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Vegan Athlete’s Guide to Sports Gear

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Looking for the animal-friendly sports gear that’s cruelty-free and made without leather? Below you’ll find fantastic options for vegan basketballs, volleyballs, soccer balls, footballs, baseballs and beyond. No matter what sport you play, you can play without compromising your ethics!

Being a good sport usually means accepting defeat with grace, celebrating any small victory with enthusiasm, and being willing to go the extra mile for the team. While those are all essential components of a great game, it should really start before you ever hit the field or area.

If animals are the MVPs in your life, you should stop to consider what your sporting equipment is made of too. It’s time we put the old pig skin in the past and move on to more ethical gaming essentials.

In this article we cover the following sports:

  • Basketball
  • Football
  • Volleyball
  • Soccer
  • Baseball

Plant-Based Athletes are Winning the Game

The “how do you get enough protein?” question has never caused more eye rolls than it does today. Today, in the era of the Game Changers documentary, and top performing vegan athletes winning the Olympics, extreme endurance races, bodybuilding competitions, more. Plant-based athletes are competing at the highest level and rocking it in every sport out there.

Just take a listen to Robert Cheeke on the Plant-Powered People Podcast (below) and learn why plant-based athletes are thriving and have faster recovery times and a competitive advantage. Robert is longtime vegan bodybuilder as well as a New York Times best-selling author of The Plant-Based Athlete book.

But whether you’re training to be the next Olympic medalist, kicking a soccer ball around in your backyard, or teaching your kid to dribble a football, we’re here to help you keep it vegan!

Vegan Athlete Books

Before we dive into gear, here are some fantastic resources for vegan athletes. These books cover vegan athletics, protein-rich recipes and meal plans for athletes, nutrition, and more.

Vegan Basketball Equipment

All you need to play basketball is a hoop and a ball, but such a simple setup is still fraught with difficult choices. Basketballs are composed of an inflatable inner rubber bladder which is wrapped in layers of fiber to make it stretchy and bouncy, and then covered with a surface that’s traditionally made of leather.

Dribbling someone else’s inflated skin sounds like a foul play if there ever was one, so make the call to opt for Eco Sports basketballs instead, which come in 3 different sizes to accommodate all ages for indoor and outdoor play.

Plus, did you know that the NBA officially ousted leather balls in 2006? If it’s good enough for the pros, it should be good enough for your backyard free-throws.

Vegan Basketballs Include:

  • Eco Sports basketballs
  • Wilson Evolution Game Ball
  • Spalding NBA Varsity Outdoor Rubber Basketball
  • Chance Outdoor Basketball
biodegradable vegan basketball leather free from eco sports

Vegan Football Equipment

It’s an old trope that kids would toss around the “pigskin” with their parents, but that wasn’t too far from the truth. Footballs were mostly made from cow hide leather rather than pigs, but that’s no better in any event.

While pro and collegiate footballs are frequently still made using such a cruel an antiquated approach, it’s easy to find many more compassionate alternatives.

Recreational and youth footballs are commonly made from synthetic material or vulcanized rubber by default. Eco Sports footballs offer weather-resistant vegan options that can withstand extremely rough play.

Other Vegan Footballs Include:

  • Eco Sports Football
  • Tachikara Custom American Football
  • Franklin Sports Junior GRIP-RITE Football
  • Alive & Kicking American Football
cruelty free vegan football laying on a field

Vegan Volleyball Equipment:

Indoor and beach volleyball have such specific demands that they could be considered two different sports, at least when it comes to choosing the right gear. You have about a 50/50 chance of getting either synthetic or genuine leather at any given match.

Luckily, Eco Sports volleyballs have you covered with ample eco-friendly and vegan options for both settings. Lightweight, brightly colored, and ideal for all skill levels, it’s a breeze to spike one over the net on the court or on the beach.

Other Vegan Volleyballs Include:

  • Eco Sports Volleyballs
  • Tachikara Zebra Volleyball
  • Wilson Outdoor Recreational Volleyball
  • Mikasa Miramar King of The Beach Volleyball
cruelty free vegan volleyball by eco sports with benefits outlined

Vegan Soccer Equipment

Very similar to basketballs, soccer balls have the same general construction but can be made up of many more layers for greater heft and less bounce. But guess what? Nearly all soccer balls are made from synthetic materials these days! That means you don’t have to worry much about coming across animal products when making a purchase. Just check the label for animal leather to be safe.

For soccer balls with no compromises, check out Eco Sports soccer balls! They have the highest durability of an eco-friendly soccer ball on the market so that investment will essentially pay for itself through years of good games. Even if you start young, it’s a ball you’ll never outgrow because it’s the same size as what’s used in professional competitions.

Vegan Soccer Balls Include:

  • Eco Sports soccer balls
  • SELECT Planet Eco-Friendly Soccer Ball
  • Adidas UCL Pro Void Ball
  • Waboba REWILD Soccer Ball
Leather Free Vegan Soccer Ball from Eco Sports

Soccer cleats can be a little more challenging; but you can find vegan cleats just as you can find vegan shoes! Some are made with animal hide leather, while others are made with synthetic materials.

Visit our vegan shoe guide to learn more about how to identify when shoes are manmade or contain animal materials.

Vegan Baseball Equipment

The biggest potential offender in baseball is the glove, which is usually another prime source of leather. Shop carefully, though, and you can find a glove that’s even more durable, far less expensive, and guaranteed vegan. As an added benefit, non-animal materials are typically easier to “break in,” and many feel comfortable enough to use right away, without any introductory warm-up.

Vegan Baseball Gloves Include:

Let’s not forget about the baseball itself! The official guidelines for a baseball composition consist of a core made of cork and rubber which is wrapped in yarn and covered with leather. Everyone knows it’s what’s on the inside that counts most, so switch out that superficial covering with something cruelty-free. Man-made materials have the added benefit of being easier to clean than leather, so they tend to last even longer.

Vegan Baseballs Include:

What’s Wrong With Some Synthetic Materials?

While all man-made, AKA synthetic, materials are vegan, they’re not all created equally. PU (polyurethane), PVC (polyvinyl chloride), and other composite plastics are frequently used to make leather alternatives.

For the most ethical purchase, seek out eco-friendly, biodegradable TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane,) which is a durable rubberized plastic that’s both vegan and sustainable.

Even more sustainable materials are starting to be used to create vegan leather-like products, including pineapple leather, mushroom leather, and beyond. Check out our vegan shoes guide to learn more about modern materials made from plants with our planet in mind.

Vegan Athletic Shirts

No matter the sport, everyone always needs comfortable clothing to do their best! And with some internet sleuthing, you’ll be able to find some performance shirts that not only work well for any sport, but that also rock an empowering, inspiring, or thought-provoking message!

Fun fact: for five years I led an international team training program with thousands of participants around the world training to run a marathon or half marathon for animals. We raised money, made great friends, and spread awareness and we ran through our races wearing shirts with a message.

Michelle Cehn wearing a PETA Pack race for animals athletic performance running shirt

Eco Sports eco-friendly athletic t-shirts has you covered with breathable, sweat-resistant materials for every fit. Made from 92% rPET, otherwise known as recycled polyethylene terephthalate, this gives plastic bottles and packages a new lease of life, outside of a landfill. They’re so cozy, you might want extras for just lounging around the house!

You certainly don’t need to be an athlete to appreciate functional, sustainable fashion.

Everyone’s a winner when you start by making ethical choices. Level up your game with vegan gear today!

More Vegan Living Guides:

Did we miss your favorite sport? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll add it in!

Many thanks to Eco Sports for supporting this article, and for making vegan sports goods more accessible to vegans! This vegan sports equipment article is copyright of World of Vegan, all rights reserved. This article contains affiliate links when available and shopping through these links supports World of Vegan.

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