the newly-vegan shoe problem

shoes typically last a long time. when people go vegan, they are often unsure about what to do with all of their leather footwear. for some, the idea of wearing those shoes is kind of disgusting; for others, wearing them until they can no longer be worn is a way to honor the life of the animal who died (and/or, not feel wasteful).

i stopped buying leather a couple of years before i went vegan, so i had already started collecting non-leather shoes by the time i made the switch, but i still had a whole bunch of leather in my closet when the day came. i wasn’t sure how i felt about it, to tell you the truth, and i’m still pretty torn. i see the strong arguments on both sides of the coin, and i’m "okay with" vegans who wear their old stuff until it needs replacing (not that anyone needs my permission! i’m just saying.). i am also "okay with" shopping (hee), so a little part of me thought that veganism was a good excuse to go on a shopping spree. still, shopping sprees cost money. what to do, what to do?

i found that at first, i kept all of my leather shoes, but i avoided wearing them. i know that’s kind of dumb, because it’s like they’re doubly wasted (i’m not giving them to someone else and i’m not wearing them myself), but i just wasn’t sure what i thought would be appropriate. after a couple of months, though, i decided a purge was necessary.

i went through and weeded out all the shoes i barely wore anyway (even before the vegan thing), and i donated them to goodwill. i had (and still have) a few pair of leather shoes that i haven’t thrown out or given away, because for some reason i am sentimentally attached. an amazing pair of comfy black sandals with an inventive strap, a pair of red steve madden tennis shoes, and some classy short-heeled sandals are included in this group. but many, many other shoes went out in a donation pile.

at the same time i focused on buying synthetic replacements for my go-to shoes (black loafers, black "jeans boots," etc.) and was amazed to find cheap and cute shoes at payless of all places. i have always been kind of a shoe snob, so i was reluctant at first, but "nice one, payless" is all i have to say nowadays. they have tons of shoes with the magic phrase (all man-made materials) printed on them, and they are cheapity cheap cheap! hooray.

right now i’m kind of in an awkward stage in my shoe-transition. i have almost totally weeded out the leather shoes i felt i could do without, and i have also found pretty good replacements for any "shoe type" that i wear a lot. unfortunately, the shopping spree desire still lurks beneath the surface, coveting all sorts of awesome vegan shoes (whether i need them or not). i got a great pair of casual black sandals at mooshoes.com, i’m dying to buy a pair of earth shoes, and don’t even get me started on my most recent find: the vegetarian section of zappos.com. look at all those shoes! oh my.

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12 comments

  1. yeah, hanuman, everyone seems to dig payless. To be honest, though, I’m one of the people who just can’t dig it. It reminds me of back-to-school shopping as a kid when my mom would foist ugly shoes on me. But hey, if people can find cool shit there, more power to ’em!
    Earth Shoes can be hideously ugly, but I have a pair, and you’d have to pry them off my dead body if you wanted to get them from me. They’re awesomely comfortable. I also like my “vegetarian shoes” boots from the UK, but others seem to have problems with this brand being comfortable.
    Hmmm…what else. Oh, I have a kick-ass pair of Vans in red and black that are vegan and fun and take me back to my ex-skater days.
    oh, I think I had a a point here, but now I forget….oh well. ; )

  2. i’m glad you both commented, because i must admit that i have NO idea how payless stacks up for man-shoes. 🙂 i have been pleasantly surprised thus far for myself, but i haven’t even peeked at their dude stuff.
    but you’re right, vegenaise, it is a bit like ye olde back-to-school shopping days. (and psst, i fixed the little problem!)

  3. I seem to have fussy feet so I try to buy shoes that know are going to last a long time and be maximally comfortable. Thus, I have tended to stray from places like Payless because I wasn’t sure if the shoes would hold up. I might have to take a peek the next time I’m at one to see if they have something I need since it would save me some money, especially for shoes I don’t wear that often.
    I recently put in an order at MooShoes and got some really cool Dansko felt clogs and No Vacas sandals. I was wearing my leather Danskos until recently because I couldn’t find decent replacements but now they make a vegan one! They are comfy shoes. I really like the No Vacas shoes they have at Moo Shoes too, since they’re very stylish. I thought I’d splurge and buy a sexy sandal with a heel there (that I had been eyeing for like a year), but they were out of my size and the shoe is now discontinued so I can’t get a pair! I was so annoyed.
    And I’ve spent hours looking at Zappos too. Bougt a cool pair of vegan boots there.

  4. okay, boys, i was at the mall today so i checked out the man-side of payless. not so inspiring. i’m sorry!
    pleather, i have had pretty good luck at payless for, like you say, the trendy shoes that i don’t wear constantly anyway. i am totally with you on the ‘buy well-made, buy comfortable’ philosophy, but i’ve found lots of cute strappy sandals and even a kickass pair of black loafers with funky stitching at payless. i have gotten a million compliments on those stupid $12 loafers. i love them, and i almost wish i had bought a second pair so that i won’t cry when they are destroyed.
    which style of no vacas sandals did you buy from mooshoes? i have the yetta sandals and i love them! super comfy!

  5. The sandals I bought were Yetta! I swear we were separated at birth or something. If you were 2 years older I would definitely think that. Maybe they switched you and my sister – she’s around your age and she is nothing at all like me.
    I tried to buy the Blake sandals but no dice. I am trying not to buy any others for the time being because they are all too cute.

  6. shoes are real tough for me to buy. mostly because vegan to me extends to the labor that produces it. I cannot in good conscious buy a product that some made for fraction of pennies on the dollar, (payless i’m looking at you as much as i look at nike) so it really becomes difficult trying to keep up with which company overseas is using union labor and which is not. who in this country is making a shoes and paying their employess a living wage.
    granted this makes new shoe and clothes buying a rather expensive thing. thrift and second hand shops are commonplace, still leather and labor are considereation when i buy even used.
    right at this moment i am needing new shoes. Otsu, i’m coming to see you. you will charge me an outrageous price for somehting that i will wear out in less than a couple months time.

  7. shoes are real tough for me to buy. mostly because vegan to me extends to the labor that produces it. I cannot in good conscious buy a product that some made for fraction of pennies on the dollar, (payless i’m looking at you as much as i look at nike) so it really becomes difficult trying to keep up with which company overseas is using union labor and which is not. who in this country is making a shoes and paying their employess a living wage.
    granted this makes new shoe and clothes buying a rather expensive thing. thrift and second hand shops are commonplace, still leather and labor are considereation when i buy even used.
    right at this moment i am needing new shoes. Otsu, i’m coming to see you. you will charge me an outrageous price for somehting that i will wear out in less than a couple months time.

  8. I love Zappos, perhaps a bit too much. Also, I do a lot of shoe shopping at DSW Shoe Warehouse. Do you have one nearby? There are tons of shoes there and if you don’t mind picking up pairs that catch your eye to see if they bear the ever important “ALL MAN MADE MATERIALS” label, it’s a great place to shoe shop.
    We visited MooShoes in New York on a recent visit and I have to say, their shoes were WAY nicer in person than I expected from what I saw on the website. Also, they have some kick-ass handbags.
    I’ve also found some delicious vegan shoes at the regular-old shoe department of mall stores, but because I hate malls by nature, they’re not my go-to for shoe shopping.
    As for my other half, he’s a Chuck Taylor man through and through. For work, he has a pair of black dress shoes (from MooShoes) that were really expensive but totally worth the money.

  9. I love Zappos, perhaps a bit too much. Also, I do a lot of shoe shopping at DSW Shoe Warehouse. Do you have one nearby? There are tons of shoes there and if you don’t mind picking up pairs that catch your eye to see if they bear the ever important “ALL MAN MADE MATERIALS” label, it’s a great place to shoe shop.
    We visited MooShoes in New York on a recent visit and I have to say, their shoes were WAY nicer in person than I expected from what I saw on the website. Also, they have some kick-ass handbags.
    I’ve also found some delicious vegan shoes at the regular-old shoe department of mall stores, but because I hate malls by nature, they’re not my go-to for shoe shopping.
    As for my other half, he’s a Chuck Taylor man through and through. For work, he has a pair of black dress shoes (from MooShoes) that were really expensive but totally worth the money.

  10. pleather, that is so awesome. we have a lot of great coincidences, don’t we? you should move here.
    todd x, i hear you on the labor thing. it is a big deal to keep track of all that stuff, and you are a kind and noble person for sure. good luck at otsu!
    danielle, we do have a DSW in town! i’ll have to give them a whirl; i don’t think i’ve stopped in there since i went vegan. thanks for the tip.

  11. pleather, that is so awesome. we have a lot of great coincidences, don’t we? you should move here.
    todd x, i hear you on the labor thing. it is a big deal to keep track of all that stuff, and you are a kind and noble person for sure. good luck at otsu!
    danielle, we do have a DSW in town! i’ll have to give them a whirl; i don’t think i’ve stopped in there since i went vegan. thanks for the tip.

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