Most belts are made of leather. For numerous ethical and environmental reasons, leather is a terrible material. So buying a vegan belt makes excellent sense. Shopping for vegan belts is much like shopping for vegan neckties or handbags—a little inconvenient perhaps, but not too difficult.
That said, several vegan belts I’ve owned have ranked among the most frustrating purchases I’ve ever made. In the 1990s someone gave me an expensive vegan belt that fell apart in less than a year.
More recently, I bought a cheap vegan belt that started disintegrating the same week I bought it. Worse yet, within a month it stretched to the point that I needed to punch a new hole for it to fit. By then the surface coating had flaked away revealing ugly gray webbing beneath, and I was embarrassed to wear it.
So I visited a store specializing in belts, confident that I’d find exactly what I needed. The salesman sold me a beautiful brown vegan leather belt with a quality buckle. After wearing it for just a few weeks the belt snapped in two.
My next step was ordering a vegan leather belt from Amazon. Since my purchase had loads of five star ratings, I was sure my bad luck was over. The belt lasted just under a year before the buckle broke off.
As you can see, my vegan belt-buying experiences have been an ordeal. I’m now ready to share my hard-won knowledge.
How to Buy a Vegan Belt
Based on my experiences, I’ve concluded that, when it comes to belts, vegan leather just isn’t there yet. When it comes to car seats and steering wheel wraps vegan leather beats the real thing, but it’s just not strong enough to make a durable belt.
Although vegan leather belts look great, they don’t stand up to everyday use. If you simply must have a leather-style belt, consider buying vegan but using it only for special occasions. Otherwise you’ll need to accept the waste, hassle, and expense of buying frequent replacements.
Woven cotton belts are easy to find, but are scarcely more durable than leather. They’ll often start fraying within months. If you find a style you like, consider purchasing a few since they’re unlikely to last long.
Cork is another popular vegan leather replacement, and I confess I haven’t tried them yet because they’re expensive. The companies making these belts invariably claim that cork’s durable, but I’ve opened enough wine bottles to be skeptical.
That leaves us with nylon, which I’ve concluded is hands down the best choice. It’s the only sort of vegan belt that will survive years of daily use These belts wear like iron, with a durability that exceeds even leather. Most nylon belts come with what’s called a “tactical” buckle, which involves a clasp mechanism rather than a prong sticking through a hole in the belt. A good clasp mechanism causes far less wear-and-tear on the belt than a traditional prong-and-hole buckle.
The Best Vegan Belt
My most recent vegan belt purchase is a Fairwin Ratchet Belt from Amazon.com. At long last, I have found perfection when it comes to vegan belts. After six months it still looks brand new. I’m confident it’ll easily last a decade.
Both the belt and its metal buckle are high quality and sturdy as heck. The buckle appears to have a prong that penetrates a belt hole, but that’s ornamental and the belt has no holes. The mechanism took me a few minutes to figure out, but once you’ve grasped how it works nothing could be simpler. To secure the belt, you rotate the buckle 90 degrees, and then push the end of the belt through to its desired tightness. You then simply rotate the buckle back to its regular position to lock your belt in place. It turns out the belt is woven with ridges throughout that are too subtle to notice, that lock in place once the buckle is engaged.
These belts are available in a number of colors and lengths. I recommend buying one a bit longer than you need, then using heavy shears to snip the belt to the ideal length. Next cut about one centimeter off either corner so that your belt will more easily slide through your pants’ belt loops. That accomplished, gently melt the ends of the cuts you’ve just made with a cigarette lighter. This will ensure that your belt doesn’t fray.
It would take me two minutes to pick out a nice looking vegan women’s belt sold online, and claim it’s the ideal choice. But that’s skeevy, and I only recommend products here that I believe in. No coverage beats misleading coverage.
If you’re seeking out a nice women’s belt, a Google or Amazon.com search for “vegan women’s belts” will return dozens of options. If you find yourself one that holds up under frequent use, I’d love to hear about it. A future update of this page will link to my readers’ top picks.