Ahinsa is a 100% vegan brand that I came across last year. Their shoes are ethically produced, have a very spacious toe box, with super flexible soles AND lightweight! Shoes are made by hand and there is a decent choice of styles.
Ahinsa is the brainchild of Lukáš Klimpera, a Czech physiotherapist. He noticed how after successful therapy, his patients often slipped into shoes that once again damaged their locomotor system. For his patients (and for himself, too), he began to search for shoes that would enable the natural function of their feet and body, and after a lot of research and hard work, Ahinsa was born.
Lukáš states on his website “The right barefoot walking technique has many health benefits. These include the stimulation of brain centres, the activation of long muscle chains throughout the body and the so-called core muscles. It maintains the optimal range of motion of the joints …
The right barefoot walking technique can positively affect the function of the pelvic floor muscles and our way of breathing has a strong impact even on our good mood and mental state in general.
The right barefoot walking technique can prevent multiple arthrosis or vascular problems, reduce the risk of injury, improve our balance, coordination and performance …
It always depends on how we walk. Barefoot walking does not have to be good for everyone. There are situations, places and also diagnoses that refer to walking barefoot.
Nevertheless, the benefits of walking barefoot are fantastic :)”
Ahinsa shoes are extra wide, so will not suit a narrow foot. The toe-box is gently sloping (roman shape) and they generally run true to size. They suit a ‘bean-shaped’ foot best (see diagram below for perfect Ahinsa foot shape). Ahinsa shoes come in two versions:
Barefoot: this version allows full contact with the terrain and natural movement. Comfort: for those who want maximum comfort in natural motion; this version allows the body to function naturally, and at the same time it provides sufficient comfort, especially in the softness of the tread.
This essentially translates as: barefoot = without insole and comfort = with insole.
Ahinsa cover sporty, casual, office, winter boot and gently dressy (ballerina style).
Ahinsa conducted an impressive test at Masaryk University. They measured foot pressures using an EME-foot scanner. The scanner images shows the plantar pressure left by barefoot soles, barefoot Ahinsa shoes and ordinary shoes. The result is impressive – the imprint of the barefoot sole and the Ahinsa shoe is almost identical!
All of the materials Ahinsa use are manufactured exclusively in the European Union and are health and safety certified. They use both natural materials (such as linen and hemp) and high-end microfiber materials, which are waterproof and permeable at the same time. They use recycled soles from motorcycle tyres and a lifoprene® synthetic compound.
- Shoes designed by physiotherapists: Ahinsa shoes are designed directly by physiotherapists. Thanks to the special shape of these shoes and chosen of suitable materials, their wearing has a positive effect not only on the health of the whole locomotor system but also on the individual organs, including the brain.
- Hand production: Each and every pair of Ahinsa shoes are carefully handcrafted. See the entire process here.
- High quality: Ahinsa shoes are made from the highest quality materials produced and available in the European Union. They are materials with great wear and abrasion-resistance, nonslip soles and colours that do not fade.
- 100% vegan: Ahinsa shoes are not made from any animal material. Neither is their production linked to the suffering of animals or humans.
- Respect for nature: They have included secondary materials in production and also use pure natural materials (linen, hemp, cotton) and recycled materials.
- Ethical production: They have strict ethical guidelines and treat their workers fairly. The Czech organisation NaZemi (monitor supply chains and working conditions) had this to say of Ahinsa as a company – “Ahinsa has taken an excellent route in the context of environmental and social impacts of production.”
There is a large sizing chart to be found here. They add the required millimetres on to the end so you don’t have to. They are true to size in my opinion. The size may vary with different models. With winter shoes take the space for winter socks in consideration. With flats (or mary janes) any extra space may cause the shoe to slide.
Sundara Ankle Comfort
“Upper high-end CF+ (Cruelty-free high-performance material) – water-resistant, breathable leather alternative with excellent functional parameters. CF+ ultradry lining, a special material that can remove sweat and moisture away from your feet many times faster than animal skin. Lifo+ sole from innovative German compound lifoprene®.“
Colour: Light Brown Uppers: CF+High-Performance Lining: CF+ ultradry lining Sole: 4mm Lifo+ from German innovative Lifoprene® compound Price: €142 plus shipping
What I love:
Recommended by many physiotherapists worldwide, Ahinsa knows how to make comfortable shoes. Their lining is soft and there’s no breaking in period whatsoever. This is as close to a leather appearance as I have ever seen in a vegan shoe. While the insole has some delicate support around the arch, it is a very comfortable insole and its nice to have the choice whether to use it or not depending on where you intend to go walking.
To be Improved:
I wish they fit me better! They are really designed for wider feet than mine, including higher insteps and even a wider heel.
Sundara Hemp Ankle*
“4D flexible: total flexibility in all directions + it adjusts to your feet after a while.
Upper heavyweight hemp canvas, ecologically grown in EU. CF+ ultradry lining for maximal comfort, also certified. Outsole Lifo+ made from German innovative compound lifoprene® with great grip, flexibility and abrasion resistance. Double layered elastic heel for maximum comfort and perfect fit.”
Ultralight and flexible model made from high-end quality EU-origin materials for your happy feet 🙂 Designed and tested by physiotherapists. Ethically handmade. Delivered with yellow, beige and black laces. Any other colour of laces possible on request 🙂
Colour: Beige Uppers: Hemp Lining: CF+ ultra-dry Sole: 4mm Vibram compound Price: €146 plus shipping *Note: These were a custom order, as the hemp styles are usually confined to shoes.
What I love:
I love that these are made from hemp. It is one of the world’s most ecological and versatile natural fibre plants – it is actually one of the first fibre plants in history. The cultivation of hemp needs no pesticides, because it grows very fast, even faster than weeds. The hemp used in these boots has been cultivated and processed in the EU.
I love that these are super comfortable with a wide toe-box and a super flexible sole.
To be improved:
I feel like these could have been designed a little better. I think a beige outsole and beige lacing would have made such a difference to their appearance. Also, I am not a fan of the walled black adhesive. However, this is just my opinion, and I’m well aware that others might prefer this aesthetic.
Bindu 2 Comfort Airnet
“4D flexible: total flexibility in all directions and it adjusts to your feet after a while. Upper and lining made from special AirNet® mesh with one of the most strict health safety certifications. Outsole Lifo+ made from German innovative compound lifoprene® with great grip, flexibility and abrasion resistance. Double layered elastic heel for maximum comfort and perfect fit.
Ultralight and flexible model made from high end quality EU-origin materials for your happy feet 🙂 Designed and tested by physiotherapists. Ethically handmade.”
Colour: Black Uppers: AirNet® Lining: AirNet® Sole: 4mm Vibram compound Price: €112 plus shipping
What I love:
The Bindu 2 boasts a fully breathable netting with excellent abrasion resistance, produced in the EU. The first day i wore them, it was a windy day, and I really felt the fresh air running right through them! It was a lovely feeling.These are the best Ahinsa style in terms of fit for my low volume feet – I can easily tighten them and the back end feels more snug on my heels.
To be improved:
Worn barefoot, there is a point in the stitching edging where the vamp meets the quarter (in shoe-making lingo), that scratches against my inner arch. Therefore, I only wear these with socks. Also, there is a little blue and white tag that I feel doesn’t really add to the appearance of the shoe.
Ananda Bare Ballerina
“Luxury upper material CF+ cruelty Free high performance material – water-resistant, breathable, high abrasion resistance, 100% vegan friendly 🙂 CF + ultradry lining, a special material that can remove sweat and moisture away from your feet many times faster than animal skin. Very thin and flexible sole with great adhesion. Ideal for both everyday use and social events.“
Colour: Black Uppers: CF+ High-Performance Lining: CF+ ultradry lining Sole: 2 mm Vibram compound Price: €110 plus shipping
What I love:
Ananda is a simple classic ballerina that doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It is well made, very comfortable, and extremely flexible.
To be improved:
This style is very bean-shaped, therefore not a good fit for my straight shaped feet. Because of this, the little information label is visible from the inside when I am wearing them. Also, the velcro strap is too long. However, for a more bean-shaped foot, with a slightly higher instep these would be a dream.
As a brand Ahinsa is really striving to get things right, for their customer’s feet, and for the planet. For this, I applaud them, a brand with a conscience. They have recycled options, and natural fibres in their range as well as synthetic options. They have good customer service, an English and Czech website, and a wealth of information on their ethics and business practices. I really value their transparency and whilst they are not my favourite brand in terms of aesthetic appeal, they rank highly in terms of barefoot properties and comfort. I wish them continued success!
Read my more in depth review of the Sundara Comfort Ankle boot here!