By David Templeton
Before the diagnosis, and long before any thoughts about “veganic farming,” Janet McKee was devoting physical and mental energy to a frenzied corporate career.
That lifestyle caught up with her when she learned she had ulcerative colitis, inflammation of the lining of the large intestine, linked to stress, medications and poor diet. Her doctor prescribed drugs while warning she’d likely be on them for the rest of her life and also might need surgery.
She accepted the diagnosis but not the prognosis.
Instead, she dove headlong into scientific research that prompted lifestyle changes and adoption of a whole-plant vegan diet, which cured the colitis. She sought formal education to help others fight health problems through dietary and lifestyle changes, which eventually led to her decision to use veganic farming to raise more nutritious fruits, vegetables, herbs and seeds.
Veganic? Combine the vegan idea of avoiding cow and chicken manure and blood and bone meal as fertilizer, with the concept of organic farming, avoiding genetically modified plants and chemical fertilizers. Among other practices, veganic farmers use cover crops rather than manure to restore nitrogen to the soil.
“Why would you spread animal manure on your fields when you eat a vegan diet?” McKee said. “I wanted to grow the healthiest produce for the public that’s possible, and one of the concerns is E. coli, which comes from the manure and not from the spinach or vegetables.”
E. coli is a bacterium that causes food poisoning. Her opinions were bolstered when she learned that the bone and blood meals used in organic farming “are byproducts of slaughterhouse production.”
“If you think about it logically, the practical reality is that there is not enough poop available to grow the vegetables we need,” said Ron Khosla, a champion of veganic farming who supports www.goveganic.org . He operates Huguenot Street Farm, a 77-acre veganic farm in New Paltz, N.Y.