Veganism isn’t some hipster trend - it’s a way of life, and it’s on the rise. More than seven million British adults are now following a meat-free diet according to statistics from Finder. That number is expected to go up to 16 million by the year 2023. Add that to the fact that half a million of us signed up to Veganuary last year, and there’s no denying the trend.
Living a meat-free lifestyle isn’t merely about what you eat. If you want to help the planet and your conscience, it’s worth extending this value to the clothes and shoes that you wear. Luckily enough, vegan trainers have seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years. That means that there’s a whole variety of on-trend and animal-friendly options out there. Within this guide, we will take a look at what vegan trainers are and which brands offer them.
WHAT ARE VEGAN TRAINERS AND WHY SHOULD I BUY THEM?
You might be forgiven for believing that all trainers are vegan. However, that is simply not the case. There are many fabrics and materials in trainers that may use animal products. Of course, the obvious one here is leather. You don’t need to be a scientist to know that this is made from the hide of certain animals—usually cows but also pigs, sheep, and goats too. Needless to say, it’s absolutely not vegan. Not even a bit.
It doesn’t end there. Non-vegan trainers can feature a variety of animal-based elements, such as glue, chemicals, and fabrics. Steering clear of these can be tricky, especially if you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for. With that in mind, if you want to get vegan trainers, you should look for brands that specialise in them. Additionally, some trainers will boast the PETA-Approved Vegan logo so you know they don’t include animal products.
Interesting stuff. So, why should you buy vegan trainers? There are plenty of reasons to go down this route. If you are vegan, chances are, you don’t want animal products anywhere near your clothes. Of course, if you’re a meat-eater, you may still want to get vegan trainers. Certain vegan materials—such as vegan leather—may be more sustainable than animal-derived leather. It’s doing your research before buying trainers.
WHAT ARE VEGAN TRAINERS MADE FROM?
Next up, let’s talk about what vegan trainers are made of. The original vegan leather materials are PVC or polyurethane (PU). These are slightly less harmful to the environment than leather, however, they aren’t biodegradable and could contain a selection of nasty toxins. That’s generally bad news when it comes to sustainability.
Fortunately enough, these materials aren’t the only vegan options out there. Many vegan trainers are made from Piñatex, which is derived from pineapple leaves, cork, or hemp. It doesn’t end there. You’ve also got recycled materials, such as PET bottles and tyres. Whenever you’re thinking of treating yourself to some new trainers, take the time to read the description. That way, you know exactly what materials the trainers consist of.
Are vegan trainers sustainable?
Whether vegan trainers are sustainable depends on a few factors. It’s not merely about the materials that are used, but also the processes that go into making them. According to The Environmental Profit & Loss report, the environmental impact of making vegan leather can be a third lower than that of real leather. That’s because the environmental cost of rearing animals is much higher than most vegan alternatives.
Of course, it would be a mistake to believe that all vegan options are sustainable. As we have already mentioned, materials such as PVC or polyurethane (PU) may hinder the planet, thanks to toxins, chemicals, and their production. Despite this fact, it’s likely that choosing these materials over animal-based products is a more sustainable option.
WHAT TRAINER BRANDS ARE VEGAN?
Now that you’re well-versed in vegan options, can we talk about vegan trainer brands? While many of the sportswear leaders offer some vegan trainers, there are brands that specialise in them. Two of the main players here are Saye and Veja.
With a good selection of off duty trainers and running shoes, there’s so much to love here. Of course, when you’re looking for your next shoes, be sure to check out what these brands have to offer.
Designed in Barcelona and made in Portugal, Saye trainers are vegan, bio-based, and go with pretty much any outfit. If you’re looking for an ethical and organic choice, you can’t go far wrong with these vegan trainers. And the eco-friendly nature of Saye doesn’t end in its materials or even production. The ethos behind the brand is to plant a tree for every pair of trainers that are sold online. Yes, you get to look fantastic while doing some real good.
Interested in adding a pair to your wardrobe? There’s a couple of timeless styles you might want to consider. The Modelo '89 Vegan Trainers Hi look minimal yet retro—perfect for lunch dates, running errands, or simply hanging out around the city. Featuring bamboo lining and corn vegan napa, the shoes are sustainable and super attractive. Win-win.
If you’re not here for the high-tops, the Modelo '89 Vegan Trainers might be the way to go. Made of corn vegan leather and bamboo lining, the shoes have a classic design with some subtle grey detailing to boot. When you’re searching for some casual, organic, and sustainable trainers, these Saye shoes most certainly tick all of the boxes.
Another leading brand when it comes to vegan trainers has to be Veja. Keeping eco-conscious innovations in mind, the brand’s line of trainers feature wild rubber sourced from the Amazonian rainforest and 100% organic cotton. Choosing a pair of their sustainable trainers is at once good for the planet and excellent for your wardrobe.
While there are plenty of styles from which to choose, it’s worth checking out the popular Urca design. The eco-conscious trainers can be worn with dresses, sportswear, or even jeans. The choice is yours. They are casual, cool, and sustainable. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a sportier shoe, the Condor 2 trainers are the answer. With a traction pattern sole and foam cushioning, they are ideal for road or dirt running alike.
Saye vs. Veja
The Saye vs Veja debate has been going on for quite some time. While the trainers you choose is a highly individual decision, there are some factors to keep in mind.
First up, the styles of the two brands are slightly different—Saye has a casualwear look, while Veja combines both casual shoes with sports-focussed sneakers. However, it’s worth taking a look through the broad spectrum of trainers that the two brands have to offer.
When it comes to sustainability, it’s worth looking at the brands’ scores on Good On You. Veja scores four out of five on planet (i.e. eco-friendliness), five out of five on people (i.e. how they treat workers), and three out of five on animals. Saye scores four out of five on planet, four out of five on people, and three out of five on animals. There’s not much in it but that does mean that Veja has a slightly higher score overall.
You don’t have to compromise on style when it comes to vegan apparel. In fact, some of the most forward-thinking brands out there offer vegan trainers and shoes. Take the time to look at some of the best options out there and see what works with your sense of style.