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Poll: Do You Think Composting With Worms Is Ethical?

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
edited to add: Votes are not public - your vote is anonymous. You can feel free to elaborate your answer in a post, though! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"><br><br><br><br>
I would like for people who identify as Vegan to answer this poll only, please.<br><br><br><br>
I have read the threads and have a good idea of the arguments for and against composting with worms. Now I'd like an actual statistical visual.<br><br><br><br>
The question is NOT whether you believe vermiculture (composting with worms) to be vegan or not, just to clarify.<br><br><br><br>
The question is:<br><br><br><br><b>Is composting with captive worms ethical? (In worm bins, wormeries, etc.)</b>
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I just wanted to say thank you to those who have participated so far. I appreciate the input.<br><br><br><br>
I am genuinely curious about this because in another thread about worm composting, there was an assumption made that most vegans would find worm composting unethical. I am not trying to prove this person wrong by any stretch, because I have no emotional investment in what she thinks about it, but it got me thinking about it (which is what good debate should do, no?) and I am genuinely curious about whether "most" vegans would think it is unethical or not.<br><br><br><br>
I know that VB isn't a mass representation of all vegans everywhere, but it gives me a good idea of the general concensus among this group at least, which gives me more insight. There's not a whole lot about this subject (as an ethical practice or not as it relates to animal rights) on the internet at the moment.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>lovely_rita</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I am genuinely curious about this because in another thread about worm composting, there was an assumption made that most vegans would find worm composting unethical.</div>
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Um yeah, that was me. I've got no problem with you mentioning it in a direct way though. I prefer it to the passive aggression.<br><br><br><br>
As far as it being an assumption, let's ask ourselves why anything is considered vegan, or not, as the case may be. Vegans are against the exploitation of all animals for any human purpose. Why? Because they find such exploitation to be unethical. Nothing else makes any sense. This isn't just an opinion or an assumption. It is a rational assessment of the definition of veganism.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>lovely_rita</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I am not trying to prove this person wrong by any stretch, because I have no emotional investment in what she thinks about it, but it got me thinking about it (which is what good debate should do, no?) and I am genuinely curious about whether "most" vegans would think it is unethical or not.<br><br><br><br>
I know that VB isn't a mass representation of all vegans everywhere, but it gives me a good idea of the general concensus among this group at least, which gives me more insight. There's not a whole lot about this subject (as an ethical practice or not as it relates to animal rights) on the internet at the moment.</div>
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Somehow I doubt that the yes voters are vegan.; They are either:<br><br>
A) Not vegan<br><br>
B) Don't know that worms are still animals<br><br>
and either:<br><br>
1) Don't care, because they are only worms<br><br>
2) Don't understand what exploitation is<br><br><br><br>
If the worms are migrating to your compost from the soil in your yard by their own choice, great. If they were purchased or obtained in some other way, and are being prevented from coming and going freely, you are using them to suit yourself, in which case this practice is not vegan and not ethical, even if they are just worms. Maybe this looks like extremism to most people. It's not though, it's just maintaining consistency with the ideals of veganism. There are no exceptions to the application of avoiding exploitation whenever practical and possible. Even the lowly worm gets included, unless of course someone can prove worms are plants.<br><br><br><br>
Still not trying to tell you what to do, or attack you. But you did start this thread.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>lovely_rita</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I just wanted to say thank you to those who have participated so far. I appreciate the input.<br><br><br><br>
I am genuinely curious about this because in another thread about worm composting, there was an assumption made that most vegans would find worm composting unethical. I am not trying to prove this person wrong by any stretch, because I have no emotional investment in what she thinks about it, but it got me thinking about it (which is what good debate should do, no?) and I am genuinely curious about whether "most" vegans would think it is unethical or not.<br><br><br><br>
I know that VB isn't a mass representation of all vegans everywhere, but it gives me a good idea of the general concensus among this group at least, which gives me more insight. There's not a whole lot about this subject (as an ethical practice or not as it relates to animal rights) on the internet at the moment.</div>
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At the moment, this poll doesn't give a very good picture of this issue since only seven people have replied.<br><br><br><br>
Personally, I would be rather cautious when making claims about what most vegans think, especially on a more, let's say peripheral, issue such as this. Vegans too are a diverse group and have various views even on animal exploitation itself: some are AW as opposed to AR; some support welfare reform whereas others are abolitionists. Of course, some abolitionists for example would say that, if not abolitionism, then at the very least an AR position, is inherent in being a vegan. But for me, 'vegan' is more a practical label, applying to a person's intentions about behavior, and there are other words to use when wanting to discuss, with less ambiguity, the ethical beliefs that a person subscribes to. (Although even an expression like 'animal rights' is used rather ambiguously.)<br><br><br><br>
Personally, I have long ago given up thinking that if I know someone is vegan, that means their moral worldview is similar to mine.
 

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I don't really know the answer to that. I think using worm bins is environmentally useful but I suppose it could be seen as animal exploitation.<br><br><br><br>
(Worms really freak me out anyway so I wouldn't ever have a worm bin.<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/sweatdrop.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":sweat:">)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Um yeah, that was me. I've got no problem with you mentioning it in a direct way though. I prefer it to the passive aggression.</div>
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Not being passive aggressive at all. I didn't know if you wanted me to use your name, so I didn't, that's all.<br><br><br><br>
I appreciate your input. As well as everyone else's. That's why I'm here. To discuss, learn and share. I have no ulterior motive and I will be the first to say "I'm wrong" if I feel I am. I am a pretty humble person.
 

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Isn't it more of a symbiotic thing than exploitation though? I thought the way worm composting worked was that the worms get to eat all the tasty food scraps and we get good soil as a result and everyone wins. Are the worms harmed in some way?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Are the worms harmed in some way?</div>
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I can't speak for all vermicomposters, but mine aren't. I have never even accidentally physically harmed one of my worms. It's pretty hard to hurt a worm who just lays around and eats and poops all day. When I "harvest" the poo, I do it by hand (it's a pretty small-scale operation) and I try not to even handle them if I can avoid it in case that stresses them out.<br><br><br><br>
On a mental level, I can't say for sure if they are "harmed". From what I understand about worms, I don't think they have a clue that they are "captive". I realize that people used to think this about other animals, I know that argument. But from what we know of worms, I just don't think they care. If this were to be refuted at some point and declared untrue, I'd feel awful and would never vermicompost again.
 

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Well, it's not about harm to the worms. It's about allowing them their right to self-determination. We can't be sure whether they know or care that they're in captivity but I would prefer to err on the side of caution and give them the benefit of the doubt.<br><br><br><br>
I don't think anyone has any problem with composting if the worms make their own way into the compost pile; it's when they're captured/bred to be added to humans' compost piles that it becomes an issue.
 

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I have a compost pile in the yard. The worms aren't captive though -- they choose to eat my veg scraps. They seem to be enjoying them, as do the squirrels who often throw them about my yard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Well, it's not about harm to the worms. It's about allowing them their right to self-determination. We can't be sure whether they know or care that they're in captivity but I would prefer to err on the side of caution and give them the benefit of the doubt.</div>
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I can appreciate this concern. There are a couple threads about this right now, and I posted on the other one that because my air holes were drilled too large, they actually could escape. The holes are bigger than they are. I imagine they'd crawl right out of them if they wanted to? There are 25 holes in all, all around the sides and on the top and bottom. I haven't had even one try to make a break for it, so I assume they are content to be where they are.<br><br><br><br>
But then again.. to reframe this back to the whole pet scenario. When people have cats and dogs, they don't generally just let them come and go as they please. (More so with dogs, unless you have an indoor-only cat, since cats tend to do whatever they want. lol) Would that be considered nonvegan? Because (in your words) we're not allowing them the right of self-determination? This is the point that is getting to me the most. And I'm not saying that because of this, worm composting MUST be vegan. I'm simply saying that if this argument can't also be applied to our pets, then having pets is not vegan either.
 

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No, having pets isn't vegan, or at least it wouldn't be in an ideal world. It certainly is never vegan to buy an animal of any kind from a breeder. <i>Adopting</i> animals is a way to make the best of a bad situation; we give the pets a home, hopefully asking as little of them as we can. They can't truly be free in the situation but it is certainly better than simply letting them die. <b>All</b> domestic animals should be spayed/neutered, however, which would eliminate the issue within ~20 years.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>lovely_rita</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br><br>
But then again.. to reframe this back to the whole pet scenario. When people have cats and dogs, they don't generally just let them come and go as they please. (More so with dogs, unless you have an indoor-only cat, since cats tend to do whatever they want. lol) Would that be considered nonvegan? Because (in your words) we're not allowing them the right of self-determination? This is the point that is getting to me the most. And I'm not saying that because of this, worm composting MUST be vegan. I'm simply saying that if this argument can't also be applied to our pets, then having pets is not vegan either.</div>
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If we're going to make an analogy from mammals, let's not use companion animals (from shelters, the only right place to get them from) as an example since they will be killed if someone doesn't take them under his or her care. Let's talk about wild animals. Would it be ethical to take wild mammals into human care and restrict their self-determination for human benefit? I think you know the answer to that. I'm not saying that directly applies to worms, just expounding on the analogy you used.
 

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Im Vegan, and I love my companion worms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Adopting animals is a way to make the best of a bad situation; we give the pets a home, hopefully asking as little of them as we can. They can't truly be free in the situation but it is certainly better than simply letting them die. All domestic animals should be spayed/neutered, however, which would eliminate the issue within ~20 years</div>
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I absolutely agree with you. All my kitties have been shelter kitties and they have all been spayed and neutered. (I've never had dogs in my adult life).<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">If we're going to make an analogy from mammals, let's not use companion animals (from shelters, the only right place to get them from) as an example since they will be killed if someone doesn't take them under his or her care. Let's talk about wild animals. Would it be ethical to take wild mammals into human care and restrict their self-determination for human benefit? I think you know the answer to that. I'm not saying that directly applies to worms, just expounding on the analogy you used.</div>
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Fair enough. I see the difference. I'm still not sure it applies to worms in situations where they are well cared for, etc. but I see that it isn't the same as with animals whose only option aside from adoption is death. (I live in a small rural town with one small shelter and it's a no-kill shelter that has never had to turn an animal away, so I feel somewhat distanced from the reality of shelters that euthanize).
 

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I don't understand, the worms are captive? Why? If you just put your compost in the garden the worms find their way in one their own and can come and go as they please?<br><br><br><br>
Maybe I'm missing something! But I certainly compost, and worms come in and help freely, and that's not unvegan IMO.
 

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well, some people don't have a garden.<br><br><br><br>
I'd get a worm compost bin, in my flat, but I don't produce enough compost fodder for it to work.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Blobbenstein</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
well, some people don't have a garden.<br></div>
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Oh I see! so they go indoors? I never even knew you could do that.<br><br>
Now this makes a bit more sense! & I wouldn't think it was ethical then.
 

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Without reading the other posts...I feel it is humane and ethical. The worms that are used are colony animals. They live in large groups usually in a big ball of worms. They are not the free range type worms like you might see in your yard. So keeping the worms in a container is not really limiting their movement because I would think the only reason the worms would move from one place to another is to find food, water, or more suitable conditions. If we are maintaining proper moisture, keeping the bedding fresh and clean as possible, and keeping the worms fed, they would have no reason to want to move. This is of course my opinion and speculation. They eat, poop, grow, and reproduce and I never find dead worms (they can live as long as 5-7 years) so they must not be doing too badly.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Identity_thief</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I don't understand, the worms are captive? Why? If you just put your compost in the garden the worms find their way in one their own and can come and go as they please?<br><br><br><br>
Maybe I'm missing something! But I certainly compost, and worms come in and help freely, and that's not unvegan IMO.</div>
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Reason is because you are keeping the worms to "harvest" their poop to use as natural fertilizer. By composting outside the worms assist in composting and certainly deposit poop into the mix but it is not pure poop like you would get from a vermiculture setup. Worm castings by many is considered some of the best if not THE best organic fertilizer which is why it is desirable to get the pure poop.
 
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