Vegan Living: Accidentally Vegan Shoes

01/16/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

One of the most challenging things when I first became a vegan was finding shoes. And not just vegan shoes, but stylish, not made from hemp vegan shoes. As much as I would love to buy a pair of the shoes Natalie Portman designed for Te Casan, $185 for a pair of ballet flats is out of the question.

Luckily, there are some more affordable options in the realm of accidentally vegan shoes. I have been shopping at Payless since before I became a vegan because I've always been frugal (not to be mistaken for cheap, of course). In the past couple of years they have really started to pay attention to trends. This fall, I got a pair of purple peep toe ankle boots with a four-inch heel. They look like suede, but all of the materials are manmade. And because they're from Payless, they only cost $25.

Target also offers inexpensive stylish shoes, as do some department store brands. Chinese Laundry and Steve Madden occasionally sneak out a pair made completely with synthetic materials. If you're looking for an exercise shoe, New Balance is a reliable brand. Just pay attention because some of the shoes are made with leather or suede or have a detail made out of animal hide.

This year I've become a big fan of Asics' Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81 line of sneakers. I got my first pair in May after wearing a pair of Pumas for so many years that my toes had pushed through the mesh and my boyfriend was embarrassed to be seen with me. The Tigers are colorful and comfortable, and the line has expanded to include more colors. So far no holes!

With all accidentally vegan shoes you're going to have to read that little materials labels inside the shoes, just to be sure that they are in fact vegan. Some lines of shoes will have one model made in synthetic materials and another in suede, and even Payless tries to get upscale from time to time with a few pairs of leather shoes. But with a little patience and some research, you can find shoes that you, your budget and cows will love. I'm always looking for an excuse to go shoe shopping, so tell me some brands of accidentally vegan shoes that you love.