On many occasions, after turning down a hotdog or hamburger at a summer barbecue and explaining that you’re vegetarian, the next question you might be asked (if wearing leather-like sandals) is,
Then why are you wearing leather? You’ll answer that the sandals are made from synthetic materials that look like leather, and this usually pacifies the inquisitors. They do ask a valid question though. If you are choosing a vegetarian diet for ethical reasons,
How can you stop eating animals, but continue to wear them? Like a vegetarian diet, people often choose to
quit leather at different stages.
Since cowhide is the most common animal hide used, links to the meat industry are undeniable. According to the Leather Industries of America, the leather Industry’s trade association, very few animals are raised specifically for their hides. But cows are just one of the animals whose skins are used for shoes, wallets, coats, belts, clothing, and accessories. Other animals can be pigs, deer, horse, and sheep. Some articles are even made from
exotic animal skins ranging from alligator and lizard to sealskin and snakeskin.
You may ask,
Well what should I do with all the leather I have? Again, just as some people go vegetarian overnight and others do it slowly, the same goes for leather. Some people gradually replace worn out leather items with non-leather alternatives. Others donate their leather goods to charities. Many throw the stuff away, and although you might prefer that no one wear animal hides (besides the animals), most leather is not biodegradeable due to the tanning process, so a charity might be the best bet. The damage already done can’t be reversed.
That brings up the question of which causes less damage to the environment – petroleum-based synthetic leathers or leather treated with multiple chemicals? While petroleum-based products often cause pollution from manufacturing and its waste, leather manufacturers are still dealing with problems caused by the use of chemicals for tanning. Either alternative leads to some environmental damage, but while you’re supporting the exploitation of animals by purchasing leather, choosing leather alternatives will at least help alleviate some cruelty to animals.
Maybe we should also ask ourselves if leather- and fur-like materials are always the best choice. Do these materials give the impression that leather and fur are socially and ethically acceptable? Why not go with some other materials such as hemp, cotton, synthetic fibers, or recycled rubber when possible? On the other hand it can be argued that by using leather and fur alternatives we can show others a way of wearing clothes with the look they like that doesn’t require the exploitation of animals for it.
For this update we have been able to add a source for iPhone/Blackberry cases and iPad sleeves. We also discovered camera straps.
When choosing a non-leather company, one should also consider the company’s reasons for carrying non-leather goods. Although we are pleased that more and more companies offer non-leather items, most large manufacturers and retailers who carry both leather and non-leather offer the non-leather goods primarily for economic reasons. It is cheaper to manufacture non-leather goods, and as a result they often cost less. Note that many of these companies sell mainly leather items. Still, by supporting the vegan articles these companies distribute, a clear statement can be made in favor of alternative products. Maybe this will encourage companies to produce more synthetic products, even if their reasons for this decision are not necessarily ethical.
The vegan mail-order companies, on the other hand, take a particular interest in avoiding animal and Earth exploitation through the products they offer. Many of these companies employ Earth-friendly manufacturing and working conditions. We believe that it is important to support these companies.
To make your selection of non-leather goods as effortless as possible, the companies listed are separated into categories. The Vegan Mail-Order or Stores section indexes companies that sell only vegan products. The Catalogs, Companies, and Stores section lists companies that sell or manufacture both leather-free and leather goods, so check these carefully to make sure what you're buying is non-leather. The remaining sections of this guide list specific styles of shoes (athletic, dress, etc.) and the companies who make them or the stores/catalogs that carry them.
We often depend on company statements for product information. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, information changes, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your own best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.
The following companies sell only animal-free products.
408 S. Pasadena Ave., Ste. 1, Pasadena, CA 91105
(866) 758-5837 or (626) 396-4972; Fax: (626) 396-4952
This vegan boutique and online store offers non-leather footwear, handbags, accessories (including vegan watches and luggage tags), and much more.
PO Box 205, Gold Hill, OR 97525
(888) 499-4367 or (541) 855-5468
Artisan Gear produces a line of classic/casual bags and accessories (watch bands, toiletry bags, etc.) from hemp canvass. You can order their bags online or visit their website to find stores selling their bags.
Boulder for Men
5805 Clarksville Square Dr., Clarksville, MD 21029
This eco-friendly vegan store sells men’s shoes, wallets, belts, and more.
Unit 22, Acklam Workspace, 10 Acklam Road, London, England W10 5QZ
This vegan boutique offers unique women’s and men’s footwear, bags, wallets, black faux leather gloves, belts, plus much more. You can also order online.
8 Commonwealth Ave., Massapequa, NY 11758
Charmone’s mission is to produce shoes that are sustainable and cruelty-free. Offers open and closed toe shoes, sandals, and boots for women.
2502 N. Palm Dr., Ste. 1, Signal Hill, CA 90755
This online site specializes in vegan guitar straps. They also sell camera straps, wallets, and belts.
Cow Jones Industrials
5 Main St., Chatham, NY 12037
This vegan boutique located in Chatham, New York carries a wide variety of shoes, handbags, and more.
4939 N. Broadway, Ste. 58, Boulder, CO 80304
English Retreads manufactures totes, purses, bookbags, wallets, iPad and laptop sleeves, key chains, and belts from recycled rubber inner tubes and seat and fan belts.
Caegwyn, Temple Bar, Felinfach, Ceredigion,
SA48 7SA, Wales, United Kingdom
Tel: 011-44-1570 471155; Fax: 011-44-1570 471166
This company sells shoes and belts. Shoe styles include hiking boots, steel-toe safety boots, dress shoes, etc.
25 West Robbins St., Covington, KY 41011
(800) 848-4650 or (859) 291-3300
This mail-order company offers a wide variety of fake
wool products such as coats, jackets, vests, hats, handbags, pillows, and ear muffs.
87 Derwent Street, Chopwell, Tyne & Wear, England
NE17 7HZ; Tel. 011-44-1207 565-957
Online store offering made-to-order handcrafted shoes, bags, belts, wallets, and more.
9456 Main St., Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91701
Vegan store and online shop offering shoes, boots, purses, wallets, belts, guitar straps, etc.
610 Columbia St., New Westminster, BC V3M 1A5 Canada
Vegan store/online shop selling shoes, boots, belts, gloves, bags, wallets, and more.
78 Orchard St., New York, NY 10002
Though shoes can be purchased online, customers are encouraged to walk in and try shoes on. MooShoes offers brands such as Vegan Wares, Vegetarian Shoes, and Ethical Wares. They also sell bags, wallets, belts, and faux leather jackets.
3568 Fraser St., Vancouver, BC V5V 4C4 Canada
Canadian shop offering men’s and women’s shoes, boots, belts, bags, wallets, guitar straps, and more.
Pangea Vegan Products
2381 Lewis Ave., Rockville, MD 20851
(800) 340-1200 or (301) 816-8955
This store and online company carries shoes, clothing, wallets, belts, bags, personal care products, and food. Pangea is the producer of the No Bull line.
58 Hillsdale Rd., Medford, MA 02155
This online company carries handmade bags including clutches, shoulder bags, messenger bags, backpacks, etc.
Queen Bee Creations
3961 N. Williams, Ste. 101, Portland, OR 97227
All items from Queen Bee Creations are made out of vinyl including bags, wallets, cases, and more. Retail stores carrying their products are listed on website.
Sidecar For Pigs Peace
5270 B University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105
This vegan store is located at a Pig Sanctuary. They offer shoes, belts, wallets, and much more.
PO Box 7604, San Diego, CA 92167
This online company offers Splaff Flopps (flip flop sandals) handcrafted in California. They also offer bags, purses, guitar straps, and belts.
83 Billings Ave., Toronto, ON M4L 2S3 Canada
(416) 778-1597; Fax: (416) 778-9435
Truth Belts offers an innovative and stylish array of synthetic belts for your waist, as well as ones for your wrists (bracelets). They also make dog collars. You can order the belts online at www.vegetarianbelts.com
Used Rubber USA
Recycled rubber inner tubes and tires are used to make bags, wallets, and organizers in a variety of sizes.
1701 Pearl St., Unit 8, Waukesha, WI 53186
(866) 88-VEGAN or (262) 574-7761
Vegan Essentials is a mail-order company and retail shop offering goods such as shoes, wallets, belts, etc.
Vegan Store Ltd., PO Box 110, Rottingdean, Brighton BN51 9AZ United Kingdom
Online shop carrying boots, shoes, and more. They are a licensed distributor of No Bull leather alternatives in Europe.
12 Gardner St., Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1UP United Kingdom; Telephone: 011-44-1273 691913
Synthetic leather and synthetic suede shoes, hiking boots, work boots, sandals,
leather jackets, and belts.
The Vegetarian Site
PO Box 222, Glastonbury, CT 06033
The Vegetarian Site has an online vegan store filled with clothing, footwear, wallets, belts, bags, etc.
620 Broughton St., Victoria, BC V8W 1C7 Canada
This boutique and online store offers shoes for men and women, as well as purses, wallets, and belts.
The following catalogs, companies, and stores carry some non-leather products, but also many that are not animal-free. Check the merchandise to make sure it is non-leather. This is a partial listing of catalogs/stores with synthetic options.
Earth offers a line of vegan Earth shoes including shoes, sandals, and boots.
Dart Mills, Old Totnes Rd., Buckfastleigh, Devon, TQ11 0NF, United Kingdom
Tel: 011-44-1364 644036
Vegan line of men’s, women’s, and children’s shoes, boots, and sandals. They also make bags and belts.
Payless Shoe Source
Wide selection of shoes available in men’s, women’s, and children’s styles. Leather shoes are clearly marked on box. Call (877) 474-6379 for a store in your area.
Tel: 011-44-1753 678076
This online store out of the United Kingdom offers an array of exotic/erotic vegan-friendly fetish boots in varying colors.
Offers baby carriers, backpacks, briefcases, laptop bags, camera, bags, hiking packs, luggage, cd disk and player waist pack, cell phone case, etc. Most are vegan; however, indicate
no leather under comments in order.
Carries Kindle cases, computer bags, wallets, iPod and iPhone cases, gear pouches, and PSP cases. Not all products are non-leather, so request a list of their non-leather options.
Search under the word vegetarian on this website and a long list of sandals and casual, formal, athletic, and other shoes will appear. They carry shoes for men, women, and children.
There are leather alternatives in most shoe styles.
Women’s and Men’s Athletic Shoes
Children’s Athletic Shoes
Most of the all-vegan stores listed at the beginning of this guide offer a variety of dress shoes for men and women.
Women’s and Men’s Dress ShoesMen and women can find non-leather dress shoes in the Vegan Mail-Order or Stores section of this article. You can also shop at Payless Shoe Source.
Children’s Dress Shoes
The following boots should keep your feet protected; some even have steel-toe protection.
woolcoats, jackets, and vests.
Computer and iPad Carrying Bags
iPod and Cell Phone Holders
Rock Climbing Shoes
Snow Boots/Snowboarding Boots
Thirty Two) offers several non-leather snow boots for men and women. See www.thirtytwo.com
Watches with Non-leather Bands
Weight Lifting Glove
Thanks to VRG volunteer Alan Polster for converting this document into HTML.