You’ve likely already heard of the vegan diet: people who follow it don’t eat animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy. But have you heard of veganic agriculture? Many gardeners around the world are applying the same core values to how they grow flowers and food.
It’s no wonder this movement is taking off; today’s trends involve living ‘cleaner’ and using only the ‘purest’ products possible. National dietary guides have even been revised to include more plant-based foods and less meat and dairy.
Vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian ways of eating are heavily promoted. In today’s world, a new veggie burger on a fast food chain menu or supermarket shelf can make headline news.
The Economist is calling 2019 ‘The Year of the Vegan,’ with more and more of us jumping on the bandwagon. And although veganism is one of today’s top trends, growing like one is anything but new.
Veganic agriculture may not be mainstream, but its gentle approach has long been used to produce fruits, vegetables, grains, and even cannabis.
How It Works
The foundation of veganic growing is to garden or farm in a way that respects the environment, animals, and human health.
Like organic agriculture, the method steers clear of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and GMOs. But it breaks the mold by eliminating the use of any product obtained from confined animals.
According to the Veganic Agriculture Network, fertilizers, manure, blood meal, feather meal, and fish emulsion can all be used when growing organically, but they’re often sourced from CAFO’s and slaughterhouses.
Please note that I am in no way against organic growing methods and have used them in my own garden. I am merely highlighting the differences between the two methods.
Veganics has moved away from all animal by-products and focuses instead on plant-based techniques to improve soil fertility; think mulch, vegetable compost, green manure, wood chips, crop rotation, and polyculture. The motto is “feed the soil, and the soil will feed the plants.”
There are several vegan fertilizers available for purchase at plant nurseries and greenhouses. Alfalfa meal, kelp meal, and soybean meals all enrich the soil with nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and other essential macronutrients.
Cover crops (also referred to as green manures) are also an excellent option for boosting soil health. Alfalfa, various types of clover, and buckwheat are examples of crops that can be sewn into the garden to restore essential nutrients taken up by the previous occupants.
Why Grow Veganically?
Proponents of the veganic method say the reward is a living soil chock-full of microorganisms that can deliver long-term fertility.
It is sustainable farming at its very best.