Everyone knows that being vegan means not eating animal products, right? But there’s more to consumption than eating…and what we wear is an important part of that. I’m sure the majority of people these days also see wearing fur coats as unacceptable – a luxury item made of dead animals? Well…how about all those leather shoes? Leather is animal skin too. OK – shoes are not a luxury item…but is the choice to use leather rather than alternative materials not just the same thing as choosing a coat made of animals? Perhaps leather is a better quality material and its about practicality, not perceived luxury or status, or availability?
Well, we don’t think so – and there’s lots of evidence to suggest that cruelty-free materials are now superior to the leather counterparts. When I went sailing in the Global Challenge race in 2004-5, I was supplied with a pair of deck shoes by Vegetarian Shoes of Brighton as an alternative to the leather ones worn by the rest of the crew. Made of a breathable microfibre, the material was developed to have the same properties as leather and yet not suffer the degradation by a salty marine environment that damages leather. After the race, where they were worn daily on the foredeck and around the boat, that pair of shoes lasted another 8 years of general summer wear – with a fair amount of getting wet in salt and fresh water as well as wandering around town. They were only retired last year as I’d pretty much worn through the soles – the leather-replacement uppers were still in good shape.
So when we came to look at our needs for an expedition through the desert, there was only really one place to go. This time round we’re wearing something more suitable for the desert – Retread Bush Boots. Lets see how well these work out as expedition footwear – they don’t feel like a compromise!
Of course…this is just one of many companies supplying a great range of footwear – if you’re looking for something a little more high-fashion for a night out in town, maybe Beyond Skin have something for you?
There’s lots of options out there that don’t involve wrapping your feet in bits of animal…