The last few days I have been researching information to help me with this post regarding feeding your companion animal a vegan diet. I have previously directly linked to a few articles that I have found particularly useful.
Choosing to feed your companion animal a vegan diet is a subject that harbours great opinions from both the meat-eating and vegan communities. It is of great importance to distinguish general opinion from fact. Some of the most relevant topics regarding vegan diets for pets are discussed below.
Their natural diet
Dogs and cats have been domesticated over 1000s of years, and as such have adapted to a very different diet from their ancestors. All food we give to companion animals nowadays is very different to what they would eat naturally. Pet food has been processed and commercialised to such a point that it has become so far removed from anything the animal would naturally eat – Cats don’t catch massive deep-sea dwelling tuna, or help themselves to cows milk!
Health issues with commercial meat based diets
Some of my most interesting findings were these studies on cats and dogs that had been maintained on meat-based diets. These animals showed adverse health effects that included kidney, liver, heart, thyroid, neurologic, neuromuscular, skin and infectious diseases, as well as bleeding disorders. The studies showed that these diseases were more likely in cats and dogs maintained on commercial meat-based diets, and also illustrated some hazardous ingredients found within meat-based pet food.
Health issues of feeding a vegan diet
I have found a great deal of negative comment regarding owners feeding their pets on a vegan diet, with no scientific evidence to justify their claims. A great deal of negativity is formed when news stories like this one are released – where owners fed their kitten a ‘vegan’ diet. Any intelligent reader will realise that the issue was not that they were feeding the kitten a ‘vegan’ diet, more that they were feeding the kitten a diet of potatoes, rice milk and pasta. A well thought out and put-together diet would include all your pets vital nutritional needs, and just happen to be vegan as well.
Ethical reasons to convert your pet to a vegan diet
- Animal abuse within the meat and dairy industries
- Environmental devastation
- Ethics of pet food companies. The BUAV (now Cruelty Free International) has discovered widespread invasive tests on animals by Purina, Hills Pet Nutrition, Iams and Pedigree
Ethical changes to your pets diet
Any steps you are able and willing to take are fantastic. The impact you can have on the environment as well as on your pet’s health is huge. As little or as much as you feel comfortable with is great, and deserves applause.
- Make a conscious decision on which pet foods you buy – such as avoiding companies that conduct animal trials of their food.
- If you want to feed your pets a meat-based diet, choose an organic, ethical pet food to avoid factory-farmed meat.
- Consider a nutritionally complete and balanced vegan pet food. A great option, I can personally vouch for is Veganpet here in Australia.
- Homemade pet food, if well thought-out and researched could also be a great option.
- Switch your dogs treats to vegan treats – Veganpet’s vegan pigs ears, or make your own vegan dog biscuits.
Remember to follow the dietary guidelines as listed by the manufacturer, and ensure that your companion animal receives regular veterinary check-ups.
- VegePets – Website by Andrew Knight, a European veterinary specialist in animal welfare science, ethics and law, and a professor of Animal Welfare and Ethics at the University of Winchester. It provides information about the health and nutritional issues associated with both meat-based and vegetarian companion animal diets.
- Vegepooch – in particular their FAQs section is an interesting and informative read
- Ethical Consumer – dog food buyers guide