My dogs are vegan. They eat V-Dog (available online for mail order) or Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula For Dogs (available at most major pet supply stores). Both of my dogs love their kibble, particularly when I add fresh carrots to the mix.
The fact that my dogs eat a vegan diet comes as no suprise to anyone who knows me. I’m a vegan advocate afterall, and I promote compassionate choices whenever possible. Since dogs can easily survive on a vegan diet it only makes sense that my dogs are vegan.
But to people who aren’t well-versed in veganism, the concept of a vegan dog doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to them. For example, many ask, “dogs can survive on a vegan diet, but can they thrive?” CNN recently tackled the question in an article titled “Vegan diet for dogs: A question of thriving vs. surviving“:
“pet experts who spoke with CNN conceded — some more reluctantly than others — that most dogs could biologically live on a vegan diet. [..] Dogs are classified in the order Carnivora, but, unlike cats (a topic for another day) they have evolved biologically as omnivores, meaning their systems can derive nutrients from a wide variety of sources, including fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and animal products.”
Certainly, when comparing dog kibble to dog kibble, there’s no question that a vegan choice is more than adequate. Most kibbles, afterall, are formulated for the convenience of humans, not dogs. A horrific New York Times article on pet food explained that the pet food market is largely dictated by people’s preference for having their dogs produce small, hard poops that are easy to clean up:
“Dogs can get along just fine on a daily ration of corn and soybeans. ‘That’s about the cheapest diet you could put together,’ [pet food researcher] Fahey said, and it provides all the vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and carbohydrates a dog needs. But it wouldn’t sell to broad segments of the modern market. [... ] George Fahey has been confronting the myriad challenges of controlling canine bowel movements. Premium dog foods contain at least 30 percent protein and 20 percent fat, he said. ‘Do we need to feed that much? No. But this way, you have a total tract digestibility of 88 percent, which is good if you don’t want that dog to go in your house when you’re out for the day. A corn-soy diet can’t do that. The dog can’t hold it.’”
Moreover, dog foods are often filled with by-products from slaughterhouses. These by-products are pieces of dead animals that are not fit for human consumption. If it’s not safe for humans, why feed it to dogs? Hence the “joke” about most commercial pet foods:
If you feed your pet by-products, you’re saying by-by to your pet.
Learn about the Pet Food Recall of 2007 for more details on the lengths to which pet food makers will sacrifice dog health for human convienence.
The simple, obvious choice for animal lovers is a vegan dog food. And if you’re worried about ensuring that your dog thrives on a vegan diet, look no further than the research conducted by The Vegan Dog Nutrition Association, which found a study that examined dog athletes:
ARMIDALE scientist Wendy Brown is at the centre of groundbreaking international research that has found that dogs can thrive on a meat-free diet.Dr Brown was part of a team of scientists who monitored the health and performance of Siberian huskies over a 10-week sled-racing season.
They concluded that hard-working dogs can perform just as well on a meat-free diet as they do on a meat-rich diet.
Their results, published earlier this year in the British Journal of Nutrition (Vol 102, pp 1318-1323), add to the evidence that dogs fed an exclusively vegetarian diet can be just as healthy and happy as their meat-eating relatives.
So if you’ve got some dog companions, why not pick up a bag of vegan dog food from your local pet supply store and give it a try? It’s a simple, easy way to reduce your contribution to the cruelty of modern animal agriculture.
For more, see previous Soapbox articles on vegan dogs: