Did you know that over 30% of shoes sold in the US are vegan?
Yet, shopping for vegan-friendly sandals can be a bit of a challenge, as they may not be available from some of the most familiar brands.
Below you’ll find our recommendations for the best vegan sandals for men in 2020. I’ll also cover some tips on how to read labels, choose the best vegan materials, and find a good fit!
Reef: One Slide Men’s Sandals
These man-made, synthetic sandals (Amazon link) have a single, wide strap that ensures a snug fit. The soles are made of a synthetic biodegradable material that’s cruelty-free.
They also have an organic shape, with arch support and heel cupping to ensure maximum comfort. These sandals are also waterproof and easy to wash.
Some consumers claim that they feel a bit lightweight and “cheap,” but others prefer this lightweight feel in a sandal—so it depends on what you like.
- Biodegradable material
- Comfortable soles
- Machine-washable: Just toss them in the washing machine and they’ll come out as good as new.
- The sizing feels too narrow for some people. So get them half a size larger, especially if you want to wear them with socks.
OLLI: Men’s Flip Flops (Fair Trade & Natural Rubber)
These flip-flops are made from natural, fair-trade rubber (check the current price on Amazon). They’re so soft and lightweight—the natural rubber contours to the shape of your feet.
The manufacturer is part of the Fair Rubber Association. They’re transparent about the source of the rubber, as well as the working conditions for their employees.
These flip-flops come in beautiful, neutral colors. The all-natural materials may not last as long as other sandals, though—about 6 months is typical.
- Great price
- All-natural fair trade rubber
- No toxic chemicals
- Transparent company
- Beautiful colors
- The soles fit the curves of your foot
- Some people think the placement of the strap is too forward, leaving little room for the toes.
- May not last as long as other sandals
Rider: R1 Energy Sandals
These eye-catching sandals (see all the designs on Amazon) are made with vegan-friendly, synthetic materials. 15-30% of the materials are recycled.
If you love outdoor activities, whether in a forest or on the beach, you’ll appreciate the sturdiness of these sandals. They’re definitely waterproof and long-lasting.
- Good price
- Bold designs and colors
- Designed with sports in mind
- The straps may not be as durable as the sole, so expect those to break down first.
Bumpers: Massage Flip Flops for Men
These unique flip-flops have hard bumps on the surface of the soles to support and massage your feet. Check out the price and all the designs on Amazon here.
Of course, these are vegan and eco-friendly, as they’re made from natural and recycled rubber. They also come in about 15 color variations.
These flip-flops are anti-skid, and the spaces between the little bumps allow for better airflow. Most sandals are airy—but these are extra-airy.
People with sensitive feet may not like the bumps. But if you still want to get the benefits of the massage, you can wear them for shorter periods.
- Innovative massage design
- Natural and recycled rubber
- Prevents slippage
- Great ventilation
- A little more expensive than the other options listed here
- The massage bumps are not for everyone
Indosole: Men’s ESSNTLS Vegan Flip Flops
These carefully-crafted Indonesian sandals are made without the use of animals, animal products, or fuel-powered machinery! Check out the current price and colors available on Amazon.
They’re made with natural rubber, nylon, and Enviro fiber straps. The soles are molded from recycled tires.
Mild dyes are used to minimize environmental impact, but they still look nice. The straps, in particular, look clean and high-quality.
The footbed is also textured to prevent slipping. And if that’s not enough, they fit perfectly!
- Natural vegan materials
- Recycled tire soles
- Textured footbed
- Excellent fit
- Classy design
- More expensive than some of the other options listed here
How to Shop for Vegan Sandals
Generally speaking, a vegan sandal must contain no leather. However, sometimes it may be hard to tell if the shoes are made from real leather or synthetic alternatives.
And of course, this isn’t going to be your only concern when choosing sandals. Below are some other factors to consider.
Reading Shoe Labels to Avoid Leather
Do you remember seeing this little sticker at the bottom of your shoes? It actually tells you about the materials involved in making your footwear.
On this sticker, you’ll find a 3×2 table with symbols. The left column represents each part of the shoe (the upper layer, the inner lining, and the outer sole). The right column represents the materials each is made of.
In the right column, a symbol that looks like animal hide is indicative of leather. A symbol of interwoven stripes means any kind of textile. A diamond shape is any other material (usually synthetic).
In general, you just need to stay away from the animal hide symbol. The other two are vegan options with very few exceptions.
Sometimes you’ll find the animal hide symbol with a diamond in the middle. This stands for coated leather, which is also not vegan.
On some shoes, you’ll find that the label spells out the materials. In that case, watch out for “leather,” “coated leather,” “suede,” and “fur.”
Buying eco-conscious sandals as a vegan can present a unique dilemma. Most cruelty-free (vegan) sandals are made of plastic, while “eco-friendly” ones are often made from real leather (boo).
Fortunately, shoes that are both vegan and eco-friendly can be made from cork, wicker, plant-based fabrics, and natural rubber.
You may also find recycled tires, ocean plastics, and so on. Bonus points if the manufacturer offers a way to repurpose their products after you’re done wearing them.
Choosing durable, long-lasting footwear is also good for the environment since you won’t need new pairs as quickly.
Other Ethical Concerns
You might also want to look up the company to understand the kind of values they uphold.
Do their “vegan” products actually intrude on the natural habitat of animals? Do they treat their workers fairly?
Are they transparent? Do they donate a percentage of sales to a good cause?
Be aware of where your money is going. If a company isn’t transparent, that’s usually a bad sign.
Size and Quality
It’s easy to get caught up in ethical factors as a vegan. But that’s no reason to discard comfort and quality.
Think about the type of activity you’ll do while wearing them. If you’re going to the beach, get waterproof materials. If you wear them at home, something non-skid may be nice.
Good quality sandals and flip-flops should have a solid sole with arch support. This is especially important if you’re elderly or prone to foot injuries.
Flat soles can also be bad for your posture.
Flip-flops are notorious for having a tight fit. You can either opt for half a size bigger, or find a pair that will accommodate the shape of your feet after a few wears. Natural rubber is particularly good for this.
Do you wear sandals on a daily basis? If so, it’s worth spending a little extra for a good quality pair. The same applies if you need them for rough outdoor activities.
Luckily, vegan footwear is generally cheaper than the alternative. This is because real leather can be quite expensive to produce.
My Overall Sandal Recommendation
In the end, I’d recommend the Indosole sandals (Amazon link) for those who don’t mind paying a little extra. The designers really knew what they were doing with this one.
In contrast, the Rider R1 (Amazon) is a fun and lively choice if you like bold colors and prints.
And if you suffer from foot pain, try the Bumpers massage flip-flops (again, Amazon link). They work wonders for the right people!