By Dani Taylor
You may think that “being vegan” ends with what you put in your mouth. And for some, this may be as far as they take it. We tend to refer to a vegan diet alone as being plant-based. For many, being vegan goes far beyond what you eat. Veganism, at its core, is an ethical decision not to use animals - in food, clothing, hygiene products, entertainment, etc. For many reasons, from animal welfare to environmental reasons, to health, people choose to eschew animals and animal byproducts in many walks of life!
For people who choose to follow a vegan lifestyle, they can run into some speed bumps when it comes to lifting gear. Traditionally, weightlifting belts, gloves, shoes, and more can all be made using animal products like leather. It can be challenging to find the appropriate gear to help you lift safely while also keeping in line with your vegan ethics.
We have personally tested many vegan options out and have compiled some of the best vegan lifting gear you can find, right here.
Vegan Lifting Shoes:
1st Place - Adidas Powerlifts 3.1: Probably our favorite vegan lifting shoe on the market, This squat shoe gives you outstanding ankle support and tons of stability. They also have an open toe structure so your feet never feel like they’re getting squished or sweaty. If your main form of training is heavy lifting (as opposed to more agile WODs), these shoes are your best bet!
Adidas Powerlifts 3.1
2nd Place - Innov-8 Fastlift 335: This versatile vegan weightlifting shoe is perfect for the athlete who enjoys Crossfit, WODs, or any type of “functional fitness”.
Its unique design allows you to transition with ease from doing heavy squats to barbell snatches to burpees without a hitch. This is a true cross-training shoe. For how sturdy and supportive it is, This is an incredibly light-weight shoe constructed from synthetic/mesh material.
Innov-8 Fastlift 335
3rd Place - Chuck Taylors: Many people do not think of Chucks as a weightlifting shoe, and technically they are not. But they are FAR superior to what most people start lifting in, which is running shoes. Running shoes are designed to absorb shock - which is great for running or high impact activities. But it is the exact opposite of what you want in a lifting shoe.
With a flat bottomed lifting shoe, you create the most stable surface for lifting. So, if you’re just getting into lifting weights for the first time and aren’t ready to make a big investment in weight lifting shoes, Chucks are a safe and affordable first lifting shoe.
Chuck Taylor All-Star 70 High Top Sneaker
1st Place - Strength Shop 13mm Lever Belt: This is the gold standard vegan lifting belt for anyone who has a focus on heavy lifts like squats, deadlifts, overhead press, pendlay rows, etc. THE ONLY IPF powerlifting competition approved vegan belt in powerlifting, this belt is basically indestructible. There are stories of people deadlifting up to 1000 pounds in this belt. The lever allows the tightest fit with the quickest release. Slightly more pliable than a leather belt, we find this synthetic belt molds to your body over time in the best possible way.
Strength Shop 13 mm Lever Belt
2nd Place - Element 26 Self Locking Weight Belt: This belt is not quite as good for powerlifts as the belt above, but is FAR superior for CrossFit and is approved for CrossFit competitions. It is tight and secure and its self-locking mechanism means it will not loosen during your lifts. But it also has a good bit of flexibility to allow for movements that acquire more agility and fast movements.
Element 26 Self Locking Weight Belt
3rd Place - Harbinger Nylon Belt: For a recreational gym-goer or Crossfitter, or perhaps someone just getting into weight lifting who doesn’t want to splurge on a more pricey belt, the Harbinger Nylon belt is a great budget-friendly choice.
This belt is made out of thick and flexible cell foam that provides both support and comfort without feeling like you’re wearing armor (like the belts above). It has a heavy gauge steel roller buckle, along with a velcro system which makes tightening the belt simple and easy.
1st Place - Versa Gripps Pro: If I, Dani Taylor, could have only one piece of lifting gear for the rest of my life, these would be it. I use these grips on deadlifts, pullups, pulldowns and rows, along with hanging exercises like leg raises. The gripps allow your forearms to not take over any exercise, which is often the weakest link in many heavy exercises. Because the rubber flap “holds the weight” for you, your grip (which is obviously weaker than, say, your legs) will never again be the reason you end a set. Along with protecting your palms on certain lifts, these also actually allow you to get more reps on sets where your grip would otherwise be the limiting factor - and this means more gains for you in the long run!
Versa Gripps Pro
2nd Place - JerkFit Wodies: This pair of hand grips has two functions. One is the traditional handgrip that adds more stability to your training, and the other is wrist support. As opposed to the Versa Gripps, which are meant to be worn only for certain exercises, these can be worn for your entire training session. They won’t take your forearms out of the equation, but they will protect your hands and give extra wrist stability no matter what you’re doing in the gym.
3rd Place - Mava Sports Ventilated Workout Gloves: A cross between grips and gloves, this is a great affordable option for folks who want the best of both worlds. The texture on the palms acts as a grip while the fingers give a little bit more protection than other grips. With wrist support, a moderate amount of padding and ventilation throughout, this is a great all-around option for someone who is looking for generalized protection without dropping a lot of money.
Mava Sports Ventilated Workout Gloves