Vegan organic horticulture: Standards, challenges, socio-economics and impact on global food security

Ulrich Schmutz, Lucia Foresi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
565 Downloads (Pure)


Vegetarian and vegan diets have seen an increased interest in recent years all across the world. This is the case for ‘vegans’ who aim for 100% vegan food, but also for so-called ‘flexitarians’, meat and fish eaters including one or more vegan and vegetarian days in their weekly diets. This paper focuses specifically on vegan organic horticulture produced in greenhouses or in the open field. Vegan organic production (in contrast to vegetarian = eating no meat) excludes all animal inputs into plant production (e.g. manure, blood-meal or horn-meal). It uses ecosystem services supplied by the soil micro-fauna or wild bees for pollination, but uses no domesticated animals or any of their by-products like manure, horn or leather. This paper critically analyses vegan organic horticulture regarding three main topics: Firstly, it describes its current use in organic horticulture and agriculture. Based on this status-quo analysis it critically discusses the standards currently used for vegan organic horticulture and highlights on-going discussions in the organic movements on ‘stockless’, ‘stockfree’, ‘vegan organic’ and ‘veganic’. Secondly, it discusses the agronomic challenges for intensive organic horticultural production. How to manage soil fertility long-term in such systems, while also reducing other external inputs (finite fossil fuels, like oil and peat) into the organic farming system? Thirdly, the paper studies the socio-economics of a large-scale uptake of vegan diets, or more vegan days in flexitarian diets. How can vegan organic contribute to make organic overall more resource efficient and help in the transition to more sustainable diets and consumptions, worldwide?

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-484
Number of pages10
JournalActa Horticulturae
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

The original publication is available at


  • Flexitarian diets
  • Organic greenhouse horticulture
  • Organic standards
  • Scenario modelling
  • Vegan organic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Horticulture


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