Best Vegan Minimalist Shoes in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

Vegan minimalist shoes

There is an ongoing debate about whether modern shoes protect or weaken our feet. Those who believe that the abundant support of modern shoes have made us neglect our muscles resorted to minimalist or barefoot shoes.

You may have heard of them, and you may have not; they are shoes that use a minimal to non-existent amount of cushioning or support to take you back to the original barefoot experience. Now, we’ll look into vegan minimalist shoes. Wait; what?

We’re well into the 21st century, and the idea that veganism is only about food is obsolete. Veganism is about using only cruelty-free products, whether it’s food, makeup, electronics, or fashion.

So, we’ll tell you the best vegan minimalist shoes for men and women that help you strengthen your feet pretty much guilt-free.

At a Glance

For Men

  1. Vibram Men’s KSO EVO – Best for Cross-Training
  2. Xero Hana Shoes – Best for Everyday Use
  3. Vibram Five-Finger Men’s CVT-Hemp – Best for Walking

For Women

  1. Merrell Women’s Vapor Glove 3 – Best for Trail Running
  2. Vivobarefoot Kasana – Best for Everyday Use
  3. Vivobarefoot Kasana Hi – Best for Winter

The Best Vegan Minimalist Shoes for Men in 2020

1. Vibram Men’s KSO EVO – Best for Cross-Training

Vibram Men's KSO EVO

Vibram’s name is the most well-known in the world of barefoot shoes. This dramatic change in footwear and exercise techniques almost always comes hand in hand with Vibram.

The Vibram Men’s KSO EVO has the famous five-finger design that either freaks you out as a beginner in the world of minimalist shoes or draws you in.

The insole is made from 2 mm EVA + Drylex sockliner for comfort, while the outsole is 3 mm rubber. 

The Vibram XS TREK Compound balances traction with durability and gives you enough responsiveness when you’re on unpredictable terrain. It keeps you stable despite the thinness of the material. Also, the upper material is polyester mesh for breathability and flexibility.

Thanks to the above materials, these shoes target avid cross trainers and runners; however, you can use them for much simpler exercise.

Finally, they are machine-washable.

Notable Features

  • Five-finger design
  • 2 mm EVA + Drylex sockliner and 3 mm rubber outsole
  • XS TREK Compound
  • Polyester mesh
  • Machine wash

2. Xero Hana Shoes – Best for Everyday Use

Xero Hana Shoes

Most people know Xero by their running shoes, which are amazing and worth the hype. However, we thought they have other shoes that deserve recognition because not everyone who wants minimalist shoes is an athlete.

The Xero Hana Shoes are casual shoes that you can use on an everyday basis. In terms of style, they are nothing flashy or loud, so they can go with everything. That said, they are a true barefoot pair with “Xero drop” and an actually wide toe box.

The vegan canvas upper material feels very comfortable and lightweight on the skin, highlighted even more with the huarache sandal-inspired lacing system. Moreover, the pair has vegan-friendly microfiber lining and external accents so that you can enjoy your newly found freedom without any guilt.

With the 5.5 mm FeelTrue rubber sole, you will feel like your senses have finally awakened.

Finally, you can wash it with soap and water.

Notable Features

  • Huarache sandal-inspired lacing system
  • Canvas upper material
  • Microfiber lining and external accents
  • 5.5 mm FeelTrue rubber sole
  • Wide toe box
  • Xero drop

3. Vibram Five-Finger Men’s CVT-Hemp – Best for Walking

Vibram Men's Fiver Fingers CVT HEMP

Minimalist shoes aren’t just for ultramarathon runners; sometimes, you just want to feel the ground on your daily walks, and that is where our shoes of choice come in.

Vibram’s Five-Finger Men’s CVT-Hemp Shoes are perfect for somewhere between casual and active, although the five-finger design is pretty conspicuous for many daily activities.

The insole is made from 2 mm EVA + Antimicrobial Drylex Sockliner for maximum hygiene and odor control. The pair has 6.5 mm EVA midsoles and a 3.5 mm rubber for flexibility. 

The upper material is made of a hemp/poly blend called “CVT Hemp” that is breathable, durable, comfortable, and flexible.

Furthermore, the pair has Vibram VI-LITE, which is a lightweight, durable, and energy-conserving cushioning.

Like the Vibram Men’s KSO EVO, Vibram Five-Finger Men’s CVT-Hemp Shoes are machine-washable.

Notable Features

  • Five-finger design
  • 2 mm EVA + Antimicrobial Drylex Sockliner
  • 6.5 mm EVA midsole and 3.5 mm rubber
  • Hemp/poly blend upper material
  • Vibram VI-LITE
  • Machine wash

The Best Vegan Minimalist Shoes for Women in 2020

1. Merrell Women’s Vapor Glove 3 – Best for Trail Running

Merrell Vapor Glove 3

Many women tend to avoid minimalist shoes when it comes to outdoor activities out of fear of injuring themselves. Trail running can be risky, and while it is enjoyable to feel the ground beneath you, protecting yourself is essential.

Merrell’s Women’s Vapor Glove 3 Shoes offer you a true zero drop experience and protect your feet with durable materials.

First, we have to talk about the sleek and colorful design because your feet can finally look nice while you feel nice. This pair definitely comes in a color that matches one of your outfits.

The elephant in the room is the use of Vibram’s ridiculously thin and sticky rubber sole for traction and durability. It also works as a sort of light cushioning that protects your feet and toes from what may come.

Our shoes’ upper material is made from abrasion-resistant Cordura mesh and TPU, which also wicks away moisture with the help of the thin mesh lining.

Notable Features

  • Vibram rubber sole
  • Abrasion-resistant Cordura mesh and TPU upper material
  • Thin mesh lining
  • Sleek and colorful look
  • Zero drop

2. Vivobarefoot Kasana – Best for Everyday Use

Vivobarefoot Kasana

Vivobarefoot decided to make a pair of shoes that look nice enough for you to get complimented on whenever you wear them while also giving you the strengthening benefits of minimalist shoes.

The Vivobarefoot Kasana Shoes come in an attractive selection of colors that don’t look out of place in your daily life, yet can still be used in your exercises for maximum benefit with their zero-drop design.

Its mesh material is seamlessly stretchy and flexible. It fits your feet like no other shoes. It is also soft and breathable to keep the feet cool, even long walks or exercises. The best thing about the mesh is that it is made from recycled material. The sole is 3 mm thin.

In addition, the lining and footbed are made from Recycled RPET as an ethical way of repurposing plastic waste.

Notable Features

  • Attractive look
  • Breathable mesh from recycled material
  • 3 mm sole
  • Recycled RPET textile lining and footbed
  • Zero drop

3. Vivobarefoot Kasana Hi – Best for Winter

Vivobarefoot Kasana Hi

Not all minimalist shoes are made with keeping feet warm in mind, which is why you have to dig a bit deeper for winter shoes. However, their only purpose doesn’t have to be keeping you warm.

The Vivobarefoot Kasana Hi has a high top and lace-up design that separates it from other barefoot shoes and makes it perfect for chilly days. Its wintery look makes it attractive in a way. That being said, you can still exercise comfortably in it, thanks to its construction.

Our winter shoes have rubber soles that are practical and protective over your feet. We also love the breathable mesh that ensures comfort and dryness for cool days when you want to exercise.

Despite the high-top design, there isn’t one bit of restriction in those shoes.

Notable Features

  • Rubber sole
  • Breathable mesh
  • Attractive design
  • High top and lace-Up

What Are Barefoot Shoes?

Barefoot shoes try to imitate the feel of walking or running barefoot as much as possible. They do so by following certain standards that set them apart from modern shoes.

Zero Drop

Minimalist shoes have zero heel drop, meaning there is no height difference between the heel and toe; the point of zero drop heels is to keep feet leveled and aligned adequately against the floor.

This design gets your feet used to landing on the midfoot or forefoot instead of landing on the heels.

Wide Toe Box

Traditional toe boxes are narrow, and they don’t let your toes breathe; instead, they squish them together and prevent them from engaging properly in your movements.

The toe box or front of the shoe in barefoot shoes is wide to give toes more freedom and room to breathe. Wide toe boxes also reduce the possibility of serious foot problems such as bunions, hammertoes, neuromas, and more.

Lightweight, Thin, and Flexible

Barefoot shoes are far lighter than traditional shoes, which means there is less weighing you down. 

The thinness of minimalist shoes, 3-6 mm thin, also allows for more sensory contact with the ground while still providing needed protection.

Also, the flexibility of barefoot shoes encourages full muscle engagement and complete freedom in movement, as nature intended. How is flexibility achieved? By using minimal cushioning and arch support.

How to Pick Vegan Minimalist Shoes

Material

Fortunately to vegan shoe shoppers, most, if not all, minimalist shoes are made from synthetic materials without resorting to animal-based materials. Each kind of material is more suitable for certain uses or occasions than others.

For example, mesh in shoes is necessary for proper airflow, so runners mostly target it. Sticky rubber gives you extra grip, while cotton in shoes makes you comfortable in casual use. Faux linen is also standard for winter shoes to keep you nice and warm.

Some shoes are made from more creative materials such as recycled plastic, which is vegan and environmentally-conscious.

Design

For some reason, people may imagine that all minimalist shoes look the same, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Most of us have heard of Vibram’s five-finger shoes by now; they are the ones that took the “barefoot” concept literally in their design by taking the exact shape of the foot with toes and all. Their goal is to give individual toes the utmost freedom in movement, and they’re usually used for outdoor activities.

A different design uses a bit more cushioning than most barefoot shoes, but still less than traditional ones. The point of this design is to gradually provide more protection for long runs or for people who want to ease into barefoot shoes.

Of course, there are minimalist casual and dress shoes that look exactly like the traditional ones, except they are much thinner and more flexible.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are Minimalist Shoes Healthy?

Depending on your feet, minimalist shoes can be exactly what you need or what you must avoid.

Mainly, running barefoot can be highly beneficial, but people with previous foot injuries need to consult a healthcare professional before changing their footwear style.

What matters most is that if you want to try out barefoot shoes, give yourself a transition period by wearing shoes with reduced cushioning and smaller heel drop.

Should I Wear Socks With Minimalist Shoes?

While no study says that you have to wear socks with minimalist shoes and many wear them without them, we still recommend wearing them. Socks help reduce odor, prevent blisters, and keep feet warm.

You can try out barefoot socks, and see where things go.

Will My Feet Become Calloused?

Yes. It will mostly happen in the beginning because your feet are still adjusting to the new technique, so there will be a lot of friction happening.

That said, more time and experience in running barefoot with a correct form will reduce calluses.

Final Thoughts

Finding your next pair of minimalist shoes that are also vegan isn’t complicated, but you need to be a little informed before you start your search quest. We hope we have helped inform you with our list of the best vegan minimalist shoes.

Our favorites for outdoor activities are the Vibram Men’s KSO EVO Shoes and Merrell Women’s Vapor Glove 3 Shoes.

In terms of how they look, we prefer the Xero Hana Shoes and Vivobarefoot Kasana Shoes.