Best Sustainable Vegan Sneakers in 2021 – Buyer’s Guide

vegan sustainable shoes

The World Footwear Yearbook states that in 2017 alone, a total of 23.5 billion pairs of shoes were manufactured, with sneakers making up a significant ratio of that number. Can you imagine the number of resources that must’ve consumed?

Even worse, the manufacturing process is inherently harmful to the environment. Leather, the most used fabric in making sneakers, is strongly linked to an agriculture industry that produces 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, it plays an undeniable role in deforestation.

For those reasons and more, you might’ve found that you can’t in good conscience support an industry that’s bleeding our Earth dry. And you chose a more environmentally conscious lifestyle: veganism and sustainability – which is why we’re determined to help you out with a list of the best sustainable vegan sneakers.


At a Glance:

  1. Veja V- 10 – Best Overall
  2. Toms Cabrillo – Best For Everyday Use
  3. Native Shoes Apollo 2.0 – Best For Travelling
  4. Adidas Ultraboost – Best For Running
  5. Toms Del Rey – Best For Exercise
  6. Toms Paseo – Best For Men
  7. Adidas Performance Alphabounce M -Best For Plus Sizes
  8. Keep The Home – Best For Minimalists
  9. Toms Kids’ Paseo – Best For Kids

The 9 Best Sustainable Vegan Sneakers in 2021

Even though the vegan, sustainable fashion industry is expanding by the day, it can still be challenging to find good quality, sustainable, and vegan kicks. This is where we swoop in with a carefully curated list of the best sustainable vegan sneakers you can get.

1. Veja Men’s V-10 – Best Overall

Veja Men's V-10 CWL Sneakers, White/Rouille, 7 Medium US

Veja’s simple trainers have become a major hit over recent seasons, and Veja Men’s V- 10 is no exception. These timeless plain white fits were designed to celebrate Veja’s 10 year anniversary. 

Why Should You Buy These Shoes?

Veja’s eco-conscious products blend both simplicity and style so seamlessly. Its advertising is mainly targeted towards millennials because it trusts them to care enough about the environment.

The white model is contrasted with the Emeraude brand’s signature V on the side, giving it a pop of green, while the midsole is off white. You can also get the V logo in black or white. And then the perforated vamp grants it that final vintage touch.

If you can’t think of how to style these shoes, picture them paired with cropped jeans and a denim jacket for an effortlessly chic look –– peak fashion.

This model certainly passes the veganism and sustainability check. The materials used to make it range between faux leather for the upper, wild rubber, and organic cotton.

Tip: if you’re debating which size to buy, know that the model runs a little too large, so we suggest you choose the smaller.

2. Toms Women’s Cabrillo – Best For Everyday Use

TOMS - Womens Cabrillo Sneaker, Size: 5.5 B(M) US, Color: Navy Lightweight Denim

Toms Women’s Cabrillo is a sneaker released by the non-profit brand that popularized espadrille. It all started with Toms’ initiative to gift impoverished children with new shoes for every pair of espadrilles it sells. This was an awe-inspiring beginning, which led the brand to expand more. It now sells sunglasses, bags, and, most importantly, sneakers.

Why Should You Buy These Shoes?

Toms Women’s Cabrillo trainers are comfortable and lightweight. These shoes use a lightweight midsole and outsole. The mix of rubber sole and quality fabric makes them comfortable.

In addition, these shoes’ anti-microbial sockliner will have your feet feeling fresh. These reasons lead us to believe them to be the ideal vegan, sustainable sneakers for everyday use.

Aside from being comfortable and lightweight, these shoes have a beautiful feminine design, along with their blossom shade. And they’re sold in five other colors, including pastels, neutrals, and more.

Furthermore, the side panel has intricate basket weave detailing. And the removable molded insole makes these sneakers sporty and modern.

Finally, we can’t forget the “buy one, give one” policy, which still stands by the way. This means you can support your favorite sustainable vegan brand and provide a less fortunate child with new kicks!

3. Native Shoes Unisex Apollo 2.0 – Best For Travelling

Native Shoes Apollo 2.0 Jiffy Black/Shell White/Rubber Men's 6, Women's 8 Medium

Native Shoes Unisex Apollo 2.0 is proof that the Canadian based brand delivers when it comes to affordability and sustainability at the same time. Native Shoes is meticulous about every detail that goes into manufacturing their shoes, from their synthetic materials to their packaging that uses recycled materials. And, of course, they’re 100% vegan.

Why Should You Buy These Shoes?

The Native Shoes Unisex Apollo 2.0 are, in our opinion, your go-to shoes for a long trip, thanks to their extra comfort and lightweight due to being made of animal-free Clarino microfiber leather. This comfort is further maximized by elastilite insole cushioning.

Besides, the insole is coated with anti-microbial spray to keep your feet feeling fresh, and the perforations at the vamp make these shoes breathable.

As for durability, you don’t have to worry about buying new vegan, sustainable sneakers anytime soon if you get these. This is all the doing of the rubber outsole that enhances durability, making them last longer.

The Apollo 2.0 is also a convenient choice because of its easy on and off design. You can slip it on or off hands-free, with no shoelaces to worry about.

In case you’re unaware, solvent-based glues are the norm in the shoe industry. This, however, is problematic, to say the least, because they cause serious health complications for factory workers. Hence, Native makes a point to use solvent-free adhesives.

Not only are these shoes great for the environment but for your wardrobe as well. They brighten up your outfits instantly with their blossom pink or hydrangea blue color. And there are also jiffy black and pigeon grey options for a more low-key look.

In case you have any doubts about how to wear them, let us give you a couple of ideas. These trainers would look great paired with an all-white outfit (mostly the blossom pink or hydrangea blue ones) or a pair of cuffed jeans.

4. Adidas Ultraboost 20 Running Shoes – Best For Running

Adidas Ultraboost

Adidas needs no introduction, so let’s jump right into the action with this vegan, sustainable design that it released in both women’s and men’s shoes, and tell you why the Adidas Ultraboost 20 Running shoes are the perfect runners.

Why Should You Buy These Shoes?

These high-performance Adidas sneakers don’t disappoint when it comes to support, with stitched-in reinforcement in the exact spots you need it.

Another factor is the responsive boost midsole that contains a 20% extra boost, meaning that the responsive cushioning bounces energy back to your every stride, keeping you energized throughout your sprints. Therefore, your feet will be supported, and you’ll feel confident running in those shoes.

This design is the epitome of comfort and durability, another selling point for running shoes. What sets them apart is their food-hugging knit upper. The 3D heel frame ensures a more personalized fit, and it’s soft and elastic.

Add responsive cushioning to that, and you’ve got that “snug, sock-like fit.” In short, these shoes provide the ultimate comfort and flexibility for your morning sprints.

Unlike other Adidas trainers, these are made from Parley ocean plastic. That refers to the plastic waste from beaches and coastal communities that’s intercepted instead of being taken by the ocean.

> Further read: Best vegan Adidas shoes.

Needless to say, these sneakers make use of textile for the upper and synthetic rubber for the sole, bringing you high-quality sustainable and vegan shoes.

Finally, this no-tie lace design is available in various colors that include but aren’t limited to collegiate navy, cloud white, and gold metallic.

5. Toms Women’s Del Rey – Best For Exercise

TOMS Women's Del Rey Sneaker Nautical Blue Multi Knit Oxford

For all the ladies out there, Toms Women’s Del Rey lace-up sneakers are a must-have. Made of textile and rubber, they’re vegan and don’t forget about Toms’ “buy one, give one” policy. This vegan and sustainable brand is, simply put, so superior that we had to recommend two of its designs.

Why Should You Buy These Shoes?

Several features make Toms Del Rey comfortable, just like you’d want your athletic shoes to be. The cushioned dual-density footbed ensures that your feet rest comfortably in them. And they’re breathable because of the mesh sockliner.

Toms even took it a step further to maximize its comfort by incorporating a removable comfort insole and a lightweight molded EVA midsole so that you can move freely in these trainers.

These cute shoes come in shades of grey and black so that you can wear them with all your workout clothes. They go well with pants, jeans, leggings, jeggings, and more.

6. Toms Men’s Paseo – Best For Men

TOMS mens Paseo Sneaker, Multi, 6.5 US

Now before you start rolling your eyes at us for including yet another of Toms’ designs on our list, let us just point out the fact that, unlike the other two, Toms Paseo are men’s shoes. And who are we to deny the gentlemen the opportunity to do good by impoverished children and the environment simultaneously?

Why Should You Buy These Shoes?

Like other Toms shoes featured here, Tom Paseo is manufactured using 100% synthetic textile for the upper and rubber for the sole, so you can rest assured that they’re vegan.

Another similarity that this design shares with the Women’s Cabrillo is present in the sockliner, as they both feature anti-microbial sock liners to keep your feet fresh.

These kicks provide when it comes to comfort as well. The removable insole with dual density footbed makes sure of that. If you add the shoes’ lightness, the result is a perfect-for-day-use pair of sneakers.

Another perk that the Paseo sneakers have is that they can be worn with or without laces. This is made possible through the shoes’ inner elastic gore. That elastic strap at the tongue hugs your feet for a secure grip.

These low-top cupsole sneakers have an undeniable versatile appeal. They’re simple yet sophisticated. This design’s available colors are black washed canvas, multi, and navy slub chambray (great for casual wear).

In case you need some styling inspiration, consider wearing the all-black kicks with khaki pants. As for all the colors, you can wear them with suit pants to work. And you can always wear them with sweats for a casual day out.

7. Adidas Performance Men’s Alphabounce M Running Shoes – Best For Plus Sizes

adidas Performance Men's Alphabounce M Running Shoe, Clear Grey/Matte Silver/Clear Grey, 8 M US

Though the Adidas Performance Alphabounce M is ultimately running shoes, we think it functions best as sneakers for casual use for plus sizes. If you’re, however, in need of running shoes, we recommend the Ultraboost 20.

Why Should You Buy These Shoes?

For these vegan, sustainable shoes, the upper is made of 100% engineered mesh, and the outsole is made of rubber. Now that we’ve got the vegan check out of the way, let’s get into it.

What makes these shoes great if you’re plus-sized is their outstanding support and durability. They’ve got a foot-cradling design where the rubber outsole makes for a firm and secure grip around your feet.

This durable outsole is actually one of the widest you’ll ever come across in sneakers. This elevates their support significantly. It’s been found that the firm base supports users of heavier weights (200 lbs/90 kilos or more).

The upper is durable and supportive as well. And what seals the deal is the responsive bounce midsole. It’s responsible for energized cushioning. This support is always helpful when you’re out and about.

We appreciate several other features in this model, including the textile lining for its comfort and the mesh upper for its maximum ventilation.

We’d also like to note that these versatile trainers are available in several options that blend shades of white, silver, grey, black, purple, blue, red, and green. You can pair them with jeans or leggings and a hoodie or a plain shirt for a casual, comfy outfit.

This Adidas model is just aesthetically pleasing with its lace closure and never seen before design. We’re talking about the molded ridges of the midsole sidewalk. Overall, it just incorporates an unexpected level of detailing and material.

8. Keep Unisex The Home – Best For Minimalists

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We’re bringing you Keep Unisex The Homer because this company’s policy is one we stand by and trust. Aside from being 100% vegan, its representatives monitor the factories in which its products are manufactured. And international third-party non-profits monitor the working conditions to ensure they’re ethical.

Why Should You Buy These Shoes?

Keep Unisex The Homer sneakers are the ideal minimalistic shoes. Their simple, classy design gives you the freedom to dress them up or down. You can pair them with jeans or pants. But if you’re in a dress and scared you’re a little overdressed for an occasion, just put these on, and you’re good to go.

The brand has released these classic shoes in a variety of different colors and prints. These include The Homer Willow, The Homer Nav, The Homer Linus, The Homer Kitty, The Homer Non-slip, and more.

These shoes are some of the most sustainable and vegan shoes we’ve got, as they’re made of 100% textile and rubber for the sole. Speaking of which, the sole is non-slip. And the synthetic nubuck upper is both water-resistant and oil-resistant.

These shoes promise extra support; the custom insole provides that heel and arch support.

Furthermore, the shoe is lined all around in the brand’s signature terry cotton.

9. Toms Kids’ Paseo – Best For Kids

TOMS Girls' Paseo Sneaker, Cornflower slub Chambray Torn dots, 1 Medium US Little Kid

You wouldn’t want the little ones to feel left out, would you? Since their early espadrille days, Toms has undoubtedly come a long way, putting out various products for various age groups, hence our Toms Kids’ Paseo Sneakers. As you’d expect, they’re the junior rendition of the men’s sneakers.

Why Should You Buy These Shoes?

This adorable design is available for toddlers (1-4 years), little kids (4-8 years), and big kids (8-12 years). It’s released in many colors and patterns so that whatever age group they fit in, you’ll find something for them. These colors/patterns are all-black, grey with black dots, drizzle grey with a few small pink cheetah print details, and rose gold cheetah print.

Similar to other Toms shoes, they’re made of textile and synthetic materials, thus vegan. And they’re sustainable. You want to instill values such as sustainability and veganism in your kids from a young age, and that’s the way to do it.

These ones feature an anti-microbial sockliner too, which makes their tiny feet fresh. They’re some of the most breathable options out there.

One spec that you need to pay extra attention to in kids’ footwear is comfort. And these shoes provide the utmost comfort. This wouldn’t be possible if not for the EVA insert.

Another relevant spec when it comes to kids’ shoes is traction. For this model, the rubber outsole increases traction, lessening children’s possibility of slipping and hurting themselves.

Moreover, these shoes’ elastic tongue makes it hug the feet in a secure fit. Therefore, lacing is optional. This is convenient because kids often struggle or are impatient with their shoelaces or trip over them.


What Brands to Look for When Buying Sustainable Vegan Sneakers

To make this quest even easier for you, here are some brands you can check out for sustainable and vegan sneakers, some of which we’ve mentioned already and some we haven’t.

Veja

Veja continuously strives for fair trade and ecological consciousness. The brand uses organic cotton and wild rubber from the Amazonian forest, among other materials, to produce eco-conscious products. It abides by the International Labour Organization’s standards of work. We trust Veja because it’s mindful of both people and animals in the manufacturing process.

Toms

You’re probably sick of us talking about Toms, but it’s just that good. This vegan non-profit brand’s one for one initiative is awe-inspiring. By 2019, Toms had already given away 86 million shoes to those in need. And the company is not stopping any time soon. Its “Stand For Tomorrow” campaign is future-proof, with its goal to promote dignity, equality, and community action for workers.

Pu-Zu

Po-Zu is one of the leading Uk brands in ethical shoes. It has the Cradle to Cradle certification, so we know its products are sustainable. 

It uses Pinatex and cork for the vegan-friendly options, and they’re affordable too. But they also stand out fashion-wise, with their unique, almost peculiar designs. This brand collaborated with Star Wars, of all things. These shoes are, no pun intended, out of this world

Allbirds

Allbirds’ motto is “Made from Nature.” It uses high-quality, sustainable materials, such as eucalyptus tree fibers and recycled plastic shoelaces. Its partnership with social change organizations is encouraging. Furthermore, the company has gone carbon neutral.

Matt &Nat

Short for material and nature, this Canadian brand is transparent about its vegan nature. Since it all started in 1995, the brand’s footwear has been vegan. Besides, its designs make use of recycled nylon and rubber, among other eco-friendly materials.

Stella McCartney

The vegan British designer has been fighting the good fight for sustainable, ethical products for a very long time. This is reflected clearly in the manufacturing process of her shoes.

For example, no glue is used to stitch together the Stella McCartney sneakers. This mind-blowing design can be dismantled piece by piece. We also can’t neglect to mention the Stella Stan Smith, a vegan design released in collaboration with Adidas.

Are Vegan Shoes Sustainable?

One of the most common misconceptions about vegan fashion is that it’s sustainable by default. Unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily the case. Synthetic materials, such as Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) – used to make faux leather, actually releases toxic pollutants. This is why you must buy shoes that are both vegan and sustainable.

Final Thoughts

All in all, we hope that this guide to the best sustainable vegan sneakers helps you take the road less taken and even make it more accessible to you. Among these 9 options, you’ll find what best accommodates your sustainable fashion needs.

If it’s a pair of versatile shoes, we recommend our best overall, Veja- 10, as they blend sustainability and style perfectly. If it’s for everyday use, Toms Cabrillo, with its extra-comfort, is the way to go. And don’t forget Adidas Ultraboost, our best pick for running. These high-performance shoes will give you the extra boost you need.

For an even wider variety of options, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite vegan, sustainable brands and why they’re the best. Some of these we’d already recommended to you their sneakers: Toms and Veja, but others we hadn’t, such as Allbirds and Pu-Zu. Happy shopping!

Thomas
Thomas has been vegan for over 5 years and has decided to move to Costa Rica with his family to be closer to nature and live a more minimalistic life. He loves yummy vegan food and sustainable products.