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Can fertilizer be classified as vegan? If so, what requirements are imposed on it? Is it enough to say that no animal products can be used, or is the discussion more nuanced for fertilizer?

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For a fertilizer to be called vegan, it has to contain no animal products. While debatable, I would guess that animal poo would be considered as an animal product as well, so it would have to not contain that.

Your best shot at having a vegan fertilizer is to make one yourself by composting the leftovers from your vegetables and fruits. If you have a garden (which I suppose you do, if you want a fertilizer) there is a chance of a small number of bugs living and dying in your compost but whether that is a price you are willing to pay is up to you.

Another vegan fertilizer alternative would be wholly synthetic, mineral fertilizer - just make sure it does not use anything vaguely sounding or obviously non-vegan. If in doubt, contact producer or choose one advertised as vegan.

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    It's not debatable that poo based fertilizer is not vegan as it is almost always a byproduct of animal farming. Only way it's vegan is if you use your pet's poo (and that is debatable, indeed).
    – ecc
    Feb 21, 2017 at 6:57
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    @ecc you can technically use your own if you don't eat dairy products, or so I've been told...
    – Zanna
    Feb 21, 2017 at 7:03
  • @Zanna Well I did say unless you use pets' poo, and your gut microbiome is like your micro pet zoo or sorts
    – ecc
    Feb 21, 2017 at 8:23
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    @ecc That is why I introduced the general case of it being non-vegan but left a room for interpretation by saying it is debatable - because it is. You can be vegan for many reasons, not necessarily because of your disgust with animal farming. While someone who drinks milk can hardly be considered vegan by definition, I see no such hard rule being imposed on consuming things that grew with the help of feces and I would not venture as far as calling someone out as not being vegans based solely on this - hence the debatable part. This debate is a good example. Feb 21, 2017 at 8:46
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Yes -- there is plenty of vegan fertilizers.

Green Manure

Green manure (from nitrogen fixing plants like sunn hemp) is a high-nitrogen, vegan fertilizer.

Black Gold

Compost (aka Black Gold) made from food scraps (eg corn cobs, onion ends, pea pods, leafy stems, potato peels, etc) and tree leaves is an excellent vegan fertilizer.

Humanure

Humanure, if consensual, is also vegan. It's a great alternative to using animal manure as fertilizer and also more ecological than pit latrines, cesspools, or sewage "treatment" plants that routinely dump raw sewage into rivers and oceans.

There's over 8 billion humans on earth, so we have no shortage of humanure fertilizer.

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Yes, there are few fertilizers advertised as vegan as well as numerous home recipes for fertilizer that contains no animal byproducts. Requirements, I would say the same requirements as to call anything else vegan.

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