The 9 Best Vegan Shoes for Women of 2022

Rothy's flats are our top pick.

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Woman opening box of shoes

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Once upon a time, leather was an unavoidable part of the footwear industry. Luckily, times have since changed and a proliferation of vegan brands mean that buying vegan shoes is no longer the chore it once was. 

However, we do need to mention the elephant in the room: that vegan materials can often be a little less eco-friendly than we might hope. With plastics derived from the fossil fuel industry replacing animal products in many vegan designs, the waters can be well and truly muddied when it comes to selecting a truly ethical and environmentally sound pair of shoes. 

It’s for this reason we’ve searched high and low to find brands that don’t just avoid animal by-products. We’ve included those committed to using recycled plastics or other environmentally friendly fabrics in their designs, as well as those who focus on engineering shoes that’ll last for decades thanks to in-house repair programs. 

Here are the best eco-friendly vegan shoes, designed for everything from running to rain storms and fancy nighttime events.

Best Shoe: Rothy’s Mary Jane Flats

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Rothy’s Mary Jane Golden Gingham Shoes

Courtesy of Rothy's

Cute and comfy: that’s what we all want in a shoe, right? Rothy's fit the ticket, and they’re made from plastic bottles that have been repurposed into a durable thread and then used to craft these perfectly pretty flats.

Bringing the traditional Mary Jane effortlessly into the 21st century, and part of the brand’s over 76 million plastic bottles recycled to date, these flats flexibly work well with many outfits. Cute as a button, they come complete with a bow for an extra dash of fun, but Rothy's also makes a similar style without a bow.

Brown vegan leather outsoles make these shoes tremendously comfortable (and cruelty-free) and we love the fact that they’re 100% machine washable. Just throw them in the laundry when they need freshening up and they’ll be as good as new. Rothy's do tend to run a bit narrow and a bit small, so if you're between sizes, consider ordering a size up. However, shipping and returns are free in case you need to switch sizes.

Material: Thread spun from plastic water bottles, vegan leather outsoles | Colors: Black, navy, yellow, assorted prints | Size Range: 5-13 | Certification: N/A

Best Running Shoe: Vivobarefoot Geo Racer

Vibobarefoot Geo Racer II

Feel closer to nature with a pair of Vivobarefoot running shoes. Designed to be foot shaped—not shoe shaped—they’re built to mimic the sensation of running barefoot and allow you to reconnect with nature.

Thin so you can feel the ground underfoot, flexible for natural movement, and with bonded, reinforced overlays for durability and to help you (and them!) last the distance, they’re designed for natural, healthy movement. They might take a little getting used to thanks to the 4-millimeter sole that puts barely a whisker between your feet and the earth beneath.

Sustainability lies at the heart of Vivboarefeet’s principles, with their range made from as much recycled PET and rubber compounds as possible, as they focus on avoiding virgin materials. It's also the highest rated B Corp footwear company on the planet and are working towards a closed-loop manufacturing process with zero waste and zero environmental impact.

Material: Recycled materials | Colors: Black, dusty rose | Size Range: 5.5-11.5 | Certification: B Corp

Best Leather: Nae Black Knee High Boot

Nae Vegan Shoes - Lou Black Knee High Boot

There’s no greater proof that animal products are not required in your wardrobe than these lovely vegan leather knee high boots from Nae. They have a deep lugged sole for extra grip on slippery ground, and a zipper closure. You can dress them up for the office, or down for a casual outing on a cool day.

The waterproof vegan leather upper is made from microfiber. It does require some care, so you'll want to consider also getting a jar of black creme polish.

Material: Microfiber OEKO-Tex certified upper, microfiber lining, paperboard agglomerate insole, non-slip rubber outsole | Colors: Black, brown | Size Range: 5-11 | Certification: OEKO-TEX

Best Dress Shoe: Veerah Venus

Veerah Venus

Courtesy of Veerah

Born to be worn with your beloved Little Black Dress, these cruelty-free stilletos command attention thanks to an elegant silhouette. Made by the 100% Vegan brand Veerah, it comes with a reversible strap and ribbon, so you can style this one shoe several different ways.

But it’s not just for aesthetic reasons that we like these heels. Nine plastic bottles were repurposed to make each pair of Venus sandals, while algae (yes, algae!) is used to fill the comfortable cushioned insoles. Algae can help reduce CO2 emissions and clean natural water supplies at the same time. The only drawback is that this pair costs nearly $350.

Material: Plastic bottle silk, algae-foam based insole, resin-coated rubber outsole | Colors: Black, white, silver, gold | Size Range: 5-11 | Certification: PETA-Approved vegan

Best Sneakers: Avre Momentum Sneakers

Avre Momentum Sneakers

Avre

Stylish, vegan and eco-friendly tennis shoes are words that come together in AVRE’s cute and comfortable range. Made from yarn spun from up to plastic bottles, these shoes have a textured, stretch knit and a seamless finish. Their moisture-wicking properties of the shoe's body help keep your feet dry.

Available in three colors (we love the bold fuchsia) and with a platform sole for extra support, they also come in recycled, minimized packaging for that extra environmentally conscious push. Like Rothy's, these shoes are machine-washable.

Material: Yarn spun from plastic bottles | Colors: Fuchsia, black, white | Size Range: 5-10 | Certification: N/A

Best Waterproof: Matt & Nat Denver Rain Boots

Matt & Nat Denver Rain Boots

Matt & Nat

There’s no reason to stay at home with these rain boots from Canadian vegan clothing stalwarts, Matt & Nat. Featuring perforated detailing around the toe cap and a tartan-patterned, elasticated gore, these Chelsea boots are a modern take on a classic piece of British footwear. Bonus points for the fact Matt & Nat eschews the leather traditionally used in this design. 

Made from squeaky-clean, polished black PVC that’s been made from recycled materials, these shoes are an outstandingly functional and snappy alternative to the too-often-drab rain boot.

Material: Recycled PVC | Colors: Black | Size Range: 36-41 | Certifications: N/A

Best Slip On: TOMS Alpargata Recycled Cotton Canvas

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TOMS Alpargata Recycled Cotton Canvas

TOMS

Simple in design and even simpler when it comes to impact, the iconic Alpargata slip on from Toms is the classic style that’s been rebooted to become 100% vegan and even more eco-conscious than before. With a canvas upper made from recycled cotton canvas, they’re designed for cosy comfort even after a day on your feet, and available in a range of lively colors.

When it comes to Toms, they probably need little introduction. The company has helped an estimated 100,000,000 people through both the one-for-one giving model and, more recently, by donating one third of all profits to community projects across the United States.

"I'm completely obsessed with how comfortable Toms Alpargatas are, they are my favorite shoes to wear. Toms' canvas styles tend to stretch with wear, so you may want to buy a half size smaller than you typically wear. My only quibble with them is that I wish the lasted longer, but every time I replace them, I like knowing my purchase is also helping someone in need." ~ Margaret Badore, Treehugger Associate Editorial Director

Material: Recycled cotton upper, rubber/EVA outsole, foam insole with 50% recycled content | Colors: Ash, black, navy, red, white | Size Range: 5-12, some wide sizes | Certification: B Corp, Fair Labor Association

Best Active Sandal: Chaco Women's Z/Cloud X2

Chaco Women's Z/Cloud X2

Courtesy of Chaco

For the outdoor lover, nothing beats a sandal that looks and feels good on your feet, even after hours on the trail. That’s where the Z/Cloud sandal comes in. They're available in seven colors and have an adjustable strap system and pillowy, arch-supporting footbed. 

All of the materials are 100% vegan and use durable polyurethane that, unlike disposable foam, doesn’t compress after wear, making these shoes built to last. They're available in both medium and wide widths.

Chaco also offers the ReChaco repair service, where they’ll make your sandals as good as new. In fact, in 2020 alone, they repaired over 21,000 sandals, giving them a new lease of life for years to come and, most importantly, keeping them out of landfill.

Material: Polyester upper, PU midsole, rubber outsole | Colors: black, green, assorted prints | Size Range: 5-12 | Certification: N/A

Best Tennis Shoe: Cariuma IBI Knit Sneaker

Cariuma IBI Knit Sneaker

Cariuma

Cariuma’s minimalist tennis shoe come is a wide range of colors, including two options with black soles. The upper part of the shoe is knit from a blend of bamboo and recycled plastic. The outsole (the outer bottom of the shoe) is made from a sugarcane-based bioplastic, and the insole is formed from memory foam, cork, and a type of castor oil. This results in vegan kicks that are lightweight and machine washable. 

We also love that Cariuma plants two trees in Brazil for every pair of shoes sold, and the brand is also a Certified B Corp. 

Material: Bamboo and recycled PET upper, cork and foam insole, bioplastic outsole | Colors: White, black, grey, blue, red, yellow, beige, pink, green, light grey, and more | Size Range: 5-13 (with half sizes) | Certification: B Corp, Butterfly Mark 

Final Verdict

No wardrobe is complete without a dainty pair of flats, which is why The Mary Jane shoes from Rothy’s are our top pick for any sustainable footwear collection. If you're willing to splurge, the Venus sandals from Veerah are a beautiful investment, crafted from only repurposed plastic bottles and algae.

What to Consider When Shopping for Vegan Shoes

Materials

When it comes to shoes, the biggest animal products to watch out for are leather and wool. While the most common substitute for leather is plastic-based polyurethane (also known as “pleather”), brands striving to be more eco-conscience opt for recycled materials or plant-based leathers and foams. 

Shoes made with other natural fibers, like cotton or hemp, are also vegan and fairly eco-friendly, but often cloth-based shoes don’t last as long.

Certifications

Robust third-party certifications are a good sign that a brand is truly committed to sustainability. Here’s a quick rundown of the certifications you’ll spot on this roundup. 

  • PETA Approved Vegan: This certification ensures garments are free of any animal-derived materials.
  • OKEO-TEX: Ensures products are free from harmful chemicals. 
  • B Corp: This company-wide certification indicates that a brand has taken steps to put people and planet ahead of profit. 
  • Fair Labor: Assures that working are paid fair wages and have safe working conditions. 

Usefulness and Style

Shoes made from the most eco-friendly materials are still a waste if you never wear them. Before you buy, consider how much you’ll use them and if you really like them. It’s a smart shopping strategy to only buy the items you love and need. 

Why Trust Treehugger?

By going vegan, many of us are demonstrating our commitment to the health of our planet as much as to the lives of the animals that inhabit it and we aim to reflect this fact in the products we recommend. Swapping leather for materials that are derived from the petroleum industry and will take decades to break down in landfill doesn’t feel right, so to makes this list we deeply researched the market to suggest shoes that are both free of animal products and environmentally conscious. 

Author Steph Dyson writes widely about sustainability, focusing on non-polluting substitutes for traditional fabrics, materials, and day-to-day items. She believes through small and conscious changes to our day-to-day lives, we can all have a large impact on the planet.