Vegan Work Boots
A Buyer’s Guide to Animal-Friendly Vegan Work Boots
You’ve set out to find the perfect pair of vegan work boots, but you have no idea where to start. Mainly because it’s almost impossible to find boots or any other type of clothing in this day and age and be 100% sure they weren’t made from animal sources.
You need to know how to find the pair of boots that meet all your needs. Comfort, style, practicality, and of course that they weren’t manufactured through the killing of a living being. You simply can’t accept such an idea!
In this guide, we’ll cover every aspect of the boot buying process: what to consider, what to look for and where to find it. We’ll also look at a few other factors that are worth keeping in mind such as comfort, style, and functionality. Being vegan doesn’t mean you should be uncomfortable in your kicks.
Ethical Considerations On Vegan Work Boots
You don’t have to be reminded that taking the life of a living being for the sole purpose of creating a consumer product is nothing if not unethical. It’s worth reminding ourselves why we put so much effort into being conscientious of the products we buy and especially the ones we wear.
After all, the materials we clothe our bodies with are statements about who we are. Not just what we like in style but what kind of a person we are. Taking a life to make a fancy pair of pants, a coat, or even a shoe probably makes your stomach turn. The motivation that makes such action acceptable in the fashion industry or anywhere for that matter is deplorable. It’s nothing other than killing for capitalism!
Let the Search Begin
The search for the perfect cruelty-free vegan work boot starts with being well informed. Let’s look at several factors to consider when you’re shopping for the perfect boot whether you’re a hard-working lady or a guy who just likes that work boot style. Or vice versa of course!
What to Look for When Shopping for Steel Toe Work Boots
What Makes a Boot Vegan?
As a vegan consumer what you look for are items that aren’t manufactured using animal products or any type of animal byproduct. As we begin to discuss the different components of a vegan boot keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily have to be made of leather or any type of animal skin to be from an animal source.
The rubber and other parts that might look completely synthetic may be chemically manufactured using animal byproducts.
Material Identification – Tags
Where to Find the Tag
The first place to look when your shopping is the product tag on the work boot itself. This tag provides information like the size, washing & cleaning instructions, where it was made, and what materials were used. This may be located in a few different places.
- Tongue – In most shoes, especially shoes with a tongue behind the laces, the tag will be inside the tongue near the top. It’s usually a small square or rectangular tag.
- Insole – It could also be inside the bottom of the boot on the insole where your heel would rest.
- Inside Upper – Sometimes you’ll even find it on the inside of the upper part of the boot called the shaft. Often in this location, it will be printed rather than sewn in on a patch.
- Bottom Sole – In some cases this information will be on the bottom of the rubber sole of the boot. If you only see the size of the boot here the rest of the critical information is somewhere inside the boot!
Next, let’s examine exactly what information we want to find on the tag.
Symbols that give you Material Information
The key to the tag, once you find it, is to identify what materials were used to make the boot. There are four standard symbols to look for.
- Leather and Leather Coated Symbols – The “Leather” symbol resembles a rawhide animal skin and the “Leather Coated” symbol is just like the Leather symbol but has a diamond in the center. These two are without a doubt made with animal skin.
- Non-Animal Symbols – The two basic non-animal sourced symbols are “Textile” which looks like a woven fabric pattern and “Other” that is just a simple diamond. These are most likely made from all synthetic or fabric sources like cotton.
As you look into a particular boot from any retailer, you have to ask the question, “What is the synthetic sole really synthesized from?”
Some of the most common animal sources of boot and shoe leather according to PETA are “cows, pigs, goats, and sheep; exotic animals such as alligators, ostriches, and kangaroos; and even dogs and cats, who are slaughtered for their meat and skin in China, which exports their skins around the world.” You may also encounter wool and down as well.
And synthetic shoe soles might be partially manufactured from animal byproducts. The “rubber” may contain stearic acid or byproducts from the animal hide that when mixed with synthetic ingredients create a rubber-like material that’s used for shoe and boot soles.
Non-animal sources for shoe materials come from a variety of different sources. A short list would contain cotton and other textiles, synthetics like plastics, foam, and rubber. All of these are materials you want to keep your eye out for when you’re avoiding animal-based products. Just as an aside, the synthetics and rubber composites are made mainly out of petrochemical sources that originate from fossil fuels.
Men and Women’s Work Boots and What’s Important
Safety and Practicality
There was a time when men’s boots were all made for practicality and women’s shoes, in general, were engineered for aesthetics…not comfort! Luckily today consumers and shoe manufacturers alike have come to grips with what’s important!
When you look for a good work boot, the first thing on your mind should be safety. After all, you plan on “getting the job done.” Hopefully, the job ends with a pat on the back and not a trip to the ER to have a toe reattached!
Steel toe boots are as common as sneakers these days. That’s in large part due to government regulations meant to ensure that boot manufacturers are producing boots that will actually protect your feet from injury.
Standard features on work boots today include the traditional steel toe, metatarsal guards, non-puncture and non-slip soles. You can be assured that any manufacturer selling a boot today will comply with government regulations. Most likely if a company is selling vegan targeted boots or shoes, they are at the top of the list from a safety perspective.
If you take just a general survey of the vegan clothing and shoe industry, you’ll see that style is paramount. There are countless retailers, especially online, that offer fantastic quality boots that are safety compliant and attractive at the same time! The days when women had to settle for men’s work boots are over. Today there are complete steel toe boot lines just for women!
There are options in every traditional color, style, and application just as you’d find in a regular boot company. You’ll be surprised that there are some much nicer options for boots in some of the smaller online retailers. There’s an artful and stylish edge that a smaller company can provide that you just won’t find in a big retailer.
Resources to Help Find Vegan-Friendly Shoes and Other Products
Online – Ecommerce
There are more online retailers than you can count today. A simple google search will provide several, from more prominent general retailers to smaller upstart niche shoe companies and specialty stores. There’s literally a boot for every age, style, job, and flavor in the market in the age of digital commerce. To try and list them here would be an injustice!
Offline – Brick and Mortar Boot Stores
Your other option is to look for a local retail shop. You can find everything in your geographic area by doing a local google search or consulting a print business directory. The upside to a local business is that you’ll be able to try on the shoes and know that they’re both comfortable and agreeable with your sensibilities.
Things to look for on websites
Something to look for when you’re visiting an online or physical store location is whether or not they are vocal about their veganism and their support for it. Some bigger retailers offer vegan boots in addition to all the usual selection but opting for a totally vegan store would be preferable. Try to support stores that offer 100% vegan products.
Also, be on the lookout for certifications that let you know the store is selling products that are certified vegan. There are a few different organizations that offer certifications for vegan products and services. However, remember a certification is not a government-sanctioned guarantee.
If you’re still not entirely convinced that a boot company or retailer is genuinely vegan, you can reach out to them and ask questions about their manufacturing process and where materials are sourced. Any sincere vegan will be glad to engage in a conversation to reassure you that their footwear is vegan.
With these considerations in mind, you should be on the right track to purchasing a new pair of vegan work boots. Your happiness won’t be so much about the boots you decide to buy, it’ll be about the satisfaction of knowing you didn’t contribute in any way to the harm or death of another living being. That’s worth any price tag!