As you may or may not know, being a vegan isn’t just about food. Much as I love food and much as I would never call myself a fashionista in any way, shape or form, I do have to wear clothes. It’s easy to get arrested otherwise. So, what do vegans wear? Plastic shoes and ponchos? Hell no (well, I don’t anyway.) You can stay warm, look cool, stay dry and have a clear conscience all at the same time. Nobody needs leather, wool, suede or sheepskin – nobody. Keep the skin on its original owner and everybody wins.
So, women are supposed to be obsessed with shoes. I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed, but I do like shoes. As a friend once said, you can’t look fat in shoes. So, are all vegan shoes un-breathable nightmares? Absolutely not. You can have any type of shoes you want and nobody has to die to provide you with them. Take a look at the pic I snapped during London Vegfest this year of the Wills stand. Would you guess that all of that fancy footwear was vegan just by looking at it? I think not.
My favourite shoe shop is Vegetarian Shoes. In fact, I once took a day trip down to their store in Brighton, carrying only an empty rucksack and a credit card. I live in Edinburgh. That may seem extreme, but the flight was only an hour to Gatwick and then 30 minutes train ride from there to Brighton, so really, it’s not that extreme after all. With a full tummy from the lovely vegan cafe across the road and five pairs of shoes later, I was a very happy bunny indeed.
I was a teenager in the nineties, so Doc Marten was at its peak. Happily, they now make vegan shoes and boots, so you can have good looking practical footwear with not a dead cow in sight. You can even get rock boots that are vegan, so you feel at peace with yourself while moshing away to White Zombie, or in my case Green Day. If you need work boots with steel toe caps or waterproof hiking boots, no problem, as these bad boys come with steel toe caps and waterproof lining. If however, you’re in a more elegant mood, try Beyond Skin shoes. They’ve even been worn to the Oscars, so if fashion concerns you, look no further.
Fanciful or practical, casual or formal, for work, school, fell walking, welding or a night out on the town, vegan shoes come in all shapes, styles, sizes, colours and prices. The days when leather shoes were considered ‘proper’ shoes are now well and truly over. Even in mainstream shops, there’s a great choice of vegan shoes out there.
Just like everything else, check the label. If shoes have these first two icons on them stay away and keep your money in your wallet. Fabric shoes are abundant and often far cheaper in mainstream shops that their cow hide equivalents. Have a look at this selection PETA have put together, including names such as Oasis, Zara, Sketchers, M&S, Esprit and Gap Please don’t be fooled by the ‘genuine leather’ sign. It’s not a good thing. It’s not a sign of quality. All it means is that pain and suffering have gone into the shoes and nobody needs that.