At our meeting in Sieben Linden we had a talk about vegan organic agriculture. Vegan organic agriculture by definition doesn’t (ab)use any animals or their so called by-products like manure, slurry, blood and bone meal etc. It seems to be a new unconventional technique but when you think about it it is longer around than you would expect. For instance, our ancestors didn’t always kept as much animals as nowadays. Therefor farmers relied on green manures like leguminous plants (clover etc.) to feed the soil. And today also many farmes have no “lifestock” to really speak of and thus not enough animal manure at hand. This is officially called “stockless” farming. Although consciously vegan organic farmers prefer the terminus “stockfree”.
The vegan organic (or stockfree) movement started in England at the end of the last millenium. The Vegan Organic Network was founded by long time political activists who felt the need to address the basis of culture – agriculture. To them “conventional” organic agriculture wasn’t the end of the flagpole. Organic farming doesn’t question animal “husbandry” in general. In fact non-human animals are seen as essential to the nutrient cycle in organic systems. This is, mildly put, a myth for no animal creates nutrients out of thin air. Animals eat plants, the same plants vegan organic farmers use to get nutrients into the system.
Non-human animals are a detour in the nutrient cycle. For ethical and many other reasons it makes sense to take them out of the equation. To name but a few reasons: Animal farming takes up more than two third of all farmland in Europe and also worldwide; Animal farming is responsible for 20 to 30 percent of green house gases in the atmosphere; Water and air pollution by animal “by-products”; Waste of food that could be consumed by humans directly; Human health issues due to too much consumption of “animal products” and so forth – and, of course, the non-essentiality of consuming any “non-human-animal products” for human animals to stay healthy and alive (especially in our moderate climate european countries).
If we really want to close the nutrient cycle – and it is obviously necessary in order to create sustainable farming systems – we need to think hard about human faeces and urine, for we are at the end of the agricultural food chain and therfor our humanure has to somehow get back into the system.
Vegan organic farming requiers more skills and knowledge by the farmer as does organic or “conventional” farming. It is no wonder that the so called conventional farming is taking up most of the land in Europe. But comfort should never be the main objective in our lives, especially not if other humans and non-humans are affected by our practices. There are many good examples of vegan agriculture around the world to inspire us. Just search for it on the internet.