When individuals talk about adopting a vegan lifestyle, they often mean excluding all meat, dairy, eggs, and other foods derived from animals from their diet. So what do vegan shoes entail? Let’s find out all about vegan shoes in this article.
What are Vegan shoes?
A vegan shoe is one that is produced without using any animal byproducts. Additionally, items that underwent animal testing are not included. This excludes a lot of the supplies that are often needed to make shoes, including leather, wool, fur, and several types of glue. Fortunately, there are more possibilities for vegan footwear now than ever before. In addition to synthetic leathers being used often in all sorts of footwear, material technology has evolved, making all-synthetic or predominantly synthetic material shoes more widespread, particularly in footwear for active lifestyles.
What are Vegan shoes made of?
Almost all the shoes available on the market are made of common shoe materials such as leather, textiles, rubber, and plastic. So what are vegan shoes made of? As the word “vegan” suggests, these shoes are made without any animal-based materials, which is also their key selling point. The majority of vegan shoes are made from petroleum-based plastics such as polyurethane (PU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC), but there are also natural plant sources as well as recycled products. Here are the materials used in manufacturing vegan shoes:
In light of recent trends, many companies are attempting to reduce waste by producing textiles from plant-based agricultural waste, including synthetic leathers. Pineapples, apples, mangoes, oranges, cacti, maize silk, and even maple leaves are combined with chemicals to create a leather-like cloth. These materials have been used to make a variety of leather-like accessories, such as vegan shoes.
Natural plant resources
Rubber is a typical material used for shoe soles. It is often also used with recovered latex leather to create the raw material for vegan shoes. Cork, which is vegan, has been used for millennia in shoe bottoms; it is now being employed in other components of the shoe as well. There are also shoe components created from algae. Similarly, bamboo has grown in popularity in the fashion sector. Textiles made from this plant go through a rigorous manufacturing process, and studies demonstrate that the cloth makes excellent upper shoe material. A few businesses are also developing leather-like materials from mushrooms.
Shoes were traditionally made of leather, wood, or canvas, but now the majority of them are composed of rubber, plastic, and other petrochemical-derived materials. Here are some traditional materials used in the vegan industry.
Cork- Some high-street and specialty vegan footwear brands use it for the body of their shoes. It is derived from cork trees. When cultivated sustainably, it has a substantially smaller environmental impact than leather. Furthermore, it is biodegradable. More information about cork can be found here.
Cotton- Cotton is clearly popular in the fashion sector and widely utilised in fabric shoes. This can come at a high environmental and social cost. Cotton is a thirsty crop, and producing it frequently necessitates the use of hazardous pesticides. Cotton field workers are frequently exploited, and child labour is not uncommon. Always buy things made from sustainable cotton, which has a considerably smaller environmental impact.
Hemp- Not as popular as cotton, but it should be since hemp has a significantly lower environmental impact than cotton. Eco-conscious fashion businesses are increasingly using the adaptable fabric, and several vegan brands use it in their fabric shoes.
In order to be more environmentally conscious, manufacturers are increasingly resorting to recycled materials such as tyres, plastic bags, recycled ocean plastic, rubber, and cotton. Tires are frequently used to construct soles and, in some cases, whole sandals. Plastic bottles and ocean plastic garbage are now collected and recycled into a range of materials that can be used to make footwear.
Many companies want to hop on the eco-friendly bandwagon these days, but when you look further, you may discover that just 10% of the shoe is made of recycled materials and that a large amount of virgin plastic was used after all. So before buying a pair of alleged vegan shoes, make sure to do your due diligence.
What benefits do vegan shoes offer?
From the raising of cows in factory farms to the tanning process, the environmental effects of the leather industry have been well documented. In addition to producing a significant amount of greenhouse gases, livestock production has a significant negative influence on nearby soil and water systems. Toxic chemicals used in the tanning process have the potential to leach into nearby water systems.
The increasing availability of innovative and sustainable materials has made vegan footwear an environmentally friendly choice. Here are only a few widespread advantages:
Zero animal cruelty- You can feel good about buying vegan shoes because they don’t directly harm animals, as no animal skins or byproducts are used in their production.
Comparable performance- One study found that, when made well, leather substitutes perform comparably to leather. The tensile strength, tear resistance, water permeability, and flex resistance were all put to the test. All of these things are crucial when buying shoes that you want to last.
Water Resistance- The water resistance of non-leather shoes is a major advantage. The majority of synthetic leathers are water-resistant, while not all vegan materials are. People who wear vegan shoes, as a result, are less concerned about the rain.
Less expensive- Being less expensive to create than traditional shoes, vegan footwear is more affordable.
Are vegan shoes actually good for the environment?
Alternatives to leather that are far more eco-friendly include Desserto, Kombucha, Pinatex, Noani, Appleskin, Vegea, SnapPap, Teak Leaf, and Muskin, as well as vegan materials like cork and algae. PU or PVC plastics are still widely used in the vegan shoe industry, which is unfortunate.
Plastic harms the ecosystem at every stage of its life cycle. Workers need to be careful about prolonged exposure to the isocyanates during manufacture. Plastics are similarly resistant to deterioration, making them valuable for the duration of a product’s life but hazardous to the environment once they are dumped in a landfill.
Even though vegan footwear isn’t always completely eco-friendly, it’s still a positive development. If you want to be more eco-friendly, we advise selecting footwear produced from the numerous plant-based materials currently in use.