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 Post subject: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:33 am 
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I have stupid feet. They're an extra to extra extra wide and I need really good arch support and wider calf width for boots. I also get a lot of pain if the shoes aren't wide enough. I've been vegan since March 2012 and still have my leather shoes (one pair of flats, one pair of kneehigh flat boots). I don't like wearing them but they're all I have and to be honest they are literally the only shoes I've worn that are comfortable and give me zero pain. Even with animal shoes, it has always been hard finding shoes in my width, in the styles I like (I'm in Australia).

So I had two pairs of vegan shoes custom made and it cost me close to $600 for both pairs. Truthfully, I'm not happy with how they turned out as I feel they didn't take some of my concerns in to consideration and now I'm stuck with shoes that aren't exactly what I wanted. They'll do, and I can wear them, but they hurt after a while because of those concerns not being considered. I really can't afford to have any more made from anywhere.

I have seen leather shoes in the widths and styles I want, but I don't want to buy leather. Even then, the shoes are from UK suppliers and I have had rotten luck with buying shoes internationally and getting the wrong size that I can't return. A vegan friend told me to look in to second hand leather shoes so I'm not buying a new product but it's just as impossible to find secondhand leather in my size requirements as it is to find vegan shoes. And of course, there's the whole cruelty factor. The only vegan shoes that fit my feet are summer sandals, obviously I can't wear those in winter or with a pretty frock if I'm going out or any stockings/pantyhose.

So what would you do? I do not have any comfortable dressy shoes and have had to turn down invitations to things where I am on my feet, because I don't have comfortable shoes to wear. When I became vegan I got rid of leather shoes I didn't wear that much, thinking I'd be able to find vegan alternatives. And now I'm left with no shoes.


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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:04 am 
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I'm not sure what in blazes to do too. My work shoes are about to walk off of me and I spend my day hiding my feet they are so old and shabby. There are plenty of cheap shoe options here but unfortunately they can be uncomfortable if you do an average amount of walking and your feet will be freezing with the cold. Also, I don't like the vegan doc martens. I only like the mary janes and I can't seem to get them...... then I'm broke.

My feet are exactly the reason why it took me so long to become vegan. Handbags..... can't forget the handbags too.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 3:58 am 
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I don't have a solution for you, but I can commiserate. I can't really wear heels, and flats with a skirt look abominable on me, so I've always worn knee high boots. But because my calves are very wide (especially for my height/small shoe size) even leather boots that fit have been very very hard to find. I found a couple pairs from a boot company that specializes in hard to fit sizes a couple years before going vegan, and I still wear those (although it's getting to feel weirder and weirder wearing them the longer I'm vegan), but I have no idea what I'll do when those wear out. Never wear dresses or skirts again? Maybe I can cultivate a chic slacks look....

I don't know. It bums be out, because I like wearing skirts. So yeah, I hear you TurningVioletViolet.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 4:46 am 
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I'm guessing your customs were veganwares? they were super helpful when I got mine made (though perhaps my issues aren't as serious as yours), and they've been insanely super comfortable. sucks.

as for your dilemma, if it were me I wouldn't buy the leather shoes. I guess I'd struggle through until eventually found something satisfactory. hopefully that day comes soon.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 6:55 am 
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Given that spending $600 on shoes if you don't have that sort of expendable income is not wise and that you could end up with serious issues if you wear inappropriate shoes, I would buy shoes that were comfortable and allowed you to get around during the day without suffering. Shoes are not entirely a fashion statement.

If you end up at the podiatrist because you have smashed your feet into the wrong shoes, you are doing no creature on Earth a favor. There are many factors that play into our purchasing decisions and vegan is only one.

Suffering instead of wearing shoes that are comfortable when you have issues with your feet is something that pushes veganism from a moral position into a religion. You are not trying to achieve some sort of spiritual purity; you are trying to be as ethical as you reasonably can given your limitations and needs. Buy the shoes you need to get through your day so that you can function well enough to help make the world a better place regardless of what's on your feet. Keep searching and maybe you can buy vegan shoes that work for you.

For those who are turning veganism into a functional form of religion, it might be wise to look at Judaism in which there are 613 laws. There is a recognition that no one can keep all of them because some require the Temple. Everyone is flawed and imperfect. You focus on the laws you can keep.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:15 am 
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Vantine wrote:
If you end up at the podiatrist because you have smashed your feet into the wrong shoes, you are doing no creature on Earth a favor. .....

Suffering instead of wearing shoes that are comfortable when you have issues with your feet is something that pushes veganism from a moral position into a religion....

For those who are turning veganism into a functional form of religion, it might be wise to look at Judaism in which there are 613 laws. There is a recognition that no one can keep all of them because some require the Temple. Everyone is flawed and imperfect. You focus on the laws you can keep.

God you just made my day Vantine.

Just an additional 2c: i think looking at europe/N America we get this idea that there are sooooooooo many vegan options and it gets really, really grumbly for those of us outside these Blessed Areas. When i found (accidentally) vegan shoes last year, it was like i hit the lottery. It ain't easy, unless you're wearing crocs every day.
"do the best you can. repeat." ( i think i saw that on kittee's blog, but it still fits)

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:27 am 
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I definitely take a really similar stance to Vantine. I think that veganism is only useful if it's practical and doable for us (I don't think it even has to be the most practical option, just as long as it's not infringing on your ability to live happy and healthy etc), and that it's important to extend the compassion that you extend to other living things to yourself, too.

I totally understand not wanting to wear leather - I feel pretty yuck about the few leather things I own (piano accordion straps, that sort of thing) - but maybe there's some kind of compromise? Perhaps you can find shoes that have less animal products involved in their manufacture, even if they're not totally vegan? Even if you can't, I hope that you can find a solution that works for you and doesn't end up damaging your feet.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:36 am 
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Have you tried Danskos? They're pretty wide even at normal width, and there are some good vegan options. The canvas maryjanes are even cute! But yeah, don't punish your body if you can't find the right vegan shoes for your needs. It's really not worth it.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:51 am 
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I understand as I have wide feet as well. Shoe shopping was frustrating for me until the Internet became popular and online shoe stores popped up. Even so, trying to find shoes that fit and are animal free can be tough. I've had some luck as we have some really good online shoe stores in the US like Zappos.

Recently, I've been having problems with my feet so I decided to get some better athletic shoes and shoes to wear at home. One company that I've had luck with in the past in regards to athletic shoes has seemed to decided to not carry wide widths as standard and make them custom order only. The custom order isn't that much more expensive but I still don't understand that philosophy.

Anyway, my overall philosophy is your health comes first. If you can't find shoes that are wide width and animal free, then the animal free part becomes optional.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:59 am 
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joshua wrote:
as for your dilemma, if it were me I wouldn't buy the leather shoes. I guess I'd struggle through until eventually found something satisfactory. hopefully that day comes soon.


me too. I dunno, I just can't imagine buying leather no matter what, it's not something I'd be comfortable with. I hope you find a solution soon.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:09 am 
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Have you spoken to the people you ordered your shoes from? Would they be willing to work with you to correct what you don't like about the custom shoes?

If you need a functional shoe that you can't get in a vegan version then buy whatever shoe you can find. Not all vegan shoes are "cruelty free" depending on materials, country of manufacture, conditions of manufacture, etc. You do the best you can. You know the difficulty and practicality of finding something that works for you so I'd see no need in suffering through anything in the hopes of something in some vague future working out some time. You can continue to research other options but there's no reason to be in pain in the meantime.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:19 am 
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Oh and I really like the vegan Danskos for work shoes. The Sanitas are a bit tighter but Danskos work well for me.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:28 am 
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Also, as regard to your thread title, you are being a good vegan. Congrats on changing your diet in March! That's a great thing. Don't focus on the things you can't or haven't done. Focus on the good that you are doing. I think sometimes veganism (and other social movements) can get a bit negative in focusing on the things that haven't changed. Which is not to say they should be ignored, but, dang, be proud of the changes you've made! You are making the world a better place in your own small way and that is a big thing.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:58 pm 
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If you fill your veganism with absolutes, you will end up frustrated and eventually, I will have to read some crepe on your blog about how bacon is next to Godliness. Don't do that to me.

Repeated from Panda for truthiness:
Not all vegan shoes are "cruelty free" depending on materials, country of manufacture, conditions of manufacture, etc. You do the best you can.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:08 pm 
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People in this thread are wise.

The shoe issue is very difficult if you have any sort of foot or back issue. Most vegan shoes now are either inexpensive fashion shoes or casual/athletic type not suitable for work. if you can't find a perfect solution today, keep an eye out and maybe you will in 6 months.

Do the best you safely can.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:14 pm 
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I typed a whole thing out and somehow deleted it, but it was just a long way of saying yeah, what everyone else said. Shoes aren't just about appearance, they're your health.


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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:17 pm 
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paprikapapaya wrote:
joshua wrote:
as for your dilemma, if it were me I wouldn't buy the leather shoes. I guess I'd struggle through until eventually found something satisfactory. hopefully that day comes soon.


me too. I dunno, I just can't imagine buying leather no matter what, it's not something I'd be comfortable with. I hope you find a solution soon.

This is my feeling, but also, I have no back or foot problems. My brother and mom both suffer from chronic back pain and if I lived with what they live with, my answer would probably be a lot different. Do the best you can. Your health is important.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 6:19 pm 
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thank you wise peeps. The search continues!


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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:41 pm 
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My advice would be that if you can only find shoes that work for your feet in leather, buy the best quality leather ones you can afford and do what you can to keep them in really good shape, getting to know your local shoe repair place if need be.


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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:08 pm 
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pandacookie wrote:
Also, as regard to your thread title, you are being a good vegan. Congrats on changing your diet in March! That's a great thing. Don't focus on the things you can't or haven't done. Focus on the good that you are doing. I think sometimes veganism (and other social movements) can get a bit negative in focusing on the things that haven't changed. Which is not to say they should be ignored, but, dang, be proud of the changes you've made! You are making the world a better place in your own small way and that is a big thing.


I think this is so important. If we let the perfect become the enemy of the good, it really doesn't help anyone or anything. Even the Vegan Society definition talks about doing the best you can. I think having spent $600 on custom vegan shoes counts as having done the best you can. Please also let us know if the manufacturer is refusing to rectify your issues - because it would be important for other vegans to know about that.

I feel like focusing too much on being the "perfect" vegan can be about our own egos, not about what is best for the animals, the planet and ourselves.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:28 pm 
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The vegan shoe situation is improving, but definitely not a comprehensive answer to all of our footy needs. I feel your pain. So literally. I don't have arch issues or especially wide feet, but I recently started a new job that requires dressy black shoes, as opposed to the sneakers that I've grown accustomed to and are more readily available. I haven't had much trouble finding non-leather black dress shoes- Target and Burlington Coat Factory (a discount chain) have treated me well- but dressy black shoes I can stand in for 9+ hours? Ugh.

I think it's really awesome you made that investment to switch to vegan alternatives, and I'm so sorry the shoes didn't live up to expectations. To echo other wise posters above me, if you can't find a vegan alternative to your leather shoes that won't cause you harm now or down the road, I'd stick with what you were using before. A lot of us have had to make compromises- I take psych meds every day, and I don't love that they were tested on animals at some point, but I need them to survive. We can't help the animals if we're not taking care of ourselves, you know? But I'll definitely keep you in mind as I continue my own quest for awesome vegan shoes, and I hope you find something great and comfortable that you like. Congrats on joining team vegan this year!

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 12:51 am 
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Could you get arch supporting insoles for your shoes? I have friends with foot issues (arthritis etc) who use them, and they're made from plastic, not leather. I mean the kind that you put in regular shoes, they're not glued in. They're made individually to fit each client's feet. Then you'll only have to think of getting wide enough shoes, might increase your options?

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:16 am 
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I have wide calves, wide (but not super wide) feet, and high insteps, plus arch and heel pain if I don't wear something with cushion and arch support. For flats I've had good luck with some of the cuter crocs flats, because the material basically stretches and forms to your feet, and they have flats that aren't ugly like you would expect crocs to be. For boots I buy cheap-ish ones online from one stop plus, who do deliver all over the world, and I put a really nice cushioned supportive insole in them that I bought at a sporting goods store that is meant to go in athletic shoes. If you don't want to order from outside of Australia maybe you could find something from an Australian plus sized store and add insoles. I have good luck with New Balance running shoes for casual wear, and they come in wider widths.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:43 am 
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Casual and athletic shoes tend to be easier. For some reason, New Balance doesn't like my feet. I've had luck with Merrells (they tend to be on the wide side), Brooks and Nike for athletic shoes.

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 Post subject: Re: Vegan shoe dilemma. I want to be a good vegan!
PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:35 am 
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amonik wrote:
Could you get arch supporting insoles for your shoes? I have friends with foot issues (arthritis etc) who use them, and they're made from plastic, not leather. I mean the kind that you put in regular shoes, they're not glued in. They're made individually to fit each client's feet. Then you'll only have to think of getting wide enough shoes, might increase your options?

Seconded.

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