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.