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Hi there, guys.

I am a vegan and have been for many years. I decided to go vegan for ethical reasons, but having become a fitness-freak over the last couple of years, I can also attest to its brilliant health benefits!
However, I am also autistic, which means that I suffer from physical sensitivity, balance issues and low muscle tone - all of which add up to one thing: I need good shoes.
I wear Puma trainers for my weightlifting and other exercise, and during the day I live in my beat-up grey Converse, but having been born with slightly mishapen feet (bummer!) I now have really sore toes and calloused skin. What I need is a pair of New Balance trainers for everyday wear. The problem is, the ones that are best for my tootsies happen to be...yes. Suede. Dead cow's butt. What can I do?
Having my disability means that I am sensitive to a lot of textures, and it is nightmare city trying to find a suitable pair of shoes - but these New Balance ones fit all the bills. They are quite simply perfect. But...dead cow's ass. It breaks my heart.
Should I compromise my ethics to help my disability? I have searched all of the vegan shoe options and they do not suit my needs at all. So, to conclude, is it OK to compromise footwear ethics when you have autism and special needs? Or does that make me a hypocritical monster? Advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks a lot, guys!
Pixie xxx
 

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Pixie:

I don't consider you a monster if your physical condition means that you require leather shoes. The way I look at it, the fact that you are a dietary vegan means that many hundreds of animals won't be slaughtered because of your food choices. Don't beat yourself up because of this. Think of how much animal suffering would be avoided if everyone on the planet followed your lead!
 

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If you are 100% convinced that you have explored every possible option and the only possible shoe for you is one with suede, then so be it. I'm concerned, though, that once you buy them you will dread wearing them, so do be sure you've done your homework and examined every possible alternative. You may even want to send an email to the company and ask if they make this style in other man-made materials. Good luck!
 

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Well, there are alternatives out there, but they tend to be rather expensive, however you'll feel it's worth every cent, since it won't be animal skin. Usually you do contribute to animal friendly shops as well, so it's a win-win for everyone.
Another option is to buy all you need on second hand stores. All the leather I've bought is second hand. Now that I'm a vegan, I'm trying to save up for synthetic alternatives that look and feel like leather, while wearing my old stuff until that day. Doesn't make me happy to wear it, but at least I did not contributed to the killing of another cow, which it would have been the case if I had got my jacket on a regular shop.

I think it's always a compromise when you are at the beginning.
 

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I'm another who feels that buying things that really have an impact on how you feel and perform, as well as last for years, isn't a disqualifier for being vegan. When I tore a ligament in my ankle I went crazy trying to find shoes I could walk in properly-I came back to the original leather sauconys I'd tried because they were far superior to my gait. I continued to look and try and correct my problems, but in the meantime being without pain and the ability to walk unimpared was priceless. Same with vitamin D. WHen I found I was very deficient despite taking D2, I got D3 to get me to the level I needed. Now I now I can look to vegan D3 to sustain a good level.
I would look to second hand shops which aren't consignment shops. Stores like Goodwill that donate to charitable causes.

Your comments on physical sensitivities interest me because I've felt I'm on the autistic spectrum since Ive heard of it. From childhood and teens I was diagnosed as schizophrenic, but have gone beyond that from my 20's on. I'm extremely --xenophobic? just don't feel part of anything. certainly not social, and have learned to "pattern" behavior so I get along just fine. Better with people I don't know, because I never want the kinds of closeness most 'friendships' require. I never feel anyone gets me. Anyway, I'm also very sensitive to clothing, tempertures, my hair, itchiness..... it's been getting really bad lately. Shoes are a big problem, and while I now wear Saucony that aren't leather, I can feel what its like to want comfort.

New Balance is known for making non-leather shoes. If you know which style is right, I suggest calling the companies number and asking for help selecting a similair style in non leather
 

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In case you haven't searched the following site yet, try it out!

http://vegan8.me/vegan-athletic-shoes/vegan-athletic-shoes-2015/


VERY comprehensive list of vegan shoes from all around the world. All of my vegan hiking and cycling shoes I had to order online because I needed something very specific and I am fortunate they all fit on my first go. I have had them for anywhere from 3 to 5 years now and all are very nice quality and still going strong. One of them I bought through Amazon.com for half the normal price and paid very little for. If you can find a specific brand of shoe that will work, see if they have it on Amazon.com and watch it on your wish list for prices to go down. Or try Ebay or something along those lines.

I do understand it can be a huge effort to find high quality not too expensive vegan shoes that fit correctly. For my Wicked Hemps and Kiowas, I did have to buy a shoe insert because I have very high arches (along with wide feet with a narrow heel) and didn't feel they provided enough arch support, but with the simple shoe inserts they work very well. I already have a few high top hikers on my wanted list from that list above. I just have to wait for that tax return. :) Best of luck!
 

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I relate to your question and am trying to find new vegan shoes as well right now. I don't have a car and walk 2500-3000 miles a year. I need a 9.5 extra wide walking shoe and had been using New Balance 812, but those are now discontinued. Those didn't have leather, though they probably had animal glue (New Balance couldn't verify). They've replaced it with the 813, which does have leather. Sneakers, basketball shoes, running shoes.... are all designed for different uses. If I use a shoe that isn't designed for walking, or doesn't fit correctly, my feet will blister and walking becomes very difficult.

Finding a replacement high-quality extra-wide walking shoe has been tough. I'm going to try New Balance 665 because it doesn't have leather (though it probably has animal glue). It costs almost half as much as the 812's did, so I worry about inferior quality. If that doesn't work, then I'm not sure what my back up plan is, other than hope some other company puts out the type of shoe I need. I may need to get the 813's even though I hate the idea.

I don't expect to live a perfect vegan life. I try to live a better life, making vegan decisions where I can. There are lots of choices when it comes to something like food, but very few when it comes to something like shoes in specific sizes for specific purposes.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
Pixie:

I don't consider you a monster if your physical condition means that you require leather shoes. The way I look at it, the fact that you are a dietary vegan means that many hundreds of animals won't be slaughtered because of your food choices. Don't beat yourself up because of this. Think of how much animal suffering would be avoided if everyone on the planet followed your lead!
Thank you for commenting! And thanks awfully for your advice. I think it's true that I am avoiding a great deal of animal suffering, and besides - if they have my shoe of choice in store already (which they do, I checked) then it will only be given to another buyer anyway. And besides - most shoes are glued with animal by-products. It must be nigh on impossible to get a totally vegan shoe!
 

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In case you haven't searched the following site yet, try it out!

http://vegan8.me/vegan-athletic-shoes/vegan-athletic-shoes-2015/


VERY comprehensive list of vegan shoes from all around the world. All of my vegan hiking and cycling shoes I had to order online because I needed something very specific and I am fortunate they all fit on my first go. I have had them for anywhere from 3 to 5 years now and all are very nice quality and still going strong. One of them I bought through Amazon.com for half the normal price and paid very little for. If you can find a specific brand of shoe that will work, see if they have it on Amazon.com and watch it on your wish list for prices to go down. Or try Ebay or something along those lines.

I do understand it can be a huge effort to find high quality not too expensive vegan shoes that fit correctly. For my Wicked Hemps and Kiowas, I did have to buy a shoe insert because I have very high arches (along with wide feet with a narrow heel) and didn't feel they provided enough arch support, but with the simple shoe inserts they work very well. I already have a few high top hikers on my wanted list from that list above. I just have to wait for that tax return.
Best of luck!
Wow! Thanks so much for your in depth reply - much appreciated! I checked out the site you suggested, but unfortunately most of the stuff on there looks unsuitable and is also way out of my price range (I'm just a poor student at the moment, haha!). It looks as if I'm going to have to make a sad compromise. It sucks having the disability I do, because it makes wearing anything but 'perfect' footwear completely out of the question.
 

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If you are 100% convinced that you have explored every possible option and the only possible shoe for you is one with suede, then so be it. I'm concerned, though, that once you buy them you will dread wearing them, so do be sure you've done your homework and examined every possible alternative. You may even want to send an email to the company and ask if they make this style in other man-made materials. Good luck!
Thanks for the advice, buddy! Sadly the company DO NOT make anything similar in non-leather... It is so sad, but I guess a compromise will have to be made. My research has been absolutely thorough and I think I will have to go with suede shoes.
 

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Well, there are alternatives out there, but they tend to be rather expensive, however you'll feel it's worth every cent, since it won't be animal skin. Usually you do contribute to animal friendly shops as well, so it's a win-win for everyone.
Another option is to buy all you need on second hand stores. All the leather I've bought is second hand. Now that I'm a vegan, I'm trying to save up for synthetic alternatives that look and feel like leather, while wearing my old stuff until that day. Doesn't make me happy to wear it, but at least I did not contributed to the killing of another cow, which it would have been the case if I had got my jacket on a regular shop.

I think it's always a compromise when you are at the beginning.
Thanks for your advice and support!
Sadly, I am only a poor student and any really quality animal-free shoes are waaaaay above budget. I can't afford anything fancy at all - which is ironic, because it costs more to produce leather! Also, buying second hand is impossible with my disability - if the shoe has already been worn, it will have slight 'imprints' off the previous wearer, thus making the fit uncomfortable (honestly, autistic people are shoe-fitting nightmares!). I think it will have to be a sad, unfortunate compromise.
 

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Wow, thank you for your exceptional response! Your issues with socialising, xenophobia, etc really resonate with me. And the schizophrenia? My dad (who is autistic too) was also diagnosed with schizophrenia many years ago. The symptoms often co-manifest and I think they can be easily confused.
Message me if you fancy an autism/mental-health related chat! :)

As to the shoes, I think I will have to go with the suede. It is sad, but when your feet belong to a slightly eccentric body, and your body belongs to an even more eccentric mind, then I guess compromises are OK. It's about doing the best you can, and knowing that you aren't a bad person.

Thanks again for your awesome response - please do feel free to message me, as I said!
 

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You can never be %100 that you lead a zero animal lifestyle no matter how sure you think you are.
The animals get slaughtered for the flesh eaters.
While welding I have to wear my old..old suede jacket. I've tried 3 times to weld without it on and 3 times I have caught fire.
A cowhide can be taken from an animal the died of natural causes,the flesh cant be used.
We all do our bit otherwise we wouldn't be here :)

Have fun ...Frame.
 

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I also don't consider you as a monster 'cause I'm also a happy owner of baggy leather shoes Why happy? I had a lot of shoes ( not leather) before I have bought these ones. As occurred I have some problems with my feet because of which I can't wear another type of boots.
 

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When I used to ride a motorscooter, I was unable (at that time) to find non-leather riding gloves to protect my hands in case of a fall. I went ahead and bought the gloves.

I was able to find a non-leather, impact- and abrasion-resistant riding jacket. These are called "textile jackets" in the motorcycle world.

I miss my scooter! 90 miles to the gallon! My wife asked me to stop riding, and I can't blame her; I wouldn't want her to ride.

 

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Your not a monster even if you didn't NEED the shoes it's still perfectly fine to wear them if your ok with it like nobody else can make up your mind for you and nobody will mind if your shoes aren't vegan as It is your choice to be a vegan so u can choose what you wear on your feet
 

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and nobody will mind if your shoes aren't vegan
Go tell that to the omnivores! They will be the first to point out the anomaly.

It will happen so be prepared for comments from people about the fact you wear animal skin but don't eat animal flesh.

Having said that, I can appreciate the difficulties you face re: sensory issues. Others, however, who are trying to knock your food choices will latch on to it and use it as a stick to beat you with :serious: Just be prepared for it x
 

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I've never had an omnivore point out an anomaly, even though I'm full of obvious ones including leather. Though I identify as vegetarian, omnivores are always the ones who think of me as vegan because I don't eat meat, dairy or egg content. After the first or second time I stop correcting them. If they think of me as vegan they stop offering me cake and ice cream, and stop asking me if I could please bring egg salad to the potluck.
 

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I've never had an omnivore point out an anomaly, even though I'm full of obvious ones including leather.
Maybe I got your share of the comments then Joan. I've never had so many people interested in my fashion choices since I turned vegan, almost like they want to catch me out on something.

I even had someone say "are those leather?" when I was clearly wearing canvas shoes! Still not entirely sure if they were joking or just extremely thick.
 

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Maybe I got your share of the comments then Joan. I've never had so many people interested in my fashion choices since I turned vegan, almost like they want to catch me out on something.

I even had someone say "are those leather?" when I was clearly wearing canvas shoes! Still not entirely sure if they were joking or just extremely thick.
Needling. I'd say they were needling you. I'm 64, so a Baby Boomer. Only one percent of us even abstain from meat in the US. I understand 4 percent of GenXers and 11 percent of Millenniels don't eat meat, which is actually cause for encouragement. I'm thinking the younger the group, the better versed they are on the ins and outs of veganism, including how to mock it.
 
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