Vegan-friendly cars

Veganism is on the rise and car makers are well aware of it, with ever more cars catering for vegans. These are the best vegan-friendly cars

BuyaCar team
Dec 7, 2021

If you’re considering becoming vegan, you might want to consider more than just the food you eat in order to stick to the lifestyle - the car you drive may also need to fit around it. It may not be common for cars to be marketed as vegan-friendly, but there are many available on the market. With more and more people adopting veganism, car manufacturers are increasingly producing cars certified as vegan.

One of the most evident non-vegan features of many cars is leather upholstery, particularly for cars with a more up-market reputation. Leather seats, steering wheels and centre-consoles have long been a crucial ingredient of the luxury car formula. The Range Rover is a perfect example of this; making use of leather all around its opulent interior.

Generally, considering lower-spec car models is a guaranteed way to get a vegan car interior. Rarely will an entry-level trim level feature such considered luxuries as leather; more commonly sticking to materials such as cloth and plastic. You don’t have to discount higher-end options entirely, though. If you’re looking for high quality and an engaging driving feel, there are still various options available that are vegan-friendly.

Read on for our tips on choosing a vegan-friendly car and a list of the best cars available with vegan-friendly credentials, many of which come with some great used car deals direct from BuyaCar.

Are cars vegan-friendly?

Well, no. As it stands there is no such thing as an entirely vegan car - not even the cars on this list, and it's not just leather that's the problem. Media displays often found on dashboards contain liquid crystals that may be based on cholesterol taken from animals. The rubber and plastic used to make tyres may be vulcanised and toughened using tallow (mutton fat), and even the steel used for a car’s frame may have been lubricated with animal fat. 

In short, no car comes close to being entirely vegan-friendly but that's not the point, according to Dominika Piasecka a spokesperson for the Vegan Society. "The bottom line is that there’s no such thing as a 100% vegan car, unfortunately," says Piasecka. "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 practical thing we can do while buying a car, while we can’t of course avoid tyres or steel."

When buying a new car, it’s easy to specify a non-leather interior but it's not always as easy when buying used, as not everything is labelled properly. Keep an eye out for the specific names of artificial vegan leathers used by carmakers, such as Artico with Mercedes and Sensatec with BMW. Also, look out for Alcantara. This is a type of man-made suede that is considered vegan-friendly.

If you're keen to try and find a car built by a vegan-friendly manufacturer, your options are likely to be extremely limited. As mentioned above, while entry-level trims are often bereft of leather, even cheaper models such as the Ford Fiesta will be offered with leather seats at the higher end of the range.

Vegan-friendly cars: a disclaimer

As mentioned above by the Vegan Society, there is no such thing as a fully a vegan car. The cars on this list are just some of the most vegan-friendly models on the market.

The best vegan-friendly cars

1. Polestar 2

Best vegan-friendly car for eco-conscious buyers

Used deals Limited stock

The Polestar 2 is aiming to bring electric motoring and cruelty-free interiors to the masses. Polestar is the electric sub-brand of Volvo, and its ‘2’ goes toe to toe with the Tesla Model 3 - so it’s electrically powered with a 275-mile range.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has even awarded Polestar with a Compassionate Business Award because of the car’s vegan-friendly interiors. According to Polestar bosses, the car’s interior will help accelerate the shift of the car industry towards leather-free interiors. Vegan interior components include the seat covers, steering wheel, gear shift and interior coatings.

2. Renault Twizy

Best vegan-friendly car for tight parking spots

Used deals Limited stock

The Renault Twizy is one of the most fun ways to zip around a city, and it's also one the most striking looking vehicles around. It’s an electric car, so offers zero-emission driving, and is so small that it can be parked head on to the kerb like the Smart ForTwo on busy streets.

It may only have seating for two (one in front of the other), but it is one of the most vegan-friendly motors on sale, as it doesn’t have leather seats and the whole vehicle is 85% recyclable.

3. Ford Fiesta

Best vegan-friendly car for small families

Used deals from £9,000
Monthly finance from £216*

The Ford Fiesta has been one of the best-selling cars in the UK for some time, and it's also massively popular throughout Europe. The success is no accident either, because it combines comfort, value for money, and performance in a neatly proportioned package, with a huge variety of engine and interior choices.

The latest model, which went on sale in 2017, has plenty of options for non-leather seats too. You’ll have to opt for a Style, Zetec, or B&O Play Zetec model to fully avoid leather seats though. All Fiestas, apart from entry-level Style models have leather steering wheels as standard, too, but these can be swapped for non-leather materials on request.

Used buyers will need to ensure the car they're looking at is free of leather before making the purchase, or they may be able to have leather-trimmed steering wheels replaced by a Ford dealership at a later date.

FORD FIESTA BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Volkswagen Golf

Best vegan-friendly car for medium-sized families

Used deals from £21,000
Monthly finance from £361*

It’s comfortable, it’s well made and it’s...very sensible. But sensible sells. The Golf is a solid car that is economical and robust, plus it has plenty of engine choices. Used values are strong too, which makes car finance deals cheap. Especially if you finance a second-hand model in the first place.

If you want the most vegan-friendly Golf you'll have to stick to the previous-generation Golf. Even entry-level Life trim on the latest Golf comes with a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear stick.

Higher specification models will of course bring more tech and media equipment, but they will come with a leather steering wheel and gear knob.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Mercedes A-Class

Best vegan-friendly car for high-tech interior

Mercedes A-Class front three quarters view

Used deals from £18,280
Monthly finance from £312*

The latest Mercedes A-Class may be the cheapest car in Mercedes’ range, but it’s still brimming with useful technology. Inside there are gadgets to rival the firm's high-end luxury cars - provided you spend a little extra on optional kit such as augmented reality sat-nav that displays directions over images of the road ahead - though all A-Class models get sophisticated voice recognition software that really does work, letting you set the sat-nav directions easily, just using voice commands.

You can either specify fabric seats, or Mercedes’ artificial leather called Artico. The steering wheel is covered in real leather, however, and be aware that real leather is an option for the seats, so if buying used, make sure you know what is fitted to the model you buy.

It's impossible to get a leather-free A-Class, but at least Mercedes has made some form of effort.

MERCEDES A-CLASS BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Toyota Prius

Best vegan-friendly car for hybrid motoring

Used deals from £12,495
Monthly finance from £0*

If it’s good enough for Leonardo DiCaprio, it’s good enough for us. The Prius kicked off the hybrid car phenomenon, ushering in a new age of eco-friendly taxi drivers. It’s remarkably reliable too, although, not the most sporting drive around.

Base-spec Prius’ come with cloth seats, but even plus plusher cars skip leather in favour of cloth as well. Word of warning though - top spec Excel models can only be had with leather seats and all new models come with a leather steering wheel.

TOYOTA PRIUS BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Nissan Leaf

Best vegan-friendly car for zero-emission driving

Used deals from £18,980
Monthly finance from £308*

The Nissan Leaf is one of the most popular electric cars in Europe. It’s also one of the more affordable electric family cars on sale. With the largest battery, it has a range of over 200 miles. It's also quiet and comfortable, plus being electric means it’s surprisingly fast.

The Leaf can be specified without leather seats, steering wheel, and gearshift (mostly because the gearshift is a plastic switch) which is great for vegans. It should be noted that top-spec Tekna models do get leather as standard though. Once again, if you're looking at a used Leaf, you'll want to be clear the model is leather-free before purchasing.

NISSAN LEAF BUYERS' GUIDE

8. BMW i3

Best vegan-friendly car for design

Used deals from £14,975
Monthly finance from £506*

The BMW i3 is an electric car, which uses some of the most eco-friendly materials on the car market today. It's made largely from carbon fibre, rather than steel and is 95% recyclable, according to BMW.

Some of the wood used on the dashboard comes from trees that are grown in monsoon season, so that they don’t take away space from growing plants to eat. Interior options include cloth upholstery, as well as BMW’s artificial leather called Sensatec. Sadly, a non-leather steering wheel isn't yet available, though the i3 is still one of the most planet and animal-friendly cars around.

It's a realistic option for most drivers, thanks to the real-world range of around 150 miles between charges offered by the version with the largest battery (known as 120Ah). It's also available in range-extender (ReX) form which has a small petrol engine as well, which can charge the car up on the move, although BMW stopped selling this some years ago now. 

BMW I3 BUYERS' GUIDE

9. Range Rover Velar

Best vegan-friendly car for off-roading pretences

Used deals from £32,525
Monthly finance from £729*

This is probably the most fashionable car on the list, and would match nicely with any Gucci faux-leather handbag. The Velar is an off-roader for town, it's larger than the Range Rover Evoque, but not as big as the Range Rover Sport.

The Velar shows that car manufacturers are changing their ways when it comes to leather. No longer are non-leather interiors the reserve of bargain basement models, with the option of Range Rover's Premium Textile fabric. Its appeal will depend on your view on wool, as the fabric is a wool and polyester blend.

Go for the Premium Textile Pack and you get wool and artificial suede seats, artificial leather across the dashboard and an artificial suede steering wheel, all of which contribute to the car's vegan-friendly credentials.

RANGE ROVER VELAR BUYERS' GUIDE

10. Tesla Model S

Best vegan-friendly car for speed

Used deals from £33,989
Monthly finance from £0*

Tesla’s electric cars are known for their long range (over 400 miles) and their lightning-fast acceleration (0-62mph in around two seconds), making them some of the most enticing electric cars whether you enjoy driving or simply don't enjoy charging. However, the Model S is a sound choice even if the car's vegan credentials are most important to you; the headline ‘All of Tesla’s seat options are vegan’ is certainly attention grabbing.

In short, Tesla no longer sells new cars with leather seats, a huge win for vegans. They all come with synthetic leather now, although leather steering wheels remain standard. Tesla will fit a non-leather steering wheel on request though.

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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