Friday, April 10, 2009

Vegan Diets for your Pet?

I watched this story about feeding your cat or dog a vegan diet a couple of mornings ago. I am not quite sure what to think about it. Essentially you are turning a carnivorous animal into a herbivore.

I have a dog and I know if my dog had a choice between chicken or Broccoli I know she would choose chicken. I have tried to feed my dog more vegetables (lettuce, peas, spinach), but nope not happening. A point to consider dogs have evolved from wolfs, wolfs hunt meat. I have never heard of a wolf in the wild who doesn't eat meat.

Additionally, many of the ways we play with dogs nowadays mimic the dogs natural instinct to hunt. If I throw a squeaky toy the first thing my dog does when she grabs a hold of the squeaky toy is to shake it violently. This action of shaking the toy is exactly what dogs do when they get a hold of their prey. They shake their catch violently because this is how they know to kill their catch (by breaking their neck). The squeak of the toy also mimics a sound that dying vermin make. When dogs bring the ball back (or prey) they do so as an offer to their dominant master.

My point is that dogs, just like cats have a natural instinct to hunt other animals in order to hopefully eat them. Can a philosophical approach to life from a human perspective be then applied to an animal? Typically your pet has to eat whatever food you provide it, but is it ethical to deny a type of food because of your dietary beliefs?

What are your thoughts?

Related Posts: Don't Forget About Your Pet, Guide Horse? Not Wasting Food - Spaghetti Salad to the Rescue!

Picture Courtesy of: My dog, Chai.

17 comments:

Casey said...

CHAI!!! My baby!! I LOVE YOU!!! And I would not feed you vegan food unless you told me you wanted it.

Anonymous said...

Making a dog vegan is a form of animal cruelty and people who do it should be put in jail.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I let my cats smell the foods that I'm going to eat. Like, i let them smell a banana the other day and they made the worst faces. They OBVIOUSLY aren't supposed to be eating these foods.
I suppose if the animals who are on vegan diets seem happy and the vet says they are healthy then it's ok. But I really doubt that these animals are actually "ok" with the diet.

Krystle said...

I agree. Give animals a choice and they will always revert back to their natural instincts which is meat and fish.

Jason K said...

I want to preface my comments by saying I have not seen evidence that cats can flourish on vegan diets. Rather, they seem to have lots of health issues on vegan diets, though perhaps there's some formulation that could work for them. I have on the other hand known many dogs to thrive on vegan diets.

Ok, now for the moral matter. It seems to me we ought to think of our dogs like we would think of our children in this case. That is, we don't allow our children to do whatever they want just because they prefer it or they want to do it, and we especially work to prevent them from doing things we find immoral. It's the same case with our dogs. We decide what our dogs will eat (just as we decide what our children will eat). Dogs can lead happy and healthy lives on vegan diets, and as their owners, the moral dilemma of what our dogs will eat falls upon us. Knowing that it's unnecessary for (most) dogs to eat non-vegan diets and knowing that non-vegan diets cause animals harm, it would be morally wrong of us to choose to feed them non-vegan diets.

Krystle said...

Interesting point Jason, but what about evolution, if dogs were meant to be Vegan, wouldn't we find this in nature?

It seems that dogs have survived/evoloved on diets that are non-vegan for century's now. If this is how they have survived as a species, why change it for them?

jody said...

my dog, happy, healthy, like a puppy and 14 years old - vegan for about 7 years - drewls and goes crazy with delight when I get the vegetables out.

in the guiness book of world records, I believe the oldest living dog is a 27 year old vegan collie.

My dog is vegan for about 7 years, and he is a happy, very healthy 14 year old.

At first he was not into veggies, however it is hysterical - now when I get the fresh raw veggies out of the fridge, my dog goes crazy and actually starts to drewl - he likes all different kinds - awaits intently ears cocked, eyes bright for his treats. It is one of his favorite things, he is adorable.

Evolution Pet Food out of Minneapolis MN - googling this should bring up the website .is vegan (I feed my dog this, kind of alternate with making his meals and feeding kibble and there are other companies that make vegan dog food) anyway Evolution has an almost 20 year study which shows that pets, fed a vegan diet (and yes even cats) are living longer healthier lives.

jody said...

Here is some info I found about Evolution:

"VEGAN CATS, DOGS & FERRETS
Heck Yes...

* Documented Evolution (Vegan) Fed Large and Small Breed Dogs are living in excellent health to over 18 human years, still looking and acting 5-10 yr.

* Documented Evolution (Vegan) Fed Cats of various breeds are now living over 21 super healthy human years, still acting like 7-15 yr.

* Documented Evolution Gourmet Cat Food (Vegan) Fed Ferrets are living to over 10 human healthy years with 1 ferret living to over 13 years.

Feeding a vegan diet to dogs, cats and ferrets is still not widely accepted. With the current meat based diet, 80% of Dogs, Cats and Ferrets die with Heart Stroke and Cancer diseases. Strict Vegetarian Diets have been proven to prevent and cure these diseases. Many comment that cats cannot survive or thrive with a vegan diet. Evolution has documentation to prove that this is a misperception. The prevalence of this misperception is easily understood due to the abundance of antiquated, incorrect, misinformation widely disseminated through main stream outlets. For those seeking the facts Evolution has them.

Evolution Pet-food Company has tens of thousands of Dogs, Cats and Ferrets now thriving on their Pet Foods all over the United States and Canada with some of the best animal sanctuaries and no-kill shelters feeding Evolution diet. (Farm Sanctuary feeds it’s cats and dogs Evolution!)

Evolution has documented proof through 16 plus years of long term feeding observations which shows phenomenal health and well-being results for cats, dogs and ferrets.

With an Evolution Diet, “We are observing up to a 60% increase in life expectancy with Dogs and Cats in Human Family Homes.”

”After 16 and a 1/2 years of observations, I can tell you ABSOLUTELY AND UNEQUIVOCALLY that Dogs, Cats and Ferrets can and do live longer and healthier ON AVERAGE with NO MEAT AT ALL IN THEIR DIETS. “ Eric Weisman, Founder and CEO of Evolution Pet Food, Doctorate
of Health Sciences, National Board Diplomat.

Please contact (Evolution) for free copies of Evolution Age Observation Documents.”

Jason K said...

Hi Krystle,

You asked: "Interesting point Jason, but what about evolution, if dogs were meant to be Vegan, wouldn't we find this in nature?"

I'm not entirely sure what you mean here, because dogs as they exist today are an entirely artificial species. That is, they have been selectively bred by humans over the past several hundred years to the points where they barely resemble their ancestors.

As for taking our moral or life cues from "nature," I don't think that's advisable! Would you want to live the life of our paleolithic ancestors, for instance? Would you want to eat what they ate, wear what they wore, and behave how they did? Presumably not!

We, rightly, have moved on from a lot of what our ancestors did, and a lot of what they did was really, really bad. Consider, for instance, the human rights abuses that have occurred in the US and were legal only a few hundred years ago!

The fact of the matter is we don't need to harm animals for food, clothing, or entertainment, and we ought not to. And, for our canine animal companions who don't need to eat non-vegan diets to survive, we can choose to unnecessarily feed them non-vegan diets that require we harm and kill other animals or we can choose to feed them vegan diets which don't require that. The choice seems simple enough!

(Oh, and FYI, I would NEVER, EVER feed a dog Evolution pet food, which the previous posters are advertising. They are not at all trustworthy!)

Anonymous said...

Come on Jason - "the moral dilemma of what our dogs will eat falls upon us" What moral dilema? Ya you need to kill animals to make dogfood - but what is immoral about that. Its the circle of life. And if you think that killing animals for food is immoral - what is so moral about killing plants to feed dogs?

Anonymous said...

Isn't the proper term "wolves"?

Anonymous said...

It is arrogant to think we can control nature. Dogs are made to eat meat, don't torture them and punish them by feeding them something else. That's just animal abuse.

Casey said...

Jason brings up an interesting point - dogs perhaps have evolved so completely into a human pet that their "need" for meat is no longer an actual need.

Obese pets are now an issue. They have clogged arteries, cancer, and more, just like us. Perhaps, like us humans, they would benefit from a healthier diet. This could be vegan, or it could be as simple as eating simpler, organic foods instead of the over-processed crap we feed both ourselves and our pets.

Jason K said...

"It is arrogant to think we can control nature. Dogs are made to eat meat, don't torture them and punish them by feeding them something else. That's just animal abuse."

Ha. Isn't the whole institution of pet ownership 'control of nature'?

Moreover, dogs are not 'made' to eat meat anymore than you or I are. They can thrive on vegan diets just as we can. They're omnivores like us after all meaning they can digest vegan and non-vegan foods alike. Cats on the other hand don't seem to do well on vegan diets.

"Come on Jason - "the moral dilemma of what our dogs will eat falls upon us" What moral dilema? Ya you need to kill animals to make dogfood - but what is immoral about that. Its the circle of life. And if you think that killing animals for food is immoral - what is so moral about killing plants to feed dogs"

What's immoral about killing animals to make dogfood is that the killing is unnecessary. Don't you think harming and killing other feeling beings unnecessarily is wrong? As for the moral difference between plants and animals, I can't tell if you're being serious when you ask this, but it seems obvious to most people that animals are feeling creatures like us and that plants aren't, and as such, it is wrong ot unnecessarily harm (and kill) them.

SolJAH!!!! said...

Com on this is very awkward, i mean try to turn a carnivorous animal into a herbivore its like going against the real nature. You can't feed your dog with just vegetables and salads i think it's cruel. Imagine if someone that doesn't need viagra online take it, it's almost the same case.

Anonymous said...

It's ignorant to talk about supposed immorality of feeding our pets vegetarian/vegan diets unless you have researched with specificity the nutritional needs of dogs and cats. also considered the massive cruelty of the meat mega-business. There are many vegetarian dog foods made that meet the national standards for dog food. I get a vegan kibble from Italy for my many cats, I do not feed it exclusively, I feed some canned fish food.
But I care about cruelty to animals, not just the extremely beloved animals who live with me, and who get the best care in the world.
This is not a perfect natural world. Although in some fantasy world cats would ideally roam free outside when they wanted, in the real world cats should be kept inside for many reasons: fiv/felv, to protect birds, to be protected from cars and coyotes. We don't live in ideal nature.
Cats, unlike dogs, are usually called obligate carnivores. They need taurine. Taurine can be added to a vegetarian diet.
The bottom line is you need to really be educated about the nutritinal requirments of your animals. Most vets are not. They leave it to the pet food multinationals, in whose interest it is to use the human food waste to feed animals.

Potty Training said...

lol the guy who thinks people who make their dogs eat a vegan diet should be put in jail made me laugh... what do you feed your dog, cheeseburgers? heck there is probably not even any real meat in the food most people give their pets... just meat flavor haha