DIY Vegan Suet Bird Feeder
Years ago, back when I was first vegan, I went to buy some suet feeders as we had a cold snap coming. As I grabbed them off the shelf at the bird store, I suddenly realized that they were made from animal products—suet is made from rendered animal fat. Birds do eat insects and worms and have been known to eat bits of frozen animal carcasses, but I really couldn’t bring myself to buy a feeder made from fat rendered from farmed animals. I asked the shop if they had any that did not contain animal suet, but they had never considered it and didn’t stock any. In fact, I still have never seen any in wild bird supply shops!
So I decided to see if I could make a vegan version. And lo and behold, I found recipes online! It is really simple and is a great project for kids!
I recently found another Make Your Own Suet recipe from the Audubon Society that came from the Misfit Baker (this site apparently doesn’t exist anymore, so I cannot link to it). I like this version as it includes some additional grains in it so there isn’t big areas of pure vegetable fat between the larger seeds.
What You Need
- Reloadable Suet Feeder
- A Mold, I use empty plastic tofu trays and ice cube trays (I love these stainless steel trays)
- Vegetable Shortening or Coconut Oil
- Nut Butter of choice, I used peanut
- Wild Bird Seed
- Quick Oats
- Cornmeal, I used coarse meal
Mix the bird seed, oats, and cornmeal into a large bowl.
The tofu trays make suet cakes in the perfect size, but if you don’t have them, you can just pack the feeder with cubes.
The birds and squirrels love these. As long as it’s cold outside, less than 50 degrees, the vegetable suet stays solid.
I make a bunch at once and keep them in the freezer to have all winter. The squirrels make fast work of the suet, so if you have squirrels, be prepared to replace often or use a squirrel-proof feeder. We don’t mind feeding the squirrels as well as the birds.
Besides being vegan, this can be a zero waste project as well. My local hardware store, Grange Supply, sells wild bird seed in bulk, which is awesome! Or you can sometimes find wild bird seed in paper sacks at feed stores. Coconut oil comes in glass jars, but I’ve not found vegetable shortening come that way, only in plastic. And I love having something I can do to reuse those pesky plastic tofu containers!
Have you tried making vegan suet feeders? What was your experience?
Cindy Thompson, MS, is a certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator; an American Council on Exercise certified Health Coach, Peer Fitness Trainer, and Fitness Nutrition Specialist; Tilth Alliance Soil and Water Steward; 5 Gyres Ambassador; and retired fire captain and paramedic. She provides health and lifestyle coaching at Trimazing! Vegan Lifestyle & Health Coaching. Cindy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.