Should Vegans Go Organic?

Vegans, those who avoid all meat and animal by-products, may need to examine the pros and cons of going organic.

Organic farming may be not fit in with vegan ethical considerations. Conversely, conventional foods may also use techniques that violate vegan sensibilities.

We’ll look at some of the reasons to go organic and why vegans may want to eat conventionally grown foods. You might never have considered number one and it may be a huge factor in vegans choosing conventional foods.

However, numbers three and four may sway you in the opposite direction.


The single biggest question about vegan and organic seems to be fertilizer use. Fertilizer helps plants grow. For eons, humans used both human and animals waste enrich soil and help plants to grow. Organic fertilizer continues this, compounding fertilizer from vegetable and animal matter and animal and human manure.

Synthetic fertilizer is made out of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium compounds with secondary nutrients added.

Some fertilizers made from waste water residuals test positive for danger heavy metals like silver, nickel, selenium, thallium and vanadium.

Which is safer for you? Probably the organic. Which is more in keeping with the vegan viewpoint? The synthetic fertilizer.

Environmental Concerns

Much of the organic fertilizer comes from waste water treatment facilities and large animal holding facilities like stock yards. Synthetic fertilizer components have to be mined and compounded in a factory.

Both can pollute water sources and cause algae blooms. Organic fertilizer is possibly just the tiniest bit better for the environment.

Both organic and conventional farms have a fairly large carbon footprint. Conventional farms are far more efficient and have far higher yields than do organic farms.

Food Additives

Conventional (and some organic) foods contain additives made from animal by-products. Cochineal, a red food coloring is made from the bodies of pregnant scale insects. Gelatin, glycerin, and sodium caseinate are derived from cattle.

Lecithin may be made from vegetables or from egg yolks. L-Cysteine is made from chicken feathers. The list goes on and on, but you get the idea: Conventional food may contain additives made from animals.


Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are plants (and now a line of salmon) that have had DNA sequences inserted into their gene sequences. These make the plants more resistant to drought, pests, flooding and other agricultural concerns. Organic doesn’t include GMO food.

Some of the DNA comes from bacteria. Bacteria are living organisms. By eating GMO food, vegans are getting DNA from a creature that moves, eats, and reproduces. Does that violate vegan ethics? If so, avoid GMOs.


If you are vegan and trying to decide between conventional and organically grown plants, you have a decision to make. On one hand, organic fertilizers come from animals (and humans). ON the other, additives and GMOs are found in conventional food. Which is more pressing and concerning for your ethical considerations and your health?

Only you can make that decision and decide what is the most important concern to push you on one direction or the other.