Vegan Birkenstocks Are A Thing, But Should We Be Wearing Them?

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Did you know that vegan Birkenstocks are now officially a thing? It’s true, but should we be embracing the fact or shunning the shoe? It’s been a topic of debate amongst many vegans I know, so I thought it was time to get my thoughts online.

First, though…

What are Birkenstocks?

You may well be wondering, “What the heck are Birkenstocks, anyway?”, so it’s probably a good idea to give you a little insight into them before we get into the article.

Birkenstocks are a German shoe manufacturer that are most famous for their recognizable sandals. Put it this way, even if you’ve never heard of Birkenstocks before, it’s highly likely you’ve seen someone wearing them.

This is not a new brand. The Birkenstock family have been in the business of making footwear since 1774, which was when Johann Adam Birkenstock registered himself as a shoemaker, and their famous sandals made their way stateside way back in 1966.

Popularized in the seventies by the flower power generation, Birkenstocks carried a bit of a stigma around with them for a number of years. Recently, however, the brand’s popularity has increased after numerous celebs have been photographed wearing these iconic shoes. (1)


Since when were Birkenstocks vegan?

Pretty recently. Birkenstocks released a vegan range in the US early 2017, although they have had vegan options available in Europe for considerably longer. (2)

Vegan fashion is on the increase, and as long as more and more people switch not only their diets but their entire lifestyles, this looks set to continue. Business is business, so it’s hardly surprising to see massive companies such as Birkenstock catering for such a fast growing market. (3)


So, what do vegan Birkenstocks look like?

Pretty damn good, actually. Their current range of vegan footwear is limited, but there’s talk of it increasing if these initial offerings take off as they’re expected to.

Let’s have a look at some of the more popular vegan Birkenstock shoes currently available:

The Arizona

vegan Arizona Birkenstocks

One of the most famous designs to come out of the house of Birkenstock is the Arizona, and now it’s available as a vegan option thanks to the Birko-Flor technology that switches leather for microfibers.

The Gizeh

vegan Birkenstock Gizeh

Hot on the, ahem, heels of the Arizona in terms of popularity is Birkenstock’s Gizeh. This “thong” style sandal is sure to be a hit with plant-based practitioners thanks to entirely synthetic makeup.

The EVA Arizona

vegan EVA Arizona Birkenstocks

Looking for a vegan Birkenstock Arizona you can wear to the beach? Well, their EVA version might just fit the bill. These shock absorbing sandals are built with comfort in mind, and the brighter colors will ensure you stand out, too.

The Mayari

vegan mayari birkenstocks

The cross-toe design of the vegan Mayari Birkenstocks is simply adorable, and the range comes in a variety of colors, too! Finding a summer shoe to match your outfit has never been easier!

The Boston Clog

Birkenstocks vegan Boston clog

Don’t want the world to see your toes? Birkenstock’s Boston vegan clog might be just what you’re looking for. The microfiber upper and lining coupled with the cork footbed make this a great way to hide those toes!

The EVA Madrid

EVA Madrid Birkenstock

Just like the Arizona, Birkenstock’s Madrid sandals have had a vegan makeover. These slip-ons come in a range of colors and, like the Arizona, they’re completely waterproof, which makes them perfect for walking along those sandy shorelines.

The Sydney


This two-strap vegan Birkenstock will delight those who are looking to move away from plain single color slip-ons in favor of something a little different. The floral print found on the Sydney range is subtle, but enough to make them stand out.

The Salina


The Salina range from Birkenstock has been popular for an age, but now vegans can proudly sport this unusually strapped sandal, too. Beautifully constructed and entirely free from animal products, this new kid on the block is sure to become a hit on the scene.

The Florida Fresh


The Florida Fresh is a triple strap sandal perfect for everyday wear. Comfortable, yet durable, these Birko-Flor® bad-boys are made to resemble nubuck, but have none of the nasty nonsense associated with that flawed material. Love these!

The Super-Birki


These polyurethane clogs are perfect for professionals who need a shoe they can rely on. Whether you’re working in a kitchen or an operating room, the Birkenstock Super-Birki will not let you down. Oil- and grease-resistant, these shoes can be washed at temperatures up to 60° Celsius, making them the ideal choice for a number of different work and play scenarios.

The EVA Gizeh

birkenstock vegan gizeh eva

If you love the Gizeh style, but don’t fancy risking your pair when you visit the beach, these vegan-friendly EVA Birkenstocks are the solution. Shock absorbing, skin-friendly, lightweight, waterproof, and affordable, these thong sandals are the business.

Should we buy vegan Birkenstocks?

Okay, so now we’ve seen Birkenstock’s vegan shoe range, and probably all agree that they look pretty damn snazzy, it’s time to get to the question of whether or not we should actually buy them.

The argument I’ve been hearing is very similar to the one that rages over the cosmetic industry; namely should you support a brand that isn’t 100% vegan in ALL areas of their business. It’s a reasonable enough topic for debate, so let’s debate.

I want to hear what you think about the subject in the comments below. Don’t be shy! Tell me whether or not you think we should support a brand that uses so many other animal products in its non-vegan lines.

Now, it wouldn’t be fair of me to ask you what you think without giving you my own opinion first, so here goes.

Personally, I would (do) buy vegan Birkenstocks. While I completely understand the argument against doing so, I think it’s also important to remember that there are, for want of a better expression, bigger fish to fry.

Buying the vegan version of Birkenstocks also sends the company a clear message; there’s a market for these products. Sure, I get that there are entirely vegan shoe manufacturers you can support (and should), but the fact that we could potentially influence a well-established leading brand like Birkenstock shouldn’t be underestimated.

The more major fashion lines that jump on the vegan bandwagon, the better, in my opinion.

I know the “veganisation” of everything is commercially driven, but I don’t really care. Providing that fewer animals are harmed, awareness is raised, and the wider public begin to act more compassionately because of the increased publicity, I’m all for it.

Naturally, this is all about personal choice, which is why I’ve asked you to comment. I’m genuinely interested in hearing what you have to say. So, come on, let me know. I can’t wait to hear from you!

About The Author:
Lisa Williams
Happy Happy Vegan editor

Lisa Williams is a committed vegan, passionate animal welfare advocate, and keen follower of too many v-friendly food blogs to mention. She started back in 2016 because she felt there was a need for more straightforward information on plant-based living.

Back then, too many sites seem to either concentrate solely on recipes or be too intimidating or inaccessible for the v-curious, and she wanted to change that. The landscape is certainly a whole lot different now!

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Birkenstocks Are Vegan...But Should We Be Wearing Them?
  1. Andrea Cheng | Celebrities Wearing Birkenstocks |
  2. Anna Starostinetskaya | Birkenstock Launches Vegan Shoe Line In US |
  3. Huw Hughes | Vegan fashion continues to gain momentum |

36 thoughts on “Vegan Birkenstocks Are A Thing, But Should We Be Wearing Them?”

  1. Thank you for writing this blog. As a long Birkenstock wearer who is also vegetarian, I have become curious about the vegan Birkenstock line. I have never tried the vegan shoes, but am considering buying a pair. Their Birko Flor uppers are great. My only concern with Vegan Birks would be about the lining on the sole. Does it get sticky since it is not suede? I suppose I should try a pair and write a blog about it. I have shared your post on my “I Love Birkenstocks” Facebook Page! Kindly, Gina Mama

    • Hey Gina,

      The lining is actually pretty effective at keeping stickiness at bay. I’d love to read what you think of them if you do give them a try. Keep me posted!

    • I own two pairs of Birkenstocks that were bought when I was a vegetarian, but now as a Vegan for 10 yrs I do not wear or would not purchase products unless they were Vegan.

      I am so happy to see they are making these for us – Vegans.

      Yes I would consider purchasing Vegan Birkenstocks.

      It is hard to find Vegan shoes, so I am happy to see that the mainstream is finally accommodating us.

      I have purchased Vegan Doc Martin boots but find these very hard to break in.

  2. I purchased two pair of vegan Birkenstocks when I was a (vegetarian) teen, approximately 26 years ago. The company has offered vegan sandals for at least that long! I have been vegan for more than 6 years now & I have recently considered purchased another pair of vegan Birkenstocks. I see why folks might be hesitant, though, as the sandals are known for their leather. It’s honestly embarrassing to think that someone would look at my shoes & assume I was wearing leather! And, do we really want to support companies that sell Animal products? It’s a tough one. I have a similar feeling about the vegan Doc Martens I own. I love them! However, that’s another company that makes a killing off the back of animals.

    • Sadly, the ones you are talking about have synthetic uppers but leather on the soles. The recent ones that say vegan are the only ones that are vegan.

  3. I would suggest whenever wearing anything that could be construed as leather to wear a button letting people know that it is faux ( fur OR leather)
    Just like wearing an old fur coat could ( inadvertently) encourage someone to go
    out and buy a new one…same logic applies here.

    • I was literally just saying to my husband that I would want to have a T-shirt made that says “my shoes are vegan”. I wouldn’t want to encourage other people to buy Birkenstocks that were made from animal Hyde.

  4. Vegan Birkenstock have been available for much longer than this. I have two pairs of sandals that are actually called “Alpro” but are the same as Birkenstock. For a while I thought that Alpro were the vegan version of Birkenstock, but discovered that there were some non-vegan Alpro, and some vegan Birkenstock. This was back in 2012/13. I love them. They are the same thing and I think the brands are owned by the same people. My sandals have a strap around the heel as well, which I prefer. There are fully vegan brands, but few available in Australia, and not all shoes work for all feet. Birkenstock (Alpro) hold my feet in a good position and saved my life in Berlin where walking on the concrete was leaving me in so much pain I wanted to go home. I agree; I want to support vegan brands, but I will wear vegan versions of mixed brands where they meet my needs and where we can send a message that there’s a market for cruelty free. Over the years we’ve seen some food items that were not began, but could have been without changing the taste, become vegan because it expands the market for the company. I think this is good. That said some companies I avoid regardless. I won’t knowingly buy a Nestle product, for example, even if it is vegan.

  5. For those that have tried vegan Birkenstocks, do you find that they hold up as well as any non-vegan Birkenstocks you’ve tried? I looked at some vegan ones today and noticed the seam between the microfiber footbed and the cork at the heel wasn’t as smooth and seamless as on the non-vegan pairs. I compared several different pairs and saw the difference on every one. The seam was more ragged looking. This makes me think the cork adhesive on the vegan shoes might not be as good. I’ve search for reviews on the vegan Birks, but can’t find any. Thanks so much for any input.

    • Thanks for commenting, Amy.

      Personally, I’ve not had a problem with them, but I’d love to hear what everyone else has to say, too.

    • I bought mine in the summer of 20017 and now April 2019 they are pretty beat up. Still absolutely wearable but are not holding up as well. That being said I’m about to buy another pair. I’d never buy leather.

  6. I know this is an old post but I’ve just been searching online for vegan Birkenstocks and came across your post. 🙂

    I totally agree with you about showing companies the demand is there for vegan alternatives. I LOVE my vegan Doc Martens and I’m happy to show the brand I support their vegan options.

    I hope that as people buy up big on vegan ranges, more companies join in the “trend” so that we vegans and vegetarians have more options. Of course companies are ultimately in it for themselves but if it also means a reduction in the amount of leather produced then surely it’s a win-win?

  7. I do NOT recommend buying vegan Birkenstocks. My daughter saved up to buy a pair and loved wearing them. She has had them less than a year and the microfiber lining has started to grow MOLD. This is their response when she reached out for their help:

    “I’m sorry to hear about what happened to your sandals. I would like to note that since the footbeds of our vegan sandals are made of microfiber, they are porous. This means that even in dry climates, moisture can accumulate on the footbed just like dew does on a grass lawn in the morning. Any moisture when left unchecked will cause mold and there is nothing we do during manufacturing the footwear that predisposes them to this any more than another shoe with similar materials.

    As each person wears and cares for their footwear differently, we currently do not have any warranty or guarantee on our footwear. This means that we cannot accept them back as a return or exchange.

    With that said, due to the composition of our sandals, Birkenstock footwear may be repaired for various types of damage or wear depending on the style. In your case, your sandals at best only need a footbed liner replacement and professional cleaning. Although, in full disclosure, due to the moisture and mold, your sandals may also need a cork footbed replacement as well.

    A repair facility would be able to evaluate them and give you an estimate for the necessary repairs.”

    So, basically, they are acknowledging that they know there is a problem with their very expensive sandals but you have to incur additional expense to fix it.

    They should fully disclose this problem beforehand. If people still want to purchase, then at least they were warned.

    Extremely disappointed in this company. They have been around for decades and people associate their brand with a quality product. Apparently, they don’t care about their customers once they’ve gotten our money.


    • The mould on the Birkenstock sandals has nothing got to do with them being Vegan. I had the exact same thing happen to a pair with the Suede lining in the footbed. This was years ago. I put them in a drawer under the bed in Winter and when I took them out next Summer they had mould. This was totally my fault and was due to dampness in the bedroom, which I only realised when summer shoes stored over Winter got mouldy. There is a good video on You Tube showing how to clean the footbed with bicarbonate of soda and a toothbrush ? They do get sweaty and this moisture causes the mould. Even if they are not stored somewhere damp they can still get mouldy if stored somewhere without adequate ventilation.

      I am Vegetarian and gradually transitioning to Vegan footwear. It’s a minefield! Thanks for your blog and post. I had the same misgivings about Birkenstock when I saw some footwear that said it had fur on their website. However, I agree with your view – if we purchase Vegan footwear from these manufacturers we are sending them a message. Who knows maybe in the future some of them will become 100% Vegan in their products – if they see there’s money in it they’ll do it.

  8. Hey I didn’t get a chance to go through all of the above comments but I did want to mention the only true “vegan” option from Birkenstock right now are the EVA shoes. The marketed and advertised “vegan” Birkenstock with the fo-leather flor straps made of synthetic fiber are not infant vegan. The straps themselves are truly vegan but the foot bed is not. If you look at the vegan options on their website look at the lining of the sole. They say vegan then it says lining is suede, or others will say “classic Birkenstock footbed”. That footbed is made of shock absorbing sole, jute fibers, cork footbed, and soft suede. I sadly discovered this a few days ago when my sister ordered me my first pair of non EVA Birks. Not super happy.

    • Hi Esteban,

      Huge apologies for taking so long to reply. Somehow your comment got buried and I missed it, sorry about that.

      Could you point us toward the link where you found suede listed please? I’ve just gone through the vegan shoe collection on their US site and can’t find anything like this.

    • Hi Esteban,

      On the Australian site it says

      Birko-Flor Pull Up in Anthracite (Vegan Footbed – Microfibre Lined)

      Only used Arizona for an example. Underneath all the shoe info it does go into detail on non vegan leathers but it does this on every page. I don’t think a company as big as Birkenstock’s would label something as vegan and then not comply. Seems very silly on their part!

  9. Well – I think we have to look at the bigger picture and take the wider view, these shoes have great design that other vegan competitors do not, buying this product is surely an effective way to influence Birkenstock to cater more ethically, and to influence more ethical suppliers to up their design game, win win? 😉

  10. Birkenstock’s vegan collection is “produced with animal-friendly, ecologically-sound and sustainable materials” such as a cork-latex footbed, synthetic Birko-Flor straps, and sturdy EVA soles.
    This from PETA website.
    I just got some vegan Maryari sandals and love them.

  11. I have some and love them. As someone with flat, wide feet, my options are quite limited. I have been wearing birkis for a long time before I was vegan, and the vegan ones are pretty much the same.

    • My Vegan Arizona sandiest have both torn in the inner top synthetic material.
      I’ve had them for under 12 months and would have expected longer from this fabric
      Would love to purchase another pair and maybe not wear them as often as I do love them

  12. Let’s all remember one thing, although many of us are vegan or vegetarian, we buy our food from grocery store that also sell meat. Our food produce is grown by farmers that inadvertently kill field mice, voles and a multitude of insects while plowing and harvesting. We can never be 100% in one way or another detached from the death of a living thing. I applaud Birkenstocks for offering up vegan versions. Clearly there is an increasing demand for vegan sandals/shoes. That’s a good thing. In the end of the day it is our intent that is most important. We are imperfect, but if we follow a path of wholesome intent then we will be doing good in out lifetime.

  13. The most comfortable pair of shoes I have ever owned was a pair of (non-vegan) Birkenstock Gizeh so I was very excited when I realised I could get vegan Birkenstocks too. I have bought a vegan Gizeh-style sandal from a vegan company and, while they look great, they don’t have the same comfort level that the Birkenstocks do. I wear the others for fancy (they are hot pink!), the Birkenstocks for walking all day. Like someone else mentioned, I also had mold on the footbed of my non-vegan Birkenstocks after they were stored for winter, I just scrubbed it off.

    I’m all for buying vegan options from non-vegan companies. The more mainstream vegan products (clothing, food, anything) become, the higher the chance that non-vegans will try them and that’s always a win in my book.

  14. It’s been almost a year since I last looked, I just looked again and still the same issue. None of their vegan sandals has a backstrap. The choice is really limited. Not impressed.

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