Vegan Skate Blog has been more or less dormant the last few years. A new chapter started in my life as I geared up to open Switch and Signal Skatepark in my hometown, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Around the same time there was a serious decline in the vegan skate shoe options. It was so dismal that I couldn’t figure out a real review without offering tips on “Shoe-Gooing” the hell out of some canvas slip-ons. Well times they are a changing, and it’s time to jump start this old blog. (people still read blogs, right?) It’s also time to start highlighting what seems to be years in the making: solid vegan skate shoes with synthetic uppers!
Previously Vegan Skate Blog’s only consumer function was to bring brand awareness of who was offering vegan footwear. Also to poke the brands letting them know, vegan skateboarders are out there looking for shoes! So now Vegan Skate Blog is going to sell shoes, via Switch and Signal Skatepark.
Switch and Signal Skatepark, and the mission was heavily influenced by my writing and reporting on VSB. Early conversations and interviews with Skateistan co-founder Oliver Percovich, digging in to the industry and making friends with skateshop owners like Dan Askew of Escapist and Ben Jones of Kinetic (both fellow vegan skaters); This brought me to the inevitable cliff that I would jump off. Open an indoor skatepark and shop. Make it reflect values of inter-sectionalism, veganism, and social justice.
The 12,000sqft. park and shop exists in a former bowling alley. During the demolition of the bowling alley, nearly everything was recycled or repurposed. Thousands of yards of 2×4 that once supported the bowling lanes (most about 50-60 years old) were turned into the frames of ramps. The lanes were donated to Construction Junction, a local materials recycler. They turned them into tables, benches and other home furnishings.
The name Switch and Signal comes from Union Switch and Signal, that at one time made a massive amount of the (you guessed it) switches and signals for the rail road system. The grounds of Switch and Signal are only a few hundred feet from the door of the skatepark. I wanted to pay homage to a local icon and in the same instance Utah Philips, someone I consider somewhat of a posthumous spiritual mentor.
We’ve got a lot of ground to cover and some shoes to catch up. Sole Technology (és, Emerica, and Etnies) has been making a significant push for sustainable vegan options. The reboot of Fallen has some interesting looking stuff. New Balance has been making a push! Even Adidas came out with a very skateable vegan Samba!
Vegan Skate Blog will be linking to Switch and Signal Skatepark. We only sell vegan products at the park. No leather or suede shoes. So if you are thinking of getting a pair of vegan skate shoes, a board, wheels, anything skateboarding (and some rollerskating) please buy from Switch and Signal. You’re supporting a small shop that is making a commitment to only sell vegan products. Thats the way we keep this going.
Thanks for the years of following along and reading. If you make it to the park, we even have a 100% vegan cafe in the park! -Kerry
The Evant, (aka Evant Vegan) is a new model from éS that is reminiscent of the 2000’s tech era with some signifiant contemporary upgrades. One of three in “The Vegan Pack” capsule release (including Symbol Vegan and Accel Slim Vegan) the Evant is right in the middle at price point and and heft.It also strikes a balance between the use of canvas and synthetic-suede.Since this review has been a long time coming, delayed by skate injuries and the the usual 2020 slow downs, I’ll cut to the chase.The Evant Vegan is my favorite skate shoe in at least a decade, keep reading to find out why.
At first glance the Evant Vegan looks almost like the éS Koston 3 (K3) with stitched canvas detailing and positioning of the triple-stitched faux-suede toe-cap.The EVA midsole, (the white between the rubber and the upper) is curvy and and cushiony, just like in the days of big-rail skating!The grey blue tones and details are more muted than other (non-vegan) colorways but the shoe still pops. You’ll be getting questions on where these blasts from the past came from.
Evant Vegan comes with a classic rope-lace with an inner-lacing system. Great for protecting the laces from pre-mature breakage and they look really good! éS oval logo couldn’t look more at home, forget Portlandia, the dream of the 90’s is alive and well in the Evant Vegan.
Two key features on this shoe I really appreciate are the tongue and collar.The tongue by todays standards is chunky and comes up high, (I would say chonk but that’s revered for the Symbol) and that’s a feature a lot of us have been missing in contemporary skate shoes.If feels soft but protective.
Next is the collar, nicely accented by a reflective cordura-type material. The Evant Vegan collar is protective and has thick padding. Reinforced by another triple-stitched synthetic suede panel, it keeps my heels locked in and protected from deadly skateboard projectiles.The heel-loop is icing on the cake if you hate to tie and untie shoes.Grab it, pull up, and jam your foot right in there.
éS has been making shoes for 25 years and the soles let you know it.Great traction with deep labyrinth grooves, or maybe a map out of West World.
The Evant Vegan is a sensible approach to a solid skate-shoe.Canvas is breathable and keeps your feet cool. If paired with the right toe-cap material I couldn’t ask for anything more. Thats what you get here!The synthetic-suede toe-cap goes higher and further back than some other shoes Sole-Tech has released previously.This means you’re more likely to put the wear into the ultra-durable faux-suede and keep skating longer.
The biggest feature I think I appreciate about the Evant Vegan is the large toe-box. For the first time in a long time, I can really spread my toes and feel comfortable in a skate shoe.This happened out of the box with virtually no “break in period”!
éS really came to the table with something special here.The Evant Vegan isn’t too bulky, but it is nowhere near the slim skate shoes (especially in the vegan market) that has been so prominent since the late 2000s.In the last few years I have had significant bone damage in my feet from three decades of skating. To the point where I stopped wearing skate shoes unless I was going skating, the Evant Vegan has turned that around.Not only are they super comfortable to skate in, I can walk a couple miles and still feel support in my heels. 10/10 éSkeep this one evergreen.
The one way for us, the vegan skaters of the world to have these shoes keep coming is to let és know. With both sales and your voice.Reach out to them, but also, smash the link.
Flatbar is a new vegan energy bar made for skaters, by a skater!The ingredients are simple, healthy and make an impact on your healthy and energy levels. They’re also really tasty and full of puns!An Indigogo campaign has been setup to fund the first production run of the bars. The incentives of the kickstarter are mostly around the bars in a subscription format, in addition to getting an opportunity to submit a clip to the product launch skate video!
I was able to get a sample of the bars, and they’re really good!The texture is great, they don’t crumble like other fruit based energy bars, and the addition of quinoa in the Switch Mango Push makes for a really satisfying crunchy texture!
The production package will look more like this.
Johnny Lozano is a skater and in addition to working as an attorney, also writes a food blog at the Berrics called Salad Grinds and Bean Plants, which for nearly a year has been showing off some amazing recipes and even more puns! ED TEMPEHTON, anyone?
Kevin Mark’s is at the Skateboard Hall of Fame 2018 tonight. His Look Back Library exhibit second to none, and the curated covers are always relevant to the events.
Patti McGee, on the cover of Skateboarder Magazine in 1965. Also pictured, Todd Huber of SkateLab.
Just a sampling of the 2013 Skateboard Hall of Fame inductees. (Left to Right; Christian Hosoi, Laura Thornhill, Tom Sims, and Greg Carroll.
2016 included the band Suicidal Tendencies who received an Icon award as did the brand Powell-Peralta. Skaters received awards in a decades category, Steve Alba took the 70’s and one of our favorites, Ed Templeton of course received an award for the 90’s.
Kingston UnionWino isn’t a skateboard shoe, however it is coming from the skateboard community, affordable, and vegan! Our favorite contributor Kevin Marks gives us some history on the folks behind this new company and his take on the shoe! Limited sizes for now.
Kingston Union launched recently and came out of left field. It caught my eye immediately and I dug around and learned that Ed Dominick is the man behind the new endeavor. Ed founded 88 and Vox footwear and currently works at Circa all the while being an outstanding photographer. Kingston comes from his history of he and his pals wearing winos in their formative years. Ed had the idea brewing for several years and on St. Patrick’s Day 2017 it launched with two colorways of a classic wino and a handful of tees and caps.
When you’ve been in the business as long as Ed, you make life long friends. Attached to the brand are legends Jason Adams, Matt Hensley, Mario Rubalcaba, Emmanual Guzman, plus a rad assortment of artists and rock n rollers.
The shoes are classic canvas winos and the pair I received are comfortable and sturdy and built to last. They claim vegan on their product description. Granted these aren’t skate shoes, but if you seek a comfortable & affordable chiller, I recommend you try a pair of these.
Alex Olson is veganplant based for health and the animals. We couldn’t pass up a chance to post vegan cooking video from a member of Team Handsome! After feasting your eyes on Alex (rrroaw) get the recipe on the Munchies site. A note for anyone who’s actually going to make Alex’s curry, an idaho potato is a russet, and make sure you’re using the coconut milk that comes in a can. Let’s cross our fingers and hope his dad Steve starts offering vegan baked goods in his shop real soon.
Where do you like skating? Anywhere within manmade architectural structures and anywhere that I am able to, in the streets on this blue globe.
Why did you go veg?
I started skateboarding persistently since I was 14 and for more than 20 years of pushing wood, it changed my perspective of life. As a form of protest, it made me socially and consciously aware of the environment going on around me. I’ve been a freegan since I was 15, but since 2013, I’ve not consumed any sorta carcass.
2010 (frontside salad grind) photo: pez
What is you favourite thing to skate and why?
Ledges, gaps, banks, stairs, rails and just about anything that i chance upon along the concrete and asphalt ways of human traffic, just because.
What shoe are you skating in now?
All of the kicks that i skate in with are by vans, which is owned by the vanity fair corp. i use all of them in rotation, that way they don’t wear out too fast, but unfortunately not all of them are 100% animal friendly. and to be honest, i have not bought a pair of shoes in years now. maybe, i just don’t shred hard enough?
2015 (switch nose grind) photo: miz
…or just say whatever you want about skating veg…
If all of this was just a fad, i would have opted out a long time ago. skateboarding and living compassionately are the only few things that I look forward to in life. Please, respect that piece of plank under your feet which is made out of centuries old maple verniers. Respect what you eat and the clothes you have on. Be a conscious skateboarder and consumer. Recycle and repurpose whatever you can salvage. Never stop questioning, never stop thinking and never stop being. Be alert and be aware. Go skate! No rules! 1312!
Pinkviolence is a heck of a punk-name (violence isn’t very posi, but Pinkviolence seems to be down) and seeing 20 years of skating photo is hella rad!
Are you veg and shred? Send in a some photos and the answer to all the questions above to firstname.lastname@example.org Don’t forget a mailing address so we can get you some rad stickers. ( US only – that international shipping is EXPENSIVE!)
Etnies Marana is a solid modern skateboard shoe with one vegan colorway. It’s on sale right now, and this may be the last season it’s available in a non-leather or suede material.
We reviewed the Marana a few years ago and were pleased with the feel, durability, and style! The shoe is super breathable and has several tech features like welded toecaps and hidden stitching!
The shoe has a lot of cushioning and grip in the soles. Our experience was they took a little while to break in, but hold together well. The Marana is a classic shoe, available in a wide selection of sizes and we’re hoping sticks around in a vegan colorway. These are on sale though, so it’s anyones guess…
Andrew first came onto my radar in the year 2000 at Tampa AM. My first impression was that of a young, confident, jovial, and well rounded skater. We soon started flowing him Killing Machine hardware. And from there I would see him around the country at skate events where he always had a smile on his face. More recently we don’t see each other as often, but it’s been a pleasure to stay in touch and watch him grow into a man in the industry; even doubly rewarding to watch him find veganism and the straightedge.
– Kevin Marks
Where did you grow up? Glen Mills, Pennsylvania
What year did you start skating? 1996-ish
How did you fall into being a skater? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They skated and it made me want to skate.
First board? First board I bought was a Paul Zitzer Germ Birdhouse board, Grind King trucks, Birdhouse wheels, probably generic bearings and Jessup grip.
Do you recall the first skate mag you saw? I do not. Magazines were never my thing growing up, although I used to LOVE reading all the Big Brother articles. I was more into videos. I got a bunch at the same time; Best of 411 Volume 4, Thrill of it all, Mouse and Sheep Shoes “Life of Leisure”.
Your favorite part from the SHEEP video? Brian Anderson. Those lines at Hubba Hideout were beyond awesome. I remember being so stoked on the Smith pop out and the way he winds up for the nosegrind. He has always had one of the coolest styles because he looks like he is about to crush whatever he’s going toward but then when he gets on he’s light-footed. It’s awesome.
Your favorite part from the MOUSE? Guy Mariano. That part, the song. Then he vanished and as a kid I had no idea what happened to him and would get so stoked seeing even just one trick from him. So when he got sober and had a comeback I was so stoked. I’m a fan of Mouse era Guy and modern day Guy. He’s super inspiring.
First sponsor? Board Stiff Skate Shop
Run down a list of all the sponsors you’ve had over the years? Ha, that’s like telling me to list all my teachers – it’s more about the ones that had an impact than listing them all. Fairman’s has been there for me through thick and thin. Thanks to everyone there and Dave for always taking care of me.
Which board sponsor treated you the best or do you have the fondest memories of…..? World Industries was great. Rp Bess and Charlie Thomas took great care of me. I got way more out of skateboarding than I ever deserved on the skate career side. I owe those guys forever.
How many video parts have you put out and when was the last one? Probably around 5 or 6 parts. I used to love filming. The lastest was a part for Theeve trucks, but they took it down and since they paid for none of the footage and I edited it with a friend of mine, I just put it up on Youtube because I was semi proud of that part.
Favorite terrain to shred? At this point, a park that has good flat-ground, a ledge, a rail, and a nice long quarterpipe. That’s the dream for me.
How did you deal with the harsh Pennsylvania winters? I was lucky. I grew up on a farm with a barn so I used to skate in that during the winter.
Favorite skater from the 80’s? 90’s? lately? Jerry Hsu always
fs boardslide Photo: Matt Price
What sort of jobs did you work before your present position at NHS? I had worked odd jobs – karaoke host in college. Worked in a vending machine warehouse. I had been a graveyard shift server at Ihop near ASU. Worked at Fairmans. Nothing super insane, but it all helped me realize I didn’t want to do that forever.
I think I’m most impressed with your karaoke job. One of my best memories of NYC was singing karaoke with Josh Stewart and Jack Sabback. What is your go to song to sing? “I touch myself” or “I would do anything for love”. But I don’t do much karaoke these days because I’m rarely out at a bar that late anymore.
Any good stories from the karaoke job?
There was this guy who would come in and bring his Metallica karaoke CD at one of the places I worked and sing “Seek and Destroy.” He was not good at all, but he gave it everything he had. Always wore all black, chubby little fella. The one time I saw him driving around in a yellow Ford Focus. It was just such a funny juxtaposition.
What skate nerds have you sung with? Not with a ton of nerds but I’m seen some rad people sing. Clint Peterson did Sinatra and everything about it was amazing. Shortbus AKA Josh Johnson from Texas sang “Friends in Low Places” when he stayed with me one time at Phoenix Am. He was well under 21, not even sure if he was 18 and we ended up getting him into the bar so he could hang with everyone. Hammeke goes, “Alright Shortbus, just lay low and we will all be able to hang.” Joe and I turned to the bar to get beers and then before we could even pay you hear “Next up to the stage, Shortbus!” He sang it great and the moment it was over he was kicked out. That Phoenix Am was really rad.
What is your current job title and what sort of tasks do you work on routinely? I’m the Brand Manager for Santa Cruz Skateboards. I’m in charge of marketing, product line management, and overseeing what we are doing. It’s rad. I basically make sure that our brand is something we are happy with from what you see on your social media down to the boards under your feet. Our art department is awesome and the guys are cranking.
Which team riders are the most fun to work with? They are all fun for different reasons. The ams are so hungry and pushing the envelope. The pros are so talented it’s crazy and sometimes you need to pinch yourself to remember how people can be so humble and so good at skating. Dressen is the nicest human in the world and Jason Jessee is a one of a kind. It’s awesome. All the guys rule.
Do you still announce contests? I still do contest announcing. I do sidelines stuff for TV on Street League, I do Phoenix Am webcast, and then I do Tampa Am and Pro. It’s a really rad gig and I love the people I work with on that front.
Who is the best skateboard announcer in your opinion? You cannot get better than Tim O’Connor. He’s witty, he shows no mercy, and he’s such a great human being.
Boardslide UP the rail photo: Matt Price
When did you find veganism and what was your path to getting there? I honestly think it started for me at a young age. Middle school is when I got into bands like Earth Crisis that had a message and felt strongly about animal liberation and stuff. That planted the seed. I lived in rural Pennsylvania though and it was before the internet was accessible and riddled with great information about it. I stopped eating meat about 6 years ago, I had been thinking about it for a while and I had just seen Slayer in Vegas and was eating chicken fingers at a TGIFridays and literally it just hit me while eating them. I remember saying to myself, Nope, I’m done. I didn’t even tell my wife, who has been vegetarian since she was in 7th grade. I didn’t want her to think I was doing it for her, because I wasn’t. After that I had knee surgery for the second time and in my recovery I did a lot of research about health and eating better to help healing. I ate vegan throughout the majority of the recover and then when I started traveling again I would do vegan at home and vegetarian on the road. But I was on the road a lot and the cheese pizza was catching up to me again so I just said, “fuck it”, and went all in. It’s been almost 3 years now as a vegan and I love it.
I saw your FREE LUNCH –Do you truly see yourself as an alcoholic? Yes I do. I went to an AA meeting when I finally stopped just to be sure. I sat in the room and looked around at all the women (it was a closed women’s meeting but they took me in because they knew I needed the help) and listened to their stories. I could relate to so many of them and I just knew that the writing was on the wall. For the record, I never want to or will drink again, but I could have one if I wanted. I know that I could have a beer right now and be fine. But to me, the alcoholism isn’t just about the moment, it’s about the future. It’s about 3 months from now when I have been late to work and I smell like booze around my kids and I am wasting my money at the bar. It’s a slippery slope and one that I never want to mess with again. Anyone trying to stop drinking, hit me up on Instagram. It’s not easy but it’s the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself. I am thankful that I have been able to help some good friends of mine get off it.
Do you now identify as straightedge or just as someone who doesn’t drink or do drugs? When I turned 30 I decided I could finally call myself Straight Edge. It’s been almost 7 years since I have had a drink and my straight edge friends assured me that as long as I didn’t claim it when I was younger it was all good to call myself that now. To me it is more about being able to tell my kids that. Santa Cruz is a weird place where kids get into drugs early (although I’m sure that’s most places in the world now) and I wanted them to know that it’s ok to not smoke weed and party. I don’t care if people do it, I just feel like there is a shitload of pressure on kids now to partake in that stuff through social media, movies, music, etc. So I’m proud to be what I am. What’s cool is, over the last year or so I’ve been able to geek out with a lot of people about hardcore and metal and straight edge and veganism and stuff via social media. It’s cool that there are people all over that share those ideals. Not to sound like a dick, but that whole, ‘you’re a skater, I’m a skater so we are bros’ thing doesn’t really apply anymore. So when I meet skaters that are into the same music and share the same ideals, I get super excited about the potential of new friends.
There are very few vegans in the skateboard world and even fewer who are willing to be vocal about it. I was psyched to see that you proudly proclaim your veganism & XXX on your instagram page @andrewcannonAre there other ways you are vocal about your choice to be vegan? Not really. I am always happy to talk with people about it, but I don’t like when people give me shit about not eating meat so I try not to give people shit about eating it. I have spoken to my family about it from a health perspective but that’s it really.
Can you point to one film that you would recommend a person watch who is considering going veg or vegan? Forks Over Knives and Cowspiracy. They don’t play the shock value game of just showing slaughter house footage. They give information that you can choose to accept or not. It’s really rad.
Other movie recommendations? Tony Robbins “I Am Not Your Guru” – The whole Tony Robbins thing is super interesting to me. His story is cool and I’m fascinated by people who just put their mind to something and do it. Making changes because you are in control of your life is rad. I’m really into all the self improvement/empowerment stuff. It’s been a driving force for me in life as I keep growing as a person in life and work. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago and in 5 years I hope to be different than I am now.
Favorite bands, current and past? Oh man, Slayer is my all time favorite but since this is all about vegan and straight edge I’m going to stick to hardcore stuff. But hit me up on Instagram and we can geek about metal and punk shit too.
All Time: Bane, Converge, Minor Threat, Embrace, Earth Crisis, Strife, Snapcase, Gorilla Biscuits, Neurosis (throwing them in because it would be a crime not to)
Lately: Turnstile, Mizery, Give, Praise, Fury, Blistered, Malice At The Palace, The New Harmony, Oathbreaker, Judiciary… The list goes on and on and on. It’s all over the place and it’s nonstop.
If you are a fan of hardcore at all, check Hate5six.com – It’s this guy Sunny who films hardcore shows all over the east coast as his passion project and it’s the raddest thing ever. I have watched so many epic shows thanks to him. The sound quality is great and he films really well.
Favorite Santa Cruz area vegan eats? Saturn Café, Dharmas, Golden Fu Wah (they will make stuff vegan no problem) and Windmill Café for breakfast.
Best vegan eats in Pennsylvania? That’s a tough one; it’s been such a long time since I’ve lived there. But there is a really good place right next to Fairman’s in West Chester that makes vegan pizza, that I visit every time I’m home and I get to meet up with Dave. It rules.
Are you active in the local animal rights community? Any causes close to your heart? This is the part that makes me sound like I’m not staying true to my conviction, no. I am crazy busy and just have not had a chance to go down that road. But I need to step my shit up and help out where I can.
Is it hard to find vegan shoes? Not hard to find, just harder to get used to. It was the last thing that I held onto. I wore suede skate shoes up until about 6-8 months ago. But I finally just said no more. It was lame I didn’t switch earlier, but now that I have made the change it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.
What shoes are you wearing lately? I have been wearing Converse CTS canvas and shoe-gooing them and they rule. Super comfy once broken in and they last. But I have Fred Flintstone feet so I have to stretch them. I skated some Janoski slip ons in canvas that were awesome too. I want to try some of the Etnies Marana’s since they have a synthetic. Chris Joslin rules and skates that shoe all the time. Plus, Ryan Lay is on the team. I am down to try whatever shoes, but when I find one I like, I want to be able to stick with it.