What, Exactly, is a Vegan Shoe? Vegan Shoes Explained

When people talk about being vegan, they are typically referring to a diet that excludes all meat, eggs, dairy products, and any other ingredients derived from animals.

But what about vegan footwear? What does that mean?


No Animals Were Harmed In the Making Of This Shoe

A vegan shoe is one made without the use of animal products. It also excludes products that were tested on animals. This excludes many materials traditionally used in shoe making such as leather, wool, fur, and some glues. Fortunately, the options in vegan shoes have only gotten better over the years. Not only are synthetic leathers commonly used in all types of footwear, but material technologies have advanced and all or primarily synthetic material shoes are prolific, especially in active lifestyle footwear.



For OluKai, vegan footwear means using 100%, top-quality synthetic materials, with no animal products, throughout its line of vegan-friendly shoes. From sandals to sneakers, this includes the sticky-rubber outsole, removable footbed, water-resistant upper, straps, laces and all other components of the shoe. Advances in synthetic materials have allowed more options, better styling and higher performance in vegan shoes. OluKai's vegan friendly footwear maintains the durability, traction and support customers have come to expect from the brand. Synthetic microfibers, PU and EVA, recycled and virgin rubbers, canvas, fabrics and faux-leather products are all employed to make vegan shoes. Among the concerns surrounding leather/animal-based shoes are the exploitation of exotic animals for their skins and cruelty associated with the food and animal by-products industries. Vegan shoes, however, often end up being less expensive than their animal-based counterparts — and they have now been widely accepted in the fashion world as well as the athletic/casual market.


Environmental Impacts

 It’s important to remember that animal-free shoes are not always more “environmentally friendly” by default. Vegan shoes are generally considered to leave a smaller carbon footprint.  However, there is some debate on the environmental impact of synthetic leathers made from PVCs, PU and other poly-composite microfibers. It is a lengthy and contentious debate as to whether leather production or synthetic production is worse for the environment, but vegan shoes have long been a symbol of a responsible lifestyle. At the end of the day, the choice to shop for a vegan shoe is up to each individual. Fortunately, those looking for a high-performance, water-friendly vegan sandal have many options from OluKai, including the Hokua and Ohana. In closed-toe footwear, vegan shoe shoppers may consider the new Nohea Moku or the casual sneaker Ki‘ihele. The bottom line is, don’t let animal products stand in the way of owning a beautiful, comfortable, long-lasting pair of shoes. There are plenty of vegan shoe options out there.