Quality vegan shoes are made of several materials. You can of course find rope/jute sandals and natural rubber wellies etc. But for ‘everyday shoes’, the main material is Microfiber, which is gradually becoming more and more biodegradable, thanks to inventions like fruit leathers, which use up the waste from industry (apples, grapes, pineapples, cactus). Easy to clean with a jar of dubbin, invest in a couple of pairs and wear on alternate days, and you should be sorted.
Ahinsa Shoes are super-comfy, made by physiotherapists. Verified by university studies as being super-comfy for walking, they are ethically made from handmade materials in Croatia and the Czech Republic. With worldwide shipping, choose from barefoot shoes (as natural as walking barefoot) or comfort shoes (maximum cushioning to adapt to your stride). The vegan leathers and suedes are ideal for traditional shoes, while the hemp and linen are more for ‘nature’s tough guys’. There are even boots with vegan fur lining to keep your toes toasty (tested to warm your feet in freezing Finnish temperatures!) Above are their comfort sneakers (also sold at Avensu).
As most quality vegan shoes are still sold online, visit the shoe shop (afternoons when your feet are their proper size) and get your feet measured (or measure your own feet). It only takes a second, and then you know the size to order. If you’re a half-size, it’s usually okay to order the bigger size (feet swell when running and you’ll likely be wearing socks). But it’s best to try to find the exact size for other shoes (it may be a case of trial and error – European brands don’t offer half sizes).
It’s almost incredulous that most shoe shops still only sell leather or plastic shoes. Leather is unkind to animals (mostly made in countries with little or no animal welfare laws, and not a by-product of meat as sometimes thought – the tanning process is also polluting to the planet and has health risks for workers). And plastic shoes (‘pleather’) are not just inferior in quality, but also bad for the planet (plastic is made from oil that just fuels the fossil fuels crisis) and make your feet sweat.