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Let’s think about pet food that is all vegan. For the average person, it seems a strange concept to wrap the mind around. First, perhaps, we should define the meaning of vegan for those who may not know the exact definition. Veganism is a branch of vegetarianism. It is the conscious practice of avoiding the use of animals and animal byproducts in anything that a living being might put in or on its body. Some people are so devoted to their vegan beliefs that they think their pets should be vegan too. Converting pets to veganism has sparked an international debate about the healthy diets of our pets and whether or not it harms our beloved fur babies.

I myself was side-swiped by proof of a vegan doggy diet’s existence when I was watching the “Puppy Bowl” on Animal Planet last February. It’s like the “Super Bowl” only it’s a bunch of puppies in a mini football stadium and they run around and it’s cute and then the puppies get adopted. Like the actual “Super Bowl”, there are specially made commercials that all have to do with.... you guessed it, puppies. There are also “puppy profiles” like, “player profiles”. The “puppy profile” that stuck most in my mind was about the puppies who were being fed vegan diets. Yeah, people with vegan lifestyles and ideologies decided that if the puppy was gonna stay under their roof... woof that it would live by their vegan rules. So I see these puppies and small dogs just scarfin’ down some sweet potatoes, beets, rice and other things and my brain is like, “WHAAAAAT???” How is that not going to eventually kill those dogs?
veggie

I couldn’t let it go. This has been stuck in my mind ever since then. Finally, I thought, I need to do some research into this. Come with me now readers, on this fuzzy, vegetable flavored adventure and LET’S GET THE “DISH” on what pet veganism is all about. Let’s find out about whether or not it’s a good idea for your dog or cat.

Ok, honestly, being a crazy cat lady myself, I’ve already looked into this and spoiler alert! CATS ARE CARNIVORES! This means it is ANIMAL ABUSE to force your kitties to eat food that does not contain meat. Their bodies are not designed to metabolise plant matter. So vegans out there, if you are, “all or nothing” about your vegan views, do not adopt a cat and force them to become vegan. There have actually been a few accounts of kittens and cats dying from malnutrition, so it is incredibly dangerous to feed a feline a diet that has no meat in it. Nature is as nature does. We all love our kitties and kitties love MEAT! They are the cousins of lions and tigers after all.

Ok, now that I’ve gotten the all encompassing “pet” part of “Veganism for Pets” out of the way; I can now change the focus of this article to, “Veganism for Dogs”.

Is it ok to only feed our dogs food that is devoid of all animal by-products? Well, that is a kind of iffy line to draw in the sand. For one thing, while dogs are in fact omnivores like we are, we have to remember that all dogs have the timberwolf as their genetic ancestor. And wolves are strictly all about juicy, tender, delicious chunks of meat. I mean, why else are there are those BLUE Buffalo® Wilderness dog food commercials that shame Purina® Dog Chow for having whole grain corn as the first and most prevalent ingredient? Pets are family, feed them like family? I feel like the pet food industry is giving me mixed messages. vegan dog

On the one hand, we have brands of dog food that sing to the woof-tops about how great and meaty their dry and wet food is. And then there are vegan dog food brands that swear up and down, their food is the best and healthiest for your pooch. The question is, who do we trust? Do we trust the lists about the best and worst dog foods that are all over the internet? Or, do we trust organizations like PETA website that tells me, “Yeah! Great! Make your dog a vegan!” And Petco is a pet supermarket that also sells vegan brands like “V-Dog”, “Natural Balance” or “Halo Holistic Garden of Vegan”. Decisions, decisions. And if all those choice aren’t enough, there are also countless vegan dog food recipes all over the internet that are being liked and shared. Of course these recipes are very healthy and I see no harm in letting your dog enjoy a variety of food options like the omnivore he is. Here is an example of one of those DIY vegan dog food recipes.

First bring a pot of water to a boil and then add in some rice, quinoa, lentils and chunks of freshly chopped sweet potatoes. Let that simmer for about 40 minutes to an hour so everything gets nice and tender and then mash it all up into a concoction of healthiness. Add a bit of peanut butter and ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) and stir. Finally, just before serving, mix in flax seed oil, cranberry extract, PB8 (A probiotic) and Vegedog Prozyme Plus. YUMMY! For your dog I mean. Well, I don’t know actually. Maybe you could try the table scraps from this recipe yourself, but maybe add a little Mrs. Dash.
vegan recipe

I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking, “Jeez, I wouldn’t whip all that stuff up together on a daily basis for myself, let alone my dog!” But this and many other vegan pet food recipes exist. And I found this one on the PETA website no less! But for those who live their lives a little more on the go, there are fellow vegans out there, who have taken the time to form pet food companies that are strictly vegan. Yeah, that means there is a regular market for people who chose to make their pets vegan. Right now there are only a handful of companies that make packaged vegan dog foods, ready and available for purchase in pet stores and online. I already mentions a few earlier.veggie dog

Biologically speaking, dogs are more inclined to eat meat. It is a natural carnivorous bias. Try putting a power bowl of vegan protein crunchies in one dish and a bunch of ham chunks in another. Then put the dishes next to each other and set your hungry dog loose. More than likely, she is going to choose that suweeeet pig meat. Dogs teeth and digestive systems are also naturally designed to eat meat. But dogs are not timberwolves anymore and they have evolved to become man’s best friend. Dogs have developed the ability to digest carbohydrate-based foods like vegetables too. So dogs are flexible, and as long as they get fed, they do not care what they eat. It is up to you as a pet guardian to choose the best diet that suits your particular pup. I would suggest that if you are thinking about converting your dog to veganism, that you do your research and keep a close eye on your doggy to see how it affects her. Also, know that a vegan diet for a dog is a huge burden on your wallet. For example a 20lb bag of V-dog® is around $55! And that’s the best way to ensure that enough of the necessary dosages of ingredients are getting into your dog. When you start making DIY recipes for your doggy’s dinner, you have to make sure enough, but not too much plant based protein replacement powder gets mixed into all those sweets and beets. And that btw, that protein powder stuff doesn’t grow on trees $$. Well it does, but not already in powder form. Just make sure your dog is happy with what he eats and that he stays your energetic and healthy little buddy.

Are dogs really omnivores, or are they more tuned into their carnivorous wolf ancestors? The debate goes on! I think for the most part, if you are thinking about converting your dog to an all vegan diet, make sure you do your research and talk to your veterinarian. You might just be barking up the wrong diet for your little buddy, and there are no bones about that. If your journey into pet veganism is going good, then that’s wonderful! Hats off to you. I commend your hard work and dedication.

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 197 - November 2017
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