With veganism gaining popularity throughout the globe, it’s important for those having a positive impact on the Earth to understand what they can and can’t eat. If you’re looking into the vegan lifestyle and movement, there are plenty of unknowns and questions you may have.
The use of artificial fertilisers and soil conditioners increased by 25% from 2008 to 2018 – knowing this, organic farmers are actively looking to implement animal manure into their crops, but, is the usage of manure to grow vegetables vegan-friendly? In this guide, we discuss both sides of the argument so that you can make the choice for yourself.
What is animal manure?
Animal manure, also known as animal poop and animal muck, is essentially a mix of organic matter that is used as a fertilizer in gardening and agriculture.
Animal manure can be split down into farmyard manure (FYM) or farm slurry. FYM contains organic material (often straw), which has been used as bedding for farm animals and this absorbs the faeces and urine of the animals, whereas farm slurry is produced where plant material isn’t used as bedding for animals – instead concrete or slated are used. This manure is then collected and mixed in with fresh straw.
To find out more information about manure and the different types available to gardeners in the UK, see our ultimate guide to organic manure.
What does it mean to be a vegan?
A common misconception is that vegans face restrictions on a day-to-day basis, however ‘to be vegan’ it’s simply making a conscious decision to eliminate as many animal-based products as you can. Whether this be avoiding leather handbags or a steak in a restaurant, each way of defining veganism is different, but in short, it’s to cut down the number of animal products consumed in day-to-day life as far as possible or practical.
Are vegetables grown with animal manure vegan?
Animal 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?
As it is quite a complex question, we’ve created a list of reasons why you CAN and CAN’T eat vegetables grown in manure.
Yes, you can…
When looking at the bigger picture, manure is just excrement mixed in with organic matter – what’s the problem? Manure isn’t put together by animals in which that is their only purpose on a farm. Manure is simply a by-product of animals and this should be taken into consideration when deciding on whether you should eat vegetables that have been grown in manure.
Using manure also enriches soils, reduces wastage and decreases the amount of fertiliser used by farmers, therefore having a far better impact on our ecosystem than using artificial alternatives. In addition to this information, vegetables and fruits are washed before packaging, therefore there are technically no animal products left to consume by that point.
No, you can’t…
Taking veganism literally, on a technical basis you can’t eat vegetables grown in manure. As manure is a product of an animal, vegans should not use it. Using any by-products from animals can be an endless list and manure shouldn’t be seen as an anomaly. Eating vegetables that were grown from manure can be seen as indirectly supporting industries that farm animals for food, therefore going against the vegan movement.
An alternative to adding manure to vegetables is Veganic Farming. Veganic farming also called ‘vegan organic’ and plant-based farming is the organic production of vegetables, fruits and other plant foods that have minimal or zero amount of harm to animals.
To conclude, there are two sides to the argument on whether vegans can eat vegetables grown in manure and these need to be taken into consideration when coming to a decision. Armed with some information, the choice is yours whether you should eat plants grown in animal manure.