For most vegans out there, having a coherent lifestyle is an absolute, unbreakable priority. This, many times, means to follow the vegan principles in every single area of their lives. Of course, this approach includes pets.
Pets are a big part of many people’s lives. Once we have a pet, there is no turning back: they become our family, our loved ones. We care about them to the point where we invest more time and money in them than in ourselves. It’s like having a child, indeed. Therefore, if we are having a vegan lifestyle, we want to be coherent in this aspect as well.
But veganism and pets, when placed together, represent a quite unexplored topic. Not even long-time vegans are completely confident on this one. For example, is feeding your pet with other animal by-products okay? If not, is your pet meant to be vegan as well? Is it going to be a healthy pet if you take this road?
There are many questions regarding pets and veganism. Regardless of the answer, it’s necessary to think about everything and dedicate some time to ponder the alternatives. So, in the following lines, we’ll explore these ideas with a vegan approach. Also, if you don’t have a pet yet, we have some great ideas.
Feeding Your Pet with Other Animals?
The food industry, the one aimed at humans, produces a significant surplus of “waste” every day, food that isn't suitable for us. This is the meat that, for different reasons, is not used in products for human consumption. Instead, companies take this surplus and sell it to other businesses which are exclusively dedicated to producing meat-based food for animals.
A clear example is big brands that sell food for dogs and cats, many times including meat from different sources in the recipe. Businesses argue that this raw material continues to be high quality, regardless it represents the waste at first, a material with low nutritional value, besides being meat.
If you have a dog or a cat at home, you probably think that you have no alternatives than feeding it with meat-based products like the biscuits we all know, which are widely present in any supermarket or pet store. These products present themselves as highly nutritive formulas to keep our animals well fed and healthy. While this may be true, there are two additional factors to consider: first, we are making our pet highly dependant on industrially-produced food and second, we are feeding them with other animals, which is not coherent with our set of beliefs as vegans.
Is Your Pet Meant to Be Carnivorous?
Let’s focus for a moment on the example that the dog gives us. The vast majority of people sees dogs as carnivorous animals, pets that cannot live without meat on their diet. However, there is sounding proof regarding healthy dogs who live on vegan diets.
Bramble was a blue merle Collie that lived 189 dog years, which actually is a Guinness World Record for being the oldest living dog. And you know what? Bramble lived an exceptionally healthy life on a vegan diet. Bramble ate rice, lentils, and vegetables, skipping meat or animal by-products that seem to be the standard dog food today.
This is one of the many proofs available that support the idea of having a healthy vegan dog. Other sources suggest that dogs are omnivorous animals, not exclusively carnivorous as it’s often believed. This means that we can feed our dogs with a vegan diet while taking proper care of their health.
When it comes to cats, another common pet in our society, there are many vegan owners arguing that their cats enjoy a vegetable-based diet without issues. This said, cats are often more finicky than dogs; a cat lacking taurine can lose eyesight and could develop cardiomyopathy. Therefore, it is important that your cats are either free to hunt or fed a properly balanced diet. Most dogs and cats’ health improves on a vegetarian diet, but occasionally an animal may not thrive, so use common sense if this occurs.
Should You Force Your Pet to Become a Vegan?
If your pet is a few years old now, making the switch may be difficult. Regardless if you have a dog or a cat, they are now probably quite used to their current diet, which may be solely meat-based. Training them to make the switch could be a violent experience.
Dogs can thrive on a vegan diet so, at first, you could have a positive surprise, getting them to eat vegetables and grains without any resistance.
But if you perceive that your pet is suffering under the change, we recommend you to suspend these efforts. While we understand how important it is for a vegan to have a coherent living with her values, making a pet suffer is not worth it.
Great Examples of Vegan Pets
Now, let’s break with the convention of dogs and cats. Vegan owners have many other options where they can be more coherent with their values and lifestyle. Indeed, there are many pets that are more familiar with a vegetarian diet. In fact, the ones we are going to mention only eat vegetables, which is great for vegan owners.
One classic example is the tortoise. This always interesting pet has a diet based on produce and fruit. If you have a tortoise, you know already that they can live on collard greens, kale, apples, and melons.
Then we have rabbits, a cute pet to have around at home. Similar to tortoises, rabbits prefer fresh vegetables and fruits, like celery, carrot tops, collard greens, celery, kale, dill, mint, and lettuce.Similar to rabbits, we also have hamsters and Guinea pigs, two children’s favorites to have at home. These little and friendly pets are big fans of apples, lettuce, kale, bananas, broccoli, and cauliflower.