A guide to buying vegan ballet shoes, pointe shoes and character shoes
Guest blog by Erika Wilkinson, COK Outreach Intern & a vegan ballet dancer
Traditionally, ballet shoes and pointe shoes have suede soles. But suede, that soft material, is actually the underside of the skin of an animal. This means that most ballet shoes are NOT vegan, but don’t fret! Some companies are offering vegan alternatives and we’re here to tell you exactly how and where you can buy them.
Why should I avoid buying suede or leather?
Many people believe that leather and suede are simply by-products of the cruel meat and dairy industries, used in order to not waste any part of the slaughtered cow. After all, the cow is already dead because of the meat and dairy industry, right? Leather does in fact come mostly from dairy cows, however leather in and of itself is
very profitable. Leather makes up about 10% of profits for each cow, meaning that if people stop buying the cows’ skins, industry profits will decrease and exploiting these gentle and complex animals will be less attractive. Also, have you stopped to think about the idea of wearing the skin of a dead animal? After I realized how these animals lived and died, I started thinking it was pretty gross to wear their skin!
Though cows can live to be up to around 22 years old, cows killed for their meat and skin will likely be slaughtered when still practically babies! Even dairy cows are killed for leather at a young age once they stop producing large enough quantities of milk or suffer disease from poor farm conditions. Click here to see one of Compassion Over Killing’s powerful undercover investigations of a dairy farm in the US.
Vegan Ballet Shoes
Cynthia King is the owner of Cynthia King Dance Studio and also sells vegan ballet shoes. Her mission is to reduce animal suffering and environmental impacts of animal agriculture by creating all vegan and cruelty-free ballet shoes.
Although most of Grishko’s ballet shoes are not vegan and they do not have a selection for vegan shoes at checkout, they do accept special orders for them. All you have to do is place a regular order and then write your preference for a vegan sole at checkout page into the message box. The glue is also vegan and cruelty-free.
Vegan Pointe Shoes
Gaynor Mindens’ regular shoes are not vegan; however, they do offer vegan options. Simply select the vegan sole when ordering on their website. Their glue is completely vegan and cruelty-free as well. It costs $10 extra and takes a little bit of extra time to ship, but it is worth it!
Grishkos are also not vegan, but do offer special orders for vegan soles. Just like for their ballet shoes, place a regular order and then write that you want a vegan sole at the checkout page into the message box. The glue is also vegan and not tested on animals.
Like Grishko, Capezio does not have an option to select a vegan sole when ordering on their website, but they do take special orders for them. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask them to special order vegan pointe shoes for you.
Vegan Character Shoes
Unfortunately, there is no completely, certified vegan, character shoe. However, Bloch Kickline Character Shoe is the best option. It is made out of completely synthetic materials, meaning it has no animal materials like suede or leather, but they are unable to guarantee the source of the glue is not made from animal products.
Want to see Bloch add vegan pointe shoes? Sign the petition!
We can take our compassion for animals to the next level by asking companies to take a leap forward and make cruelty-free dancing shoes more easily accessible to people all around the world who would love to dance in vegan shoes. That’s exactly what I did when I started a petition for bloch to offer vegan pointe shoes.It’s been signed by hundreds of people all over the world. Will you join me by signing and sharing? Together we can change the world for animals, one grand jete at a time.
About Erika Wilkinson
Erika is an 18-year-old vegan ballet dancer. She has been doing ballet for 16 years and was a student at Orlando Ballet School Academy. She went vegetarian at the age of seven, after realizing that meat comes from animals, and became vegan a year ago when she learned how the production of dairy and eggs harms animals.
Stuart McDonald is a Creative Writer at Compassion Over Killing (COK), a national non-profit animal protection organization based in Washington, DC. She is passionate about making an ethical lifestyle easy and accessible for all and collaborating across social movements to create a kinder world. She writes about everything vegan: from plant-based eating to activism to legislation. Read her work on TryVeg.com and COK.net.