I’m glad to see vegan gardening – going beyond organics – taking off, at long last.
Many studies show cutting out meat and dairy is good for you and the planet. Vegans try and broaden their outlook into all areas of their lives, including gardening. There’s three benefits for gardening without animal inputs – better animal welfare, an improved environment and better human health. With all those potential gains, I’m glad this was the first popular guide to growing veganically, Super Organic Gardener: Everything You Need to Know About the Vegan Garden (2018) and I’m glad it isn’t the last.
COP26 has brought home the benefits for the planet of growing plants rather than farming animals – it’s a big debate – too big to go into in depth here, and has plenty of strong opinions on all sides. I’m all for the gentle approach. Some are a bit more bullish than me.
Here’s what it’s about – be mindful of how you grow and what you put on your crops. Avoid animal manures from farmed animals and make your own compost and fertiliser or use vegan ones. Even bigger producers Westland, Melcourt and Happy Compost make vegan products now.
Grow plants that offer high levels of protein and vitamins to supplement the vegan diet.
Garden writers John Walker and Stephanie Hafferty are now advocates, while long-time vegan gardeners such as garden designers Cleve West and Darryl Moore, and the Vegan Organic Network, remain active.
In Autumn 2021, the RHS added two further commitments related to the climate change and health benefits of veganism to its Sustainability Strategy targets of becoming ‘Climate Positive by 2030’ and ‘Biodiversity Positive by 2025′. This followed a campaign by Cleve and I.
Back in 2018, Hampshire nursery Hortus Lcci held the first vegan gardening festival. Cleve, me and Darryl were among speakers. Darryl is set to design at Chelsea 2022 with a St Mungo’s charity garden, which will be veganically-sourced, with plants from Hortus Loci.
My big campaigns when the book came out were ‘hug and slug’ and ‘don’t feed the birds – your garden is not a zoo’. Not ideas designed to make me popular, as I found out after being grilled by John Humphreys on Radio 4 and Richard Madeley on ITV. How many did the book sell? Not that many. Maybe it was ahead of its time.