Many sports leagues won’t take place this summer due to coronavirus lockdowns. But many of us desperately want to get out and play in the sunshine. Vegan sports gear, however, can be tricky to navigate, but we all know that veganism goes way beyond what you eat. Equipment like baseball gloves and dance shoes are often with leather–an undeniably cruel material that is often a byproduct of meat and dairy farming. But times are changing, and as more and more people wake up to the brutal realities of animal agriculture, companies are quickly expanding their lines to include vegan and cruelty-free options.
With animal-free gear and a vegan diet, you can perform your best, just like these TryVeg athletes who know that you don’t need meat protein to be strong.
It’s time to play. Here’s our official guide to vegan sports equipment for the amateur and the pro. Have a favorite piece of gear we didn’t mention? Drop it in the comments!
The best vegan sports gear
Yes–non leather baseball gloves do exist! Franklin and Wilson both offer gloves made from synthetic leather. For kids and adults, there are all kinds of comfortable and durable choices. And while baseballs themselves are often made with leather, there’s a wide array of vegan-friendly choices, too. Turns out veganizing the game isn’t so hard after all.
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 do offer vegan alternatives, and TryVeg.com has a comprehensive guide to vegan ballet, pointe, and character shoes.
Luckily, many golf bags are made from synthetic material. Here are a few favorites from Vegan Foundry. What might get tricky is the shoes, with many being made from leather and even more having non-vegan glue components. There are still choices, however, like the FootJoy Superlites and Calloway Balboa Vent 2.0.
Bikes can be tricky. You can assume that any standard bike you get at a shop will be outfitted with a leather seat. There are, however, plenty of synthetic seats that you can swap it out for! This LiveKindly article has some prime examples of products you can change for an ethical (and sustainable!) biking setup.
Serena Williams and other tennis stars eat a vegan diet, but what does that mean for their equipment? A little-known fact is that many tennis balls are actually made from cruelly produced sheeps’ wool. But don’t worry: there’s an entire company dedicated to ethical vegan alternatives for tennis! Sheeps carries vegan balls, shoes, and super stylish apparel.
With a name like “pigskin” you can safely assume that your average football isn’t going to be vegan–but many NFL players are! Players like Tom Brady and Derrick Morgan eat plant-based diets to stay healthy and in shape. Just like with baseballs and soccer cleats, many mainstream brands also carry a synthetic version of their balls. Nike and Tachikara both make it easy to stick to veganism while playing.
You only have to climb once or twice to begin to understand how important the perfect pair of climbing shoes is. Like any other shoes, many mainstream brands use leather components or non-vegan glue, but popular brand Evolv offers fully vegan, synthetic shoes that perform great. We recommend the Evolv Defy for beginners, or the more aggressive Evolv Oracle for more serious climbers.
Stuart McDonald is a Communications Manager at Animal Outlook, 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 AnimalOutlook.org.