Cats and Dogs Can Thrive on Commercial Vegan Pet Food
There are numerous reputable vegan pet food companies that have produced nutritionally complete plant-based cat and dog food for over 10 years.
Dogs are omnivores and can easily switch to a plant-based dog food. Cats, on the other hand, are obligate carnivores that need nutrients such as taurine and arginine that are naturally found in meat to survive. However, synthetic taurine and arginine can be added to plant-based cat food to make them nutritionally complete.
Your cat or dog is going to be healthy as long as they are receiving all the nutrients they need. With all the vegan pet food options available today, there really isn’t a need to slaughter animals to feed the animals we care about.
What is more assuring is there have been numerous studies made by independent researchers to assess the viability of plant-based pet food for cats and dogs.
- 2017: Callon, Cargo-Froom, DeVries and Shoveller from the University of Guelph, Canada – Canine Food Preference Assessment of Animal and Vegetable Ingredient-Based Diets Using Single-Pan Tests and Behavioral Observation
- 2016: Andrew Knight and Madelaine Leitsberger from the University of Winchester, UK – Vegetarian versus Meat-Based Diets for Companion Animals
- 2014: Pia-Gloria Semp from the Veterinary University of Vienna, Austria – Vegan nutrition of dogs and cats
- 2009: Brown, Vanselow, Redman and Pluske – An experimental meat-free diet maintained haematological characteristics in sprint-racing sled dogs
- 2006: Wakefield, Shofer and Michel from the University of Pennsylvania, USA – Evaluation of cats fed vegetarian diets and attitudes of their caregivers
Questionable Quality of Commercial Meat-Based Pet Food
The average consumer does not have the knowledge to ascertain the quality of the meat-based pet food they are purchasing due to the lack of proper pet food regulation and confusing ingredient labels.
Do you know what meat and bone meal are made of?
Do you have any idea what Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT), Ethoxyquin and Propylene Glycol are used for?
Unfortunately, the meat-based pet food industry is thriving because of our ignorance and laziness to educate ourselves about what they are adding to their pet food products.
A large proportion of meat used in commercial pet food is known to contain 4-D meat from animals that are dead, dying, disabled, or diseased. The quality of the meat is so terrible that it is considered unfit for human consumption.
AVMA records all the pet food recalls in the USA in the last 12 months. The shocking list of contaminations includes the following.
- Toxic levels of vitamin D
- Salmonella (bacteria)
- Listeria monocytogenes (bacteria)
- Monensin (antibiotic)
- E. coli (bacteria)
- Elevated levels of thyroid hormone
- Botulism poisoning (bacteria)
- Pentobarbital (euthanasia drug)
Australia self-regulated pet food industry has had a couple of high-profile pet food recalls in recent times.
- Mould in dog food in 2018
- Bloody diarrhoea in salmon dog food in 2018
- Megaoesophagus outbreak in March 2018
- Plastic, mould and metal found in dog food in 2018
- Thiamine-deficient canned cat food in 2017
There is a push for pet food regulation in Australia but that is still up in the air. Until that day comes, it would be foolish to assume that a pet food product is safe just because it is available for sale.
Further reading: The Problem with Meat-Based Pet Food.
The “Naturalness” Myth
A common objection people have about feeding plant-based pet food to cats and dogs is by claiming it isn’t what they will naturally do in the wild. Therefore, it is wrong to deny them their natural food.
So What Exactly Do Wild Cats and Dogs Eat in the Wild?
Feral dogs in Australia are often dingo and domestic dog hybrids. They have been known to hunt and eat sheep, cows, goats, kangaroos, rabbits, wallabies, rodents, birds, brushtail possums, common wombats and a variety of other species dependent on location.
Feral cats in Australia are the same species as domestic cats. They hunt and eat small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects depending on their availability.
How Is It Possible for Your Cat or Dog to Eat Their Natural Food
It is very important to note that wild cats and dogs hunt for their own food because that is their only means of survival. Domestic cats and dogs no longer need to hunt for survival because we give them the food they need.
You could feed them raw meat of animals they can naturally hunt and kill or you could allow them to hunt for themselves if you live in an area that has an abundance of the animals listed above.
With the exception of hunting dog breeds and dingos, most dogs, especially the smaller dog breeds, no longer have the ability to hunt for survival. Even if they still have the ability to hunt, they are most likely not going to hunt as a means of survival.
Domestic cats on the other hand, still have the ability to hunt but they may not always eat their prey because they do it for the thrill of hunting and might even bring back a dead bird or rodent as a present to you.
Why Is Non-Natural Food in Meat-Based Pet Food?
The meat-based pet food industry has a lot of products that are made from animals that your pet do not naturally eat.
We have kangaroo meat for cats in Australia but cats do not hunt in a pack, therefore, it would be impossible for them to take down a kangaroo by themselves. We like to associate cats with fish but cats cannot dive into the ocean to catch fish like salmon, sardines or mackerel.
There is virtually nothing natural about commercial pet food.
The Unnatural Things We Do to Animals to Improve Their Wellbeing
We let cats and dogs live in our homes to be free from the discomfort and dangers in the wild. We also microchip, vaccinate, take them to the vet when they are sick, spay/neuter them to stop them from breeding and take them to professional pet groomers to wash and trim their fur.
None of these things would be natural in the wild and we have given domestic cats and dogs an unnatural and unfair advantage compared to wild animals.
Naturalness Does Not Matter Anymore
Humans and animals have evolved over tens of thousands of years from our early hunter-gatherer days to modern life in high-tech cities. If you are reading this, chances are you are not a modern-day hunter-gatherer that is hunting and scavenging to survive in the wild. You probably won’t survive long if you tried to live as a hunter-gatherer in the bush today. The same applies to our domestic cats and dogs.
This irrational fixation on what is natural and unnatural for domestic cats and dogs doesn’t really hold water. What is unnatural does not mean it is bad and what is natural does not mean it is good. What is important is they are happy, healthy and safe.
Environmental Impact of Meat-Based Pet Food
According to 2017 study Environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats by Gregory S. Okin from the University of California, Los Angeles, USA, In the US, dogs and cats in the USA constitute about 25–30% of the environmental impacts from animal production in terms of the use of land, water, fossil fuel, phosphate, and biocides.
In the 2014 film, Cowspiracy, the filmmakers reported that animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.
Therefore, a plant-based pet food diet for humans and pets is one of the best ways to reduce pollution and animal exploitation on this planet.
Religious Reasons for Vegan Pet Food
The Eastern religions of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism have a strong emphasis on non-violence through the universal compassion of all sentient beings.
The animals under your care can benefit from your guidance to help them purify their karma (action) by living a life of non-violence through the consumption of plant-based pet food.