Are worm bins vegan? - VeggieBoards

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#1 Old 08-13-2009, 12:34 PM
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I have been reading about their benefits for composting, and it seems like a good way to turn vegetative scraps into compost. But I am wondering where you think this falls in terms of veganism, because I'm not sure.



Isn't it the moral equivalent of maintaining a bee hive... where the bees are doing their thing, and some will experience and perhaps death as you take the product of their labor?

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#2 Old 08-13-2009, 12:38 PM
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if you get a normal garden compost bin with no bottom, and dig through the soil a bit under it to break it up some, then whack your compostables in there, little worms will voluntarily come up and get into your compost to help break it down. then you're not keeping them, any more than you'd be keeping birds if you had a birdfeeder.
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#3 Old 08-13-2009, 12:48 PM
 
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I don't think it's necessarily vegan, but I don't think it's cruel either. *shrug* And as a dietary vegan, I'd have no problem maintaining a worm bin.
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#4 Old 08-13-2009, 02:37 PM
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what if one had an indoor worm bin, would that be un-vegan, or would it kind of be like having dogs or cats as companions? (perhaps the worms are quite delightful companions, who knows)
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#5 Old 08-13-2009, 07:40 PM
 
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So, if vegans see this as okay, what's the difference between this and honey?
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#6 Old 08-14-2009, 01:42 AM
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Originally Posted by rosiem View Post

So, if vegans see this as okay, what's the difference between this and honey?



In a nutshell:

Bees are killed, wounded and manipulated in honey production. Honey is a product produced by bees that they use themselves but humans steal it from them.



Wormeries are where worms live, reproduce and thrive safe from predators (like a cat/dog). Humans feed them, keep them warm and dry (like cat or dog). Worms produce 'worm poop' that the humans then use for gardening. The worm does not want to keep its poop. Worms get fed, protected and their poop is removed. Win-win for the worm.
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#7 Old 08-14-2009, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by MrFalafel View Post

Wormeries are where worms live, reproduce and thrive safe from predators (like a cat/dog). Humans feed them, keep them warm and dry (like cat or dog). Worms produce 'worm poop' that the humans then use for gardening. The worm does not want to keep its poop. Worms get fed, protected and their poop is removed. Win-win for the worm.



I've never seen one of these and I don't know how they work, but is it set up so none of the worms are harmed when the compost is removed?



Personally I have a compost bin in the garden like hoodedclawjen described. When I open it up there are all kinds of creepy crawlies in there, not just worms but thousands of insects too. It seems to be keeping them pretty happy, and I won't have to buy compost next year when I do more planting. Win for everybody I think.
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#8 Old 08-14-2009, 08:13 PM
 
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Something else to consider is how much space the worms would normally live in in the "wild." I'm not sure how far they travel from their home (anybody know?), but presuming that it is the same size as a worm composter/bin, then they aren't really trapped.



It would be similar to someone putting a fence around the outskirts of your city. You could go to work and back, hang out with friends, take your family to the park, and have no idea that you're "trapped."



There is also the question of whether worms can feel pain. I tend to err on the side of caution and give them the benefit of the doubt.



In addition, there is the question of what will happen to the food scraps if you don't have a compost. Will this mean 20 extra bags of garbage you send to the landfill each year? If so, what impact does that have on the environment and the animals (and human animals) that live in it? Could be possible that you are hurting more individuals by not composting than by composting and keeping prisoner a colony of worms.



If you have a choice, I would agree that the method of using an outdoor compost and breaking up the ground beneath it (as described above) is best. If you are in an apartment and don't have an outdoor option, personally I would give the worm composter a try.
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#9 Old 08-14-2009, 08:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Caroline G. View Post


In addition, there is the question of what will happen to the food scraps if you don't have a compost. Will this mean 20 extra bags of garbage you send to the landfill each year? If so, what impact does that have on the environment and the animals (and human animals) that live in it? Could be possible that you are hurting more individuals by not composting than by composting and keeping prisoner a colony of worms.



This point would only be vaild if worms were needed to compost, but they aren't.
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#10 Old 08-15-2009, 08:36 PM
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Originally Posted by animallover7249 View Post

This point would only be vaild if worms were needed to compost, but they aren't.



If you don't have a yard for outdoor composting aren't worms necessary for indoor composting? I could be wrong but I thought they were needed in the case of apartment living.
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#11 Old 08-16-2009, 10:09 AM
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vermiculture is not vegan.

vegans don't use animals or animal by products, compost from worms is an animal by product.

the worms are working for you, they are not pets like dogs and fish because they are kept for an end result, poop. even if you keep them in the best conditions and treat them with respect, you are still harvesting them for your own purpose.

i understand that it is nearly impossible to find out what type of compost was used to grow food and plants, and that most food is grown with animal manure or compost with animal by products, however these methods or unnecessary because vegan compost works just as well as vermicompost and other composts with animal by products.

we get to choose how we fertilize our own plants at home, choosing vermicompost is not vegan.



as for having a small space (apt, rental), vegan composting is still an option. bokashi!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokashi_composting
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#12 Old 08-17-2009, 09:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by hoodedclawjen View Post

if you get a normal garden compost bin with no bottom,... little worms will voluntarily come up and get into your compost to help break it down. Then you're not keeping them, any more than you'd be keeping birds if you had a birdfeeder.



Good analogy.
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#13 Old 08-17-2009, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by luvourmother View Post

vermiculture is not vegan.

vegans don't use animals or animal by products, compost from worms is an animal by product.

the worms are working for you, they are not pets like dogs and fish because they are kept for an end result, poop. even if you keep them in the best conditions and treat them with respect, you are still harvesting them for your own purpose.

i understand that it is nearly impossible to find out what type of compost was used to grow food and plants, and that most food is grown with animal manure or compost with animal by products, however these methods or unnecessary because vegan compost works just as well as vermicompost and other composts with animal by products.

we get to choose how we fertilize our own plants at home, choosing vermicompost is not vegan.



as for having a small space (apt, rental), vegan composting is still an option. bokashi!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokashi_composting



People keep pets (cats dogs) for an end result: companionship. Many people keep a dog 'for protection' as well as companionship. Many people like the fact that their pet cats will 'work' to keep the house free of mice/rats/spiders. Is that exploitation? Is that not vegan as well?



The analogy of keeping a place for worms to live comfortably while trading food for poop works. Dog owners trade food and safety for protection, cat owners trade food for mousing etc.
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#14 Old 08-23-2009, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by MrFalafel View Post

People keep pets (cats dogs) for an end result: companionship. Many people keep a dog 'for protection' as well as companionship. Many people like the fact that their pet cats will 'work' to keep the house free of mice/rats/spiders. Is that exploitation? Is that not vegan as well?



The analogy of keeping a place for worms to live comfortably while trading food for poop works. Dog owners trade food and safety for protection, cat owners trade food for mousing etc.



keeping pets to serve our own needs is also not vegan. saving an animals life and offering it a safe place to live without expecting the animal to serve our own needs is vegan.

intention is powerful.
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#15 Old 08-23-2009, 06:34 PM
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^ I think you're right
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#16 Old 08-23-2009, 06:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ket View Post

what if one had an indoor worm bin, would that be un-vegan, or would it kind of be like having dogs or cats as companions? (perhaps the worms are quite delightful companions, who knows)



I like my worms. I don't know them individually, but it's really cool to feed them and then watch the food disappear. I see it being somewhere between having cats and dogs and maintaining a beehive. It is hard to not end up killing worms when you go to take the compost.
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#17 Old 08-24-2009, 09:19 AM
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I see it being somewhere between having cats and dogs and maintaining a beehive. It is hard to not end up killing worms when you go to take the compost.





bee keeping isn't vegan. vermiculture is the same concept of bee keeping...not vegan.



killing worms to take their poop is animal cruelty.
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#18 Old 08-24-2009, 11:39 AM
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From what I understand... and someone please correct me if I'm wrong because I am a total noob to gardening... it is possible to take the castings without harming the worms. You would do this by having a single long tray. You put the food at one end of the tray for several weeks. The worms stay where the food source is. When that area fills up with castings, start placing the food at the other end of the tray. The worms will migrate to that side and you can sort through the castings heap to manually move any stragglers and cocoons.

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#19 Old 08-24-2009, 11:54 AM
 
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Another rout would be to drill small holes (smaller than the worms so they can't get trapped!) in the bottom of one bin, and rest them inside another. Use the liquid that comes from the bottom and leave the rest for the worms. No worms would be harmed this way, and I suppose if you wanted to do the compost soil stuff you could do the "fresh soil with food over here!" thing and let them migrate slowly. When they've done so, remove the old soil and call it good.



I think I'm going to do the on-the-disturbed-ground compost bin and if we get worms coming in to help, so be it. If not, that's ok too! Looking for chicken wire to make my bin, I think I'm good on the 2x4s...
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#20 Old 08-24-2009, 07:10 PM
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Another rout would be to drill small holes (smaller than the worms so they can't get trapped!) in the bottom of one bin, and rest them inside another. Use the liquid that comes from the bottom and leave the rest for the worms. No worms would be harmed this way, and I suppose if you wanted to do the compost soil stuff you could do the "fresh soil with food over here!" thing and let them migrate slowly. When they've done so, remove the old soil and call it good.



I think I'm going to do the on-the-disturbed-ground compost bin and if we get worms coming in to help, so be it. If not, that's ok too! Looking for chicken wire to make my bin, I think I'm good on the 2x4s...



As I understand it... and again, someone please correct me if I'm wrong... the earthworms that come up from the soil don't produce compost-quality castings. Earthworms live below the soil and are good for aerating the earth and keeping it loose, but it is the red wriggler worms whose castings are rich in nutrients and are optimal for compost. The red wrigglers live above the soil, but below vegetative matter that falls from trees, plants, etc. Those are worms that I would need to acquire from somewhere.



I've done some reading on stackable worm bins, and from what I can tell, there can be worms that fall through the grating into the bucket of worm pee and drown.



I see that the worm bins may not be vegan, but I'm wondering what the alternatives are. It's been suggested elsewhere that I just go with Miracle-Gro, but I'd like to keep things organic if possible. Using a regular compost bin won't work in this case because the lot is in a mobile home park and there is no regular yard waste. I'm trying to find a way to convert fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen into compost. The bokashi wouldn't work either. This is for my parent's house, and there is no way my mother would agree to have a bucket of fermenting food scraps around. The worm bin would be an extremely tough sell, but there is no way she'd go for the bokashi.

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#21 Old 08-24-2009, 07:49 PM
 
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You could do a compost bin and get your yard waste from someone on freecycle. Just ask for (however big a bag) of yard waste and I'm sure people would be happy to let you come gather their leaves they've raked, etc. Just need a trash can with some holes drilled in it and something to stir it around with. Could even be a big stick.
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#22 Old 08-24-2009, 09:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by luvourmother View Post

killing worms to take their poop is animal cruelty.



You're taking me much too literally. I am going to do everything I can not to kill the worms. But yes, I would say this is one nonvegan activity I am participating in.
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#23 Old 08-24-2009, 11:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by luvourmother View Post

killing worms to take their poop is animal cruelty.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Mojo View Post

... it is possible to take the castings without harming the worms.



Mojo, you're correct. It's good to see someone's done their research. You don't "kill the worms to take their poop".
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#24 Old 02-11-2010, 08:04 PM
 
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i'm just about to start this process here in NZ (i should probably change my profile now that i've moved).



we just rented a 1 br apartment (large by NZ city standards!), and it has a small yard. the soil needs amending because there has been some erosion (it's on a hillside) and so it's sandy/rocky for the most part. i want to start amending the soil in the next few weeks (over summer), and then be able to plant some bulbs in the fall (april), as well as a lot of local plants to attract local birds.



so, vermiculture--in addition to helping with decreasing our trash--is part of this.



the apartment is also near a very dingy little park. it is basically unkept and unused from what i can tell. i have an appt with the city council to see if i can 1. build compost bins for us to use (and neighbors and so on), 2. begin a community food garden there (i have connections with two community garden groups here--with a total of 5 gardens--and so i'm hoping that we can use this space also), 3. use the shady side of the park as a pleasure/children's garden with NZ native plants (i've connected with a local man who loves native plants and knows a lot about attracting native creatures), and 4. also start an apiary (bees) there. I don't really care about the honey for myself, i mostly want it to simply enjoy a healthy colony and to help with food production!



but, i'm starting small: worm bin. i just got 1500 worms from a local person who is keeping them for me until monday when we are moved in and i can get the bin going!



hazzah!



i couldn't find any other worm composting threads.



and, i presume it's not vegan, but i do think that it is very healthy for the environment. if you can't have a compost bin outside (eg, you live in an apt), then you can always find a community garden or neighborhood gardener who would allow you to give them your compost materials.
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#25 Old 02-11-2010, 11:24 PM
 
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in the alternative for apt dwellers who do not want to use worms and cannot find another composting site, one might consider Bokashi composting. It uses microorganisms (which probably do not count as animals?).



i am considering it instead of worm composting, or doing a bit of both. I think the vermiculture will remediate the soil more quickly, but i'm not sure. i need to learn more.
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#26 Old 02-12-2010, 03:57 PM
 
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I would say that it's not vegan if you take worms from their natural habitat and keep them somewhere else for your purposes.



It's also not a very big deal. But if you're committed to complete abolition of animal use, skip the worm bin.
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#27 Old 02-13-2010, 08:43 AM
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Mojo, you're correct. It's good to see someone's done their research. You don't "kill the worms to take their poop".



worms are meant to be killed but often when harvesting the compost the worms get smashed. also worms sometimes get smashed by the lid or other tools used. very similar to bee keeping, when the honey is taken bees are sometimes smashed.
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#28 Old 02-13-2010, 02:56 PM
 
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I don't think it's a big deal. Technically not vegan but when done correctly and with care it seems ethical. You can certainly live in harmony with them, they don't need or want their poop like bees want their honey, and you can very gently take the compost, and feed them. Their poop is meant for the earth anyway.

I actually don't want a worm bin because of my phobia of creepy crawlies , it's possible to make a nutritious compost without worms? Or will the worms/other bugs come around anyway on their own? I hate the prospect of handling bugs but it's a great way to recyle veggies and I want my plants to be fertilized.

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#29 Old 02-13-2010, 05:23 PM
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I don't think it's a big deal. Technically not vegan but when done correctly and with care it seems ethical. You can certainly live in harmony with them, they don't need or want their poop like bees want their honey, and you can very gently take the compost, and feed them.





Just want to point out that when a beehive is maintained by humans, the bees produce more honey than the colony can use. (The bees don't have to spend a lot of time, energy and bee lives protecting the hive and colony from predators, maintaining the physical hive structure, etc., so they spend their time producing honey.) The bees don't simply stop producing honey when they have enough. When the hive gets overfull, bees start drowning in honey. I'm not sure whether that would continue until the colony size is dramatically reduced, or whether the colony would eventually move out and try to find another home, but in either case, a lot of bees would die. Beekeepers leave enough honey in the hives to maintain a healthy colony.



And no, I'm not trying to say that beekeeping is vegan - I'm just trying to correct some misinformation.
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#30 Old 02-21-2010, 09:50 AM
 
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I don't see vermicomposting as having any negative morality associated with it . Composting reduces the disposal of solid waste and produces a rich product that can be used in your yard or garden, potentially saving you from purchasing compost or soil that has been commercially produced and shipped in . It really seems like a win all over for me; a great way of employing natural systems to 'close the loop' .

luvourmother is right in that its probably impossible to avoid ever killing a worm(s) throughout your manipulation of the composting but mlp and MrFalafel seem correct also in that by providing a safe food-rich environment for the worms to live the total effect of being dedicated composters is probably still a balance positive affair for the organisms . And considering its benefits to the local ecology outside of just the welfare of the worms themselves, that effect seems even more positive .

There's some good information at http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/...omposting.aspx toward the bottom of the page where they describe a method of compost harvesting using a light bulb to 'herd' the worms away from the area of the compost you're harvesting which seems like an interesting way of minimizing harm .

If you decide not to worm compost keep researching though; there are other methods of composting that are possible in small spaces like an apartment patio or even indoors . But again, in my opinion, providing your waste as fuel for another organism and harvesting its waste for your fuel seems nothing but harmonious and really the very basis of organic systems .
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