Hi Ben, All,
I'm currently thinking about starting a garden myself, and would be interested to know how you handled "pests", for while I find the idea of growing food for my family appealing I'm also strongly averse to causing another being harm.
A very good point. I resolved never to kill even the smallest thing when tending my little veg patch. The slugs and snails are the worst problem, so they get kidnapped and transported to some waste-land behind the garden. I also encourage frogs, who presumably eat some of them. Bigger insect pests can be kept off with fine netting or mesh, but timing has to be right in order not to trap them inside the net and make things worse!
The main defence I have is to not grow anything that is too appealing to the pests. Where I live, little will eat onions, garlic, and leeks, and nothing seems to eat beetroot, turnips, etc. Beans and peas get attacked, but not enough to affect the production of the actual pods.I have learnt by my mistakes, and now have a reasonable understanding of what I can get away with.
More importantly, attempting to grow food has done a lot to prevent me falling into the trap of "smug veganism". I know now that most of what I eat is only there because someone else did the killing on my behalf. All rather sobering, really.