Remember that movie where Matt Damon grew potatoes on planet Mars using his own faeces?
Are we using this as proof that vegetables grow best in manure? Of course not (you must admit it’s pretty convincing though, right?). Manure is a lot better than chemical fertilisers because it is natural and organic. However, some of us are now questioning: can vegans eat vegetables grown in manure? This could make the list of foods vegans can eat a whole lot shorter. Let’s delve deeper into this argument.
What does organic food mean?
Organic food is food that is produced without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides or artificial chemicals. Farmers usually use manure or organic fertilisers as eco-friendly alternatives. They increase the fertility of soil and help to produce healthy, chemical-free food. However, they may contain animal matter and waste which doesn’t make them vegan friendly.
Manure is defined as the waste from animals and plants used to fertilise soil. As it derives from natural sources and doesn’t include chemicals it can also be defined as organic manure. It improves the quality of soil and gives plants the nutrients, such as nitrogen, that they need in order to grow. Usually manure includes waste from cows, horses and chickens.
Can vegans eat vegetables grown in manure?
On the one hand, vegans should not consume or use anything that damages the lives of animals. Eating vegetables that was grown from manure can be seen as indirectly supporting industries who farm animals for food. Instead, you can grow your own vegetables. Always avoid organic labels as they may still contain traces of animal waste. Using alternatives such as home-made compost is a lot more eco-friendly. Made from naturally decomposing materials such as plants or fruit; compost is rich in nutrients and contains no traces of animals. It is one of the most organic ways to grow your vegetables. We recommend Vegro Multipurpose Compost if you’re struggling to make your own.
On the other hand, growing your own may not be possible for everyone. When buying vegetables it is very difficult to be certain that it has absolutely no animal traces. This information isn’t always provided. Most of the time the manure used is made from the by-products of animals that are already being used as livestock. Arguably, this is making a positive out of a negative situation. Dumping tons of animal waste releases carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia into our atmosphere. Did you know that one dairy farm with 2,500 cows produces as much waste as a city with around 411,000 residents? Surely it would be better to put the waste of these animals to good use?
Compost vs. manure
A vegan friendly option for your garden is compost. It is natural, organic and can be made at home. It reduces the risk of diseases being harboured in your soil and passed on to your plants. This is due to the antibacterials that are formed in the compost. Your soil will also be provided with the nutrients it needs to maintain healthy plant growth. The main drawback of compost is the lengthy process of making it. It can also work a lot slower than manure when releasing nutrients.
Manure works much faster because it includes larger amounts of nitrogen and nutrients. It makes the soil more fertile by increasing water retention and improves the quality of heavy or weaker soils. If the animals are fed healthy and organic food their by-products are a great source of manure. If not, the manure can contain weed seeds, parasites and diseases which can pollute your soil.
After weighing up the arguments provided you can make your own decision. For most of us buying our vegetables from big supermarkets chains, it may be inevitable that they are grown using manure. However, visiting your local or organic food store and finding out more about their farming strategies is another option. If you are growing your own, why not try vegan organic gardening? This is gardening without the use of animals or their by-products. Green manure, plant-based fertilisers and compost are used instead. Patrick, a sustainable and organic gardener, explains why it is an effective option for vegan gardeners.
Vegan organic gardening
There are farmers in India and Taiwan successfully growing cotton, herbs and a variety of fruits and vegetables using vegan organic gardening. It is a viable option for any vegan with the right resources. You will have full control over your crops, provide a home for insects and other organisms as well as produce delicious food. How rewarding! As previously mentioned, you can buy a vegan compost to provide your plants with nutrients for healthy growth. Onion, broad bean and spinach seeds can all thrive in the winter. You can purchase those here.
Remember as a sustainable gardener you can re-use old plastic water bottles and containers for plant pots. Good luck with your gardening. Oh, and please don’t try what Matt Damon did at home! Your potatoes will definitely grow better, on Earth, if you use vegan and organic products.