Daisy Bateman

Shoefinder: Vegan For Karen

New person, new challenge! This week it’s Karen, who is vegan, but not at all obnoxious about it. (For example, when she asked me about restaurants in San Mateo, and I started with the burger place and the steakhouse, she was very nice about pointing out how that wasn’t all that helpful.) So, for her, I am scouring the web for comfortable flats than can be worn while chasing around a highly energetic kindergartner that have no contribution from the animal kingdom.

(Disclaimer: My determination of veganness is based entirely on the materials listed with the shoes, and doesn’t take into account adhesives, incidental materials and/or magical mice stitching them together.)

I started this project with very little in the way of expectations, and was almost immediately disappointed. The first place I went was the vegetarian shoe page on Zappos, where it is made clear that all that vegetarians need shoes for is hiking, surfing and, um, being a hobo.

This is not acceptable.

One way, I figured, to find shoes that do not incorporate any leather, is to look to the cheapest things going, because killing things is expensive. For example, if you want to be sure that something is entirely made out of petroleum products, you can always look to Old Navy or Target. On the other hand, quality is not exactly a watchword here, and comfort is, shall we say, a little hit-or-miss.

Or, you might think to look to some kind of specialty store where, though the proportion of hobo-shoes remains high, you can at least be sure that the shoes have been pre-selected for their lack of cruelty. Which is all well and good, if not that interesting, though I did find one shoe (left) that raised some interesting questions. Namely: Does it count if it comes from “free range expired Ethiopian cows and goats?” Are we skinning parking meters now? Exactly how long ago did they expire? Were lions involved? If there ends up being a profit in their expiry, will the lifespans of free range Ethiopian cows and goats start getting shorter? Will there be lions involved in that? Seriously, “MBAs Without Borders?” What do you think of the purple?

But, seriously, enough of this fooling around. It’s time to get down to business. Because there are cute vegan shoes out there, and I intend to find them.

For starters, there are espadrilles, which have the advantage of not being intended to be made out of leather, so you don’t end up with any sort of fakey look. Other options in this category include the canvas moccasin and the beaded satin slipper. All have the advantage of being easy to wear and highly appropriate for summer, which my sources assure me should be coming along any time now.

Ballet flats* are another option, and my go-to style for easy slip-ons. This sporty variation seems like they would be ideal for small-child chasing, while still managing to look more like real shoes than sneakers. Another desirable feature? Being cute and also machine-washable. On the other hand, these have a bit more style to them, while these are completely insane, but shut up I kind of love them. Or, if Karen would rather look like an actual adult, these would probably go with pretty much anything.

And then we have my personal favorite category, which I like to call: Fancy shoes for always, why not?

Shiny faux patent! Fancy designer shoes in plastic! And again! Why, I ask you, not?

I mean, aside from all those reasons you just came up with.

Now, you may be wondering, why I am not including any of the shoes of Stella McCartney, the world’s most famous vegan designer who is not famous at all because she is the daughter of one of the world’s best-known musicians? After all, she is just about the only game in town when it comes to the vegan and fancy thing. This is true, and after what I’ve seen, somewhat discouraging. But I just can’t bring myself to support the entity that thought it was a good idea to produce these shoes:

I am trying, and failing, to figure out where one might be expected to wear these. A black-tie sit-in? The gala opening of a new Whole Foods? To your second job as Gaia “Hot Mama” Earth, the eco-friendly stripper?

*Yes, Abigail, I know they don’t really look like ballet shoes.

2 thoughts on “Shoefinder: Vegan For Karen”

  1. Thank you, thank you! Another successful mission.

    Other vegans in my size have already beaten me to the very cute espadrille and stylish red/black graphic Diesels punch, but I'm about to click my way to ownership of a pair of beaded satin slippers. (The beaded satin slippers appear to have been made by a Naughty Monkey, but I have nothing against the craftsmanship of naughty monkeys or magical mice, as long as they're not working in sweatshops.)

    I want but can't justify the cost of the purple Marc Jacobs possibly velvety flats with toe and side vents. I also have to question the naming of the surfing shoes you highlighted early in your post. What color combinations would you expect for the Columbia Sun Rise? Did you guess "Fossil/Mud?" That sunrise sounds like it was created by somebody who hasn't seen an egg yolk in a long, long time.

    I have to confess that, while my lifestyle demands functional flats, the Pleaser Bee shoes led me to these, which are completely inappropriate for my daily activities (until I get a side gig as a parlor maid in a French brothel) but are somehow irresistible.

    As for the stiletto Birkenstock lookalikes, I have to assume that Stella's under the misapprehension that vegans want to look like vegans.

    Your research has spared me from that fate. Thank you!


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