A vegan gardening expert has been mocked for encouraging gardeners to “hug a slug.” Matthew Appleby, deputy editor of UK magazine Horticulture Weekly, says that letting plants and vegetables die is a price worth paying for protecting the wellbeing of slugs, snails, and other garden insects.
In his new book, The Super Organic Gardener, Mr Appleby writes: “We should all metaphorically hug a slug. I am a huge fan of growing your own veg and plants but I also believe it’s better not to grow anything than to kill any wildlife.”
He also bemoans the use of bird feeders, accusing gardeners who own them of “sentimentalizing their gardens” in an effort to create a “private zoo.” He said they do little to help birds survive in their natural habitat and end up attracting cats, foxes, squirrels, and rats.
But his comments have been met with widespread derision. The naturalist and wildlife gardener Chris Baines claimed his hug a slug the idea was “just a sensationalist slogan.”
He said: “Gardens and gardeners have had a profound beneficial effect on wildlife that is struggling in the wider countryside. Bird feeders and bird baths are not a private zoo. Birds that people enjoy in their gardens have a rough time in suburbia.”
And The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds also criticized Mr Appleby’s call for gardeners to ditch their bird feeders.
An RSPB spokesman said: “Feeding garden birds is a fantastic and important thing to do. Not only does it help birds that might struggle to find food in the wider countryside, it also brings joy to a lot of people and is a brilliant way of getting children interested in nature at an early age, too.”