When are running shoes vegan?
"Vegan running shoes? If they are free of leather, then all running shoes are vegan!” This is a sentence that is quite commonly used when talking about vegan running shoes with friends. And yes, for the layman, most running shoes are not made of animal products like leather or animal wool, but of synthetic rubber materials, synthetic fibres and foams. But as often, you have to take a closer look at to realize that not everything that appears vegan is vegan.
To be sure that running shoes are vegan, the naked eye is not enough. You must take a closer look at the mid- and outsole and the upper of a running shoe but also pay attention to details such as the glue ore dyes which are used. Many running shoe manufacturers do not clearly identify materials and ingredients they use. At Newton Running wanted to make things easier. Therefore, all our Newton Running shoes are PeTA certified which means they are 100% free from animal-derived ingredients.
Non-vegan materials in running shoes can often be found in the components listed below:
The upper of vegan running shoes is made from synthetic or plant-based materials. When the entire upper is made from leather this is easy to recognize from its look and feel, but there are some manufacturers which use a mix of synthetic materials and leather. Distinguishing between real and artificial leather can be hard, too. Usually, a closer look at the material labeling which is either on the inside of the shoe or visible in on the box, makes things clear.
When used properly, running shoes are always in motion. Therefore, the used adhesives are exposed to high levels of material stress. Some running shoe manufacturers use adhesives with animal ingredients such as animal bones (glutin) or milk protein (casein). Since it is almost not possible to tell which glue has been used during the manufacturing process, the only way to be 100% sure is to rely on a label or certification. Otherwise, the manufacturer needs to be asked.
“Bright is beautiful” and that is why our Newton Running shoes are brightly colored! Of course, colorful vegan running shoes like ours are only colored with synthetic dyes. But there are also manufacturers who use animal-based inks and dyes for their soles and upper materials. So again: When no certification is provided the only way to find out whether this part of your running shoes is vegan or not, is to reach out to the manufacturer directly.
Vegan running shoes - a short conclusion:
Unfortunately, "no leather" is not a reliable feature for a vegan running shoe. You have to take a closer look and often ask questions if you want to buy a running shoe that is 100 % free from animal-derived ingredients. Therefore, it is advisable to only buy your running shoes in shops where they are clearly labeled as vegan, for example with a PeTA certification. Otherwise you can never be sure!