A number of pet owners are advocating for vegan diets for their pets for ethical, health and environmental reasons. The carbon footprint from pet food is considerable. Pet owners also reason that they would like to feed their animals without exploiting other animals.
Many pet owners are aligning their pet’s lifestyle with their own thus feeding cats and dogs plant-based food is mostly being practised in vegan households. This is encouraged by the fact that there is a rise of pet food that is plant-based. The pet food industry is largely following the trends for humans and veganism among humans is certainly on the rise.
According to experts, between cats and dogs, only dogs can be fed on vegan diets, as dogs like humans are omnivores. Cats on the other hand are obligate carnivores and their bodies are designed to run on meat. This is despite many people feeding their cats on non-meat food.
But when you do that over time, cats waste away because they are missing nutrients found in meat like amino acids. Cats can also not produce certain proteins themselves and have to absorb them from beef, chicken or fish. Cats that do not have these proteins enough over time develop weak heart muscles thus struggling to pump blood and supply enough oxygen in the body. Staunch vegans however believe cats can get all the nutrients they require from non-meat meals.
In dog food, a vegan diet contains proteins from soybeans, peas which you supplement with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and calcium. You need to ensure their diet is balanced. If you do not want to adopt a completely plant-based diet, consider substituting meat with fish.
Not as beneficial
A vegan diet has also been argued to not be as beneficial to pets as it is to humans. A plant-based diet on humans reduces the risk of chronic illnesses like heart diseases and Type 2 diabetes among others, but on pets, diseases can be controlled by maintaining a pet’s ideal weight without having them go vegan.
If you might be considering converting your pet’s diet to be plant-based, research online, join Facebook groups such as Vegan Pets where you can get an idea on where to start and the dangers of having your pet being off meat. Otherwise, you can consider having pets that do not feed on meat like hamsters, parrots, goldfish, rabbits and the like.
Maryanne is a pet owner. [email protected]