Are fertilizers vegan?

by Mary-Chris Staples
(Vancouver, B.C.)

Is it possible that all the plant based foods I am eating are grown in soil that uses decomposing animal products?? How can I be vegan and avoid this problem? Are fertilizers vegan?


This is a very good question, and one that I had a few summers ago as well. I was starting a vegetable garden on my deck and looking for potting soil that wasn't made with bones and blood, or any synthetic chemical fertilizers. Seems simple enough, right? Well, I was wrong.

Every bag of fertilizer I found at every store, big brand names and small mom-and-pops, all were made with some type of animal product or chemical. Unfortunately, because we are talking about such huge demand here, the suppliers use what is absolutely the cheapest formula on the planet for those potting soils. That happens to be animal bone remnants from factory farmed animals (blood, bones, fish particles, etc) and the cheapest synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides available.

The same is true of the fertilizers used on the crops we buy. Big corporations have squeezed out small farmers nearly to the brink of extinction and most of what we buy in stores is now made on enormous farms that don't resemble Old MacDonald's farm in any way. You might think, "well, I'll just buy organic produce." Unfortunately, the term "organic" doesn't hold as much weight as it used to. There are tons of loopholes and exceptions made to include as many farms as possible in the organic wave. Depressing, I know.

There is some hope. When I was researching it long ago, I found that there are vegan soils and farmers who grow their crops exclusively in that type of soil. A little google searching should help you look to see if you can find vegan fertilizer.

Also, if you have space and the inclination, you can grow your own produce. More and more it seems the best way to control our food chain is to be completely in charge of it ourselves. Then we know exactly what goes into our food and where it's coming from. To solve the dilemma of looking for soils at a store, you can start a compost bin.

We got a counter-top compost bin like this one from Amazon that we fill with our veggie scraps each day and then dump a few times a week into a pile in our backyard. I am so shocked to see how much compost we actually make, and how nice that soil has become outside. Compost is like magic dirt and you can grow absolutely anything with it, so I highly recommend it for gardeners. Free vegan fertilizer! And then, you aren't making as much trash to throw onto trash heaps.

I hope that helps!

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Hello Mary!
by: Darren Peterson

It is quite true that the fertilizers we are using these days are the composition of some animal products. But I did not know so much on it. Glad that I found your article, really it made me know so much. For better growth of the plant, some chemicals and animal products are being added to fertilizers and we cannot avoid this truth. I prefer using organic plant foods of GSP plant foods and I don't think there is something wrong. These are working well. Thanks for so much info. Keep sharing.

Chemicals are vegan
by: Ian McDonald

What's the objection to "synthetic chemicals"? Or is there a naturalistic fallacy at work here?

Nitrogen is the important element in fertilisers.

Nitrogen that's captured by the Fritz-Haber process is chemically identical to, and comes from the same air as, the nitrogen that bacteria capture for their legume plant hosts.

(I'm vegan, and frustrated that all the web pages I find offering advice on vegan garden products assume I am also in favour of organic. Because of the reliance on animal products over synthetic products, organic garden products are *less* vegan than conventional.)

recipe for vegan soil
by: Tonya

I am from Washington State and I am looking for a recipe for Vegan Soil? I cannot find anything around here. It would be nice if some one knows of one. Thanks

excellent organic compost
by: MzB

Your advice about compost is truly right on! It really is "black gold" for gardening. If you can get it, "Yum Yum" Mix is a natural, organic soil amendment specifically formulated for Vegans and people not wanting to use animal products/byproducts in their gardens. The company making it is Soil Menders, out of Tulia, TX.

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