An Irish master violin luthier has unveiled a set of violins that are made from 100 percent plant-based products. The animal-free violins are the first in the world to be registered with The Vegan Society’s Vegan Trademark.
What makes traditional violins non-vegan?
Currently, most violins contain glues made from animal hooves and hides. Violin bows are often also not vegan since they’re made from horsehair. Thanks to violin master Padraig O’Dubhlaoidh, however, vegan musicians now have an alternative that’s not only made from animal-free products but is also acoustically outstanding.
A long-standing campaigner for more sustainable and ethical instruments, O’Dubhlaoidh started the passion project in 2020, during the lockdown. “With our planet facing crises on almost every front, the collective voice of people wanting a fairer future grows stronger every day,” he said in a statement. “Ethical musicians are part of this movement and have long wished for a violin that is fully vegan yet retains all the qualities of the classic instrument.”
As part of his effort to make the violins 100 percent animal-free, the luthier used a variety of ingenious natural materials. To create the inlay around the edge of the instrument, for instance, O’Dubhlaoidh used steamed pear wood dyed black with wild berries. He also made a custom adhesive that’s 100 percent natural using spring water from the hills behind his home.
Animal-free also comes with a better sound
The craftsman said that his efforts to make the instruments from animal-free products also yielded an unexpected acoustic bonus: “During my experiments, I also discovered that there are unforeseen advantages to a vegan violin. Apart from the benefit to animals, society, and our environment, it has become very clear that animal-based glues have harmful effects on violins, inducing powerful tensions on wooden components. The adhesive used in my vegan violins, however, has no such effect. Irrespective of ethics, this is an acoustic improvement.”