Here’s the problem…
Fertilizer often contains animal products. Some are just manure, while others have animal ingredients like bone meal, feathers, and more.
How do you know if the apple in a store was made with fertilizer with animal products in it?
You don’t. You have no way of knowing, and no way of finding out.
So while vegans would prefer that no one uses this type of fertilizer, almost all vegans would say it’s unreasonable to avoid it. And veganism is about minimizing your impact as far as practically possible.
So yes, the fruits and vegetables at your local grocery store are still considered vegan, even if they might have been grown using one of these fertilizers..
But what about buying fertilizers for a local garden or farm?
Many fertilizers have animal products in them, but you have no way of knowing in most cases. Most vegans would say it’s unreasonable to avoid these, but if you want to, there are other options.
Vegan Fertilizers for Home Growing
I think most vegans would agree that if you’re buying fertilizer and can see what’s in it, buying fertilizer with animal products in it is not vegan.
The animal poop itself is borderline, since the animals obviously don’t want it. However, buying it still supports animal agriculture, which is the main issue.
Chemical ones arguably aren’t much better because they can damage the environment, which may in turn hurt animals.
The ideal solution would be to buy a “natural” plant-based alternative. And they do exist.
There are 3 main options:
- Plant compost – Not only is compost a very effective fertilizer, it’s a convenient zero-waste solution. For a small garden, you can just use your own compost. And if you need more, you can often get it from local compost facilities for cheap or free.
- Vegan fertilizer – There are some fertilizers that are specifically marketed as vegan. For example, here’s one made by Down to Earth. It contains a mix of soybean, alfalfa meal, camelina meal, kelp meal, and a variety of rocks for minerals.
- Wood chip mulch – Wood Chips and mulch contain nutrients that are perfect for certain trees and shrubs. They are cheap or in many cases free. Not a direct replacement for fertilizer, but can be used as a part of it.
Can Vegan Fertilizer Be Made on a Larger Scale
If the whole world went vegan overnight, we wouldn’t have enough vegan fertilizer for all farms.
But that’s not going to happen.
The good news is that more research is being conducted on “green” manure, and the results seem promising (1).
Over time, there’s no reason to think that advances in technology and a shift in the agriculture industry couldn’t eventually make veganic farming possible.