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Vegan Wares Australian Rules Football

Our Aussie rules football project has 2 objectives: to provide a match grade alternative to leather footballs; and to build a greater awareness of cruelty-free possibilities within the wider community.

During the 2013 footy season 4 vegan balls were tested by two clubs over some months.  One test was ‘blind’.  In this case all markings were removed from 2 vegan balls and 2 leather Sherrin balls and these 4 balls were then introduced into general training.  It was found that players had difficulty discerning the difference.  In the other test identifying markings were retained, and players were informed that the balls were vegan.  In this case a strong and immediate rejection of the vegan balls was observed which precluded objective evaluation of their performance.  Perceived faults of the ball – too heavy, too light, different feel, different sound off the boot …. just not the same as a leather ball – besides being contradictory, and somewhat trivial, were not borne out by the blind trial.

The trials indicate that there are probably no major technical faults with the vegan balls.  We have since produced another small batch of samples, using a slightly different combination of vegan materials.  These balls are now on sale at this web site.

Social acceptance of the concept of a non-leather Australian rules football is the major issue arising from the trials.   The Australian footy scene is very much a product and expression of popular culture: real men eat steak & meat pies, and the traditional cow’s leather aussie football symbolizes this ethic.  The first match grade non-leather Aussie rules balls are thus virtually guaranteed a fiery baptism.  That is, of course, the point: to be a little provocative; to gently and obliquely shine a light.