Alright, I get it.
Sometimes it seems that vegans take it a too far. What can I say? We are above-and-beyond types of people. You think you’ve heard of every vegan product out there until something catches your eye and you think “Is this necessary?”
I experienced that moment when I first discovered vegan gardening. I must admit- I was mad.
For two years I dreamed of raising chickens. Can you blame me?? They’re cute, easy to care for, and are great helpers for a garden. I was so excited! But all that changed when I discovered animal-product free gardening. All my plans, my hard work, my beautiful compost- poof! Gone.
I was bashing on my vegan community for this ridiculous claim. I thought the argument was stupid and in no way a sustainable way to live. I mean really….no animal manure? What if an animal dies? What about all the good animals do for our ecosystems? A garden or farm can’t be truly vegan…
I wasn’t wrong. I just misunderstood. See, what I was hearing was “Nobody can touch the animals! Not even nature!”.
That is simply not true nor is it realistic. But there are far better ways, different methods to grow and produce our food. Methods that compliment nature and give everything that has life a purpose.
Vegan gardening….what is it?
Vegan, or veganic gardening, is a 100% plant based method of organic gardening (no chemicals) that is taken one step further- there is no animal product applied to the soil. Animal product can be anything like manure, blood meal, and bone meal.
What separates the vegan and organic method from most other gardening methods is that vegan applications try to mimic and work with nature as much as possible. The point of vegan and organic gardening is to maintain the soil’s biodiversity and get the highest amount of nutrients as possible from the primary source- plants.
Vegan + Organic = Veganic
I know what you’re thinking.
“But animals poop everywhere in the wild…”
Exactly! The truth is that mother nature doesn’t have large piles of poop rotting away ready to be dispersed throughout the soil. The animals already do that job for us in their natural habitat.
That’s really cool when you think about it.
Manure is really good for our soil. I’m not going to lie and say that it’s bad. You can’t avoid animals pooping or their corpses decomposing into our topsoil- that would be ridiculous. It’s part of the cycle of life. But those animal inputs are unintentional.
But what about nutrients?
Plants need 3 very crucial nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium. All of these nutrients go through a cycle that helps turn waste into resources. This is one of the reasons why compost is so important.
There is a 90% energy loss each time plants flow through levels of the food web. Green compost is much more rich in energy and nutrients because it has not gone through an extra level of the food web. Instead of being digested, the plant nutrients go straight into the soil.
The point is that manure, blood meal, bone meal- they’re not necessary. The amount of energy and nutrients in decomposed animal product doesn’t even compare to the amount in decomposed plants. If you want to try and avoid any kind of animal input, check your garden soil labels and make sure they are omitted.
Why go veganic?
A lot of garden soils come with compost already mixed in the soil. Much of this compost is leftover animal waste that couldn’t be sold in the meat and dairy industry. These industries try to make the most out of their buck and sell any animal leftovers to be packaged into garden soils. It’s corporate business. They would be foolish to spend all that time and money making an animal suffer and not use the leftovers.
Calm down, Cassidy…calm down.
Sadly, it’s true though.
The good news is that there are garden soils out there that contain no animal product, so you can still grow your most favorite fruits and vegetables and still be a happy vegan! Recycling your kitchen and yard scraps by making your own compost is probably the best step toward vegan gardening since you have total control of what goes into your compost and eventually your soil.
Now I will say this- what is considered vegan to you may not be considered vegan to others. Some vegan gardeners won’t allow any kind of free-range animal product to touch their soil, like free-range chickens. Some go as far as not using worms.
Guys, I have to be honest, as long as the animals are happy and free, and nature is the only one doing the real work, I’m a happy vegan camper. I still want chickens and other free-range birds one day. But this time, so they can be birds. Nothing more for them to do then to tend to the garden.
Is is sustainable?
This is probably the second most common question related to the subject, and the answer is yes! It is sustainable- that would be the short answer to that question. There are many different applications that pertain to vegan and organic gardening, so I will write posts talking about each one in detail. For now, I’ve listed a few bellow to give you an idea of what’s involved:
- Crop rotation– rotating the garden to different plots of land the soil has time to rest and build up nutrients.
- Companion planting– planting vegetables and herbs close to other plants that provide additional nutrients and protection against insects.
- Green mulches- organic material, usually plant based, that’s applied to the top of garden soil for protection.
- Leaf and nettle teas– Leaves and other green material seeped in water then applied to soil
Everything listed here are not the only options that you have for natural, plant based fertilizers, but they are the most popular. Try out these methods and look out for more vegan gardening tips and how-to’s to come in the future!