The best vegan-friendly cars

  • What is a vegan car?
  • Why no car is truly vegan
  • The best affordable day-to-day vegan cars

BMW i3 vegan-friendly interior

Veganism is on the rise. According to the one study from Finder, more than seven million people in the UK would class themselves as vegans - a 40% increase from the previous year.

If you're a vegan or vegan-curious and in the market for a vegan-friendly car, the good news is that car manufacturers are savvy enough to try and take an ever-increasingly large slice of the pie.

Brands such as Polestar, BMW, and Tesla have all made conscious efforts to try and make cruelty-free interiors.

>> Skip to the best vegan cars

What is a vegan-friendly car?

One important distinction to make early on is that there are no completely vegan cars. Francine Jordan, Media and PR Officer for the Vegan Society, said: 'The rubber and plastic used for tires may be vulcanised and toughened using tallow (mutton fat) and even the steel used for the car's frame may have been lubricated with animal fat.

'Even steering wheels and gearknobs can be an issue as in recent years manufacturers have ditched plastic versions in favour of leather ones – even in the most basic models.'

How to choose a vegan-friendly car

Choosing a vegan-friendly car needn't be hard work. The biggest thing to do is try and avoid leather and remember that it isn't just found on seats - it's on steering wheels, gearknobs, and dashboards too.

Cheap and basic cars are usually the ones with no leather. The Vegan Society advises to scour brochures as they often state when something is leather.

Jordan adds: 'The key with veganism is trying to do your best – it's not possible to be 100% vegan in this imperfect world but we can avoid animal suffering as much as possible.

'Avoiding leather is a practicable thing we can do when buying a car, while we can't of course avoid tyres or steel. It would be very difficult if not impossible to track down whether animals were used in the production of those materials.'

The future of vegan cars

The Vegan Trademark is the international standard on veganism, managed by The Vegan Society. No cars currently have this seal of approval.

However, Ericka Durgahee – Business Development Marketing Manager for The Vegan Society, said: 'The team gladly welcomes any automotive manufacturer who wants to confidently back its vegan claims up, and most importantly, gain third party insight into the vegan consumer to talk to us.'

Best vegan cars 2021

MINI Hatchback 

Mini Hatchback

The Mini Hatchback is a truly charming small car. It inherits and plays with the marque's iconic shape while retaining much of the original car's charm.

Even the least-powerful 1.5-litre petrol engines are a good laugh and the positive steering feedback means you really know what the front wheels are doing. Lots of different trim and colour options, too.

Mini uses 100% recycled materials for its fabric seats, while its seat cushions are 70% recycled. Earlier in 2021, MINI also announced that it plans on ditching leather altogether in the future.

Lease this car: From £205 per month

Mercedes A-Class 

Mercedes A-Class moving

In case you're not familiar with Mercedes nomenclature, the A-Class is the smallest car the company makes.

It's not bereft of big car features, though. If you spend enough money you'll find a super slick 10.25-inch infotainment screen, augmented reality sat-nav, and a host of petrol, diesel, and plug-in hybrid engines.

The big thing to look for in an A-Class is Mercedes' Artico artificial leather. Dinamica, a type of man-made suede, is also on offer.

Lease this car: From £290 per month

BMW i3 

BMW i3 side

Hard to believe, isn't it? The design you see here has been around since 2013.

Buyers can choose between a pure electric model or one with a small range extender engine that works as a generator to charge up the battery.

But the interior is the talking point with these. Despite its age, it still seems outrageously different from other cars. Plus, the i3 is relatively cruelty-free as 25% of the plastics used are recycled and the seat fabric is made from recycled materials.

Lease this car: From £325 per month

Polestar 2 

Polestar 2 rear

You might not have heard of Polestar. It's essentially a premium electric only sub brand from Volvo. It doubles down on cool-looking, technology-filled posh-ish electric cars.

The 2 is a brilliant car. Similar money to a Tesla Model 3, but better made with nicer-feeling interiors. Similar range to the Model 3, although Tesla does have a knack of making its battery last longer.

Carpets made from recycled fishing nets, flax-based composite in the dashboards and centre consoles, and cork-based vinyl are among the car's eco-credentials.

Tesla Model 3 

Tesla Model 3 front

Mention Tesla to your friends and you'll most likely get a reply about the company's CEO Elon Musk, or about the time he sent a car into space.

Back on earth, Tesla electric cars are famed for long ranges and quick acceleration. The Model 3 is the smallest car in the range. It boasts an official electric range of 360 miles and a starting price of £40,490.

It's available with no leather in it whatsoever. Or 100% leather-free, in other words.

Lease this car: From £482 per month

Nissan Leaf 

Nissan Leaf dynamic

You've probably seen quite a few Leafs if you live in a city. The all-electric Nissan is easy to use, cheap on finance deals, and has clever semi-autonomous tech.

Top spec Leaf e+ models have an official range of 239 miles. But...the interior feels a bit dated, especially with the touchscreen.

One upside is that it can be specified without leather seats. And the gearshift (all Leafs are automatic) is sans cow too as it's a switch, rather than a traditional lever.

Lease this car: From £298 per month

Dacia Sandero 

Dacia Sandero rear

Basic cars are less likely to come with leather. And avoiding leather is the number one thing to do when choosing a vegan-friendly car.

And what's more basic than the cheapest car on sale in the UK? The Dacia Sandero starts from £7,995 and has a vegan-friendly interior as standard because it does away with leather completely.

Finance deals on them aren't great - but if you're buying in cash and want something simple and rugged to drive around in, that's almost cruelty-free, then a Sandero is a fine choice.

Renault Twizy 

Renault Twizy side

Last on the list because it's not strictly a car - it's a quadricycle. This means it can circumnavigate all sorts of crash testing applications...but at the same time, it's really only meant for city jaunts.

It's electrically powered, offering a range of 62 miles officially. There's only seating for two, and you sit one in front of the other. As you'd imagine, it's very easy to park.

The vehicle is 85% recyclable and it doesn't have leather seats.

Further reading:

> Parkers First Car of the Year 2021

> Best small cars 2021

> Best small automatic cars