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Debate: Should Vegans Use Animal Manure?

We pick out some popular debates in the vegan world and tackle them head-on. This time, we ask if vegans should be using animal manure

 

This issue we explore a slightly less contentious but equally interesting quandary: manure. We love to hear your thoughts on these debates, so please get in touch – but remember that the YES’s and NO’s are presented here simply so that all angles can be considered, we’re not advocating for one or the other, just trying to bring you both sides of the argument.

 

We’re talking crap here – fecal matter left by animals. It’s not as if somebody is farming animals exclusively for the spoils of their bowel movements, and then killing them for meat like we do with milk and dairy cows.

Manure is just animal excrement, those animals are not farmed so we can get their droppings to use for our benefit. Using manure is getting rid of animal waste products, it actively helps reduce the negative impact of animal agriculture. Animal droppings are a by-product of animal agriculture and keeping animals, and by using it as manure we’re enriching soil and using up waste in a practical way. What would we do with animal faeces if we didn’t use it for manure? Where would we put it?

To say you’re against it would surely mean you’d have to trace the source of all the plant-based food you ever eat to know whether or not manure was used to grow it. How can people realistically do that every time they eat?

Being vegan is about avoiding animal products as far as is safe and practical – trying to avoid any fruit, vegetables, or plant-based food that may have been grown using animal manure is far from practical for almost everyone.

Vegetables and fruits are washed before consumption; therefore there are technically no animal products left to consume by that point, so even items grown with manure are still vegan anyway.
For many vegans, the environmental aspect is a big consideration. Supporting the use of animal manure is an environmentally positive thing to do because it reduces waste by giving it a use. For vegans who adopt the lifestyle for ethical or moral reasons, refusing to acknowledge the positive impact of using animal manure is just blindly sticking to a list of rules without considering their real-world implications.

 

It is technically an animal product – vegans do not use animal products therefore vegans should not use it.

Using by-products of animal agriculture gives more reason for those practices and industries to exist. Using any by-products of the industry can support the arguments for its continued existence.
In some cases, animal manure can be contaminated or adulterated with other animal products – such as bone, blood, wool, or feathers. None of those would be acceptable to a vegan diet therefore manure should not be used by vegans or to grow food that vegans eat.

A University of Minnesota study from 2007 showed that certain crops were found to have accumulated antibiotics because the soil they were grown in was spread with animal manure that contained these antibiotics. Nobody, vegan or otherwise, should be consuming food laced with antibiotics.

In the same way that vegans avoid certain beers and wines because they use isinglass finings (the swim bladders of fish), vegans should also avoid products grown using manure. Neither manure nor isinglass will really be present in the end products, but it’s not just about refusing to consume animal products, it’s also about trying to remove yourself from any related practices as far as possible.

There are non-animal manures and ways to enrich the soil that are just as useful – if not more so – than animal ones. We could use green manures where crops are grown specifically to be ploughed back into the soil for enrichment. You can use clover, or seaweed, or even hops left over from growing beer; all increase the fertility of soil by adding nutrients.

 

 

We have presented you with two sides of the argument, but what do you think?

Have your say below…

 

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7 Comments

  1. Paul Stephenson on January 29, 2018 at 11:54 am

    If you are vegan then I assume you are against the keeping, farming, killing, etc of animals.
    If you use the manure from any domestic animal then surely you are going against your own belief.
    How do you find where the manure has originated from, I mean you will probably find some will be collected as waste from aberttoirs, as are the bones which are used to make bonemeal.
    I can’t see how you can possibly avoid animal products 100%. Even the technology we use everyday contains animal products.

  2. Paul Stephenson on January 30, 2018 at 8:30 am

    xxxxx

  3. Ora Goldman on March 15, 2018 at 12:44 am

    I am a very dedicated vegan. For me, as long as i know the source of the manure and the animals are not being exploited(for example they are at a sanctuary) it seems fine to me. My dogs are vegan and I’m going to look into using their poop for manure.

  4. will on March 22, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Veganism is an unsustainable first world luxury reliant on a complex deliverance system. Take away fossil fuel transport taking goods from 3rd world countries and synthetic fertilisers and you’re left eating a turnip most days of winter, and dying of some deficiency.

    Using animal manures from the food industry (40% of all food grown on them) is not ‘reducing waste’ because there is none, it is hypocrisy. How can you morally disapprove with the very industry that provides with the means to be able to eat? You can’t.

    There are no non-animal ‘green’ manure alternatives available in any useful quantity that could begin to meet the volume needed to replace manure.

    • Stephen Nitschke on April 11, 2018 at 11:55 am

      What isn’t an unsustainable first world luxury? You make no compelling arguments against veganism. There are many ‘green’ manure alternatives, and there are farms which don’t use manure. What veganism is is an experiment in the evolution of the human race.

  5. Russell Booth on April 26, 2018 at 12:42 am

    It looks like the woman I’m going to marry is a vegan.

    I started asking myself the question, can we still be classed as vegans (because she most likely wouldn’t want me to eat something that was once live creature) if I use chicken manure from the local farms ?

    The chickens are slaughtered for human consumption that are from the farms I’m talking about,so far, the answer I’ve found has been no !!!!

    I’m going to grow my own fruit & vegetables so I’m looking for a way to fertilize the plants,so far,the only way that I can practically do it is how my late grandfather did it on his old banana farm – with a chemical fertilizer.

    My other question which I’ve been asking myself is can I use pesticides & still be classed as a vegan ?

    For example, even if the pesticide was organic,it seems like the produce wouldn’t be classed as vegan if it involves killing pests such as slugs,snails, caterpillars & the cabbage moth.

    Yet many vegans buy their fruit & vegetables from a supermarket or greengrocer where they have been sprayed with an insecticide.

    How far do you go to the point of not being classed as a vegan ?

  6. Alice Brown on June 22, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    The Lowly Worm

    All compost piles rely on animal life to break down the material put in whether it comes from animals or from plants. Worms, maggots and the other creepy crawlers who do most of the composting even in a home garden are animals. They are digesting the material and turning it into worm poop. Even if worms aren’t introduced they will be there and what you are getting from your compost pile is largely the excrement left behind by these very small animals. Even composted vegetable matter has worm manure or castings. If the garden soil is healthy nothing will able to keep those creepy crawlers out. They are tunneling around the garden leaving their feces behind.
    Is it ethical and vegan to use the manure if the animals are so small and discreet that it’s easy to forget they are even there and what they really do for us?
    I think we should all give the worm the credit that it deserves even though it is part of the animal kingdom. Soil with out some animal life would be dead and would not grow nutrient rich plants.

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