Useful Guide to the Best Vegan Compost

Living as an ethical vegan means more than just food. As a keen gardener too, I needed to find vegan compost. Read this Guide to the Best Vegan Compost to find out more about products you can use in your garden.

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image of a bag of Melcourt's SylvaGrow compost

This informative guide tells you about some of the best peat-free, vegan compost brands available, and where you can buy them.

I will continue to add further recommendations to keep this vegan compost guide up to date.

Therefore, if you own a vegan compost brand that you would like to see included, please get in touch through my Contact page.

How can you tell what’s in the compost you buy?

When it comes to finding out what’s in a bag of compost, it’s not always very easy.

Certain ‘warning’ words or phrases to look out for include: manure, humus, shells, guano (bird-droppings), fish blood and bonemeal – I guess some of those may seem very obvious! Ingredients like humus may be plant-based, but may also contain excreta from farm animals.

Very few commercial composts describe exactly what is in them though, so it can be difficult for vegans to know which one to buy. And with a general ban on peat being introduced in 2024 in the UK, many of us want to avoid that ingredient too, although if something is peat free, it is generally mentioned on the pack.

As far as I’m aware, labelling regulations regarding exact ingredients in compost are not very rigorous, so as an environmentally-friendly vegan (and those 2 terms don’t always go together!) you have to do a bit of, well, digging…

So, that’s what I’ve done and have consequently listed those vegan compost brands that I know to be suitable below. Some compost companies have been very forthcoming, helpful and responsive (thank you to them) and some others offer relevant information in their product descriptions which is great.

As for the others? I’m not one for mud-slinging (sorry, I can’t help it, these words just have to come out) so instead, they simply don’t get on my list!

Is vegan compost also organic?

No, not necessarily, is the short answer! It is often assumed that if something is vegan, it must also be environmentally-friendly, cruelty-free and organic. But whilst that can be true, it’s not always the case.

When I was looking into this, Melcourt (who make the vegan-friendly SylvaGrow range) were incredibly helpful and honest – their vegan range is not organic because the nutrient pack in the organic product may contain animal-derived ingredients.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is less environmentally-friendly, but consequently as a vegan, I buy their non-organic range. 

Why are Miracle Gro, Tomorite and Levingtons not on your list?

When I contacted Evergreen who own these brands, they were very open, honest and helpful. Their compost products contain guano (bird droppings), and cannot therefore be certified as vegan.

Miracle Gro’s Performance Organics is the closest Evergreen currently have to a vegan compost. Classified as ‘plant-based’, it may however still contain guano.

So which vegan compost is best?

When conducting my research, the first 3 criteria below were mandatory, so all the vegan compost in my list meets those.

All the criteria considered were as follows, although the bottom 4 weren’t consistently met by every product:

  • vegan
  • peat-free
  • good quality
  • organic
  • vegan society approved
  • reasonably priced
  • environmentally-friendly packaging

Vegan Mum’s favourite Vegan Compost Brands

Pros

Cons

Melcourt SylvaGrow

Editor's rating: 4.8/5
4.8/5

SylvaGrow is an RHS endorsed, high-quality multi-purpose compost. Melcourt helpfully and clearly identify all vegan-friendly items in their product descriptions and were genuinely very helpful and responsive to my questions.

Compost deteriorates over time; consequently, SylvaGrow vegan compost bags have ‘best before’ dates clearly printed. 

With all the positive ‘pros’ listed, it’s just a shame their vegan range isn’t also organic.

With regard to packaging, they use minimum 30% post consumer recycled plastic (and are working to increase that) and the bags are also recyclable.

££ Average price range

Pros

Cons

Fertile Fibre

Editor's rating: 4.8/5
4.8/5

This Vegan Society approved compost is another high quality product, and their seed compost is a ‘Which’ Best Buy – praise indeed!

There is also an interesting Vegan Society interview with Matthew Dent of Fertile Fibre which you can read on their website.

This compost has the added benefit of being organic, has Soil Association certification and to be honest, Fertile Fibre have been doing the ‘peat-free thing’ for years, before it ever became fashionable!

Their website has ‘vegan’ as a filter which is helpful because not all their products are vegan.

££ Average price range

Pros

Cons

Coco & Coir

Editor's rating: 4.8/5
4.8/5

Coco & Coir’s compost is organic, eco-friendly and has Soil Association certification.

And because the coir is hydrated by you as and when you need it, it is lighter to transport, easily stored and takes up less space. This makes this a good, environmentally friendly option.

Coco & Coir has an extensive range of coir composts for every gardening need, some with nutrients, and some without so great for everything from seed sowing to planting out.

And because you hydrate as you need it, the nutrients don’t start to degrade if you store it.

It’s also more budget-friendly than some other composts.

£ Lower price range

Pros

Cons

Natural Grower

Editor's rating: 4.7/5
4.7/5

Ticking lots of the boxes – vegan society approved, soil association and biodynamic certified – this is a popular compost with some gardeners.

The biodynamic tag doesn’t float everyone’s boat, and many can’t see any benefits that are distinct from using other organic, non-biodynamic composts.

However, this is a good-quality compost that should work well in any garden.

££ Average price range

Pros

Cons

For Peat’s Sake

Editor's rating: 4.6/5
4.6/5

This is such a great idea – transporting water is not the most cost-effective, environmentally-friendly thing to do, and also often requires plastic packaging.

This clever pack of coir is delivered to you dried in a brown paper bag. You then stick it in a bucket, and pour the required amount of water onto it and hey presto, you have your compost.

It feels like it’s aimed at the houseplant market rather than the avid vegetable grower.

I see no reason why it wouldn’t work in the garden, but it would be an expensive option to create the amount of compost most vegetable gardeners require. 

Definitely recommend it for houseplants though, along with the plant food and mycorrhizal fungi ‘root buddies’.

£££ Higher price range

Pros

Cons

Westland’s Top Soil

Editor's rating: 4.4/5
4.4/5

This is currently the only Westland product that is both vegan and peat-free.

The product is fine, but to grow anything in it, you will need to add plant food/nutrients. This is certainly bottom of my list for that reason.

££ Average price range

Best Vegan Houseplant Compost

Pros

Cons

Focus by Growth Technology Ltd

Editor's rating: 4.8
4.8/5

This good quality potting compost for houseplants is reasonably-priced and widely available.

Growth Technology has a wide range of Focus houseplant composts including cacti, bonsai and even one for your carniverous plants (not sure how vegan they are!?)

Anyway, Growth Technology have confirmed that all these products are vegan-friendly.

££ Average price range

I hope you have found this Guide to Vegan Compost helpful. If you would like to read more of my product reviews and guides, please visit Vegan Mum’s Lifestyle page.

It depends on what the manure is made from. Most manure comes from animal faeces combined with other animal products and so an ethical vegan would not use that in their garden.

However, plant-based manure is available, made from things like seaweed, spent grain and leguminous plants.

Wikipedia has an informative page on manure.

Many composts contain animal-derived ingredients (listed below) so always look for composts that specifically state that they are vegan-friendly – and peat-free of course!

Animal derived ingredients include:

  • bonemeal
  • fish
  • blood
  • guano (bird droppings)
  • chicken and other animal droppings
  • eggshells

No, it contains guano. Even those classified as ‘plant-based’ are not vegan because of that.

No, it contains guano. Even those classified as ‘plant-based’ are not vegan because of that.

No, they contain guano (bird droppings).

Not many of Westland’s composts are vegan – currently they have 3 products. However, only 1 of those is peat free (see Westland Top Soil entry above). The other 2 vegan products are as follows, but contain peat:

  • Gro-Sure Easy Containers Compost
  • Gardener’s Multi-Purpose Compost

No, Westland have confirmed that these are not vegan.

Penny Barkas


Comments

6 responses to “Useful Guide to the Best Vegan Compost”

  1. Carl John Duffin avatar
    Carl John Duffin

    Thank you very much Vegan Mum – you’ve done a lot of the footwork so I don’t have to and of course I will use your links to make my purchases for 2024. Merry Christmas and a Happy Harvest for 2024.

    1. Hi Carl. Thank you for your comment and I’m glad you’ve found the blog useful. I had found it so difficult to identify which composts I could use, and figured that other vegans must be experiencing the same problem! However, I’m sure there are more vegan composts out there so do let me know if you find any others that may be worthy of further research. Happy growing season 2024!
      Vegan Mum.

  2. This is incredibly useful, thank you so much for taking the time to research and review.

    I wasn’t sure about coir composts as I’m aware that some coconut products are harvested using monkeys in chains – basically slave monkeys. I believe the practice is most common in Thailand, however it is also practiced in India where Coco & Coir’s coir comes from. I’ve been meaning to email them to ask how their products are harvested and what they do to ensure what their told is what is happening on the ground, but haven’t got around to it.

    Thanks again for this – going to go for Fertile Fibre even though it is pretty expensive

    1. Thanks Mary, I will look into that with Coco & Coir and update the article if I find out any more information.

  3. I work in a garden centre that used to sell melcourt / sylva grow. Fwiw I thought it was a nice, high quality product although it was quite pricey. We never had customer complaints. Id suggest vegan gardeners write to to garden centres (head office if its a chain) so that they realise there is demand.
    There are now vegan manure substitutes growing in popularity such as ‘blooming amazing’ which is made from arable farm waste that’s been used for bio methane production, it is also organic with a soil association kitemark.

    1. Thanks Jon, I will look into that manure. Vegan Mum

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