Only a few decades ago, even the idea of “going vegan” was considered to be unrealistic by most people – although the sentiment was admirable, the difficulty that was required to make such a major adjustment was nowhere near practical. Today, going vegan is still a formidable challenge, but it is more acceptable than it was even a few years back. Veganism is so popular today that it no longer only applies to food. If you investigate, you will notice that are all type of products being pitched as cruelty-free, vegan alternatives – from furniture to candles and soaps, to footwear. Read on to find out whether there are vegan options for flip flops and if they are worth your dime.
Are flip flops vegan? Although flip flops are not strictly vegan, some varieties are made from vegan materials. Some of the most common materials used in construction include polyurethane, faux leather that is fashioned from high-quality plastics; cotton, a soft and breathable material that is ideal for summer footwear; and cork, an organic and natural material, among others.
Many shoe companies that make vegan flip flops use animal-based dyes for coloring their products, although synthetic dyes are also common. In some cases, the glue used to hold the flip flops together can be obtained from non-vegan sources, even when the materials are pitched as being fully synthetic. Finding vegan flip flops can be a bit tricky, but you can find a wide selection online as well as some specialty stores, although the latter are harder to find. When buying vegan flip flops, it is important to keep in mind considerations such as their durability and where the materials used in construction are sourced.
Vegan flip flops exist, and they are especially popular with those who have committed themselves to the vegan lifestyle. Here is a detailed look at the various aspects of this type of footwear.
One of the biggest determinants of whether a flip flop is vegan or not is the material used in its construction. Of course, the process of manufacturing, as well as the ethics of the company, are also important considerations, but with the material, you can more decidedly determine if the product is vegan.
Vegan flip flops are made without using any type of animal products. This includes wool, leather, silk, fur, feathers, suede, and snakeskin. All these material types have been sourced, one way or the other, through a cruel and abusive manufacturing process.
An easy way of determining whether your favorite brand of flip flops are made from any of the products listed above is by checking the label that you might find on the underside of the flip flops. Always assume that the flip flops are not vegan unless it has been specified. Look for a label that indicates the product is man-made. In many cases, you will find labels that read “entirely synthetic’ or “entirely man-made” for vegan flip flops.
Keep an eye out for flip flops that are made with textile or canvas. Although they may seem like great vegan alternatives, many of them have leather soles.
The most common materials used in the manufacture of vegan flip flops:
- Polyurethane or PU – This is a type of faux leather that is made from plastics and is often used in the construction of the soles and uppers of different types of footwear. Although some claim that the production process of PU is harmful to the environment, the tanning process of leather uses a lot of water and harsh chemicals, as well as being sourced from an animal, so in this comparison, PU is the lesser of the two evils.
- Recycled or natural rubber – Natural rubber is a material that is sourced from rubber trees and is commonly used in the construction of vegan flip flops. In addition to being environmentally friendly, natural rubber can also be recycled. Some vegan brands go out of their way to exclusively use recycled rubber in the construction of their flip flops, giving you an even greater incentive to buy their products.
- Cotton – Cotton is renowned for being a soft and breathable material. This makes it ideal for use in the manufacture of a vegan flip flop since this type of footwear is primarily known for being known in the summer. Due to how comfortable it is, cotton is quite popular, but it is not easy to waterproof, which can be limiting especially if you plan to wear your flip flops to the beach or the pool.
- Cork – Cork as a material for use in the construction of vegan flip flops has gained prevalence over the years due to its natural and organic qualities. There are many appealing factors about using cork as a material, including being fire-resistant as well as lightweight.
It is a popular option for use in the construction of flip flops has anti-bacterial properties and is breathable. It also gives your footwear the all-natural aesthetic that many people love.
The glue or adhesive
Even when the materials used in the construction of flip flops are advertised as being entirely synthetic, the adhesive used to hold them together can be non-vegan. In most cases, shoe glue is made from collagen that is sourced from animals, which means that the product is not vegan-friendly.
Although synthetic adhesives are generally more widely used today as they are relatively cheaper and can be stronger, some flip flops are still made using animal-based varieties, and it is virtually impossible to tell unless the label indicates otherwise. As a result, shopping for vegan flip flops can be a quite a pain, especially if you don’t have the time to do background checks to determine if the brand you intend to buy used vegan glues.
As you might guess, there aren’t too many companies making flip flops that are 100% vegan, so if you are a fully-dedicated vegan, you might have a hard time finding synthetic flip flops. However, if you are lucky enough to come across an eco-friendly company that isn’t afraid to show their love and dedication to the environment, it is highly likely that the glue they use will be vegan.
Many companies make use of dyes that are animal-based to color their footwear. In many cases, this is also true even for footwear that is pitched as completely synthetic and non-leather. Fortunately, the use of animal-based dye is much less prevalent than that of animal-based adhesives.
Where to purchase a pair of vegan flip flops
Finding 100% vegan flip flops can prove to be a challenge. A majority of shoe stores do not stock footwear that is specifically made for people who are concerned about the manufacturing process. Additionally, finding a pair of flip flops that are vegan and also comfortable can be quite tasking.
- Buying them online – Purchasing vegan flip flops online is very appealing to a lot of vegan enthusiasts. When you are shopping online, it is much easier to conduct a thorough background check on the companies that you intend to buy from. Additionally, there are a lot more vegan sites than there are vegan shoe stores, so you will have a wider selection of flip flops to choose from.
However, the main downside of buying your vegan flip flops online is not being able to tell if they will be comfortable. A lot of vegan flip flops and vegan footwear, in general, tend to be uncomfortable, and there is a high chance that you will end up returning and rebuying them.
- Finding specialty stores – Specialty stores are not as easy to across as regular stores. However, this shouldn’t discourage you – a quick look online could lead to the discovery of specialty shoe stores in your location that you didn’t even know about.
Considerations to keep in mind when purchasing vegan flip flops
While the manufacturing process of vegan flip flops averts animal abuse and cruelty, a lot of these companies still exploit the environment and natural resources. Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself regarding these types of footwear.
- Are the flip flops indeed 100% vegan? – If you are committed to veganism, then you might want to conduct some research to determine if everything used in the manufacture of the flip flop, from the glue to the coloring and the material, and even the manufacturing procedure.
- Does the company you intend to buy from have a reliable policy on recycling and waste reduction? – Recycling and waste reduction is important, whether you wear vegan or non-vegan footwear. You might buy entirely vegan flip flops, but if the brand does not have robust waste reduction or recycling policies, these materials could end up harming the same animals you are trying to protect.
- Are the flip flops going to be durable? – There is no point of buying vegan flip flops if they are going to fall apart after a few uses. Always go for varieties that have robust construction to ensure durability.
Just like with many other types of footwear, there are flip flops that are 100% vegan for those who are conscious about the often abusive and cruel manufacturing process of leather and other animal-based footwear materials. There are so many stylish yet affordable options available, so you will likely find something that will suit your needs.