View Full Version : "Veganic" does not equal "vegan"

Nov 14th, 2011, 04:30 AM
Did you know that "veganically" grown grain can come from a farm whose main business is butchering animals?

As a vegan examining the possibility of starting up a vegan organic farm in BC, Canada, this was a disturbing revelation. Here is some background to explain.

I recently emerged from a long, frustrating dialogue with the Veganic Agricultural Network (VAN) discussion group about the meaning of the word "Veganic", which is currently not certified in any way. Looking at the word, I had assumed that it was a contraction of the words "vegan" and "organic", ie: This is a product from a vegan farm that grows organically. Actually, according to Meghan Kelly, the moderator/co-founder at VAN, the word was originally coined by non-vegans in reference to the sources of fertility for those growing without animal inputs (ie: animal manure, blood, bones, etc.), in this case being "VEgetable" and "orGANIC", and intended no referrence to vegan philosophy.

A few years ago, a North American group called Certified Naturally Grown or CNG (not a vegan organization) decided to use the term "Veganic" in one of their certification programs. That particular program has been suspended due to lack of interest from CNG farmers. Under the former certification (all CNG's certifications are participatory guarantee system [PGS], not 3rd party), Veganic referred to the lack of animal inputs in the growing methods of the farmer, not that the farmer was vegan. VAN holds the same position on this point and seems unlikely to change the "veganic" in their organization's name, but if we are referring strictly to farming methods and not philosophy, then wouldn't a term NOT including the word "vegan" be more appropriate?

In the UK, this type of growing method is most often referred to as "Stockfree", and is certified through Stockfree Organic Services-UK (or SOS, a.k.a. Vegan Organic Network-UK[VON]). When Iain Tolhurst (SOS) gave an online seminar to the Certified Organic Association of BC back in 2009, he spoke directly to this issue: "... I do not use the word Veganic at all, actually. We have Stockfree farming. This is a word which I know some people adopt. Veganic farming tends to indicate that the person doing the farm has to be a vegan; this is not the case in Stockfree...". In Growing Green, Animal-Free Organic Techniques, by Iain Tolhurst and Jenny Hall, it also states: "Research into commercial stockfree-organic agriculture arose not for compassionate reasons but through economic necessity." (p.2) "Stockfree" is a more accurate, less misleading term with which to refer to animal-input-free farming methods; it does not confuse vegan consumers, nor dilute the meaning of the word vegan. Unfortunately, VON is using the term "vegan-organic" interchangeably with "stockfree organic". I also could not find reference to VON/SOS's certification stance on farming animals apart from stockfree crops, whereas VAN explicitly recommends no animals on the farm other than companion or rescues, however VAN is not a certifying body.

The reason we need to be clear on the meaning of these terms is because companies are now beginning to promote products as "veganic". Here in BC, One Degree Organic Foods promotes their "veganic" spelt from one of their farm suppliers - Vale Farms. As you can see on the front page of Vale Farms' website, this same farm raises and slaughters sheep and cattle (see link below). One Degree Organic Foods do not mention this in their promotion of Vale Farms. When pressed on the issue, they take the same stance as VAN, CNG and VON, that "Veganic" pertains only to the farming method of the product in question, excluding the farmer's beliefs and, in One Degree's definition, also excluding the livestock portion of the farmer's operation.

If you are a concerned vegan consumer, be aware!


Nov 14th, 2011, 08:36 AM
Did you know that "veganically" grown grain can come from a farm whose main business is butchering animals?
Sure. And a vegan meal can be made by a slaughter...

Looking at the word, I had assumed that it was a contraction of the words "vegan" and "organic", ie: This is a product from a vegan farm that grows organically. As you say - that's only an assumption. ;-]

Nov 15th, 2011, 11:07 AM
I always thought "Veganic" meant "stock-free organic". The only (main) reason for not using manure would be because it supports animal farming (ie. unethical) I assume. I assume a farm that has livestock (*please forgive the term) can't be called a stock-free farm. I guess in theory a farm could farm animals in a totally sepperate area to it's Veganic/stock-free section but I would think it odd. The product has to be vegan though right?

Would anyone other than a vegan really go to the trouble of Veganic/stock-free farming?

I guess in theory though a person can make a vegan product without being a vegan themselves so long as the product in question is produced in a vegan way. Sainbury's (supermarket) sell some vegan products but they are far from a vegan company in any way.

Nov 15th, 2011, 11:20 AM

My thoughts exactly Js.


Nov 15th, 2011, 11:37 AM
I guess in theory though a person can make a vegan product without being a vegan themselves so long as the product in question is produced in a vegan way. Sainbury's (supermarket) sell some vegan products but they are far from a vegan company in any way.

Trademarks only look at the product itself, not the rest of the company. A lot of the okara (pulp) left over from making soy milk ends up being sold off as animal feed. So in a way the company producting the vegan soy milk still benefits from animal exploitation.

Nov 15th, 2011, 12:26 PM
Agree, but if we only buy from vegan department stores, I guess shopping would really be a challenge.

I personally am happy with consuming vegan products, even though they may come from non-vegan companies.

Best regards,

Danny Houghton
Dec 20th, 2011, 07:30 PM
My name is Danny Houghton, and I work for One Degree Organic Foods, the company mentioned in the first post of this thread. I'd like to elaborate a bit on why our company has chosen to sell veganic products, and the way we choose to interpret the term veganic.

Finding veganically grown products on the scale we need to be successful as a business has had its share of ups and downs. Most farmers have never heard of the term. When we started our search for veganically grown spelt, all we could find were farmers who could supply spelt that had been grown with chicken manure. While Vale Farms does indeed have an organic beef operation, their spelt field was cultivated without the use of any animal inputs/manure, thus making their crop veganic. The way we have chosen to define a veganically grown crop is one that has no animal inputs of any kind. This has proved quite challenging with several of our core ingredients.

We had planned to use apples as a sweetener for our bread, but we could not find an organic apple grower who doesn't use chicken manure after four months of diligent searching. I was finally able to connect with an organic apple grower who offered to grow organic apples veganically for us if we would commit to purchasing a specific quantity of his crop in 2012. Unfortunately, the timing wouldn't work for us, so we had to go back to the drawing board, and look for another sweetener that we could source veganically.

We found a veganic raisin source, and were able to create a recipe that used veganic raisins to sweeten our bread instead of apples. Our company buying practices contributed both to an organic apple orchard offering to switch to growing veganically, and a vineyard in California to commit to growing veganic raisins for us in the future. While they're small wins, this is the type of influence we can have as a company if we're successful in marketing the value of veganic.

I think that it's important to recognize that a major point of promotion for purchasing veganically grown products are the health benefits associated with products being grown veganically. We're working on unearthing some research that correlates heavy metal contamination, and the presence of antibiotics, hormones and other contaminants in the manure being used on even organic crops. We'll be posting more of that on a new website that we've put up at veganicdotcom. Emphasizing this type of information is what I think will lead to a broader initial public awareness and acceptance of veganically grown food.

A final word about the tone of our conversation mentioned in the initial posting regarding Vale Farms. Our company is founded on transparency, and we knew long before we posted Vale Farms as a partner that there would be people that took issue with using them as a source. There was no pressing involved in sharing the information. In today's wired world, we knew that people would be able to quickly research more about Vale Farms and find that they are an organic beef farm. It simply took me a bit longer to respond because we're launching a new company, and we're flying all over the world documenting veganically grown crops, and using that documentation to convey the value of the term. We simply chose not to use our media influence to highlight a part of Vale Farms that we don't personally resonate with.

We have nothing to hide. Bottom line is that the spelt crop from Vale Farms was grown without the use of any animal inputs, thus making it veganic. While I may not support every phase of the Vale Farms business model, we still choose to treat their company with respect, and encourage the continued veganic cultivation of their crops.

We have chosen to spend the money to found a company that offers only veganically grown products, and believe we are unique in that aspect. We're proud of that fact, and are also proud that our buying habits can bring change to how our crops here in North America are grown. To see a list of all of our farmers supplying our veganic ingredients visit www.onedegreeorganics.com/our-farmers. We'd appreciate your support.


Danny Houghton
Vice President
One Degree Organic Foods

P.S. bQ, if you choose to start a farm in BC that grows veganic crops we use in our products, I'd be happy to talk with you about buying those ingredients for our brand.

Dec 20th, 2011, 09:30 PM

Dec 20th, 2011, 09:33 PM
As long as the product is produced without animal products then it's vegan. What else the company chooses to do is a moot point, otherwise defining what's vegan would become an issue of the legal definitions since a person could just have two separate companies.

I'll be very impressed if you can prove that your veganic food is healthier than organic or even regular fruit/veg Danny, look forward to seeing that info but must admit I'm skeptical since no-one has even proven organic to be more healthy than regular veg so far.

Dec 20th, 2011, 11:06 PM
I am very interested in vegan organic growing, its an integral part of my reasons for staying vegan and part and parcel of my vegan lifestyle. However until I can grow on a larger plot of land, I am limited by space and other factors as to how much I can grow for my household, and so I rely on the next best thing which is organic produce that is not certified vegan organic. This is because there are only a handful of vegan organic vegetable box schemes in the UK and I am not living near enough to any of those.

Many organic vegetable gardeners are interested in stock-free techniques, especially green manures which have risen in popularity in gardening methods in recent years, in place of animal manures, so it is not just us vegans that can see the benefits of doing so. It is, in some people's opinions, a more logical way to garden, since green manures can fix nitrogen in the soil, suppress weeds, and prevent soil erosion over winter when vegetable patches can sometimes run bare. Some green manures also have the added bonus of attracting beneficial insects and one or two can be useful crops, such as winter broad beans.

I believe it is possible that stockfree grown crops could be healthier just because you are not introducing to plant crops some of the contaminants that are part and parcel of animal by-products. Whether this can be proven or not depends probably on levels of certain chemicals and organisms in soil that various governments think are "acceptable" - genetically modified crops are thought to be "acceptable" by governments, but that is something I also disagree with.

I am surprised that the term "veganic" does not mean vegan organic, as I had made the assumption that it did, but thank you for raising my awareness of that meaning perhaps something different to what I originally thought and for pointing out that even if crops are grown vegan-organically or stock-free that it does not necessarily mean that the plants have come from a place with a similar ethical viewpoint to my own, however, they would be doing more than many other commercial crop-producers and as I say I do not have the option of buying vegan organic or stock free produce at the moment, which just returns me back to where I started - the way forward for me is growing as much as I can myself so I know exactly how it has been produced.

Dec 21st, 2011, 09:28 AM
Here in Europe, we just had an EHEC (Entero hemorragic Escheria Coli) epidemic that left 30 people dead, so I certainly see the potential advantages of veganically grown vegetables (although nobody could determine for sure at what stage the contaminant entered the process, and even for sure which producer was the culpable).

Best regards,