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Can anyone comment on regular "animal" permaculture" versus "veganic" permaculture ??  RSS feed

 
bruce kline
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I was in a discussion where I was supporting permaculture in the sense that Alan Savory
talked about in his TED talk on reducing desertification, not necessarily in terms of farming
or producing food. I am not expert in this but I support trying to renew the natural world
from where it is today, both on the grounds of reversing the decline of nature and helping
to stop catastrophic climate change.

This was on the Nutrition Facts Org website where people are to say the least vegan
crazy, so someone said there as such a thing as veganic permaculture.

Now, I would imagine there would be, and have no problem with that, but I'm thinking
how do you compared to the two for reversing desertification.

It would seem to me that for that veganic permaculture would be less efficient because
animals act as stimulants for vegegation growth, and broadcasters of nutrients to places
that plant would not or more slowly get to. Also veganic permaculture would be more
labor intensive as animals are doing work that would need to be done by people or machines.

I was just wondering if anyone had done anything thinking of experimentation with
this idea before? Thanks.
 
Zach Muller
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If there are vegan people than of course there is veganic permaculture. Aka vegans practicing permaculture. My thoughts and impressions on this topic have always been focused on "small and slow solutions".

Veganic permaculture isnt by definition less effecient, as long as you use small and slow solutions, it might be more efficient than "heavy hitting" permaculture where the upfront energy investment is sometimes quite high. It wouldnt nessicerily be more labor intensive either as long as you design for small solutions. It all depends on the solutions and design activities that the designer utilizes.

Nowhere is it written that permaculture design has to be fast and able to be used for reversing desertification, thats just what some people do with their designs.

Nature is a wonderous and mysterious thing, making quick changes could have unforseen consequences, which is what we can see when deforestation and over farming creates deserts. Reversing it quickly might serve people in the present and maybe it is the best way to go, but no one really knows for sure. Its easier to get feedback and utilize the information when the system is changing slowly. It seems like small and slow solutions is aiming at that goal of observation rather than hammering nature into what we want.

All that said the examples of making a desert not a desert anymore have utilized animals. But i havent seen many.
 
bruce kline
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> All that said the examples of making a desert not a desert anymore have utilized animals. But i havent seen many.

Yes, that is what I was getting at. Vast areas of the world are becoming desert. People say it is not man's fault, but
odd that it happens or happened the most where there was the most human development and civilization and is
moderated somewhere where people have had to live and become civilized and cooperative to survive.

The context in which I am asking this is not necessarily for food production, but rather habitat rebuilding, but seems
like it might be done as the Native Americans did things, where they consciously or unconsciously created what we
think of as permaculture food forests by reinforcing the plants and animals they liked and used.

What would the effect be if areas of desert were brought back, would we be able to slow and reverse global warming,
and judging from the speed and the lag of the CO2 already in the Earth system fast must be done whatever we do.
It seems a win if it can be natural.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Sorry, I disagree. Most desertification is caused by human activity, in my opinion. Allowing inappropriate grazing (herbivores with no predators) and also by channelizing river flood plains (not allowing beavers, for instance).

If humans don't allow appropriate animal activity, such as herbivores managed by predators, then they have to take the functions of the animals upon themselves, which is by necessity, not as efficient, requiring more human labor. In my opinion.

 
Bethany Dutch
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My thoughts are... I have a difficult time considering a vegan lifestyle sustainable, because the world's ecosystem in itself works with both plant and animal matter and behavioral patterns. manure's a big one. The grazing habits of herbivores are another big one. Even chickens eating insects, bees pollinating the plants, etc.

If you completely remove the animal from the picture, I don't see how that is sustainable, not at all. So while I agree that there is nothing wrong with a vegan practicing a completely animal-free permaculture, I always go back to the sustainability of it. Kinda like, I've never met a vegan (who has been a vegan for a long time, like 10+ years) who didn't have to rely on supplements and/or imported foods for their health. That's not sustainable, IMO.

Because, my goal is to get to a point where I could theoretically sustain my family via my land. Permaculture is my path to do so.

I can tell you right now there is absolutely no way I could do so without using any animals, whether it be my chickens that turn eat bugs, fertilize the soil, and lay eggs for me in the process, the goats that (someday) will graze my woodland and provide both food and fiber in the process, or the honeybees that pollinate. And then, there's my dog and cats - a whole different section, but one I wouldn't want to live without. My dog keeps the other critters safe FAR better than I could, even if I had the world's best fence ever, and my cats keep the rodent population down which is invaluable when you consider that's less gophers eating tree roots, less mice to get into stored food, etc.
 
Zach Muller
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Vegan permaculture does not aways mean 'no animals'. I think some vegan farms have rescue animals or retired farm animals, but some definately dont.


Vegan permaculture
Vegan permaculture (also known as veganic permaculture, veganiculture, or vegaculture) avoids the use of domesticated animals.[8] It is essentially the same as permaculture except for the addition of a fourth core value; "Animal Care." ....Vegan permaculture recognizes the importance of free-living animals, not domesticated animals, to create a balanced ecosystem.[8]


This comes from wiki.

Its important to remember how sensitive the subject matter at hand can be for some, some people are strongly emotional about meat and animals, some people have to maintain a vegan diet for health reasons, some people have to take suplime ts for health reasons etc. Everyone on this site is striving to find out how to be more in tune with natural systems, resilience, sustainability and all that. We won't be able to have a discussion on this topic if it devolves into an arguement for or against veganism in general. There is plenty of examples of vegan cultures, meat eating cultures, doing both sustainable things and unsustainable things. I think Permaculture design is compatible with veganism, veganism is compatible with this forum. But thats like my opinion.

Tyler i think you are right, we are talking about reversing direct desertification which is caused by deforestation and improper agricultural methods. Domestic animals can improve the land they are on or destroy the land they are on depending on management practices. Alan savory is the champ of improving the land with the animals.

Bruce it breaks my heart when i see videos of deforestation and i really would consider doing practically anything within possibility to revive the landscapes that have been destroyed. I do not know how much global climate change is because of human activity, and how much is within the bounds of historical climate record. That is another very spicy topic that is difficult to discuss given the strong feelings and lack of clarity in the scientific information.
So i really dont know what will happen if ecosystems are repaired, the climate still might change, nothing in nature last forever. I would want to see humans not being so destructive just because... Not just to save themselves from a possible extinction scenario.
One issue in general with fast actions and solutions are sometimes they are premised on incomplete knowledge and end up doing harm rather than the intended good. Just a built in risk when finding a quick solution to any problem.

 
bruce kline
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Tyler Ludens ... who or what are you disagreeing with?
This non-threaded discussion board does not make that clear, or it could be that I am a 1-day newbie.
I agree with you that desertification is mainly caused by humans, or on the flip side could be repaired by humans.
Also that is the exact point I was looking for ...

> If humans don't allow appropriate animal activity, such as herbivores managed by predators, then they have
> to take the functions of the animals upon themselves, which is by necessity, not as efficient, requiring more
> human labor. In my opinion.


Bethany Dutch, thanks for your reply,
I cannot comment on the vegan lifestyle because I think for some people with certain medical problems it is
appropriate, and I like what Michael Pollan says about diet ... "Eat food, mostly plants, not too much". I think
that is the quote anyway. I comment on the Nutrition Facts website, which I get a lot of information from, but
the people there and the comments there are outright hostile to any mention of eating animal foods. Their
general belief is that meat and animal products are poison and will kill you in any dose. Their strategy seems
to be to find studies and then extrapolate them to whatever degree necessary to support a completely animal
free diet - and more to my question's point - and animal free agriculture.

In general I agree with anything that wants to reduce our factory farming infrastructure, but I have studied a
little bit about permaculture and this militant vegan out look as defined on nutritionfacts.org is troublesome
for its complete irrationality.

But a vegan diet, and a vegan permaculture seems at odds to me as they seem to in your comment.

Maybe as a followup question I could ask you, if you have goats and chickens, and let's say you were a vegan
permaculture practitioner, what would you do with the animals when they died if you did not want to eat them.
My point was that if the US was to try to reverse its destruction of the land, and reverse desertification, using
permaculture practices, would not one have to either eat the animals or have a healthy supply of carnivores
such as mountain lions, bears, etc to keep the herbivore population down?

Not that the US ever would do that, but if we did would we rather eat herbivores or have so many carnivores
around that they presented a danger?

--

Aside ... I am reading a book called Drunk Tank Pink, and I have to wonder now if the color of this page
is pink in the hope of keeping the argumentation and hostilities to a minimum? The book is pretty
interesting and first thing goes into this issue that color has an affect on people's mental attitude.
 
John Saltveit
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The wikipedia page is not accurate. (This is not the first time.)

Vegans don't eat animal products. Many vegans have pets. My wife is a vegan. Most vegans love animals and don't want to eat them.

You can have a herd of animals, treat them well, and be disturbed about CAFO animal operations and still be a vegan. Vegans can bury their pets and animal herds. Also wild animals can eat members of their herd if they die. Being a vegan doesn't mean that you don't allow animals on your farm. Vegans take care of their animals and don't abuse them for profit.

Being a vegan is probably more sustainable because you can provide food for so many more people on plants than you can on meat. I eat meat and animal products, just not very much. Countries like India and Thailand where most people are vegetarians can provide healthy food for people way more cheaply and sustainably than we can in the US because they include the animals as valuable members of the society.
JohN S
PDX OR
 
Burra Maluca
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I'd like to post a paragraph or two from The Vegan Book of Permaculture by Graham Burnett, who is a member here. I'm hoping he'll join in the conversation soon.


Permaculture and Veganism – The Basics

Permaculture Without Animals?

Not all permaculturists or permaculture projects are vegan, and I’ve often been asked whether a completely animal-free permaculture is even actually possible. My response is, of course not, and neither would it be desirable. For example, how would we fence out the earthworms that build our soil and maintain its fertility, or the bees that pollinate our fruit trees and vegetables, and why ever would we wish to? In fact, we actively design in features that are intended to attract wildlife: ponds for frogs, toads and dragonflies, and flowering plants to bring in the ladybirds and hoverflies that keep populations of potential pests like slugs and aphids in check, and are essential to maintaining healthy productive ecosystems. What we don’t include are those ‘system components’ that we believe perpetuate exploitative relationships with our non-human Earth co-citizens, such as pigs, goats and chickens, whose primary function is the production of meat, milk and eggs.

The Naturewise forest garden in north London is one example of an edible landscape that is ostensibly ‘stock free’, although in actuality members of several of the Kingdoms of Nature work together here for mutual benefit. Deep rooted comfrey plants mine nutrients like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous from the subsoil, making them available to fruit trees and bushes. Birds and bees buzz around the canopy layer, whilst insects and arthropods patrol the undergrowth and leaf litter, checking and balancing pest populations and playing their role in the cycles of growth and decay. Fungi and bacteria continue the process. These break down dead matter into rich humus and minerals that are exchanged with plant roots via associations with mycorrhizal soil networks in return for sugars and carbohydrates manufactured by photosynthesis. Based on the structure of natural woodland, the forest garden is a complex web of which humans too are an integral part. Aside from a bounty of apples, pears, figs, grapes, strawberries, currants and edible leaves, one of the most important yields of this mini-woodland is the sense of community that the space offers to the volunteers that spend time here. And being situated in a school playground it also acts as an open air classroom where children of many ethnic and cultural backgrounds are able to interact with nature, an opportunity that is often all too rare in the inner city.


I'd also like to draw everyone's attention to the book Growing Green: Animal-Free Organic Techniques by Jenny Hall and Iain Tolhurst.

Lorenzo has written up a superb review of this book here, which is well worth a read. I have a review copy, but I'm rather overwhelmed with books waiting to be reviewed and I'm afraid this one is still waiting.
 
Zach Muller
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John Saltveit wrote:The wikipedia page is not accurate. (This is not the first time.)

Vegans don't eat animal products. Many vegans have pets. My wife is a vegan. Most vegans love animals and don't want to eat them.

You can have a herd of animals, treat them well, and be disturbed about CAFO animal operations and still be a vegan. Vegans can bury their pets and animal herds. Also wild animals can eat members of their herd if they die. Being a vegan doesn't mean that you don't allow animals on your farm. Vegans take care of their animals and don't abuse them for profit.

Being a vegan is probably more sustainable because you can provide food for so many more people on plants than you can on meat. I eat meat and animal products, just not very much. Countries like India and Thailand where most people are vegetarians can provide healthy food for people way more cheaply and sustainably than we can in the US because they include the animals as valuable members of the society.
JohN S
PDX OR


I was kind of wondering about that as i posted the wiki link last night. The whole article seems overly edited, and injected with someones opinions, glad you jumped in and can interject a perspective on vegans and domestic animals. That makes me think that what deqfines a vegan relaltionship to animals is a lack of exploitation for human gain.
Thats a good point about wild animals eating members of the herd when they die, and in natural herds the old get slower and weaker and get picked off by the predators, their nutrients are distributed to the ecosystem.
 
Brad Mayeux
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Bethany Dutch wrote:My thoughts are... I have a difficult time considering a vegan lifestyle sustainable, because the world's ecosystem in itself works with both plant and animal matter and behavioral patterns. manure's a big one. The grazing habits of herbivores are another big one. Even chickens eating insects, bees pollinating the plants, etc.

If you completely remove the animal from the picture, I don't see how that is sustainable, not at all. So while I agree that there is nothing wrong with a vegan practicing a completely animal-free permaculture, I always go back to the sustainability of it. Kinda like, I've never met a vegan (who has been a vegan for a long time, like 10+ years) who didn't have to rely on supplements and/or imported foods for their health. That's not sustainable, IMO.

Because, my goal is to get to a point where I could theoretically sustain my family via my land. Permaculture is my path to do so.

I can tell you right now there is absolutely no way I could do so without using any animals, whether it be my chickens that turn eat bugs, fertilize the soil, and lay eggs for me in the process, the goats that (someday) will graze my woodland and provide both food and fiber in the process, or the honeybees that pollinate. And then, there's my dog and cats - a whole different section, but one I wouldn't want to live without. My dog keeps the other critters safe FAR better than I could, even if I had the world's best fence ever, and my cats keep the rodent population down which is invaluable when you consider that's less gophers eating tree roots, less mice to get into stored food, etc.

----

I've never met a vegan (who has been a vegan for a long time, like 10+ years) who didn't have to rely on supplements and/or imported foods for their health.


You can meet me... hello.
Vegan 26+ yrs.

the harder things are vitamin B12, but this is still a misconception.
i took pills for years, but B12 is present in soil bacteria, and unfiltered water
which we got in abundance before industrialization and sterilization of our food.
i "graze" a lot outside, eating fruit from the trees, several leafy greens etc...
i no longer take B12, and just had blood work done, and my B12 is well above average.
at 53, i am as healthy as anyone i know.
as far as protein... i use to be an amateur kick-boxer. I ran 11 miles a day, after 45 mins with weights, and 45 mins shadowboxing and heavy bag.
the most protein i got was a handful of nuts ( i like cashew and almonds)
elephants, rhino, giraffes are all vegan, they all have tons of muscles and none i know take protein supplements.

The Protein Myth


Vegan Protein Deficiency and Vegan Pitfalls - Dr. Michael Klaper


B12 On A Vegan Diet



On the issue of permaculture...
i dont hold it against anyone for not being vegan, but, to me,
raising animals is against good permaculture practices.
it is much less sustainable, you have to grow food to feed the animals,
you need clean water for the animals, you need to keep up their health,
they need lots of space etc...
this is a LOT of un-needed work and resources.

i grow about %20 to %30 of my food needs (depending on season)
on my 60x120 lot in the suburbs,
and i am barely trying at it. i grow things i like
not really just to sustain me.
I really dont think humans developed eating meat for much of our history (before agriculture)
our bodies are just not designed to handle it.
real carnivores drool at the sight of road kill, or a fresh corpse.

as far as animals being a "part" of permaculture
i would say they are.
i have squirrels, and birds, and grasshoppers, lizards all in my backyard.
i dont use chemicals, i have used fish emulsion in the past
but then, my yard was not "natural" either...
it had 30 years of growing only grass that was cut every week.

see

scientific american
Human Ancestors Were Nearly All Vegetarians
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/human-ancestors-were-nearly-all-vegetarians/


How humans are not physically created to eat meat
http://www.celestialhealing.net/physicalveg3.htm


In a global sense, meat is killing us.
There are numerous studies showing it is bad for you, ye, even organic farm raised.
as is dairy.

 
Ben Stallings
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Some excellent points have already been made. I'm just weighing in to say that Dr. Elaine Ingham makes a strong assertion (I was going to say a great case, but I haven't actually read her studies or evaluated the evidence) that soil health can be established and maintained at peak productivity using only soil life, no livestock and no manure. See this series of excellent videos:


She may be somewhat on the fringe for making such claims. I recently attended a conference keynoted by Dr. Christine Jones (popularizer of the "liquid carbon pathway" -- see amazingcarbon.com), whom I expected to acknowledge Dr. Ingham as one of the preeminent soil scientists of our time, but not a word. Dr. Jones instead advocates the use of livestock grazing to restore soil health, in line with Alan Savory and the rest.

I'm not opposed to the use of livestock, but the majority of people now live in cities where keeping livestock is not practical. If we insist that permaculture requires livestock, we are excluding the majority of the world's population from practicing permaculture, which seems a shame.
 
Tyler Ludens
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bruce kline wrote:Tyler Ludens ... who or what are you disagreeing with?


I was disagreeing with these people "People say it is not man's fault" whoever they are....

 
Tyler Ludens
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I've never met a vegan (who has been a vegan for a long time, like 10+ years) who didn't have to rely on supplements and/or imported foods for their health.


You can meet me... hello.



i grow about %20 to %30 of my food needs (depending on season)


This implies you import 60 -80% of your food.
 
Bethany Dutch
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You can meet me... hello.



Hi Brad - nice to meet you! My question is - not that I don't also go out and buy a lot of my food since I'm still getting established, but I go back to my personal goal, lifestyle wise - I want to get to a point where I can provide for my family's needs using my land. So my question for you is - do you think it would be possible to provide for a family, 100% (and just food, we'll not go into leather, etc) using zero animal inputs, with just your own efforts, on a consistent basis?

If there was some kind of apocalyptic event and you were all the sudden bereft of all civilization's benefits, would you still be able to continue a vegan lifestyle for the rest of your life?

I'm not going to go into debating of the lifestyle - I've done enough dietary experimentation to know what works for me - but I think that's what I keep going back to, is that it seems to me that the whole idea of permaculture is to emulate Mother Nature. Mother Nature uses animals - so I don't see how we could fully emulate nature without using them as well.

For those of you who say veganic permaculture can and does use animals, but not domesticated ones... how does that work? I mean, our forest is full of deer and critters, but it isn't like they stick around to do much benefit on my little part of the woods. It was my impression that the word vegan means zero animal anything, right? If you are saying that veganic permaculture can allow for animal herds that are cared for and have a job to do, but just don't get eaten - well, I can understand that and I would agree that it would work just fine. Animals don't have to provide food in order to be useful on the land.

And yes - animals require housing and space, but most of the time the good outweighs the bad. I have a bunch of brushy forest, so next year I'll be getting milk goats who will help me clear out all this brush and turn it into food for me. They will be 100% on pasture, and while I'll have to buy hay for the winter, the benefit they will provide for me outweighs the negatives.
 
Bethany Dutch
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Ben Stallings wrote:I'm not opposed to the use of livestock, but the majority of people now live in cities where keeping livestock is not practical. If we insist that permaculture requires livestock, we are excluding the majority of the world's population from practicing permaculture, which seems a shame.


I think perhaps it would be better to reframe what you consider livestock. Compost worms are a living creature that do tremendous work in the soil, so the use of them would not line up with a vegan lifestyle, but they are certainly an easy livestock for any urban person. A pound of worms costs $30.
 
Tyler Ludens
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A really helpful resource for those interested in providing for 100% of their food needs from a vegan diet, is the work of Ecology Action, who for decades have studied how to grow the most complete diet in the smallest possible space: http://www.growbiointensive.org/

Biointensive methods are compatible with Permaculture.

 
Brad Mayeux
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Bethany Dutch wrote:

You can meet me... hello

Hi Brad - nice to meet you! My question is - not that I don't also go out and buy a lot of my food since I'm still getting established, but I go back to my personal goal, lifestyle wise - I want to get to a point where I can provide for my family's needs using my land. So my question for you is - do you think it would be possible to provide for a family, 100% (and just food, we'll not go into leather, etc) using zero animal inputs, with just your own efforts, on a consistent basis?

If there was some kind of apocalyptic event and you were all the sudden bereft of all civilization's benefits, would you still be able to continue a vegan lifestyle for the rest of your life?


i think it is much easier to do as a vegan
as i mentioned, there is much less work taking care of livestock
there is much less work in providing those animals food and water and space.

2 scenarios...

1) grow a plant and eat it.

2) grow a plant, feed it to an animal, butcher it, and eat it.

not only is there more work involved in scenario 2, but, its very inefficient.
you have to feed that animal much more food in calories, than you will ever get back out of it.

Bill Mollison said (and i am loosely paraphrasing)
its all about inputs and outputs.
You have several things coming in... sun, water, wind etc...
it is your job to get the most out of those things, in the most efficient manner possible.
and hold the energy as long as possible.


I'm not going to go into debating of the lifestyle - I've done enough dietary experimentation to know what works for me - but I think that's what I keep going back to, is that it seems to me that the whole idea of permaculture is to emulate Mother Nature. Mother Nature uses animals - so I don't see how we could fully emulate nature without using them as well.


i had squirells and butterflies on this land 1000 years ago
they are still here (to a degree)... actually, all i did was add trees, and give them a better habitat and food.


For those of you who say veganic permaculture can and does use animals, but not domesticated ones... how does that work? I mean, our forest is full of deer and critters, but it isn't like they stick around to do much benefit on my little part of the woods. It was my impression that the word vegan means zero animal anything, right? If you are saying that veganic permaculture can allow for animal herds that are cared for and have a job to do, but just don't get eaten - well, I can understand that and I would agree that it would work just fine. Animals don't have to provide food in order to be useful on the land.


this is the first ive heard of the term veganic permaculture.
i dont like boxes.
i can say this (not speaking for veganic permaculturalists)...
American indians grew veggies, corn etc...
i dont think that large herds of buffalo had anything to do with the way they did this.
they probably had deer, fox, and other animals visit here and there. i dont see their inputs as very significant.
Although, it is part of nature, and more life is usually a good thing.

I would say that raising animals in cages/pens for slaughter is living MUCH LESS in harmony with nature IMHO.

.

And yes - animals require housing and space, but most of the time the good outweighs the bad.
I have a bunch of brushy forest, so next year I'll be getting milk goats who will help me clear out all this brush and turn it into food for me.
They will be 100% on pasture, and while I'll have to buy hay for the winter, the benefit they will provide for me outweighs the negatives
.


of course any work you get from an animal has to be taking into account.
if a horse runs on a treadmill 24x7 providing you electricity, sure, its part of the overall picture.
Personally, i dont like caging animals, or making them do work for my gain.
i also dont see myself suckling the teet of a goat, when i have perfectly good mango to eat.

Years ago i endeavored on a path to learn who i was.
i learned about empathy to a degree i had not known before.
i cant see myself kill an animal, when i know i can survive without doing so.
but i guess thats just something we all have to decide for ourselves.

Are cows the cause of global warming?
http://timeforchange.org/are-cows-cause-of-global-warming-meat-methane-CO2

Gassy Cows Emit More Methane than Oil Industry
http://news.discovery.com/earth/global-warming/gassy-cows-emit-more-methane-than-oil-industry-140710.htm



 
Brad Mayeux
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Tyler Ludens wrote:


I've never met a vegan (who has been a vegan for a long time, like 10+ years) who didn't have to rely on supplements and/or imported foods for their health.


You can meet me... hello.



i grow about %20 to %30 of my food needs (depending on season)


This implies you import 60 -80% of your food.


actually, depending on the use of the word "import", yes, maybe...
i buy most at a farmers market, and also trade with friends and neighbors
when i have 200 satsuma, i give most away, and later people give me stuff.

but then i have to ask, what does imported food, have to do with being vegan ?
do most meat eaters rely on "imported" foods in this context?
 
Bethany Dutch
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Brad Mayeux wrote:

but then i have to ask, what does imported food, have to do with being vegan ?
do most meat eaters rely on "imported" foods in this context?


It goes back to my original comment that I'd never met a longterm vegan who didn't have to rely on imported foods and/or supplements for their health, which makes me question the sustainability of the diet.

Because, where I live and according to my plans for my land, if I needed to, I could provide a healthy diet for my family with my land alone, with no imported or purchased foods. Granted, I'd miss chocolate and coffee and other things I can't grow here, but I could do it and we would be perfectly healthy.

The massive amount of work it would take to raise 100% of my diet and to feed my children based on veganic principles is mind boggling. With utilizing livestock such as chickens, rabbits and goats, the amount of work per calorie would be greatly reduced.

You seem to think it is more work to have animals, I disagree. I have chickens, they free range and most of the time feed themselves. They lay eggs for me to eat and improve my land. They require virtually no work on my part other than making sure they have water which takes less than two minutes every day. Yes - if you keep animals in a tiny pen and have to grow, harvest and bring them their food, then yes it would certainly be a lot of work. But that's not the case with pastured animals, particularly if you stock the correct number for your land and choose animals appropriate for your region and that have good foraging skills.

I understand you don't agree with keeping animals - I get that. But that's not what we're talking about here, we're not debating the merits of a vegan lifestyle vs meat eating lifestyle. We're discussing permaculture itself, the standard (including animals) vs. permaculture with zero animals or insects. I just don't see permaculture without animal or insect input to be nearly as efficient as permaculture that includes animals and insects.

I mean - look at chickens themselves. They eat bugs - the same bugs that would be eating your crops - and they turn them into a potent fertilizer. The amount of work it would require for a human to manually deal with all those bugs would be a whole lot more.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Here in my region herbivores (deer) grow easily on their own, eating much of the plant life, as they are overpopulated. On the other hand, grains, the staple of most plant-based diets, are difficult to grow here. Wild animal systems are probably the most efficient, requiring only human labor to harvest. Bill Mollison discusses this in the Designers' Manual. A regionally-appropriate diet for here might want to include a good amount of wild-grown animals. Cattle, goats, and sheep are the domestic animals of choice here, but they're rather superfluous when one considers the huge herds of exotic deer destroying many of the trees.
 
bruce kline
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I'd like to gently push this discussion back on track.

This is not really about the merits of eating vegan or vegan philosophy.

My conception ( could be wrong ) that if we humans were to restore nature,
the forests and the wildlife, the ecology that it would help to stabilize and
revitalize the homeostasis of the life zones of the planet and the elasticity
of the atmosphere.

Reforestation is one part of that, another part would be to stop abusing
the sea and the atmosphere.

I mentioned this somewhere and a vegan said you can do what he or she
called veganic permaculture. I was interested in the concepts and finding
out more and the differences from regular permaculture.

I see regular permaculture as being more outside the restoration of the
environment, and more like leveraging ecological systems to aid in producing
food. What I am talking about would not strictly be about producing food,
but it seems to me that if we had to design the world over it would make
sense to create wilds that in a safe sustainable way could produce food.
My feeling is that done right this would be equal to or superior to any
method we use now to produce food, especially if we put people to work,
gave them jobs managing the environment.

I agree with the point that we do not know everything about the environment
at this point, but so much of it is gone that I feel we would have to take the
chance if the chance ever arose and do the best we can. Mostly that means
non-interference.

The suggestion of veganic permaculture, seems to me on a large scale to be
one that would make vegans happy, but on a large scale that I am referring
to would actually take habitat away from animal life, so that thought which
did not occur to me before may be the first order answer to the problem.

Also I agree with the comments about animals doing work, that is, animals
promote vegetable growth, at least that is what I have heard. When you
prune a plant, or take a bite out of it, you stimulate growth is what I have
heard experts say. So animal live, hernivores, and I am not really talking
about "livestock" which has a certain connotation to factory farming. This
would be anything but, perhaps more like human predation of thinning.

My fantasy vision would be constraining human development to islands of
high density cities where industrial and cultural events can take place with
the rest of the land an interconnected garden managed by scientists,
students and vacationers, or those who would want to live a natural life.

Dangerous predators could be tagged and monitored so that they would
present no threat to people who would be warned by communication network
to get out of the way or the predator could be diverted by electronic means?

The point being to sustain the ecological diversity while still providing
a surplus for humans, perhaps supplemented with hydroponic or
permaculture farms.

I think the suggestion of veganic permaculture might have been because the
suggester did not realize what I was trying to get at. So, not only would animals
do the work in nature, including right down to insects and worms, but it now
from things mentioned here would seem to be necessary.

I don't have the whole concept thought out, and some of this I got from reading
Whole Earth Catalogs from decades ago on how to save the planet combined
with what new ideas and technology are out today.

So now I wonder just how or where veganic would fit in or be necessary. Some
of the reading I have done has shown that far from just doing work for humans,
many animals actually enjoy interacting with humans, ie dogs and cats for sure,
but also dolphins, horses, and I am sure there are others. I heard a radio show
a few weeks ago about a man who had a relationship with a dolphin where the
dolphin would leave to go out to sea, but would periodically return to spend time
with this man. I think food was not the issue here because he did not feed the
dolphin.

Humans love animals and animals can love humans as well as has been shown
with some of the nature shows in Africa. I think this kind of purist aesthetic of
assuming that the only way to appreciate animals is to leave them totally alone
can not be natural. Though there are lots of cruel and dysfunctional relationships
such as horse or elephant breaking ... but that is not the extent of all human
animals relationships.

Thanks for all the ideas and comments, I hope people to continue to imagine this
along with me because I honestly fear for the future of all life on the planet, and
even if life continues, the status quo of today is not a very good model for that
into the future.
 
Tyler Ludens
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The great thing about permaculture, to me, is that it develops systems that are in harmony with Nature, so that while providing human needs, it also provides healthy habitat for animals. So if we develop a permaculture world, it will be beneficial to wild animals as well as humans. Bill Mollison, in the Designers' Manual, posited that because of the tremendous productivity of permaculture systems, most of the planet can be left to wild nature, the outer zone, with humans using only a fraction of what they now do.



 
Brad Mayeux
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It goes back to my original comment that I'd never met a longterm vegan who didn't have to rely on imported foods and/or supplements for their health,
which makes me question the sustainability of the diet.

The massive amount of work it would take to raise 100% of my diet and to feed my children based on veganic principles is mind boggling.


really ?
i ate papaya and potato soup today
potato soup had several perennial greens in it, onion, bell peppers.
(forgot to grow parsley this year)

oatmeal and a banana
(neither i grew) i just started with banana

fruit can be filling, and after planted, those trees are little work
malabar spinach is almost a weed here.

nut trees are the best, but my property is too small.


often, people think they are craving protein, but really want fatty acids
nuts, artichoke (another weed), avocado are all high in good fats
much better than meat.


I understand you don't agree with keeping animals - I get that. But that's not what we're talking about here, we're not debating the merits of a vegan lifestyle vs meat eating lifestyle. We're discussing permaculture itself, the standard (including animals) vs. permaculture with zero animals or insects. I just don't see permaculture without animal or insect input to be nearly as efficient as permaculture that includes animals and insects.

I mean - look at chickens themselves. They eat bugs - the same bugs that would be eating your crops - and they turn them into a potent fertilizer. The amount of work it would require for a human to manually deal with all those bugs would be a whole lot more.


I guess i didnt understand what you meant
and maybe still do not...

i do not "raise" animals
but, certianly they come on my property
as do insects.... by the droves i might add...
i counted 12 butterflies in my yard earlier. (monarchs and Gulf Frits)


for you, i guess chickens work
for me, they are messy, make noise,
and eat all my veggies, unless i restrict them somehow.

worms actually do work on my property
i raise a few, and have multiplied so many
they are in my veggie beds, under my fruit trees etc...
i am sure i have 10s of thousands by now.
i dont see them as "aware", they are not really social
and i doubt they feel pain to any extent we can relate to.

i like insects
i want lots on my property, and ive got them !
i jsut dont eat them

gotta go
interesting topic
 
Tyler Ludens
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Brad Mayeux wrote: papaya ... banana.... avocado


I can't grow any of those. Avocado is my favorite fruit, but must be imported to my region.

 
John Saltveit
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I'm trying to explain the part that you don't understand. Vegans don't eat animals or control the animals for narrow human benefit, but that doesn't mean that they don't enjoy living with both domestic and wild animals.

Some vegans raise animals to give them a good life and because they like their company. Many find animals to be interesting, powerful, and beautiful. Rabbits are loving and cute. Their fur is soft and smooth. They are affectionate. Their poop is good fertilizer. They can eat weeds that we don't. This is in line with permaculture and improves the fertility of the garden/farm, but doesn't include "using the animal" for our specific gains. The gains to the land are a part of nature, which fits into the general benefit, but not the specific benefit of humans. The animals aren't abused by humans. Their existence is cherished by humans, and they still add their part to nature and the fertility of the planet. Others do this with goats, chickens, or sheep. Most vegans like animals and enjoy their company. The chickens can eat the worms that go into their apples, and provide fertilizer for the garden. This is a good life for the chicken and good for the human, but not abusive to the chicken. The chicken and the rabbit are playing their part in nature and in general it improves the life of the farm and their part in nature, but it is not limited only to that which provides direct benefit to humans. The animal is not controlled only for human benefit, so the relationship is mutual, not abusive. Now do you understand?
John S
PDX OR
 
Levente Andras
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Thought No.1: I note that the title of this thread equals "animal permaculture" with "regular permaculture". It sounds as if a permaculture design was somehow diminished (=not regular) if it involved no active use of animals. And that's what some of the contributors here (and elsewhere) seem to imply.

Thought No. 2: I can imagine a number of situations where "animal permaculture" is undesirable and / or unfeasible. I'm talking not only of the obvious example of very small scale, urban / suburban designs.

For instance: my plot is nearly 1 hectare / 2 acres - much larger than your typical urban / suburban plot, yet very small for a rural smallholding. At one point, I have considered keeping animals. I had to strike herbivores and larger animals like pigs off the list; the arguments against were many.

(a) They need land for grazing;
(b) and even more land for growing hay and / or other feed;
(c) and again more land for building stables and for disposing of the manure that I clear from stables (the manure would eventually contribute fertility - but in my situation there are other ways for increasing & maintaining fertility - see below)
(d) goats could have been an alternative to large herbivores, but they are incompatible with free grazing in a landscape with young trees and shrubs; besides, I can't stand the smell of goats
(e) Animals = a lot of work !!! I live in the midst of small-scale / subsistence farmers - typical situation: 2-6 cows, 2-4 pigs, 5-10 sheep, perhaps some goats. They - their whole families - are slaves to their animals, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. That's not for me.
(f) I hate milk and cannot digest most milk products
(g) My wife and I eat meat in moderation to say the least; I once saw a cartoon of a pig with a prosthetic leg (in a WWII newspaper), but in real life I'm afraid you need to kill & eat the whole animal. My family of 2 (myself & wife) wouldn't know what to do with a whole carcass of a pig
(h) I don't need fertility from animals. That's because (i) mine is clay soil, already contains plenty of fertility; (ii) dynamic accumulators (alfalfa, dandelion, comfrey) are growing abundantly all over the place; I mow them 4 times a year, use the vegetable matter to sheet-mulch where I plan to create garden beds or plant trees; keep the "sheet" on for 1-2 years; the results are superior to manuring.

I'm still considering chickens and / or ducks. And bees. These would add more complexity to the system, and provide a few extra yields which I currently get from outside the system. I'm still researching & planning. But these small animals would be just a nice-to-have / supplementary / adjuncts to my current system, which is working very well thank you without the animals.
 
Levente Andras
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bruce kline wrote:> All that said the examples of making a desert not a desert anymore have utilized animals. But i havent seen many.

Yes, that is what I was getting at. Vast areas of the world are becoming desert. People say it is not man's fault, but
odd that it happens or happened the most where there was the most human development and civilization and is
moderated somewhere where people have had to live and become civilized and cooperative to survive.

The context in which I am asking this is not necessarily for food production, but rather habitat rebuilding, but seems
like it might be done as the Native Americans did things, where they consciously or unconsciously created what we
think of as permaculture food forests by reinforcing the plants and animals they liked and used.

What would the effect be if areas of desert were brought back, would we be able to slow and reverse global warming,
and judging from the speed and the lag of the CO2 already in the Earth system fast must be done whatever we do.
It seems a win if it can be natural.


I recommend you see John Liu's film on re-greening China's Loess Plateau (amounting to reversing desertification). One of the cornerstones of the plan was to stop all grazing ! Because grazing had been a key contributing factor to desertification, in that particular setting...
 
Tyler Ludens
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Levente Andras wrote:

I recommend you see John Liu's film on re-greening China's Loess Plateau (amounting to reversing desertification). One of the cornerstones of the plan was to stop all grazing ! Because grazing had been a key contributing factor to desertification, in that particular setting...


Removing grazing is also important to Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration, in which animals are kept in paddocks and food (mostly leafy branches) is brought to them while trees regenerate. Eventually, appropriate numbers of animals may be allowed to graze. http://fmnrhub.com.au/

Domestic animals are still in the system, they're just managed much more actively instead of simply letting them run loose and eat everything.

I want to add my own experience here with domestic herbivores - kind of a nightmare. I wanted some sheep so we could get agricultural tax status on our land and then transition to wildlife management, which we have done. I also thought I would use the wool. I haven't done much of that, but the sheep still need to be sheared every year (difficult). Even though we only have 5 of them, on 20 acres they overgrazed some areas and ate a lot of trees, including many fruit trees (they knocked over the fences protecting them). They smash the barn by ramming it. We had to put the ram down because he rammed us (fun for him, potentially fatal for us). We sort of made pets of them so we can't kill them simply to get rid of them. So now we have these sheep that we have to take care of until they die, and these are a long-living breed (Jacobs). It has been interesting to have them, but much more challenging and tremendously more expensive than I anticipated.

Not so cute, as it turns out:

 
bruce kline
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I think there is a difference between grazing and over-grazing. China has an
amazing history of these huge projects that some big-shot in the communist
party gets convinced is a good idea, and then they do it and throw whole
areas of the country or the economy out of whack for decades or longer.

As to your experience with sheep, perhaps sheep were not best suited for your
needs. I think sheep or goats are better used for short times on certain areas
or better used in scrub areas. I am not expert, but I think you are generalzing
from a position of little data that conflicts with what other experts actually have
said.

I am learning about veganism/vegetarianism and permaculture too, a whole
world is opening up for me late in life but I also see that as there are biased
voices for the processed food industry it's the same with everyone and one has
to be skepitlcal and avoid quick emotional arguments and try to qualify things
with facts, because there is a lot of imprefect data on both sides of these debates.
 
John Saltveit
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These are some valuable discussions. I agree that the term "regular permaculture" is a bit biased. I think the point is not that the vegan permaculture is substandard. To me the point is that if you leave the land alone, animals will come onto it. You get to decide to a certain extent what kind of animal, but it would take an amazing amount of work to try to keep all animals off a large parcel of land. If you don't want worms or microbiology, use a lot of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and glyphosate. Some want domesticated animals, which are all different. Some just want squirrels and hawks. Some like deer, and some hate deer. Some love deer for dinner. There are of course wild bunnies and domesticated, and they all have different work/benefit profiles. In almost every case that I've heard, adding animals improves fertility cycles.
John S
PDX OR
 
S Bengi
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I am an urban permie on a small city lot, it is basically illegal for me to have cows, goat, pigs, etc. So most urban permies are 'vegan' permies by default. In fact when getting alot of permaculture sites established there isn't alot of animals until 5 years out. So during that time it is animal free.


Question what if said vegan permaculture 'manager' had a dog on site for company/protection, that they would never eat does that count as vegan, or how about sheep only for fiber or bees for honey/pollination. What about tiny minnow fish in my pond for mosquito control. What if I have some goats or cow and I have no problem selling the milk/cheese but I personally don't eat it, is that still vegan. Can a vegan work in a supermarket/restaurant/self-own permie farm and still be vegan.
 
John Saltveit
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We live in a suburban area and we have squirrels because we have so much to eat. We also have a pet dog who tries to catch them but fails. We can't have poultry even, but we could raise rabbits, but we don't. Like I said, animals will naturally be attracted to a healthy plot of land so it is effort to keep them out.

My sense on vegan is that it is about appreciating the animal for its own value, not using it for exploitation. I think that's why dogs are called animal companions instead of pets. They aren't there to do work or to be owned but to have a life shared with them. They are to be appreciated for their own value.

If you are selling the milk/cheese, how does that benefit the cow? I think these are the questions that one would ask. Are you creating a positive home for the animal or using it for its fiber, honey, milk, etc? Exploitive or Respectful and cooperative? Are you living so that you help the animal or are you using it so you will benefit?
John S
PDX OR
 
Tyler Ludens
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bruce kline wrote: I am not expert, but I think you are generalzing
from a position of little data that conflicts with what other experts actually have
said.


Can you please point out to me which of my statements is generalizing from a position of little data? I have posted about my own unique personal experience of sheep; I'm not sure which of my statements is generalizing.

 
Levente Andras
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bruce kline wrote:I think there is a difference between grazing and over-grazing. China has an
amazing history of these huge projects that some big-shot in the communist
party gets convinced is a good idea, and then they do it and throw whole
areas of the country or the economy out of whack for decades or longer.

As to your experience with sheep, perhaps sheep were not best suited for your
needs. I think sheep or goats are better used for short times on certain areas
or better used in scrub areas. I am not expert, but I think you are generalzing
from a position of little data that conflicts with what other experts actually have
said.

I am learning about veganism/vegetarianism and permaculture too, a whole
world is opening up for me late in life but I also see that as there are biased
voices for the processed food industry it's the same with everyone and one has
to be skepitlcal and avoid quick emotional arguments and try to qualify things
with facts, because there is a lot of imprefect data on both sides of these debates.


I brought up the China / Loess Plateau example because it illustrates how the use of animals is NOT 'greening the deserts' (on the contrary, it only furthers desertification).

The issue there was that ANY amount of grazing in a delicate, already damaged ecosystem will only lead to more damage. Can you draw the line, in that particular situation, between 'grazing' and 'overgrazing'?

Important: Goats grazing on the Loess Plateau were NOT part of any official 'huge projects' masterminded by some party official - on the contrary, it was an ancient, traditional practice in the region, and it was totally haphazard, practiced with no consideration for the environment. A good example of what 'traditional' practices can lead to. On the other hand, the greening of the Loess Plateau - and the prohibition of grazing that went with it - WAS actually directed / supported from the top (the Party) and local farmers initially resisted it.

 
Levente Andras
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John Saltveit wrote:These are some valuable discussions. I agree that the term "regular permaculture" is a bit biased. I think the point is not that the vegan permaculture is substandard. To me the point is that if you leave the land alone, animals will come onto it. You get to decide to a certain extent what kind of animal, but it would take an amazing amount of work to try to keep all animals off a large parcel of land. If you don't want worms or microbiology, use a lot of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and glyphosate. Some want domesticated animals, which are all different. Some just want squirrels and hawks. Some like deer, and some hate deer. Some love deer for dinner. There are of course wild bunnies and domesticated, and they all have different work/benefit profiles. In almost every case that I've heard, adding animals improves fertility cycles.
John S
PDX OR


Why do you think that vegan permaculture would want to exclude earthworms or microbes?

Vegan permaculture is a design where we don't seek to obtain direct yields from (domesticated) animals. Which means that soil fertility is also managed in a way that it does not require the addition of animal manure (=herbivore manure) or other animal by-products (bone meal etc.). Soil inhabitants (worms, microbes, etc.) are still part of that design, as are wild animals that may play important roles in the system (e.g., pest control by wild birds, hedgehogs, small carnivores, etc.).

For illustration I recommend you watch this video about Helen Atthowe's vegan (actually, she calls it 'veganic') permaculture:

 
Tyler Ludens
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We will ultimately be phasing out domestic herbivores on our land, because there are already too many wild and feral herbivores.

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