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Animal-free agriculture, or veganic farming, consists of farming methods that do not use animals or animal products. Animal-free growers do not keep domesticated animals and do not use animal products such as farmed animal manures or animal parts (bone meal, blood meal, fish meal) to fertilize their crops. Emphasis is placed on using green manures instead.
Veganic farmers take measures such as refraining from making large disturbances in the soil of the land and cultivating a variety of plants in the ground. Farmers practice covering their soil to protect its condition from the harsh sunlight as often as possible. This form of farming "encompasses a respect for the animals, the environment, and human health."
History of animal-free agriculture
- The World Conservation Union's Red List of Threatened Species reports that most of the world's threatened species are experiencing habitat loss as a result of livestock production conducted through animal agriculture.
- Center for Science in the Public Interest releases Six Arguments for a Greener Diet that found that a plant-rich diet "leads to much less food poisoning, water pollution, air pollution, global warming."
- Research published in the journal Nature Communications finds that vegan diets have the best land use and are the only way to feed the global population by 2050.
- The World Resources Institute published the report: Shifting Diets for a Sustainable Food Future which showed that if people who consume large amounts of meat and dairy changed to diets with more plant-based meals could reduce agriculture's pressure on the environment.
- University of Edinburgh researchers find that animal farming is the leading cause of food waste as it is responsible for the most losses of all harvested crops on Earth (40%) due to secondary consumption.
- Forbes Magazine publishes a compilation of recent vegan and plant-based business successes noting that vegan living is becoming more a norm because of its positive impact on sustainability.
- Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences find that a vegan shift would increase the US food supply by a third, eliminating all of the losses due to food waste and feeding all Americans as well as roughly 390,000,000 more.
- A Harvard study found that shifting all beef production in the U.S. to pastured, grass-fed systems would require 30% more cattle, increase beef's methane emissions by 43%, and would require much more land than is available.
- A report from the Humane Party determines that vegan-organic agriculture can be 4,198% more productive than animal-based agriculture in the amount of food produced per acre.
- Veganic farmer Will Bonsall told The Guardian that most vegetables are "very un-vegan” due to being grown using inputs of animal-based products.
Advantages of animal-free agriculture
The practice of animal-free agriculture is one of the proponents of vegan eating and the movement is only continuing to increase as time progresses.
In the History of Meat Alternatives, the first reference to a plant-based dish that mimics the texture and taste of animal-meat may originate from AD 965. Vegetarian protein, or tofu, was essential in Japanese and Chinese dishes. It is not until 1852, that there is a direct reference to plant-based meat in Western civilization. Meals such as Tofurky gained traction among western and European societies.
Livestock in the United States produce 230,000 pounds of manure per second, and nitrogen from these wastes is converted into ammonia and nitrates which leach into ground and surface water causing contamination of wells, rivers and streams. Mature compost of plant-based origins, used in animal-free agriculture, can reduce leaching of nitrate which leads to an improvement in groundwater quality and counteracts the eutrophication of surface waters.
Animal free agriculture has the potential to prevent illnesses like influenza from spreading. Experts agree that most strains of the influenza virus that infect human beings came from contact with other animals. Farm animals on factory farms may be genetically similar therefore making them more susceptible to specific parasites. Infection among animals is more easily spread because of their close proximity to one another. Animal-free agriculture does not contribute to the spread of influenza through animals.
History of factory farming
The United States
Emerging in the early twentieth century, rural farmers were unable to supply enough food to an increasing urban population. The 1902 Kosher Meat Boycott occurred as high prices and food shortages in the United States became more common. The beginning of World War I became another strain on farmer's stockpiles because of the creation of The United States Food Administration headed by former president Herbert Hoover, campaigning for all Americans to "voluntarily change their eating habits in order to have enough food to feed our military and starving civilians in Europe."
As the United States continues to use factory farming as its main mode of food production, growing consolidation and commercialization enables control over the food system by the means of large industrial operations. Investigations into animal farming saw an increase in popularity in the late twentieth century. Exposes such as Upton Sinclair's The Jungle and animal rights organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) created movements toward reflection on animal's rights within agriculture and the food-industry.
The central government of India made reforms in agriculturally based policies, reducing regulations on food prices, food sales and food storage. Marches took place in states like Punjab and Haryana as nearly over 300,000 farmers exercised their democratic rights to protest these changes. The Indian Government set intentions with their policies as means to achieve economic stability amidst the uncertainty brought forth by Covid-19.
Their hopes to revitalize the agriculture sector through private ownership There is an estimated 87% of Indian farmers considered as smallholders, or those who own 1.5 acres or less of land. Policy reforms have caused these farmers to experience environmental, infrastructural, and socio-economic related consequences. It is perceived national trends toward industrial food systems could alter the livelihoods of smallholders indefinitely.
Published by the Information & Decision Support Center of the Egyptian Cabinet, a poll showed that nearly 11 per cent of a population of 80-million people eat only less than two kilograms of meat per month, 30 percent eating four to six kgs of meat per month. The increasing demand for meat has influenced the growth of factory farming in this region.
In 2009, The Egyptian Chamber of Tourist Establishments (ECTE) proposed a boycott of red meat on the 26th of April, just one of several organizations angered by raised meat-prices. Some factory farms in these areas are marketed to the population as "organic" although there is not sufficient evidence to prove such practices. Research suggests that nearly 10 percent of Egypt's land "used for animal production has made future farming 'nearly impossible."
Animal-free agriculture in action
Vegan France Interpro in collaboration with the Biocyclic Vegan Network created an interactive map where it is lists all-vegan organic projects emerging across Europe. This list primarily includes agricultural operations but also conducts trading and processing companies, online shops, network organizations as well as certification bodies that certify farms according to the Biocyclic Vegan Standard.
There is a similar map in North America that conducts the same concept and locates vegan farms around North America.
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