Veganic is the New Permaculture

What is veganic farming and why is it so important in saving the planet? Before I get into the nitty gritty of it all, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I started out as an ordinary person for much of my life. Growing up on animal foods for the first 26 years, one day I had an awakening. Something inside me no longer wanted to be a part of the animal holocaust. I professed to love animals, but I knew what I was doing was contrary to my true beliefs. Not only do animal products—especially animal foods like the meat, dairy, eggs and honey—cause unrelentless suffering and death of billions of animals, they are also destroying the environment and our health. As a vegan since 2009 I knew there must be another way to be in the world. As Mahatma Ghandi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” And that’s what I wanted to do.

From that point on, being vegan was the best thing that has ever happened to me. It not only improved my own health, it also made me a more compassionate and kinder person to the animals and the Earth. It is unfortunate though, that we all grow up programmed by our culture. Eating animal foods is nothing we’ve ever undertaken ourselves, it’s not our own free choice. We’ve simply been forced into it by our culture. Like little robots we soak up everything our culture teaches us. We don’t question eating animal foods or anything else for that matter. In fact we praise ourselves as if eating these foods doesn’t cause any harm. If anyone questions our eating habits, we are naturally offended and lash out or justify our practices. This leads into veganic farming…

Veganic takes organic farming one step further. It implements organic standards, using little to no pesticides, without the inputs of animal products like manure, bloodmeal, bonemeal or fishmeal products. You may be asking yourself right now, “Why not use animal manure to fertilize crops? In nature the trees, bushes, shrubs and soil mutually benefit from the excrements of animals. And it is healthy to be eating directly from nature.” When I think about it, I agree. There is nothing wrong with eating directly from nature. We’ve been eating this way for millions of years. I would love to be living from the Earth, rather than buying from supermarkets. Unfortunately, we don’t live in nature. We have homes and stores and live in cities.

In today’s society something is very perverse about organic standards. Organic certification allows the use of fertilizers like manure, bone meal, bloodmeal and fishmeal to be irrigated on crops. Most of the waste products come from animals that were raised on industrial systems known as factory farms. These are giant football sized sheds housing tens or even hundreds of thousands of animals in overcrowded, extremely filthy conditions, with a high occurrence of diseases, bacteria and pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella. Animals are administered growth hormones and antibiotics living in their own feces and urine and breathing all the ammonia. Ever hear of E-coli outbreaks in organic spinach? It is so because the waste products from these animals are allowed to be sprayed on organic crops.

“E. coli is an intestinal pathogen. It only gets in the food if fecal matter gets in the food. Since plants don’t have intestines, all E. coli infections–in fact all food poisoning–comes from animals.” ‒ Dr. Michael Greger, MD

I’ve heard of a fruitarian couple fertilizing their fruit trees with their own excrement. And I am still wondering if this is ethical or not, but it does get one thinking.

Green manure through plant matter is possible, as seen in the documentary film Making the Connection by Environment Films and The Vegan Society. I highly recommend watching that film. There are also countless books and resources on the Internet to learn more about veganic farming. In England and parts of the United States, veganic agriculture is starting to take off.

Not only is green manure used to maintain soil fertility, vegetable compost, crop rotation and mulching are also used. Other methods to maintain the soil in veganic farming includes hay mulch, wood ash or composted organic matter, including grass clippings or comfrey liquid, nettles and seaweed. There is however no one way to do veganic farming. There are many techniques and methods used, but it is rather the idea of working with nature that is the key. One thing to remember with veganic farming as is with the vegan philosophy; is to respect and care for all creatures while maintaining natural biodiversity and ecological sustainability. This is why it is essential to farm in this manner. This is so because it minimizes the impact on wildlife, both to smaller animals, insects and warms, while minimally working with the soil.

Instead of implementing monocultures, veganic farming uses polyculture techniques using a variety of plants in the same area to coexist and work with one another. Working in this way ensures that minimal to no chemicals are used.

I believe veganic gardens to be the future just like veganism is the future. As more of us switch our values to that of compassion and love, farm fieldwe will see more of us planting vegan organic gardens. One house in Los Angeles for example, is growing enough food to feed 20 or 30 people. Animal farming on the other hand is very resource intense and inefficient. For every pound of beef produced, 10 to 16 pounds of grains are wasted. This grain goes directly to feeding the animals, rather than starving people. This is why we have world hunger where according to the World Health Organization some 3.7 billion people are malnourished. We can contribute to the healing of our planet not only by veganic farming, but also by respecting and caring for all life—by being vegan. It is possible to create a world of peace and love. Veganic is the new Permaculture. Yes we can work to preserve our soils and forests and the environment. Isn’t it about time we start considering the impact of our food choices, and the effect it has on the planet and the animals?

Michael Lanfield is an animal rights activist, author, speaker and filmmaker from Toronto, Canada. He is the writer, producer and director of the documentary The Interconnectedness of Life as well as the book under the same name. His vegan message has spread to millions of people. He founded We are Interconnected Films in May 2013 to produce educational and enlightening books, films and other media. Michael is currently enrolled in The World Peace Diet Facilitator Training Program offered by the Author of The World Peace Diet, Dr. Will Tuttle. He maintains his websites www.michaellanfield.com, www.weareinterconnected.com and his YouTube channel www.youtube.com/user/tarve2010

61 comments

I read a bit of this article and saw the whole not using manure in the garden and laughed and stopped reading, I thought the author is taking a dietary choice and blowing it out of proportion. I don’t know how you will build the fertility in the soil without SOME animal inputs and what about the insects and micro organisms living and dying in your soil, is that against your dietary choice ? I don’t think you could call a system permaculture if you take out animal systems all together.

try it before you post; informed opinions are always useful…

Yeah no thanks

luvsmog

Like most vegan based arguments, they are based on CAPOs…factory farming etc. A must read is Lierre Keith’s “The Vegetarian Myth” and see/read Joel Salatin. He builds his soi 1 inch every year – using cows – as they were meant to be used.
Growing annuals is destructive.
Vegans are usually malnourished and have many health problems. See the work of Sally Fallon.
We have evolved to eat meat and dairy. You can not argue with that. Animals can be raised sustainably and with love. Death is inevitable.
Growing soy, corn etc. wipes out every living organism. Is that not murder? Driving kills and supports wars – esp. the U.S. with its evil war machine…!
We need to support small local mixed farms…this is healthy and sustainable. Getting soy from far away and being deprived of the fat soluble vitamins: A, D, E, K is unhealthy. B12 is only available to body from blood/heme. Check sources above. Veganism is immoral, unhealthy and cruel to the earth. See sources above. I hate death but we need to accept it. See my http://facebook.com/123poopitout and “like” it and see blog links…enjoy! 🙂

Mechele

I have to agree with Mr. Lanville. We haven’t evolved to eat meat. It makes us fat, cancerous, diabetics, with irritable bowls, among other things. A plant based diet has been proven to be healthier in countless peer-reviewed studies. See/read Forks Over Knives and books by Dr. John McDougal. A vegan diet is healthy for every stage of life provided infants are nursed. B12 is recommended if you are strict vegan for more than 3 years. I suspect that B12 would not be an issue if we ate from our truly natural state (pre-agricultural) More than a few insects, slugs, etc would have been inadvertently consumed.
In our garden we are using green manure, compost, sheet composting/mulch and no-till methods. We also try to leave the root structures to decay in the ground as they are what breaks up soil and increases tilth. It’s going well, at least the squirrels are eating well! We have a pretty diverse ecosystem in our little urban 1/10th of an acre with plenty of creatures pooping in it. I can’t claim to feed 30 people, but we do pretty well for 4 during peak season.
Just because “we’ve always done it that way” doesn’t mean we should or have to… and besides, we haven’t

Thom

IMHO, and after some research, it seems a vegan diet, and approach to permaculture, is unnatural and unsustainable, especially if you are building a production farm.

Cat Henning

We have world hunger because grain is going to animals and not starving people? That seems like a very inaccurate blanket statement. I went to a talk by Raj Patel last night where he discussed hunger in communities in Malawi. There, the problem was gender inequality, woman were doing all the work, including harvesting food, and didn’t have time to breastfeed. Not because grain grown in the US wasn’t being imported to Malawi. Importing grains to developing nations that smother out local farmers from being able to subsist on their own corn, beans, and squash.

Good luck with all the bunnies, squirrels, gophers, and deer that come eat your produce…

ROTGLMAO I read the article hoping to discover some thing new I could incorporate in my farming! … but Comedy is always fun too! Saw the web site and especially laughed when I saw the tabs labeled “Social permaculture”!

I don’t get it. From a permaculture view point isn’t manure, or any animal products for that matter, can be considered a good thing as long as they are part of the ecosystem created in the farm?

Stupid. Animals are a part of the natural order too, ecology is the study of natural life systems and clearly shows it is not healthy without animals. If you don’t want to eat the animals that fine, but they do absolutely need to be part of the system

We don’t want chickens to till, pigs to make water capture, or alpacas for friends why exactly?

No thanks! Organic is just fine by me. Loves me some animal products, including bone meal, blood meal, and worm castings. What gardener or farmer wouldn’t use worm castings?

Ronny

These ideological projections are utterly useless. The point is not to avoid integrating animals into a productive system; the point is to avoid exploitation. There is no necessary correlation between integration and exploration.

Have fun with that

manure? Get a grip. manure is great for gardens and NO animals are harmed or sacrificed in the use of manure.

Our ecosystem includes animals and animal by products. For this reason, animals need to be a part of a sustainable farming system. That does not mean we should treat animals inhumanely but a truly sustainable farm includes the cycling of nutrients from plants and animals.

IMO it’s impossible to have a system that is completely without the animal inputs. Where are those plants getting the CO2 they need?

No, veganic is not the new permaculture. Based on the lack of animal inputs I’m not even sure that it can be classified as a subset of permaculture.

I’m a vegetarian, prefer organic, and I would include hens for eggs based on the argument that the hens are going to lay eggs anyway, rooster not required, and in exchange, I can provide a healthy environment and protection from predators. A farmer doesn’t have to kill the animal for food to get benefits from having them on the farm. Just have to control the population (either by having only one gender, or by neutering the animal(s) – prefer one gender).

The thing that gets me about the push of this “vegan revolution” is that humans and animals have evolved alongside each other for thousands of years and people have been using animal inputs in farming for as long as it has been around. I think that veganism is trying to be applied to all aspects of farming and lifestyle now because of a backlash against industrial farming… permaculture in itself already does not support this backwards way of producing food and/or animal products. What I have a problem with is people assuming that if you are using animal products or creating them as a product of your system, then you are not supporting “good farming practices,” and this article, in my humble opinion, seems to go along with that vein of thinking. Good luck to those who would try this “veganic farming,” but for me, this is not permaculture, and all of the permaculturists I have met and taken PDCs with would most likely not agree with this either. I just think that animal inputs are a natural part of the cycle of regenerating land and producing healthy foods, since they naturally fertilize the land where they reside anyway. If one does not wish to consume animal products, use them, or produce them in their own farming systems, then I think that is perfectly fine, but trying to call it something that it is not is probably not a good idea. The permaculture movement already has set principles and guidelines that *are* actually trying to be kept in place by the permaculturists and permaculture institutes that founded them. (*Note: In no way am I trying to attack vegetarianism, veganism, or anyone’s farming practices with these statements, I am simply stating my opinions about this article.*)

Honestly, if you use animal manure correctly and compost it first, there is almost no chance of getting E. coli from it. Permaculture is about emulating nature in an efficient way. You can be a vegan and still raise animals, just don’t eat them or their products. Veganism is probably as far from natural as you can get before you just become a processed food junkie.

Steve Hanson

Permaculture is about working with nature, we are part of nature and our natural diet includes animal products. Industrial agriculture is causing untold destruction on our environment in almost every aspect of its practices, but that does not mean we should abandon our natural diet and its health benefits and practice something which is just not permaculture. Animals can be and are part of regenerative permaculture designs producing exception quality food all over the world. While a vegan diet is sustainable in some parts of the world it is inappropriate and unsustainable in about two thirds of the human populated areas of the globe.

Scott

With all due respect for your obvious passion, there is so much inaccuracy in your article that a single comment block is inadequate. Your view of animal husbandry is far too narrow. My animals and more and more others are raised in an ecologically sensitive fashion and harvested humanely. All things die and “natural death” for an animal is brutal and terrifying. On my farm it is not. E. Coli contamination in vegetable crops comes from lack of sanitation for farm workers not from manure fertilizers. Human malnutrition on Earth is a result of greed, not lack of food. There is more than enough food to feed everyone, simply not the will to distribute it humanely. Again, I do respect your choice to not eat or produce meat but if you would realistically expect others to follow your path half-truths and broad, inaccurate assumptions is not the way.

Animal manure seems to be a pretty important way to build soil structure, lest it over time collapse.

I think it’s a personal choice and doesn’t have to be a “new” movement. There are plenty of wild animals that can be “incorporated” into the system, such as birds, fish, worms, insects, arachnids, reptiles, and amphibians without “domesticating” them. Well designed systems will draw them in. Manure from mammals or birds doesn’t have to be a part of the compost to make it high quality; dynamic accumulator plants and humanure can add the nitrogen and other minerals. Animals, including us are a part of this great ecosystem and we should learn how to coexist without imposing our functions on their natural lifestyles

How is Honey destuctive to the enviorment as you claim?

The idea is basic, but the philosophy behind it, or at least this article, is a wee lacking. Eating meat is cultural programming? Fertilizing with humanure might NOT be ethical? How in the world not!? And “there is nothing wrong with eating directly from nature”. Animals are part of nature. Sometimes the vegan approach comes off like creationism, as if denying evolution or that omnivores/carnivores don’t exist elsewhere in nature. If predation is bad, let’s patrol all nature preserves and stop hawks from eating mice, wolves deer, toads flies, etc. CAFOs are terrible, yes, but the permaculture approach to animal husbandry is about the most ethical one can get without denying evolution.

who are you and what have you done with permaculture?!

I’ve been doing this for a few years now. Works beautifully!

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is utter rubbish, but……

I strongly recommend a book by Lierre Keith called “The Vegetarian Myth”.

the main point is not to use slaughterhouse by-products – of course manures from happy well loved animals is good, and there will be all kinds of insects and bird poop naturally occuring – otherwise, this is a lovely life-affirming way to farm…

couldn’t disagree more……

With a name like “permaculture” you would think that something would actually be known about the method.

“E. coli is an intestinal pathogen. It only gets in the food if fecal matter gets in the food. Since plants don’t have intestines, all E. coli infections–in fact all food poisoning–comes from animals.” ‒ Dr. Michael Greger, MD WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!!!! E.coli is a normal flora found in every human being unless they have a disease state preventing growth. E.coli 0157:H7 is a life threatening pathogen caused by non-human fecal contamination. Proves that just because they have MD behind their name doesn’t mean they know what they are talking about. ——–I’ve been a medical microbiologist for 32 years. I see it all the time.

Animals including the really dangerous ones human beings. E. Coli is also used as a marker for waste contamination since it is prohibitive to test for everything such as cholera, typhoid, hepititus and so on. Most of say the water wells which fail the state testing for e-coli do so not because of livestock but from human waste as well.

I usually like this site
..but sorry… This is a load of rubbish!! Man has been hunting and eating meat since caveman times…what an absolutely ridiculous post

This is complicated. Personally, I think those who are addicted to and defend corpse consumption have some really messy psychological hang ups and I have no interest in ever using corpse products in my farming. Having said that, I find absoutely no problem with well composted poop. Everything poops and all soil nutrients have at one time or another, or many times been poop. It is absurd to think that we can build soil without poop. So I will forgo bone meal and blood meal, but I will continue composting poop and using it for the high nitrogen delivery opportunity that it is.

I stopped reading when it grouped honey in with eggs dairy and meat. Honey is based on pollen which is a plant product. To compare these foods on the same scale is ridiculous. Raw honey is a valuable medicine and bees don’t get hurt.

For me…the model will include any and all wild or native species….animals and birds are welcome, as they are and always have been a part of our Natural world!! 🙂 Returning to natural perfection!!

Just try and keep the critters away!! Never happen!!

Hope ,it is cost effective also. In poor countries, input cost is the most important factor in implementation of new technology and methods.

From crap to gold I do say… (y)

Pest can be controlled without chemicals. bird poo and fish guts would be hard for me give up

I find this to be ridiculous and narrow-minded.

tottree

Why not ! if you are happy with that go ahead. i found interesting !!

it is so interesting to visit all the have too s given us by impassioned folks…but we make our choices and if they feel right to us, we live with them…the trick is to stay open in case another choice comes along that we like better….keep it moving…

tunnel are very effective reducing insect propagation et control of disease

share this —-

First, I would like to say that I feel there is nothing wrong with being vegan if that is one’s personal preference. Don’t inflict your judgements and preferences on all though. The organic farmer, with a farm… not a city roof top, grows his own meat, uses the fertilizer from those animals. Absolutely, one should neither eat or fertilize from factory farms. Please don’t put down the small organic farmer with his small chicken, pig, goat animal industry because factory farms are bad. I know plenty of healthy and hale oldsters who grew their own meat and fertilized their crops with the manure put out by those animals. Case dismissed.

Karen Bartle, I agree that the writer lumps all organic farmers into one group but the broader point is that non-vegan farming is still participating in a pretty harmful system from the very fact that it involves killing animals.

You do realize that conversion of wild ecosystems to vegan farming also has impacts to wildlife? All food involves taking life in order to support other life on some level…collecting honey causes untold suffering? Are goats better off never being born than living on my families farm? I don’t think so.

i think my chickens love their life in my chicken garden ……and regarding vegan …i really think they have not yet realized just how alive, aware and responsive plants are – it is all about respect and proper care for any living creature – or – we learn to live off sunlight directly ….

vegan vs non vegan, democrat vs republican, christian vs……. lettuce all get along

Somebody lives in never never land…..

What a close minded group. It’s sad you all do not realize veganic gardening still has poop in the soil. Animals have the right to be free! When one is asked their opinion about something it is expected that one post reasons for rather than open blanket comments that do not explain themselves. I would love to conduct an experiment where I pile up all the chicken feed for a year into a compost pile and then pile up all the chicken poop from a chicken for a year and see the difference.

I have had the pleasure of managing veganic and omniganic systems. Either method is quite effective. Ultimately, plant material will always be the basis of soil fertility. To be vegan or omnivorous is a matter of preference and there is beauty either way. Happy growing!

compostyukon

fail

WendyJo128

This is quite an eye-opener. Vegan for only 5 months, I feel like there is still so much to learn!

Andrea Wild

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