Finding a vegan shoe is often a challenge because of the glue. It’s straightforward enough identifying shoes that are made out of leather or wool. If the eye test doesn’t work, most websites will state whether it’s real leather or not. But even when you ask, many companies don’t know what the glues are made from.
So we reached out to the authorities at PETA with some questions, and we got some answers. Here’s what they told us about glue used in shoes:
Animal proteins like casein from milk or collagen from flesh, bones, skins, tendons, ligaments, and other body parts are used to make animal-based glues. To extract collagen from tissue, animal parts are cleaned, softened, and boiled in water to create a stock. The stock is concentrated and impurities are removed. Essentially the same process has been used for thousands of years to make glue.
The use of animal ingredients in industrial glues is increasingly uncommon since a large variety of synthetic adhesives now exist, each with different applications. These adhesives are often chosen over animal based glues because they can be produced at a constant rate and to meet specific manufacturing standards. Synthetic adhesives can be customized to perform well for a business’s specific application and manufacturers may be hesitant to reveal trade secrets about what exactly is in their adhesives.
We encourage you to contact shoe companies directly about the type of adhesives they use. In doing so, you will be showing these companies that there is a demand for more animal-friendly materials and, ultimately, helping to change the industry. You might also consider writing to vegan shoe companies to find out what specific synthetic glues are being used and why they were selected. Companies expect to hear from organizations like PETA, but when they hear from their customers, it sends an even stronger message—that cruelty to animals is bad for business and won’t be tolerated.
We hope this information is helpful, and can clear up some of the confusion over this issue. It is hopeful to hear that synthetic glue is overtaking “traditional” glue in application. But it makes you wonder why factories are still using animal glues at all. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us (or PETA). Thanks!