12 Animal-Friendly Vegan Materials for Shoes

Veganism is gaining popularity worldwide due to its health benefits, earth and animal-friendliness, and for many other reasons. However, veganism goes deeper than just what is eaten. It should also be considered in the products used in our daily lives, like makeup, clothing and shoes.

Luckily, there are many vegan-friendly materials to make all of these products. Take shoes for instance! Vegan shoes have a surge of popularity recently, and everyone wants to buy a pair to showcase their activism. Here are twelve animal-friendly vegan materials for shoes:

1. Hemp

Hemp comes from the cannabis sativa plant, and has become a popular ingredient in making strong, comfortable, vegan-friendly material. In addition, it is also lightweight and breathable, so it is a great material for shoes. The plants used to make hemp material grow extremely quickly, and the material is durable so shoes made from it are generally very long lasting.

2. Cork

Another very lightweight material is cork. These vegan materials for shoes are also water resistant. Some companies have begun making shoes out of cork – sometimes only parts of the shoe are made out of cork, while the rest is made of other materials, but there are also companies who are developing shoes made primarily of cork as well.

3. Synthetic fibres

Although they are not as eco-friendly as some of the other available options, synthetic fibres are still vegan. They are created primarily from inorganic materials and chemicals, and often need to be replaced more frequently than some other materials. However, shoes made from synthetic materials are often less costly for both the manufacturer and the consumer.

4. Microfibre

Most often, microfibres are made of a blend of polyester and polyamide, which make up strands of thread 100 times finer than a human hair (hence the name “microfibre”). Microfibres are good for evaporating sweat, and so are usually used for the main part of the shoe, rather than the sole, which would maybe call for something a little more durable.

5. Natural rubber

Natural rubber comes from the rubber tree, and is often used for the outer soles of shoes. It is highly durable, and – of course – vegan, so it is a popular material to use. It is an organic, renewable resource that creates long lasting, and therefore non-wasteful, shoes.


These vegan materials for shoes are made of polytetrafluoroethylene (a.k.a. Teflon), a very durable, waterproof, all-weather material. GORE-TEX is wind resistant as well, and is a material that is used in high quality shoes that can be worn for all activities.

7. Recycled rubber

There are many companies that are making use of recycled rubber. Often, they use recycled tires for the soles of the shoes. As rubber is such a durable material, and the tires are not able to continue being used on cars, it is a great way to put them to further use instead of wasting the material.

8. Recycled plastic bottles

Recycled plastic is also being made into shoes as well. You may be picturing some sort of strange plastic bottle shaped sandal or shoe, but the technology is incredible, and you would likely never know that a shoe made of recycled plastic because the material acts more like polyester.

This may be explained because both plastic bottles and polyester are made from polyethylene terephthalate.

9. Upcycled materials

Once a material has finished its primary purpose in life, it often is thrown away. However, a new trend of upcycling has begun to change that trend. Some shoes are now being made from the remnants of old things like denim, plastic bags, tin cans, and other odds and ends. At this point this is often more of a “pet project” method – with creative individuals turning trash into treasure, but it is definitely growing in popularity.

10. Polyurethane

Also known by its shorter name, PU, this material is often used in faux leather products, and so is very common in shoes. It is vegan, and is also long-lasting and affordable. PU is a very versatile material, and is used in sports, business, and fashion shoes for both men and women.

11. Pineapple

Piñatex® creates a material from the fibres of pineapple leaves. It is not only a vegan option, but it is also an economically responsible option. The leaves are a by-product of the trees that already exist to grow fruit, and it uses parts that are not currently being used, and brings additional income to the farmers. Piñatex® is biodegradable, lightweight, breathable, and water resistant enough to be used in a shoe.

12. Cotton

This is a very breathable, soft, and comfortable material made from a renewable resource. Cotton can be organic, and it requires many fewer resources than non-vegan materials like leather. The only downfall for cotton is that it isn’t very waterproof, so you’ll want to keep it out of the wet and rain. Cotton would most often be used for the upper part of the shoe, while another material would be used for the soles.

Ronald Ryan

I'm a self-proclaimed science geek and all-around nerd. Useless fun trivia seems to be my forte. If you ever need to hear a good dad joke, I'm your guy!

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