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Should Your Pet Be Vegan?
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Should Your Pet Be Vegan?

If you feel that you don’t want to give your pet meat-based foods, you might have concerns about their diet. Here are some points to consider before you trade their beef for broccoli.

  • Make Sure Their Diet is Filled with Nutrients 

Cats and dogs have different systems than humans, and process vitamins from foods in a different way, too. You have to ensure they get important nutrients on a vegetarian/vegan diet, such as protein, amino acids such as L-carnitine and taurine, B-vitamins, phosphorous, iron and calcium. You don’t want your pet to fall sick with an illness that isn’t reversible, so it’s essential to give them a healthy, balanced diet.

  • Dogs, But Not Cats 

Expert Lew Olsen, PhD, who wrote 'Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs', states that cats are difficult to put on vegan diets because they are built to have meat in their diet. They are regarded as obligate carnivores, which basically means they depend on meat-based nutrition in order to survive.

Dogs, on the other hand, can go on meat-free diets. For instance, they can obtain all the amino acids their bodies require without having to eat meat. However, preparing a vegan/vegetarian diet for them must be done carefully. It's always a must to consult with your vet so that you ensure you give them the proper nutrition.

  • Striking a Vegan Balance 

Just because you are vegan, it doesn’t mean that this diet will be good for your specific pet, however there is a way to find some compromise. The meat-based foods you feed your pet don’t have to originate from animals on farms that are treated badly. You can choose meat that has been humanely procured as well as sustainable. Although it might still feel like it’s conflicting with your values, bear in mind that you want the best thing for your pet. If that means there is no way around feeding him/her meat in order for them to be healthy, then this is what you should focus on: your pet’s health. Avoiding meat because animals are treated badly is a valuable ethic, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of YOUR pet’s health. Charity begins at home, and you should be loving your pet and giving him/her what he/she needs in order to be happy and healthy.

*Image courtesy Flickr Creative Commons  

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  1. Support
    Support
    Great food for thought! Thanks Giulia.
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  2. Mary Finelli
    "You can choose meat that has been humanely procured as well as sustainable." What meat is that? If there were such a thing, eating meat wouldn't be a problem for the animals who are eaten or for the environment.
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  3. Jean Michelle
    Having to feed my cats a meat diet was in constant conflict with my values and really became disgusting to me to have ground up dead animals my fridge. I tried all the vegan options available like Vegecat mix and AMI cat food, but my cats were allergic to soy. After the rescued cats I had homed (and destroyed my home :-)) for 40 years, I decided to give up on the idea of pet ownership in general. I also felt guilty about inflicting a life of boredom on them being confined to my house all day. I would have no problem ethically if there were cat food made of ground up insects - probably much closer to the cats' natural diet anyway.
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    1. Mary Finelli
      I can very much relate, Jean. It is a real dilemma. I don't think we should assume that insects aren't sentient, though. The are capable of some very sentient-seeming behavior, and deserve the benefit of any doubt.
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  4. Tom
    Sorry to say so but Lew Olson says the exact opposite. In the revised edition of her book (2015) there is a whole chapter on the subject. She writes : "When you consider the fact that dogs cannot digest plant proteins well, it is apparent that no matter how you combine grains and vegetables to make protein and no matter how complex or well thought out your vegetarian diet may be, it will not provide your dog all the nutrients it needs." Olson, Lew, PhD.2015.Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs, Revised : The Definitive Guide to Homemade Meals.North Atlantic Books.ch-20.p167.
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