Buying vegan shoes doesn’t mean you have to compromise

Shoes have been around since approximately 8000 BC, and the world’s first leather shoe, made exclusively from cowhide, is believed to date back to 3500 BC.

In the 21st century, corporations scaled footwear production to use more animal materials like leather and glues made with milk, bones, skins, and ligaments from animals. 

The idea here is that these materials make a better shoe while keeping costs down.

You can certainly make a case for this truth. Shoemaking is an ancient craft, and as a civilization, we’ve mastered leveraging animal materials to design super comfortable, durable, and stylish shoes.

So it’s only natural that after an entire human existence of this conditioning, our culture is skeptical when presented with footwear made without these animal materials.

“Surely these vegan shoes won’t be as good.”

“Will, my feet hurt?”

“Will they fall apart?”

These are subconscious and sometimes conscious thoughts we have when trying to make a cruelty-free choice.

For a while there, it was easy to validate these concerns, as shoes were either accidentally vegan—meaning cheaper plastic materials were used to keep price-points down. Or the initial attempts for sustainable plant-based fabrics just didn’t hold up as well.

There’s nothing quite as disappointing as receiving your fresh pair of vegan shoes in the mail only to find that it sucks. Or it looks promising initially, and then after a month, the seams start to fall apart and your feet suffer.

Luckily, times have changed, and we’ve evolved. Creative entrepreneurs and established shoe brands are finding innovative ways to omit animal materials from shoes without compromising style, durability, and comfort.

While the market is increasing, it’s still tiny. You need to dig deep to find quality vegan shoes. It takes time and perseverance to be a cruelty-free shopper!

Vegan Pairs exists to help save you some time and reduce your overwhelm when finding vegan shoes for any occasion. But more importantly, we want only to bring you shoes that don’t suck and give you confidence about cruelty-free footwear.

Who’s behind Vegan Pairs?

My name is Michael Ofei, Director of Content here at Vegan Pairs. I’m best known for my work at The Minimalist Vegan, which I run with my wife, Maša. I’ve been vegan since 2014, and a minimalist a little longer.

Michael Ofei the founder of Vegan Pairs

I rarely shop, but when I do, it needs to be insanely intentional. The stakes are high for me as I don’t have many possessions—this is especially true for shoes.

However, like many cruelty-free consumers, I’ve had my fair share of disappointing purchases with shoes. What hurts the most is when you’re a passionate vegan like myself, and desperately want a product to work. To me, vegan fashion is beyond the individual.

I’m a walking billboard for what is possible if others were to shop cruelty-free.

My friends and family know my ethos and are curious to see the story behind my shoes and how it stacks up to conventional products. 

Being able to stand behind your purchase signals to the marketplace that vegan shoes work, and thus less harm to animals is attainable. 

I believe we can all be walking billboards, for ourselves, for others, and for animals, and ultimately shift the demand of ethical shoes.

How we curate the best vegan shoes

We don’t claim to have the resources or space to try every cruelty-free shoe in the world personally. It’s not practical.

Instead, we rely heavily on a variety of research methods to source vegan shoes that are positively reviewed.

We’re not afraid to remove shoes from lists or takedown posts altogether if we discover that the shoe or brand is no longer performing.

Lastly, we love to get ideas from our readers, so if you have a uniquely good experience with vegan footwear, be sure to comment on our articles or email us at hello {at} to let us know.