Biocyclic Vegan Agriculture – Organic Farming the Vegan Way

Are fruits and vegetables really vegan?

This question seems superfluous at first glance, since it is generally assumed that these staple foods are vegan per se because they do not contain any animal ingredients. However, if one looks at the common production of fruits and vegetables, it can be seen that, especially in organic farming, organic inputs of animal origin such as manure and slaughterhouse waste (blood meal, bristle meal, feather meal and horn chips) are often used for fertilisation. The production of fruits and vegetables is therefore often associated with the various harmful effects of animal husbandry including animal suffering, which a growing number of consumers actually wants to avoid.

The Biocyclic Vegan Standard, a new approach to organic farming based on ethical and sustainability principles

In November 2017 the Biocyclic Vegan Standard was admitted to the IFOAM Family of Standards (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) as a global stand-alone-standard and has since then been available to producers worldwide allowing them to grow their crops in a vegan and organic manner, to become certified accordingly and to mark their products with the quality label “from Biocyclic Vegan Agriculture”.

The IFOAM Family of Standards logo
The IFOAM Family of Standards logo

The Biocyclic-Vegan Standard describes the principles of a sustainable, closed-loop oriented and vegan form of organic farming the implementation of which will enable all industries along the food chain to make an effective contribution to protect the environment, e. g. to moderate climate change, to enhance biodiversity, to prevent water pollution and eutrophication, to avoid antibiotic residues and pathogenic germs in soils and crops and to improve soil fertility, as well as it will help to strengthen health aspects on all levels and to improve global food security without the use of animals in the sense of traditional livestock husbandry. Soil fertility and productivity are enhanced with the help of purely plant-based inputs. By systematically using mature compost in substrate quality as well as biocyclic humus soil in combination with green manure and mulching of plant materials rich in herbs, the humus content of the soil can be considerably increased on the land cultivated according to the biocyclic-vegan principles.

Initially, the principles of biocyclic farming were developed by the German organic farming pioneer Adolf Hoops (1932-1999) at his horticultural operation “Bio-Modell Walsrode”. Existing only on an empirical basis, they were scientifically evaluated and systematized by Dr. agr. Johannes Eisenbach and adapted to the Mediterranean region in cooperation with the National Agricultural Research Institute N.AG.RE.F. in Athens and Kalamata/Greece. After the death of Adolf Hoops, the first production guidelines were developed in cooperation with his son Arne Hoops. As “Biocyclic Standards”, these guidelines have had a decisive influence on the development of organic farming in Greece and Cyprus up to the present day. Over the past few years, the vegan aspect, which was anchored in the biocyclic idea from the outset, has been particularly worked out in conjunction with initiatives from the fields of vegan organic farming, science and research, consumer education (ProVeg International) and animal ethics (Albert Schweitzer Foundation). This eventually led to the issuing of the present Biocyclic Vegan Standard and the ensuing possibility of certification by accredited inspection bodies.

The biocyclic vegan quality label
The biocyclic vegan quality label

Today the Biocyclic Vegan Standard as well as the quality label connected to it are owned by the non-profit company Adolf-Hoops-Gesellschaft (Adolf Hoops Society) in Berlin which has delegated the operational activities to the Cyprus based BNS Biocyclic Network Services Ltd. which, in cooperation with international partners in different countries, oversees training programs for farmers and finally awards the biocyclic vegan quality label to those who have successfully undergone the certification process which is carried out on behalf of Adolf-Hoops-Gesellschaft by CERES as part of a supplementary overall audit of the operation that goes far beyond the EU organic inspection.

The Biocyclic Vegan Standard Committee

As from this year, the updating and legally binding interpretation of the Biocyclic Vegan Standard has been entrusted to the Biocyclic Vegan Standard Committee, which consists of experts and various organisations engaged in biocyclic vegan agriculture, research, animal rights and veganism.

With its admission to the “IFOAM Family of Standards” the Biocyclic Vegan Standard is being given a global dimension and offers farmers worldwide the possibility to produce their crops according to purely plant-based principles in a particularly environmentally friendly and resource-saving manner and to be certified accordingly, in order to open up new markets with the quality label “from biocyclic vegan agriculture”.

The first biocyclic vegan operations in Greece, Cyprus, Germany, France and the Netherlands

Today, already around 60 certified smallholder family farms in Greece and Cyprus work according to the Biocyclic Vegan Standard without keeping livestock for commercial purposes and without using any animal manure or other inputs of animal origin. The products of the growers who are associated in the PANHELLENIC BIOCYCLIC VEGAN NETWORK are sold exclusively through the member organisations (organic packhouses) of the Organic Marketing & Export Network O.M.E.N., which are also controlled and certified according to the Biocyclic Vegan Standard. Also in other countries first certifications have already been carried out (Germany, France and the Netherlands) and local associations have been created to grant technical support and the promotion of the biocyclic vegan agriculture in general:

  1. Germany: Förderkreis Biozyklisch-Veganer Anbau
  2. France: Association Agriculture Biocyclique Végétalienne
  3. Netherlands / Flanders: Netwerk ter bevordering van biocyclische-veganlandbouw in Nederland en Vlaanderen
Biocyclic Vegan audit at Biolandhof Hund, an apple grower in the Lake Constance region in South Germany
Biocyclic Vegan audit at Biolandhof Hund, an apple grower in the Lake Constance region in South Germany

With the introduction of the Biocyclic Vegan Standard and the label “from biocyclic vegan agriculture”, it has now become possible for suppliers of both fresh and processed products to label plant-based items with the reference to biocyclic vegan farming and thus transparently communicate the consistently organic and vegan characteristics of these products to a growing segment of customers. For consumers, this provides a complete traceability “from field to table”, which enables them for the first time to recognize not only that all ingredients of a product are of plant origin, but that they have already been grown according to vegan principles.

For further information please contact the Berlin based office for the international development of the Biocyclic Vegan Standard:

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