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I found last Friday's feature on GW about an ex-Michellin starred chef, now vegan, growing his own vegetables very interesting.  I was interested to see how conscious his approach was to gardening as you would expect from a vegan who eats well.  What slightly worried me however (as a vegan myself) was that he was using manure (an animal product) to grow his vegetables.  Has anyone found a way round this particular dilemma?  I use sea weed collected from the beach & add this to my compost bin, & I have heard a lecturer at plumpton agricultural college in sussex advising to start raised beds by layering seaweed, vegetable matter & straw into the beds to get a really good start to vegetables.  I am just wondering what other vegans do?


How do you manage to keep worms out of your compost bin?


As a horse is a vegetarian or even vegan only consuming grass and other grains/cereals and produces the manure as a natural product and that product is then broken down in the soil by other bacteria/organisms which are not so selective about what they eat...I'm wondering where the problem lies? I would be much more concerned with a fox or cat defecating on my vege plot than the applying of a well sourced rotted down manure from a vegan/vegetarian animal feeding the soil.

Thanks Kate1123 - i am a medicinal cook so great to see this article.

Thanks also Daintiness for your comment - I agree in theory but commercial horse feed (grains/cereals) not that wholesome (+antibioticsetc,etc) & all going back into the food chain.  I think this gardener is very inspirational because he is giving SOOOO much back.




Plenty of commercial non-GM, vegetarian soc approved and even some organic horse feed available according to horse-keeping friends.

Horse manure should be allowed to mature and this can mean from one to several years. My sons horses are in the paddocks all day and do feed on a grain feed and hay at night, when up there a couple of weeks ago he had just taken delivery of £700 of hay, it is not cheap.
Now the natural process of passing through the animal does not kill some of the seed or whatever else could be in it although the rotting down an a steaming heap much hotter than a compost heap over a long period should see it all off.
As to normal compost it must contain some life to help it rot down. Insects worms, good bacteria,  even kelp has been found to contain minute sea creature all living organism which is spread on the garden so it is almost impossible to not harm some form of life not including the foliage, flowers, branches of living things we call plants.
What we eat is personal choice and the plants we grow will only take up the nutrients they need or in some cases, Legumes put it back as Nitrogen. Somewhere along that process we must do harm to some form of life knowingly or not.
My point being our personal beliefs will never be 100% certain in that we get it right. Each time I inadvertantly slice a worm in half with a spade so I can eat Veg I feel it but still eat the veg.
For the picture I eat lots of vegetables and a small amount of meat, that is my belief that we need some foods whether we like it or not.


thanks palaisglide - For the picture, I eat vegan food because it is good for my health & the health of the planet (rather than aversion to killing animals).   I also eat fish in small amounts.  Dovefromabove: I am glad to hear what you say - lets hope for the sake of the planet there are a lot of horse owners feeding their animals consciously - rather than buying the cheapest. Looking at the article Kate1123 refers to above - & looking at how our ancestors used to grow vegetables - we have forgotten just how much we need to return to the soil in order to produce top quality food


What???!!!  Antibiotics in horse feed.  Where did you get an idea like that?

Remember that our ancestors suffered from all sorts of deficiency diseases.  The scheme of rotating crops is comparatively modern.  Food must have been in very short supply in Winter and early Spring.  Unless of course you wanted a diet of manky root crops. An awful lot of what our ancestors ate was certainly not top quality.

Welshonion I was thinking about 100-150 years ago - suggest you read kate1123 article - I  think you'll find that our richer Victorian ancestors were more likely to have had gout (because of excess food/drink consumption) rather than deficiency diseases.  They were also very good at preserving food (including root veg) in times of plenty for winter & early spring (pickling & other preservation techniques have almost disappeared in the modern western diet).  Good food on the table was a status symbol.  Of course there were many more people living with scarcity all the time, as well.

Antibiotics not just given to horses, but also us, & animals bred for human consumption together with hormones etc which are all in the food chain & causing problems for human beings.  This is well documented.


The use of antibiotics as growth promotors in food animals was banned by the EU years ago (think it was 2006 or 07) and had been discouraged in the UK long before that. They have never been used in that way for horses - what would be the point?  Antibiotics are now only used therapeutically and the animal is withdrawn from the food chain for a specified period which is legally laid down.

As for gout, contrary to what used to be believed, it's not caused by excess food and drink consumption.  It's caused by an excess of purines which are found in many foods, including herring, asparagus and mushrooms.  Your body breaks purines down to form uric acid which turns into crystals in your joints, causing inflammation and pain.  I know a vegetarian who has suffered with gout.  

You state that the preservation of food by pickling has almost disappeared in the western diet - this is a good thing - pickling involves brining  either with salt or soy or similar ingredients, thus raising the sodium intake to unhealthy levels causing hypertension and heart disease.  Fine for a treat - I love the occasional pickled onion or red cabbage, but for a treat only.  The pickling of vegetables has been replaced by freezing - much healthier.  

And root veg are preserved throughout the winter nowadays - where do you think our carrots, potatoes, swedes etc come from - the farmers keep them in cool storage - just a development of the earth or sand clamps where our forebears would have stored them.

Not sure where you get your information from, but it seems very outdated to me.



I'm a preserver too. The human body is very good at regulating salt, the effect of salt on blood pressure is only measurable with very specialized equipment under laboratory conditions.  Beware of scare stories in the Press.  Take them with a pinch of salt!

Gily if you want contemporary accounts of the privations of the poor in the 19C I suggest you read Thomas Hardy or Dickens.  It wasn't so rosy then.

Regarding antibiotics. There are very strict rules about antibiotics and animals for human consumption in the UK.  There are very strict withdrawal periods.  Very strict.  The real danger with antibiotics is humans who don't follow the full course prescribed, because they feel better.  Words fail me.


Fine to preserve using salt and use occasionally - but I can remember winters when I was a child when we had salted virtually runner beans every day for what seemed like weeks - and a sort of sauerkraut too, and then of course there was the bacon and ham, all salted.  Then electricity came to the village and Ma bought a freezer 

 I'm not taking any notice of scare stories in the press, but I do take notice of my GP who prescribes my blood pressure medication 

Another good read with authentic accounts of food for the rich and poor are Parson Woodforde's Diaries.

I do not think we should gang up on Gily Webber, we all make choices to suit our selves it is called freedom.
I lived through a time when kids from poor families were lucky to have one hot meal a week, Fathers out of work Mothers not allowed to work, no school meals but they did get free milk.
My family were small holders and farmers so I never knew hunger or want and yes we clamped Veg bottled Jammed and preserved besides salting down our own Bacon and Hams, the poor families did not have that choice.
Even today I see people who had rickets as kids, lack of vitamins, TB Measles and other diseases rampant and all in my time, at least some of that has gone though not for good it seems.
Having eaten a good breakfast all my life and the first 18 years that would be porridge bacon egg fried bread tomato's mushrooms, not all together but what was in season and even eggs were seasonal so we put them down in Isinglass to preserve them. I must have eaten many salted pigs in my time, blood pressure normal for my age and the odd touch of gout, never touched port wine, smoked, or stuffed sweet stuff down my neck, so what does any of it prove. Nothing apart from we are all different with differing needs, all my relatives went into their 80-90's grandad was 97 and they lived through times of real hardship, is it genes or the way we live or a bit of both.
Not for me to know but I do know Gily can live any way she wishes though I would give this advice, my way of living has come from long experience and that experience also tell me to take what I read with a pinch of salt, a big pinch at that, having seen all the fads and fashions in diet come and go, the yo-yo ups and downs of so called experts some of whom went to an early grave, I smile and do it my way, so should you Gily.

PS, my Sons horses do not get antibiotics, ever.

Glad to hear it Frank.  Also glad to hear animals are removed from food chain when anti-biotics are used therapeutically - does this include manure as well?

For the record - I am more interested in balance.  Whatever we eat we are always looking for balance.  If we don't find balance we get ill.



I thought the whole basis of veganism was an ethical decision not to harm animals in order to feed humans so no eggs, cheese (cos it needs rennet from dead animals), meat, fish or poultry.

Macrobiotic diets have often been cited as cures for cancer and they involve whole foods - grains, fruits, nuts and veggies - organically raised and, like vegans, no animal, fish or poulrty products.

Animal manure is acceptable for both of these diet groups but I suspect the serious followers would prefer plant based fertilisers and soil conditioners such as seaweed and compost with no chemicals or medicines in it and that would rule out all animal manure, especially farmed animals such as poultry, cattle and pigs.


Gily, I do not know about looking for balance, that also depends on circumstances.
I had two years in the desert where balance was impossible a lot of the time, those in Garrisons got a balanced diet but a lot of us only saw the garrison now and then.
No fridges or cooling gear so from the first day dry rations and water rationed, bully beef could be drunk at noon not that we wanted to eat at noon, it was breakfast before sun up a snack around half ten and the main meal in the evening when the sun went down.If we had become ill it would have been a very long run on a Jeep stretcher to a first aid unit. I was never ill and if you were then it was self service or the tender mercy of the soldier medic with his small pack of Aspro and Bismuth, just do not get ill was the only way.
We saw people who's diet was flat bread and a little vegetable, meat was the odd goat or camel and that was rare indeed, kids were lucky to reach their teens and it was not by choice, they had none.
I suppose we can pontificate on what is good or not we do have that choice as we do about what we eat although that choice was not there for many when I was young.
Flowering Rose horses may be vegetarian but it does not stop them trying to take a bite out of you when you are not watching, my way was a fast hard punch on the muzzle, they did not try it twice.



Not intending to gang up on anyone - far from it - but misinformation if not corrected can be promulgated as truth and end up scaring and scarring.

mmmmm.....obelixx FYI macrobiotic diet is not a vegan diet.    I "should know" as I am a macrobiotic counsellor. Thanks Dovefromabove for your truths. To clarify, there is no "macrobiotic diet" in the sense of one diet suits all but rather eating macrobiotically is an intuitive process in which we make a journey of self-discovery, to find our authentic self.  For this reason some people practising macrobioitcs also happen to be vegan.  Also, we do not necessarily prefer no manure - horses are vegan - but the issue would be the integrity of the manure, itself. A natural product is very important in our belief system - we would want to be assured that the animal has a natural life, as far as possible - so a horse which grazes on grass would be the "ideal" (rather than eating GMO feed or some might argue, organic feed, given antibioitcs etc).  I am writing to the featured gardener to find out how he sources his manure & what questions he asks about it. He uses 2 tons per year.