Best Vegan Shoes & Eco-Sneakers Reviewed
Vegan or eco-friendly shoes probably aren't exactly what comes first to mind for most people when searching for a new pair of sneakers or other types of shoe. However, the demand for vegan and eco-friendly clothing, including shoes, is on the rise. Shoes that lessen their impact on the environment and those that are constructed without using any animal products are sought on the principle of doing no harm or less harm to the planet and those we share it with.
Aside from ecological and animal-positive benefits, these shoes offer a number of other benefits including, generally, lower prices, natural materials like canvas, cotton and rubber, and a variety of styles and options to choose from. If you choose a shoe based on your values, you really won't be forced to compromise function and style.
Many of our original shoes were eco- and vegan-friendly - made of materials recovered in our environment including hemp fibers, reeds, and woven linen and throughout the decades, canvas shoes with rubber soles have been popular so vegan-friendly shoes are not new. What is new is that there are now vegan options that are made to replace leather and suede, snakeskin and wool that act more like these also traditional materials.
Purchasing a pair of eco-friendly shoes are a great way to make a difference all while looking great in the process. We have searched the internet to bring you a list of 10 of the best options on the market for vegan shoes.
To qualify as vegan (rather than vegetarian), the shoes must be used with no animal products whatsoever, including the wool or hair of any animal. The dyes used in the shoe, if any, must have a non-animal source as well and all processes used in the manufacture of the shoe must never involve the use of animals or animal products. Not all shoes that claim to be vegan actually are. When searching for a vegan or eco-friendly shoe, it is worth doing a little research as well.
Vegan and eco-friendly shoes can come in many different styles and functions. Sneakers, in particular, are great everyday wear. However, we know you don't live only in your sneakers so we have tried to provide a variety of functional shoes for your lifestyle. Below you will find our criteria and some frequently asked questions that will provide even more information about vegan and eco-friendly shoes.
- Saucony Jazz Low Pro
- Blowfish Marley
- Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81
- JBU by Jambu Wildflower
- Dr. Martens Alfie
- Sanuk Scribble Flat
- London Fog Sunday Hiker
- Dr. Martens Vegan 1460
- Dadawen Oxford
- Etnies Jamesons 2 Eco
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Vegan Shoes & Eco-Sneakers Reviewed
1. Saucony Jazz Low Pro
- Completely vegan
- High-quality products
- Nice pair of everyday sneakers
- Tread can be a little lacking
The Jazz Low Pro's are one of the best vegan sneakers you can currently get your hands on! With their unique look, the Low Pro's contain no animal products or derivatives making them truly a fantastic vegan shoe choice. The shoe uppers are made of hemp and canvas make them extremely high quality as well as good looking.Read more
The outer soles on the Jazz Low Pro's are made from high-quality rubber making them durable for long walks or a day at work. The shaft of the shoe itself measures 3 Inches from the arch for a great comfy and durable fit.
If your passionate about living a full-on vegan lifestyle, the Jazz Low Pro's by Saucony are definitely the shoes you should shoot for. They feature fantastic products and a durable build without sacrificing a gain in weight.
2. Blowfish Marley
- Vegan friendly
- 10 colors
- Great desgin
- Can be a little tight
Here's a great looking hippie inspired sneaker tailored specifically for women who are looking for a great pair of vegan shoes. Blowfish keeps animal products completely out of their shoes as an added benefit to their fantastic designs.Read more
The laces on this pair of sneakers are suited specifically for stretch and on the go fitting while also being very mobile when on foot. The outer sole on this pair of sneakers is durable and great for everyday wear. In addition, Blowfish included an added toe bumper for extra protection when on the go.
When considering the top of the line design this shoe features, the price being asked is far from being expensive. The vegan materials are high quality and the design is sure to be eye-catching when on foot.
3. Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81
Doubling as a running shoe as well as a fashionable sneaker, the Ultimate 81's boast 20+ colorway options in addition to extremely good traction and cushioning. With the inclusion of animal-free materials, Onitsuka Tiger has created a fantastic Japanese inspired sneaker.
The EVA midsoles included on this pair of vegan sneakers makes for fantastic flex as well as cushioning. With the inclusion of the two-tone soles, the comfort that's added makes these sneakers great for casual usage. The TPU Heel included creates enhanced stability providing the runner with fantastic shock absorption and traction. A great feature for day to day walking as well.
The fairly cheap price tag is quite welcome seeing as this vegan sneaker has a fantastic design and is very versatile. The materials used are very durable as well as comfortable making for a great everyday casual sneaker.
4. JBU by Jambu Wildflower
Partially Recycled Outsole
Vegan Leather or Microbuck
Perhaps you are in need of something with a bit of sophistication, but functional as well for light outdoor activity, such as a quick trail hike to the river for some fishing on the dock with friends. The JBU by Jambu Wildflower is a beautiful floral cut out flat, made with all vegan materials, and a sturdy sole with toe cap protections for adventuring outdoors. The Wildflower has enough style that you can take this from your outdoor activity straight to date night!Read more
Uppers of the Wildflower suit its namesake, with a delicate cut out design, and are made from either vegan leather, or vegan microbuck, both soft and durable for wear. Mary jane style encloses the toe and keeps a strappy ankle closure which latches with Velcro, and also provides some adjustability for fit. Heel cup keeps you firmly inside without slippage, and gives a soft foot feel.
With the rubber outsole of the Wildflower, and protective toe cap, it’s no wonder why this pair can be used for gentle hikes or outdoor activities. The base of the sole has a traction pattern for better grip on slippery surfaces, as well as a cute design. Outsole is also partly made from recycled material, so you can feel even better about sporting this pair on your feet!
Averagely priced compared to similar models of mary janes, the JBU by Jambu Wildflower keeps good looks in an outdoorsy shoe vegan friendly and durable. Floral cutout keeps the namesake of the flat, and mary jane style allows for adjustable ankle strap fit. Protective toe cap and rugged sole will get your going to your next adventure, making it great for outdoor lovers!
5. Dr. Martens Alfie
- Durable canvas upper
- Abrasion-resistant sole
- Classic but modern
- Comfortably lined
- Sportwear inspired
- Canvas is rough
With Dr Martens signature style in a canvas upper and synthetic rubber sole, this shoe uses no animal product whatsoever in its manufacturing. It is a comfortable ankle boot with a very urban, contemporary look and a comfortable lumberjack lining inside. This shoe gives you the option of an animal-friendly construction with a modern but classic design.
The outsole on this boot is abrasion resistant and durable. Though it’s not as thick as most Dr Martens soles, it still offers reasonable traction and shock absorption. Inspired by sneakers, the shoe also has a very durable canvas upper in a choice of three colors. Inspired by athletic shoes, the shoes feature a padded collar for additional comfort around the ankle. It’s lightweight and won’t fatigue your foot. The insole is also padded and the midsole and outsole will both disperse the impact of shock away from your heels and forefoot, leaving you with comfortable feet.
These shoes are priced in the mid-range for shoes on this list. They are a fashionable, vegan-friendly shoe that is contemporary and modern while retaining classic style elements. It’s a durable and sturdy shoe that does not sacrifice comfort for a sturdy build.
6. Sanuk Scribble Flat
Happy U Outsole
Heel Can Rub
It’s no wonder Sanuk has made out top ten list for vegan shoes, and the Scribble Flat is a top runner due to its colorful design, comfortable style, and brand name comfort cushioning. The Scribble keeps a sidewalk surfer style, along with the Sanuk Happy U Outsole to cushion and pad each and every step. Graphic designs decorate this pair of flats, and textile materials make it vegan friendly, breathable, and lightweight.
Atop the Scribble Flat is a graphic textile canvas with mixed prints to give it a colorful, artsy flair and appeal. Breathable ventilation grommets are found at the sides, making the shoe great for wearing during warmer weather. Grommets are also embroidered to give a bit more flair and comfort, while canvas around the collar is frayed for that casual beachy feel.
Sanuk has made the Scribble like many others of their brand, with a molded footbed to help cushion your steps and promote natural gait. The outsole is the brands patented Happy U rubber outsole, which gives great grip and traction, as well as a cushioned pillow-like foot strike when walking. If you’ve yet to try a pair of Sanuks, give the Scribble a go, and they may just well be your favorite pair of casual shoes!
Similar to other models of the Sanuk brand, the Scribble Flat is one of the most creative looking vegan shoes, and is well worth the investment for those the market for colorful sidewalk surfers. Cushioned and lightweight, it’s fun canvas uppers with graphic mixed prints will suit anyone who loves creative footwear, and still wants a cushioned comfortable feel. Great for summer weather, and washable as well, they’ll make a great addition to your collection!
7. London Fog Sunday Hiker
Faux Fur Lining
Padded Comfort Collar
Not For Rigorous Hikes
Another great option is the London Fog Sunday Hiker boot, supremely stylish, functional, and vegan friendly! Vegan leather uppers give durable comfort to this boot, making it perfect for outdoor adventures and trekking. Fuzzy lining gives an incredible foot feel while the boot collar is padded for comfort. Sturdy lace up vamp gives adjustable fit for the perfect level of pressure you need from a boot, and a stacked heel makes these fashionable for wear.Read more
Usually made from cork or kelp, vegan leather uppers on the Sunday Hiker have no animal product what-so-ever, so you can feel at ease putting this pair on your feet. Constructed from all man-made or synthetic materials, fur lining and soft padded collar still give comfort without the ethical concern, and all in a well known brand fashionable style.
The Sunday Hiker is versatile in its design, as you can use this pair for easier outdoor activities, such as gravel paths or flatter treks. It’s also quite fashionable with a stacked heel, and texture in the uppers that make them great to pair with leggings or jeans and show off downtown for an evening out.
For a vegan boot, the London Fog Sunday Hiker is a bargain price! Best suited for less rigorous hiking and outdoor use, it’s suitable for strolling around the city for the day as well, and keeps a bit of an urban appeal to it. Stacked heel and vegan leather give it a posh look, making it easy to pair with jeans and legging. Great for those in search of a boot in their vegan footwear.
8. Dr. Martens Vegan 1460
- Non-leather upper
- Soft & supple
- Comfortable insole
- Shock-absorbing outsole
- Lace up
- Classic style
- Scuffs easier than leather
Available in a cherry red or a black, this vegan ‘leather’ boot features Dr. Martens classic, familiar style in a boot that looks like the original 1460. It is constructed of a synthetic upper and Dr. Martens familiar rubber sole. 8-eyelet lace-up ensures a good fit and ankle support in a boot that has been copied over and over again for its iconic look.
Dr. Martens sole is slip resistant. It is also abrasion resistant, fat resistant and oil resistant. Resistance for miles and miles of wear in an extremely durable sole. Great for work, kitchens, garages or anywhere else you may need to work, it also makes an impact as a fashion boot.
Dr. Martens has a collection of vegan friendly shoes, including their classic 1460 boot. The original that started it all – the boot is constructed of a synthetic material yet is soft and supple. It also has a very cook, subtle two-tone finish.
These boots are priced in the mid-range and are comparable in cost to the leather 1460, so you’re not paying a premium for the ‘vegan’ label. It is a beautifully finished boot, durable, comfortable, shock-absorbing and iconic.
9. Dadawen Oxford
- Canvas upper
- Breathable construction
- Waxed laces
- All day comfort
- Easy on, easy off
- Less durable
The Oxford is a classic style that is usually done in leather or suede. This canvas oxford makes for a great modern look in a casual shoe. Available in several colors including a bright red, a vibrant blue, and a standard black, these shoes say preppy, casual style. As with all of the shoes on this list, these shoes are vegan-friendly.Read more
If canvas shoes are not made well, are too heavy or are heavily treated, they can become unbearably hot and sweaty, trapping moisture on your feet. Not so with these Oxfords. The canvas is sturdy enough to be durable but weaved well for breathability.
The stitching on the Oxford helps make the upper of the shoe durable and strong. The shoe is not glued together in pieces but secured with welt stitches. The stitches also add to the overall style of the shoe.
This is the least expensive shoe on our list. For a low price, you are getting a shoe made of high-quality canvas, breathable and comfortable. The shoe is versatile enough for frequent wear and will become an easy fave in your wardrobe.
10. Etnies Jamesons 2 Eco
- A great skate shoe
- Well built
- Protective and comfortable
- No vegan additions
Etnies in an effort to make their products more eco-friendly has started the "buy a shoe plant a tree" restoration program. As a result, the Jamesons 2 are made from recycled rubber and plastic in order to make their shoes more eco-friendly.Read more
Just like the Stan Smith Sneakers by Adidas, the Jamesons 2 come on over 50 color ways making sure you can match your apparel perfectly. Seeing as this sneaker, in particular, is primarily used as a skate shoe, the low top design looks sleek and provides a lot of protection given its lack in ankle support. The Jamesons 2 feature a faux-Vulc cupsole construction and a thinly padded tongue and collar for a nice mix of comfort and protection.
The Jamesons 2 by Etnies are a fantastic choice for an everyday sneaker especially if you're an avid skateboarder. Ultimately these shoes look great and the eco-friendly additions are of course welcomed. In addition, the faux-Vulc cupsole and padded tongue really add a lot of value for quite a budget shoe.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Of course, when making a list of the top vegan and eco-friendly shoes, the quality of the materials used in each shoe has to be taken into account when choosing each sneaker. In the case of our list, the materials we chose had to be top of the line. In many cases, vegan and eco-friendly materials can sometimes be of low quality because the company wants to reduce manufacturing costs. Every shoe included on our list is reliable and of great quality, so you should have no problems wearing them on a day to day basis.
Synthetic Leather -
Since leather is an animal-derived product, synthetic leather is a great alternative used in many vegan shoes put on our list. Being made from a mixture of plastics, these have a huge advantage as they require minimal care and don't crack or fade easily compared to regular leather. In addition, synthetic leather is just as strong and is a great vegan shoe alternative.
Hemp and Canvas -
Both of these materials are great for vegan shoes as they both feel and look great while on foot. The durability that comes with canvas makes it a perfect material for vegan shoes as it's quite durable due to its multi-layer weave of fibers. Hemp, also, is a great choice as seen when used in the stitching of the Jazz Low Pro's by Saucony; these are quite breathable compared to synthetic leather.
Similar to canvas, textile is also a weave of fibers but is more flexible compared to the more traditional canvas mix. A combination of both textile and canvas is very popular among not just vegan and eco-friendly shoes, but "regular" shoes as well. Of course, vegan-friendly fibers have to be used in the textile mix or else it wouldn't be considered animal free in the first place. Materials such as organic cotton, linen, and peace silk are all popular and great choices.
To provide a great mix of vegan and eco-friendly shoes, the style of each shoe had to be versatile and suitable for a specific niche. Athletic shoes will be a bit lighter and lower cut while casual shoes will, of course, look a bit more flashy. Both were included in our list each with their own unique features to achieve the best possible vegan and eco-friendly shoe experience possible.
Running Shoes -
In the case of running shoes, the Saucony Jazz Low Pro's are of course a great example of a casual as well as an athletic pair of vegan sneakers. Running shoe designs are durable and provide great ankle support in addition to comfort making for a great versatile and all around great sneaker.
Minimalist and Barefoot Shoes -
A great unique option lies in the Xero Hana's as they were added to our list because they provide a great all-around minimalist look in addition to a design that's great to walk and run in. The Hana's are also very lightweight and very versatile as they double as both a casual and full-on athletic shoe.
The rest of the sneakers featured on our list fall under a casual category which is considered more of a fashionable type of sneaker. Shoes included in this category have to be comfortable, and durable enough to withstand everyday wear.
Value can be somewhat subjective when we think of our footwear. We take into account many different things to assess what we need from our footwear, but usually a few things are set in stone, while others are characteristics we are willing to do with less (or more). For this particular list, the materials with which these shoes are made is one of the characteristics we aren't willing to compromise on, so we'll take note of a few other things to consider to find your best value from your next pair.
What is it that you plan to do with your next vegan pair? If you need a new pair for work, you'll need something that can be worn in the office, with slacks or dresses, that compliment your professional attire. If you're in search of something to wear in more casual settings, then perhaps how comfortable the shoe is becomes a priority for you.
Similar to durability, but not quite the same. Well constructed vegan shoes can sometimes wear down easily if exposed to the elements over daily wear, while others can be more forgiving such as footwear you are able to wash easily. Different aspects of your footwear can break down overtime, so if there is an option where you can have certain parts repaired, or you have removable insole, this can be an aspect to look for. Think of how you plan to wear your next vegan pair, and search for parts of the shoe that can easily be replaced or fixed, which can extend the longevity of your shoes.
Always one of the factors we are willing to compromise on, price can be a big consideration when searching for your next new pair. Those in our list, are all high quality shoes with vegan materials, so some can be more pricey than others, but for good cause. Budget friendly options are also available for those who need to stick to a specific price range.
Comfort can encompass quite a few things in terms of footwear. Depending on your unique shape and foot size, there are a few main points you can look for to help evaluate whether or not a shoe could be extremely comfortable for your feet, or something that simply looks pretty, but wears horrible, leaving it as a decoration in your closet.
The width of the shoe is mainly due to the shape of the toe box, and for some, can be quite a challenge. If you have wider feet, any kind of shoe with a tapered or pointed toe in your normal size will most likely feel restrictive and painful. Sizing up in these kinds of shoes can help alleviate the restrictiveness, and help provide some comfort. Alternatively, if you have more narrow feet than most, rounded or square toe shapes in your footwear may feel extremely wide, leaving more room than needed, and can cause in-shoe slippage or blistering.
Insoles and Cushioning-
Most shoes have built in insoles that either have molded EVA materials, or utilize some kind of memory foam footbed. These aspects help to give support and structure to the shoe, as well as pad your footfalls. When selecting a pair of shoes for comfort, be sure to see if they have EVA midsoles or insoles, or additional cushioning built into the footbed. If not, you can always find a simple solution with insertable insoles, which provide an extra layer of cushioning should you need it.
One of the last things to look for when choosing something comfortable, is the sole of the footwear. Many times the best materials to look for in soles are made from rubber or synthetic in vegan shoes, which can add some padding and shock absorption to your footsteps.
Taking all of our criteria into consideration, we've thought about what the bottom line is for each of these selections.
- Made from quality vegan materials
- Versatile for several different occasions or situations, such as casual wear or business functions.
- How much the shoe costs, and the overall value considered when thinking of price
- Available options for extending the shoe's lifespan, even if used daily. This can include things such as if the shoe is washable, has removable insoles, or can easily be repaired.
- Style is a big part of the bottom line, as we want you to love your next pair of vegan footwear! We've selected only shoes we felt can compliment your attire, or create a statement piece in your ensembles so you look and feel your best!
Expert Interviews & Opinions
While animal based protein is a major component of where we get that particular nutrient, the ethical considerations are many. From how animals are housed, to what they are fed, sometimes animals can be treated extremely unethically, violently and without care. Other parts, such as leather, are used to make jackets, clothing, footwear, and other apparel.
Options are available! If you opt to go vegan for ethical reason, searching for protein sources from legumes, tofu, soy, and nut based products can help you get your daily protein requirements. For apparel, canvas or cotton, hemp, and some synthetics are all valid alternatives.
To be considered vegan, every part of the shoe must be animal free, and made ethically without cruel process. Some shoes can claim to be vegan as they don't directly use leather products, but consider that wools, silks, or furs. Read the description carefully before purchasing your next pair if you're unsure.
Frequently Asked Questions
In terms of the environment, the shoe market in specific is not a very eco-friendly one. Manufacturing, in general, is the main cause of this problem as eco-friendly materials and even vegan materials are much more expensive than what you would normally use to make a shoe. In the end, it's really up to you when choosing to purchase shoes if you want to go the eco-friendly/vegan route but I would implore you to give it a try and experiment with the lifestyle as a whole.
The materials used for each shoe is listed on Amazon as well as on the companies website for you to check out. Vegan materials include anything that's obviously plant- or chemical-based or not derived from animals.
I personally recommend hand washing your shoes but for information on machine washing please check out the company website on which you purchased your shoes from to find a more in-depth answer. Generally, it varies from shoe to shoe so it's hard to give an exact answer.
Unfortunately no. Don't mistake the word natural as meaning vegan. Natural materials include leather, wool and fur which are not vegan at all. Natural AND vegan materials include rubber, hemp, cotton, linen and other fibers obtained from plants. Vegan materials are not always plant-based either. Synthetic leathers, synthetic fiber, fleece and faux furs are made from chemical bases like plastic that are vegan-friendly and may or may not be ecologically friendly.
There are a couple of issues with some textile dyes. Many are not environmentally friendly because the process of dyeing textiles may leave chemical dye residues in our water and are harmful to the ecosystem and the overall environment. Secondly, particularly red dyes may be made of cochineal which is made from crushing bugs - so not at all vegan.