People may choose a vegan lifestyle for a variety of reasons including health, the environment and animal welfare. Vegans do not eat or buy any products that contain any animal products. A vegan lifestyle involves finding alternatives to many of the everyday items that many people take for granted including clothes and shoes. Many shoes are made of leather which is not acceptable to vegans, they are also glued together. Glue is made using animal bones.
In many ways the vegan lifestyle is good for the environment and a sustainable way of living. The rearing of animals has a carbon footprint which contributes to global warming so not eating meat or using leather cuts reduces the individuals carbon footprint. The leather used to make shoes is also usually tanned using very toxic chemicals which cause pollution and health risks to those working in the tanneries. Then there is the glue that is used to make many shoes, again its manufacture causes pollution and damage to human health. So in some ways vegan shoes are a sustainable and eco friendly option.
But as with most things, there is also another side to the story. Whilst non leather shoes can be better for the environment, synthetic alternatives can also be damaging. The process used to make synthetic materials is usually energy intensive and uses non renewable resources (oil). Synthetic shoes are also non biodegradable so once their useful life is over they are usually disposed of and contribute to the growing problem of landfill.
So what are the alternatives?
It is possible to find vegan shoes which are eco friendly sustainable and satisfy the needs of a vegan in terms of not containing animal products. Completely natural and sustainable materials are the best option as they will biodegrade and are also renewable. Recently materials like coconut husk, natural latex, hemp and cork have been used to make shoes which look good, are strong, durable and allow the feet to breathe. Not only are these natural alternatives better for the environment but they are also usually more comfortable and kinder to your feet.
Hemp can be dyed a variety of bright colours which look stylish and on trend. Cork is the bark or a tree native to Portugal and can be harvested without damage to the tree. It makes is great for a quirky and natural looking shoe. Shoes can be stitched together instead of using glue which not only looks great but makes them strong and hardwearing. A pair of shoes that is made to last is also the best choice for the environment as it ensures minimal impact and less waste.