough deliberation for new vegans—because once you’re aware of the suffering that goes into producing a pair of leather shoes, it’s hard to wear them anymore. But the deed is done, you’ve purchased the shoes already, and now you’ve worn them and they’re used.

There is no “one right way” to handle your previously purchased non-vegan shoes—but there is a wrong way, as we see it.

What NOT to do: throw them out. Throwing away your non-vegan shoes is a waste of an animal’s life, resources, and perfectly good shoes.

Instead, try one of these approaches: 

  1. Continue wearing your old shoes until they’re fully exhausted. Then commit to purchasing fully vegan shoes going forward.
  2. Donate or sell them to a secondhand shop or homeless shelter where they may prevent someone from buying new leather shoes.
  3. Pass them on to a friend who you know will get use out of them.

Still not sure how to handle the leather shoes you purchased before you went vegan? Tune in to our Vegan Clothing & Fashion episode of the Plant-Powered People Podcast.

Vegan Shoe Businesses that Closed

Sadly, some fantastic vegan shoe shops and brands have closed, and we’d like to recognize some of them here. If you own shoes from these brands, you have a little piece of vegan shoe history in your possession!

  • Beyond Skin (after operating for 20 years, this high-end vegan shoe brand that made beautiful vegan high heels, flats, and even vegan wedding shoes, closed in 2022 due to difficult times during the pandemic)

More Vegan Clothing & Accessory Guides

We have dozens of guides to help our readers navigate every aspect of vegan living. From food, to household and cleaning products, to cruelty-free beauty, to vegan clothing and accessories. Here are a few articles you may find helpful.

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18 comments
  1. Hi Michelle, thanks for all you do! Just a heads up that Rothy’s uses wool and isn’t fully vegan.

  2. You write a very nice blog. Thanks for sharing this kind of blog with us. I like it very much. I will share this with all.

  3. Beatriz Buono-Core says:

    This guide is SO helpful!

  4. I actually so shocked how many vegan brands there are and also the regular brands that create vegan versions! That is so so cool!

  5. Great list to have! Love that you give suggestions on what to do with our non-vegan shoes.

  6. Thanks for this article! It is very helpful!

  7. This is so incredibly helpful! Thanks for the sample letter at the end!

  8. So exciting to have so many vegan shoe brands to choose from these days! My how times have changed.

  9. This shoe guide is so helpful! I had no idea how many vegan-friendly shoe companies there are. Thank you!

  10. This guide is so helpful! I’ve been needing some new shoes and didn’t know where the best vegan ones were at until now, thank you!

  11. Wondering how old this post is. Unclear why it has not included Xero Shoes. They aren’t all vegan (I’m no expert) but they have options, many options! AdBusters also sells a shoe they’ve dubbed the anti Swoosh…

    • Hi! We update this regularly 🙂 Thanks for the tip! There are so many shops sprouting up with vegan options these days it does take some crowdsourcing to find them all!

  12. Outrageous fortune says:

    I was just perusing Vivaia and discovered they are not 100% vegan – they have a wool shoe. The brand also has an extensive cashmere clothing selection.

  13. One source of “accidental” vegan shoes is asos.com. They even have a “non-leather” sorting option. Most of their styles are young and trendy but they do have a decent selection.

  14. Hi Michelle! We are a vegan multi-brand store and website based in Italy with our own Collection of made in Italy artisanal shoes called “Vegan Shoes Italy” it would be great if you add us to your list Much vegan love from Italy, Veronica for VeganShoes.it