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Veganic farming is wasteful and doesn’t make weed better

close up cannabis marijuana pot dank kush
Can you tell if this is cruelty-free?

The pervasive vegan ideology has enveloped one of America’s fastest-growing industries: Cannabis cultivation.

A new subgenre of weed farming, , is apparently growing in popularity among more committed vegan stoners.

These aspirational agriculturists commit to using fertilizers free from animal products. They then market the marijuana as cruelty-free, and higher quality than more murderous alternatives.

The rub for vegans is that many organic fertilizers use discarded blood and bone from slaughterhouses, thus making them complicit in the interspecies holocaust known as factory farming.

It’s worth noting that many top advocates for veganic growing have a direct financial incentive to promote this method. The aptly named Kyle Kushman (really?) helped found the movement and sells Vegamatrix, a popular plant-based nutrient system.

It looks like great stuff, and I hope that Kushman’s business does well. I’ve noticed that entrepreneurs cherry-pick scientific and market research to construct an ironclad confirmation bias system around their work, though.

“The flavors are much more prominent,” Kushman says. “You can taste the terpene profile much more because you’re not also tasting metals.”

These are not the words of a scientist. They are passion-driven marketing claims from a hippy with a business to run. Where are your double-blind consumer trials, Mr. Kushman????

“If a slaughterhouse follows organic practices and only kills pasture-raised, organic cows without antibiotics, there is no reason not to use their byproducts for good. “

Veganic products are not better or worse than animal-containing organic products. We should all ditch chemical synthetic fertilizers. I’d just rather use organic products that also upcycle slaughterhouse waste.

Cruelty-free but wasteful

Vegan might be cruelty-free, but it’s also wasteful in this context.

Slaughterhouses produce waste products that can’t go into food, including blood and bones. Farmers only options are to let these rot somewhere or to sell them to other folks who will put these resources back into the ecosystem.

Weed marijuana decorative artsy hipster cannabis tea

What alternatives do vegans suggest? Dump all that stuff in a hole? Let it run into the river? Maybe you could throw handfuls of it on people’s fur coats.

Factory farming is horrible, but we need to eat meat. Most humans are healthiest with meat in their diet. We should change to natural farming practice

If a slaughterhouse follows organic practices and only kills pasture-raised cows without antibiotics, there is no reason not to use their byproducts for good.

It’s important to be pragmatic about this. People eat meat, and there’s no sign that will stop in our lifetimes. It’s better for us to create a circular economy where we help others reduce waste and maximize benefits.

Everything organic

All weed farming — all farming period — should be organic. Preferably we should replace our plumbing with compost toilets and use our own waste to fertilize the weed plants. Every change we make to agriculture should move us closer to a fully circular ecosystem where nothing is wasted. 

People who want animal-free products should absolutely go that route. It’s your life. Do you, boo.

But nothing is ever as simple as people want it to be. We can’t just wish away the meat industry. Buying veganic weed fertilizer doesn’t create long-term alternatives that function on a mass scale.

People try too often to legitimize their own choices by convincing others to adopt them as well.

Their insecurity makes them feel that if anyone disagrees with their philosophy it’s somehow weak or invalid. Getting other people on board the vegan train makes them feel better about the work they’ve put into their lifestyle.

The main questions on our mind when considering veganic, or any other specialized farming practices, should be how effective it is.

Does veganic work?

Not really, it seems.

Cannabis sativa marijuana red light dark kush

Veganic advocates say that the weed burns cleaner and tastes better without those horrid chemical products and cruelty particles in it. I sense confirmation bias at work.

Dr. Robert Flannery, the only guy with a Ph.D. in weed farming, disagrees with the veganic evangelists. Based on his research, he says that plants only extract the nutrients they need from fertilizers.

“This means that regardless of whether I use an organic fertilizer, a veganic fertilizer, or a mineral nutrient to fertilize my plants, the plant is only going to absorb mineral nutrients,” Flannery said.

Evolutionarily speaking, this makes sense. A plant that absorbs unnecessary or harmful materials will not live long to pass on its genetics. Cannabis is an amazing plant, and only uses what it needs to produce its amazing flowers.

But according to Flannery and my friends in the weed business, veggie-based fertilizers don’t improve the quality of the weed. They actually make it harder to grow and reduce yield sizes.

Synthetic fertilizers are the main problem.  They’re full of heavy metals and other junk plants leave behind after extracting their nutrients.

Organic fertilizer with animal stuff in it is a better option. It leaves behind no junk, upcycles slaughterhouse waste, and gives your plants the nutrients they need.

This type of question is often missing from vegan discussions. People usually stick with moral and emotional arguments. The vegan viewpoint often fails to withstand science and logic.

That said, I believe the vegans provide important skepticism toward conventional food practices. It’s important to question everything we do. Passionate folks in the vegan community do a great job of making us contemplate our food on a deeper level.

The value of virtue

In my experience, though, the vegan diet is not the healthiest option. In a lot of ways, veganism is more about virtue signaling than about taking the best way to fix your health and the environment.

That’s especially the case when people use veganism as a point of differentiation to sell their products. Studies show that modern consumers are attracted to brands that align with their values.

Many vegans are also interested in cannabis and farming. This creates a perfect market niche for vegan weed fertilizer. Signal those virtues and get that money, Mr. Kushman.

We can’t forget how lucky we are to live in a country where we have so many options for marijuana fertilizers. Some people are still out there smoking shitty brick weed while we have this entirely unnecessary debate.

At SnakTak, we always ask whether or not a product or idea will increase global happiness. Vegan weed gets our first neutral rating.

For some people, vegans mostly, this will enhance the cannabis experience. The knowledge that there’s no animal in your Animal Cookies is a huge bonus IF that’s an important value to you.

For most people, though, this one more in a long line of vegan alternatives that are not improved by removing the animal products. I will not make any concerted effort to seek out veganically grown bud.

However, if you grow weed at home and want to ensure 0% cruelty content, here’s a good-looking starter kit from Vegamatrix:

They sell us poison, wrapped in poison

Bottles at a poison factory flying down the production line

Sugary poison beverages like Pepsi are a blight on the modern world.

They sap our energy and destroy our bodies, while getting us deeply addicted. They drive epidemics of childhood obesity, diabetes, and metabolic devastation.

And the vessels for this sugary poison are equally toxic and destructive.

Plastics are cheap and convenient, so we use them everywhere. They’re nearly impossible to avoid.

A plastic-free lifestyle takes such a concentrated effort that most people choose to just turn a blind eye and get on with their lives.

I’m guilty of this. Most of the foods I consume and products I use come in plastic containers. I try to reduce my plastic waste by making bottle bricks, but I still throw some away. Dirtballs come in plant-based plastic, but that’s not a great solution.

Waste management systems let us throw our trash and our worries into a void, removed from our everyday existence. Out of sight, out of mind.

But plastic is toxic. The original plastic was made of phenol and formaldehyde, essentially coal tar and embalming fluid. Poison mixed with poison.

Toxic origins

Leo Hendrick Baekland, the chemist who set this plastic tsunami in motion, was honest about his intentions. He was trying to invent substances that would make him a lot of money.

And I don’t fault him for that. I’m building this business to make money, and I think it’s a perfectly acceptable motivation for innovative chemistry.

As is the case with so many technologies, however, plastic’s inventors had no way of knowing the full consequences of their actions.

But Baekland was a good chemist. He invented a material that suited mass producers’ economic needs extremely well. His invention became the foundation for many corporations’ business models. If Coke only sold their toxic brown syrup in glass bottles, they would not be as profitable.

Toys, cookware, cosmetics, clothing, electronics, and damn near every other type of product all are made of plastic or come shipped in plastic bags.

And there’s zero transparency about what types of plastic they use, what’s in the plastics, and what it costs to produce and dispose of them.

“The industry has no idea what they’re putting in the plastic and who’s putting it in,” said Andrew Turner, a British chemist who recently found toxic chemicals in 40 percent of the black plastic toys, thermoses, cocktail stirrers, and utensils he tested.

Companies like Pepsi and Nestle are doubly guilty. They sell products that pollute our bodies in containers that pollute our planet.

And they make a killing doing it.

What can we do?

It’s easy to say we just need to make different choices as consumers. But big plastic even finds ways to pollute to educate people on recycling.

The American Plastic Bag association recently sponsored a plastic recycling program, while simultaneously lobbying lawmakers to stop plastic bag bans.

One option would be legal action. Given all the destruction they cause, we can just sue the bastards, right?

Well, environmental law is tricky. In our legal system, a human must be able to prove personal harm in order to have a workable case. With our current means, it is almost impossible to prove that you have been personally harmed by the incomprehensible pollution plaguing our planet.

It’s equally hard to prove that a sugary drink is the direct cause of your disease. If you have an overall unhealthy diet, you can’t reasonably say that Pepsi gave you diabetes.

How do you quantify the effects of widespread environmental destruction on an individual?

Trash pile in malaysia
A massive mountain of trash we exported to Malaysia so we don’t have to think about it.

How do you measure the sugar industry’s contributions to rampant obesity and disease?

Maybe we can put together a class-action lawsuit on behalf of everyone who’s life is impacted by their poisons.

Maybe in the future we’ll have a government that measures more than simple profit as a measure of economic success.

Maybe we’ll all snap out of our blissful ignorance and demand that everyone do more to save our planet.

Plastic never goes away. It just goes somewhere else. We’re slowly choking the planet, and by extension ourselves, with our dependence on these toxins.

Stop drinking soda

Soda is bad for you, and the bottles it comes in are bad for the environment.

It’s a good move for you and the planet to stop consuming soda.

If we take our dollars away from these companies, maybe that’s the wakeup call they need. The dollar reigns supreme in America.

Drink water instead. Just don’t buy it in plastic bottles.

Write as Rain: Get your hands dirty (and your feet, too)

Farm plot with plants and dirt, nature
A field with some early sprouts on one of Rains WWOOFing farms

“Go pick out something to make for dinner,” our host said to us at the end of each day. Rather than reaching for the handle of the refrigerator, we grabbed a sweater and reached for the handle of the back door.

Feet with tattoo in dirt and plants
Dig those toes in!

Soft, cold dirt squished between our bare toes as we moved through the garden. Our eyes darted around like detectives after a clue. 

We earnestly pushed through the tangle of roots and leaves, checking for signs of ripeness. 

That wild garden grew our dinner, we just had to go find it.

This was a common scenario during any of my WWOOFing experiences. Most of our meals came from the farm where we stayed.

I was born and raised in San Jose, California, a city deeply rooted in agriculture. The massive influx of tech development has paved over much of San Jose’s vast orchards and farmland, though.

I’ve never really known, or put much thought into for that matter, about the food on my plate. It’s just always been something that magically appeared in the grocery store.

“Let me tell you a story.” This, for me, was the sentence that helped reshape my thinking entirely.

I was 18 years old. It was the peak of winter, a winter colder than I had ever before experienced, and I was staying on a family friend’s farm in a small town in British Columbia. The nearest grocery store was a two-hour drive away, so much of the food we ate had either been preserved or was sourced from the farm. 

As we sat down to eat one night, the family reminisced of the time one of their cows had gone missing. Almost a year late, when the memory of the cow was nearly forgotten, a neighbor had found her in a nearby pasture. It sounded like a happy reunion.

The once missing cow, they chuckled, was now butchered, roasted and steaming on our dinner plates.

To my surprise, I was happy about it rather than horrified. The meat sitting on my plate looked and tasted better than anything I’d seen before. Farm to table was such a foreign concept back then. I barely ever thought about it.

I suddenly felt detached from food as I had forever known it as I didn’t really know where any of my food had come from prior. I decided that I wanted to familiarize myself more with this concept. I decided to go WWOOFing.

Farm girls eat fresh greens in the rain, agriculture
The author (right) enjoying some fresh greens

“Here, this was in my way,” my host said as casually as anything. “You guys can have it.”

He handed over a plant as tall as me. “What is it?,” I asked timidly, knowing I should have probably recognized it. “Arugula,” he answered.

This blew my mind. I eat arugula all the time, but how could something so commonplace look so foreign?

We cheerfully walked down to our kitchen, arugula bush in hand, and began plucking away at the stems, pulling it apart leaf by leaf. By the time we were done, we had enough leaves to make salads for *literal* days. 

When I first learned of WWOOFing, I believed I was incapable of working on a farm. I’ve always loved getting my hands dirty, but I hadn’t the first clue about growing food! 

Permaculture, bio-dynamics, horticulture– these were all terms thrown around on the WWOOFing websites I researched, but I had never heard of them. Self-doubt crept in and I questioned whether I was even qualified to volunteer.

But I managed to muffle the self-doubt and registered.

“Don’t worry about being too gentle,” one of my hosts assured me as I delicately placed a seedling into the rich soil, “plants want to grow and they will if you let them.”

Since then I’ve WWOOFed at five farms around the world; in different climates and following different practices. I’m still in no way a professional agriculturalist, but I’ve come away from each experience with more knowledge and skills.

Picking my own dinner helped me understand the farm to table process and develop a deep appreciation for those involved in agriculture in its many forms.

This type of sustainability isn’t limited to WWOOFing. Make a compost bin, start an herb garden, shop at the local farmer’s market. However limited or unlimited your growing experience may be, just start somewhere– the “I can do it” feeling is absolutely magical.

Keep those cheeks dry!!!

Riding bikes makes you happy.

A team of researchers from Clemson and UPenn made this important discovery in 2014 while analyzing how different modes of transportation affect our moods.

But there’s one thing that can ruin any cyclist’s joyride: a wet seat 🙁

Back when I rode my bike to school I would dread the soggy backside that awaited me in the bike cage. While I shook my fist at the heavens I would often wonder, “Why hasn’t anyone solved this problem???”

As it turns out, my friend Melissa Prestinario has solved this problem. Forever. No more wet butts.

She invented the Seat-Slicker seat cover and now sells them online to cyclists everywhere. I’ll let her tell you a bit more about this amazing product:

Seat-Slicker is the first fashionable and waterproof bicycle seat cover. It protects your posterior and adds personality to your ride. The colors and patterns were custom created for you and evoke joy.

Solar is a warm summer day. It’s a new sun dress and fresh tan lines. It’s riding no hands down a big hill and snapping a selfie with sunspots reflecting off your lemon-flavored italian ice.

Sky is a day at the beach. Lapis blue water rolling up to sand and reflecting in the air. It’s a ride along the boardwalk with a stop at your favorite ice cream shop. The smell of the waves blends with sweet pistachio and you are enveloped in pure bliss.

Midnight is traditional. It’s as rich and timeless as Chanel No.5. Your mind wanders on a moonless night as owls fly silently among the trees.

Dusk is a ride through birch trees on a misty gray evening. It’s chilly yet exhilarating. Even as the temperature falls, your mood rises up when you think of the fireplace back home.

Ridge is a hardcore ride. It’s paving new paths in the woods through green ferns and dark trees. Look to your left, and you’ll see the salmon jumping out of the wild river to cheer you on as you push yourself up a rugged mountain trail.

There’s nothing like a bike ride to transport you to years gone by or new adventures. It brings out the kid in all of us. It symbolizes individual freedom to go wherever you want to go. And now with Seat-Slicker, you can enjoy all of that even on a rainy day.

Creating my own custom fabrics and prints brought me so much happiness. Every aspect was thoughtfully selected from the perfect Pantone color to the lines, dots and curves. I was proud to bring something to market that was loved by the consumer and also functional to provide protection for their saddle and clothes. Dress your bike up, dress it down, change its personality. Ride in the rain and look good doing it. I hope you will love Seat-Slicker as much as I do.

What else do you need to know? Even the most aesthetically strict hipster can find the right Seat-Slicker to protect their seat and keep those cheeks dry!

Seat-Slicker is officially SnakTak Certified to increase your happiness levels by at least 5%*.

You can buy it on the Seat-Slicker website, or on Amazon.

*as long as you use it properly and responsibly. These statements have not been evaluated by any doctors, lawyers, mystics, priests, or yogis.

Write as Rain: This is WWOOFing

Rain Stites

This is WWOOFing

Gritting my teeth, I slipped gloves back over each of my stinging, red, dirt-caked hands. My body was sore but my heart so full; I was ready for war. 

An army of stinging nettle plants towered over me. I knew, though, that little by little, we’d make progress and the pain would be worth it.

We spent hours upon days carving out apple orchards in the English countryside, infested with sticky weed, overgrown grass and stinging nettles. Somehow, achy muscles and all, I found the energy to belt out Spice Girls hits while I scythed one last section of the orchard.

This is WWOOFing. 

WWOOF, known in its longer form as Willing Workers on Organic Farms, in my mind, is a magical force for travelers. An address book of limitless opportunity. 

This loosely organized network exists across the world, linking traveling volunteers (aka WWOOFers) to thousands of prospective host farms and agricultural properties. 

The general idea, according to the Federation of WWOOF Organizations, is to facilitate exchanges around organic agriculture. This means in exchange for an agreed amount of hours of work on the property per day, the WWOOFer receives housing and meals.

Many WWOOF hosts have only one requirement — the WWOOFer must be a registered member for the country where they wish to WWOOF. (Membership costs range from country to country, but the average cost is about $30 USD for the entire year. Members receive access to the country’s registered WWOOF host contact list.)

It was December in Australia: summer Down Under. A friend and I were studying abroad in Queensland for the year and decided to spend our holiday exploring the eastern and southern regions of the country. We had no real plans and not a lot of money. WWOOFing seemed like not only our best option, but our only option.

We headed for Victoria clutching our little WWOOF membership booklets and stuggling to support backpacks nearly as big as us. Starry-eyed, we set up camp at a coffee shop, eager to reach out to potential hosts. We had no sleeping arrangements for the night, so time was short.

I flipped to the Melbourne region of the booklet and dragged my index finger down the list of hosts, pausing at each description that sparked our interest. We called about ten different hosts and were, discouragingly, met similar responses from each: Sorry, we’re booked for the month. We don’t have space for you girls.

We, however, remained optimistic and decided to try a few more phone numbers. Finally a woman, with the exact accent you’d expect an Australian farmer to have, answered our prayers. Her family’s farm was tucked away in a small town called Waikerie in the Riverland of South Australia. 

We’re maxed out on WWOOFers, ladies, but our friends are in need of some help around their farm, she told us. My friend and I were thrilled! And like that, no real questions asked, we were off to our first WWOOF farm.

A lanky man with a beard devouring the bottom half of his face met us there. A man named Alan met us there. His skin looked worn but warm energy flowed from the gentle eyes behind his this glasses.He shook our hands, grabbed our bags and drove us in his small sedan down a remote road toward his property. 

He seemed timid, yet eager to befriend us. We chatted away, trying to gauge how much we could trust this complete stranger.

The car slowed, making its way into the drive. A small black Kelpie bolted toward the car, as if to herd us into the parking spot. A smiling woman, his wife Jenny, waved at us from a distance, closing the gate to the chicken coop before making her way to greet us.

I tried to take mental note of each moment, as if engraving it into my memory like a photograph. Somehow I knew this place would forever be special to me. I was right. Almost instantaneously, these complete strangers that welcomed us into their home, felt like family.

I’ve WWOOFed a total of five times in the past six years. I’ve travelled to towns I’ve never heard of and have been exposed to lifestyles and skills I never would have dreamed of encountering. Each experience has proven to be completely unique and equally magical. 

Folded away in an old piece of my luggage are a few marked up maps I’ve kept after each of my travels. Each mark, for me, represents a part of my story. The marks remind me of where I’ve been, what I’ve learned and who’ve I’ve met. These are places I would have never otherwise traveled to, and memories and skills I would never have gained. 

Each of these hosts, each of these small towns hold a special place in my heart. They will forever feel like home.

This is WWOOFing.

Does your environment make you use your phone more?

Smartphones are important because we are digital beings. Our levels of connectedness will only increase as we move deeper into the technological age.
Now is the time to practice using technology and the internet in the most beneficial ways possible.
Visit our shop to find some items that will help you be happier and use your phone less.
And next time you pick up your phone, use it to call an old friend or thank someone important for making your life better 🙂