Being vegan isn’t easy, as we all know. It’s a significant commitment of time and energy to make the best choices to support your vegan lifestyle. You read labels and research brands to select beauty products and clothing that are vegan-friendly and cruelty-free. You go out of your way to support farmers markets. You shop at local grocery stores to buy the very best fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains available.
But wait! But one thing many vegans don’t realize is that the way our food is grown is not always vegan-friendly and cruelty-free.
Thankfully, “Vegan Farming” farming is on the rise, growing in popularity among small farms and producers. While the term may seem new, vegan-friendly farming techniques were practiced in ancient Greece, China, Japan and India, as well as the Americas. As they say, everything old IS new again! But what does it mean? Read on for the full skinny…
Organic vs Vegan Farming
Over the years, organic farming has been all the rage. And, we can all agree it is a much better alternative than industrial options that use chemical pesticides and fertilizers. But, there is something many vegans may not know. Many organic farming products are still heavily-based in animal products, such as livestock manure, blood, bone meal and ground fish produced at slaughterhouses and stockyards. Not exactly vegan-friendly!
Vegan farming utilizes plant-based fertilizers rather than animal products. Vegan agriculture also relies on natural ecosystems to protect crops from insect and animal predators rather than pesticides. Better for our animal friends and are better for the environment as it uses less land, water, and other resources than both organic farming and industrialized agriculture.
How Does it Work?
Vegan farming uses plant-based composts (many legume-based), mulches, and ‘green manures’. Not only are these plant-based fertilizers more efficient, effective and ecologically sound when compared to their organic animal-based counterparts, but they are also more environmentally sustainable as well. Animal-based fertilizers need about four times more land than vegan compost, and vegan-friendly farming methods require only 10% the amount of water.
And what about pest-control? Rather than driving animals or insects away with pesticides, native ecosystems are welcome. This method creates a balanced and natural habitat that allows fungi, bacteria and soil microorganisms to thrive.
Like all movements, the spread of vegan farming is growing at a local level. While there is no official registry yet in the US, over 50 vegan farms are reported. In the UK, the industry is flourishing. Groups like the Vegan Organic Network are formalizing standards for vegan- and “stock free”-farming, enabling growers to become certified as “Vegan-Friendly farmers”. They are also campaigning to adopt government “veganic standard” labels for produce and agricultural products.
Do your part to support the rise of vegan farming. Help to spread the word about vegan farming, raise awareness and demand for veganic standards in agriculture in your area. Together we can create a sustainable, and vegan-friendly future. Curious about how to help?
● Get Informed
Educate yourself to find out how your food is grown, and research which farms and markets in your area support vegan farming (where to look – links).
Become a member of advocacy groups and subscribe to newsletters. Attend locally-supported events that celebrate vegan farming. Join social media groups to spread the word about vegan-friendly farms and products available in your area.
● Use your Consumer Power
Talk to your providers at your local store, market or CSA-provider to make sure your favorite purchases are not only vegetarian but vegan-friendly as well.
Research and support those in your area who are utilizing vegan farming techniques. Support a local farmer by subscribing to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. These memberships share the risk in a crop in return for produce. A great return on your investment!
● Do Try this at Home
Go the DIY route. Whether a garden, backyard or windowsill, even growing small amounts of fruits and vegetables to enhance your diet will give you peace of mind about the food you eat and give something back to the environment.