Vegan Organic Growing

What is vegan organic growing?
Vegan organic growing is a way of cultivating the soil that avoids the use of artificial chemicals, genetically modified material (GMOs), livestock manures and slaughterhouse products e.g. blood, hoof, horn, bonemeal and feathers. Growing food and other products using vegan organic growing methods uses less land, water and energy. It is climate friendly and sustainable. For more information contact: The Vegan Organic Network who produce Growing Green International, the only magazine dedicated to vegan organic growing.

What is stockfree organic?
Stockfree organic is the term used to describe vegan organic methods for commercial growing. Stockfree organic farming on a commercial basis is a proven way of feeding people which provides a better financial return for growers than conventional farming.

Reasons to use vegan organic (stockfree) growing methods
  • to prevent animal exploitation
  • to avoid the use of artificial chemicals
  • to avoid the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
  • to provide a safe disease-free environment to grow food crops
  • because animal farming is destroying the environment
  • to free up land and resources

Animal exploitation 
More than 150 billion animals are slaughtered worldwide each year to provide food (meat, milk, fish, poultry, etc) and other animal products. For more information on campaigns against animal suffering contact: Animal Aid. Animal products are not required for a healthy diet. A plant-based vegan diet is one of the best ways of keeping healthy, stopping animal suffering and protecting the environment. For more information on the vegan diet contact: The Vegan Society.

Artificial chemicals
The problems of chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc) have been widely reported. Billions of creatures, including beneficial insects, are killed each year by chemical sprays, human health suffers and the environment is polluted. For more information contact: The Pesticide Action Network UK.

There are many concerns about the use of GMOs. Through 'gene escape' GMOs may end up in plants of the same species or different species. Genes can mutate and may cause harmful effects. Certain 'sleeper' genes could be accidentally activated and 'active' genes could become deactivated. This is particularly relevant to long-lived species like trees. There are also worries about the effects on human health. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine are concerned about serious health risks associated with GM food including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. For more information about campaigns against GMOs contact Greenpeace or Slow Food.

Animal diseases
Avoiding the use of animal manures and other animal products in farming ensures that highly contagious diseases are not passed on through the food chain to other animals and humans. Where animals are farmed intensively there is more likelihood of diseases building up and passing quickly from animal to animal (including domestic companion animals) or humans. Diseases can be passed on via infected animal faeces, infected meat and milk or contaminated drinking water. Many diseases cause severe illness and death. They include avian influenza or bird flu, variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (vCJD), Brucellosis abortus, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidiosis, Hepatitis E, Leptospirosis, Listeriosis, Salmonellosis, Toxoplasmosis and Verocytotoxin Escherichia coli (E coli).

Animal farming and environmental damage
Animal farming is now one of top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from global to local according to the United Nations. Their report Livestock's Long Shadow (2006) gave a shocking inventory of the damage animal farming has done to the planet from soil erosion to deforestation. Livestock farming is a key factor in deforestation particularly in the tropical rainforest regions of South America.

Free up land and resources
It is impossible to feed a growing global human population on a diet based on meat, milk and other animal products. The resources (land, energy and water) are not available in sufficient quantity to make this a sustainable option. Land can be used far more efficiently to grow plant foods to feed humans directly rather than through an animal. Less land being turned over to animal farming also means more natural areas will be preserved, particularly places like tropical rainforests.

How to grow using vegan organics
How do we fertilise the soil and grow anything if we don't use animal manure or bonemeal? This is actually very easy. The fertility of the soil originates from plants and is maintained by plants. It is not necessary, or even efficient, to apply animal manure to enrich the soil. To create and maintain fertile healthy soil the vegan organic grower uses many methods including:

  • applying home made plant compost
  • growing green manures
  • crop rotation
  • mulching
  • applying seaweed meal (not calcified)

Vegan organic growing is now a time honoured way of growing. It has been used by gardeners and commercial farms alike. Tolhurst Organic Produce in Oxfordshire is one such business. It has held the Soil Association's organic symbol for over 30 years and is one of the longest running organic vegetable farms in England. It was also the first to obtain the Stockfree Organic symbol in 2004 and has no grazing animals, manure or other animal inputs into the site.