(The short answer is yes, vegans can have pets.)
Have you heard this one?
“Animal rights extremists want to end all animal use! If they succeed, you will not be able to keep a pet.”
Or how about this one:
“If you’re a vegan, you can’t have a dog.”
Some people feel threatened by veganism and try to find loopholes. They look for anything. They’re the same people who point to recycled rubber shoes and say, “You’re not a vegan because you’re wearing leather!” and then walk away before you can explain that it’s NOT leather. They’re ridiculous and wrong.
Even vegans who are opposed to pet ownership don’t want to take family pets away from loving homes. Vegans do not want to put animals in bad situations or remove animals from good situations. We just want to save lives and protect animals.
And even if some vegans are hypocrites (who say they’re against all animal use, yet buy pets from pet stores) that says nothing about whether or not omnivores should adopt a plant-based diet. It’s unrelated.
It’s better to try to be as vegan as you can be than to eat animals. It’s better to be an imperfect vegan than to be an omnivore who looks for loopholes in veganism. Your choices are:
- Do less harm by eating a plant-based diet, or
- Do more harm by eating meat.
It really is just that simple.
[T]he issue for thoughtful, compassionate people isn’t, “Is this vegan?” Rather, the important question is: “Which choice leads to less suffering?” Our guide shouldn’t be an endless list of ingredients, but rather doing our absolute best to stop cruelty to animals.
But let’s answer the question, Should vegans have pets?
It’s up to each individual, but my opinion is this: If you rescue animals, great. That’s not doing harm, that’s doing good. But if you buy a “pet” from a breeder or pet store, that’s doing harm. That’s creating a market for breeders, including puppy mills. Moreover, that’s formalizing the animal’s status as property, not as family member or companion. Buying animals, dead or alive, is not vegan.
Pets = companion animals = nonhuman family members. For simplicity, I’ve used the common word, “pet,” to refer to all animals kept as human companions.