I find the biggest issue with animal husbandry is in management. I would not like to lose a very important tool in the nutrient cycle. Ironically, I am a de facto vegan permaculturalist right now. (although I am not a vegan, my farm doesn't use domestic animals at this time) I use a mower to simulate grazing and a compost pile to simulate a herbivore's rumen. As good and beneficial as they are, mowers require gas and thus taken in the long view are not sustainable, and a compost pile is not as efficient at recycling nutrients as a herbivore's rumen. Also I use natural pest control, but I know a properly managed chicken can do the job more efficiently.
Graham Burnett wrote:Hi there Lorenzo - some very valid points raised in your post. To me the essence of permaculture is its attention to energy flows and cycles as well as personal accountability - it's as easy to lead an unsustainable, unaccountable vegan lifestyle based on imported, fossil fuel hungry, monoculturally grown, over packaged and over processed soya convenience foods, as it is to live as an unsustainable and unaccountable omnivore supported by the intensive factory pharm and the supermarket freezer counter. What's important is that we all develop an awareness of our own 'energy budgets' or the 'ecological footprints' of how we are living, and begin to work in our own ways to steadily reduce these.
Whatever we might think about veganism, I would suggest that if we are to create a sustainable future, we will all need to at least lessen our dependence on both animal products and the inputs they entail (at present some 85% of agricultural land use) and intensive monocultural farming in general, and start thinking about major re-afforestation programs and a movement towards a far greater percentage of our needs being met from home, market and forest gardens as well as the edible high protein and carbohydrate and other useful yields of trees.
Thanks for all your supportive words, Graham
“As the small trickle of results grows into an avalanche — as is now happening overseas — it will soon be realized that the animal is our farming partner and no practice and no knowledge which ignores this fact will contribute anything to human welfare or indeed will have any chance either of usefulness or of survival.” Sir Albert Howard
“The number one public enemy is the cow. But the number one tool that can save mankind is the cow. We need every cow we can get back out on the range. It is almost criminal to have them in feedlots which are inhumane, antisocial, and environmentally and economically unsound.” Allan Savory
"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labor; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system." Bill Mollison