Saturday, August 9, 2014

Vegan Dilemma: Shoes

Being a vegan is not always easy, and it is a multidimensional kind of existence.  It does not stop with food choices.  As a vegan, I have to not only make food choices that are ethical, but I have to take the same sets of issues into account with every choice and with every purchase.  It is a 24/7 process. I don't get a vacation from being an ethical vegan.

Aside from the fact that I have cats, another area that challenges me greatly is shoes.  Now, I am a woman, and like many women, I love shoes, but for me, buying shoes is a real ordeal. I was not gifted with normal feet.  My feet are extremely narrow--so narrow that I have to buy from specialized retailers or settle (often) for secondhand leather.

Secondhand leather is a source of controversy among vegans.  Here are some links. Now, for vegans with perfect feet, it's true that alternatives to leather exist; however, if you are me and do not have perfect feet, there are not.  You see, a few months ago, I spent literally hours on the Internet, looking for both vegan and "non leather" shoes in narrow sizes.  I did different key word searches.  I emailed back and forth with a few dealers, and I even measured my feet more than once, all of which brought me to the same conclusion:  There are virtually no affordable, vegan shoes for people with very narrow feet like mine.

There are retailers who specialize in shoes in narrow sizes; however, you pay for those shoes.  Even when I can find them in non-leather (and I will allow that there are a good number of non-leather shoes sold by these companies), they are very expensive.  $50 +/pair expensive.  I can't afford that, especially now that my income has been reduced.

Where this leaves me, since most offices won't allow you to come to work in bare feet or in your slippers, is with thrift stores.  I have to say that, over the course of my adult life, thrift stores have been very good to me.  The way I shop for shoes is I first decide what, exactly I need and in what color(s).  I then look for those in sizes that fit me.  By "fit me", in most cases, I mean fit me exactly.  I can fudge on sneakers and boots, but not on work shoes and sandals, with which I will either be wearing stockings or nothing at all.  (With sneakers and boots, I can fudge, because I typically wear them with socks.)  My results have been mixed, and about 50% or more of the time, I come away with secondhand leather shoes.

At least, at the end of the day, I know that I've gone into it with some thought and have done the best I can.  I'd love to just have normal feet, but that's not the Universe made me, so I work with what I have.

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