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How to Know if Shoes are Vegan?

Shopping for vegan-friendly shoes can sometimes be a challenge especially when trying to figure out whether the shoes were made from real leather (from an animal) or from synthetic, man-made materials.

After some digging, I finally found a quick and painless guide to follow when trying to find animal-free shoes.

Quick note: The points mentioned below are to help consumers find shoes made without animal skin. There are certainly disadvantages of buying shoes made from toxic materials like petroleum and PVC however this guide is for someone who is looking to avoid shoes made from animal sources.  I definitely encourage everyone to look for more environmentally-conscious materials whenever they can. 

Getting to know our shoes

Shoe manufacturers and retailers are required to label the composition of the entire footwear, specifically identifying the materials used for the Upper, Lining & Sock, and Outer Sole.

If you’re lucky, you can find out if the shoes were made from animal skin by reading the shoe tag.

To avoid shoes made from animal skin, you’ll want to ward off from materials labelled as leather, coated leather, suede, fur.

Vegan-friendly materials are made from anything other than animal skin so that includes anything and everything from PVC, polyurethane, rubber, fabric, and man-made materials.

Familiarize Yourself with These Shoe Symbols

Ever wonder what’s the deal with the sticker on the bottom of the shoe? Other than being a pain to take off? It’s actually a helpful pictogram telling you what materials the shoes were made from! The shoe composition will be made from one or a mixture of the following materials.

  • Leather
  • Coated Leather
  • Textile
  • Other Materials

In order to avoid shoes made from real leather or animal skin, you’ll obviously want to avoid both the leather and coated leather symbols and instead opt for shoes labelled with either the textile or other materials symbol.

Here is an example of a pair of shoes I recently purchased. Notice the only symbols in the pictogram are Other Materials? This means these shoes were made from materials other than animal skin and is therefore VEGAN!

This is definitely a quick and dirty guide but I found it to be extremely helpful and a great starting point for finding vegan, animal-free shoes!


Other Vegan Fashion Guides:

8 Responses
  • JoAnn Perdue
    September 12, 2016

    Thanks for all the info. It was confusing to identity non-animal based shoes, especially if your trying to be fashion concious and learning that Italy (and I’m sure other countries) are purchasing dog and cat skins from China to make their shoes, purses , etc….

  • Karen Meixner
    August 31, 2016

    So if the shoe states Upper/man made/textile,Lining man made/textile,socklining man made and and outersole man made/textile than I can safely assume the shoes are vegan?

    • Vicky Ly
      September 1, 2016

      Hey Karen! Yup.. according to the specifications you’ve provided.. it implies the shoes were made from other materials that DIDN’T come from an animal! =) I also want to note that since there are no regulations that define what is considered “vegan shoes”… some vegans go as far as to also consider the type of glue that is used when putting together the shoe and whether if the glue contains any animal ingredients.

      If this is important to you, then you won’t find this type of information on the label and you’ll have to contact the company directly to ensure the glue they use is also considered vegan!

      But if you want shoes that are made from any other material that did NOT come from an animal.. then the shoes you are describing fits the bill! =)

  • Nikki
    January 30, 2016

    This is so helpful! I’ve been trying to find a new pair of clogs and I can’t believe how difficult it is. 🙂

  • Bee
    December 18, 2015

    What about ‘non leather’?
    I have this pair of boots and they say:
    Non leather upper
    Non leather lining
    Non leather sole

    I’ve looked all over the place but no one has said anything about it and I’m dying to know if these shoes are vegan friendly!

    • Ado
      May 16, 2016

      They are probably synthetic, although that doesn’t mean they are vegan. The glue used, for example, can be of animal origin.

  • Mary
    July 6, 2015

    I’ve always wondered what all those symbols meant on that annoying sticker stuck to the bottom of my shoe, now that I know I’m happy it’s there. Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips!>

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