Friday, October 9, 2009

Vegan MoFo: Vegan Pet Food

Hey! It's Vegan MoFo Day 9!! I want to take a break from talking about vegan people and their foods, and talk about vegan pet food. I really want this to be more of a feedback kind of thing, because I don't yet have a very strong opinion on the topic, but I haven't really done a lot of research on it either.

I currently do not buy vegan cat food for my kitty cats. From what I understand, cats and dogs are omnivores by nature. I am not sure if it would be right for me to "force" my cats to be vegan. But, then again, I guess I am "forcing" my cats to live indoors with me in my apartment. So, I guess I'm torn. On one hand, I don't want to support the factory farming industry and companies that have unethical, unsustainable practices. I currently buy a natural pet food that is made with no fillers or factory farm meat products. But I must admit, every time I buy the food for my cats, I feel guilty about buying animal products. I know I don't necessarily need to feel guilt, since cats are not vegan by nature, but I just can't help it!

There are lots of articles and forums, including the PPK, on the internet that discuss this issue, and both pro- and anti-vegan pet food sides make good points. Both this Huffington Post article
and this IVU article got me really thinking a lot about this issue. What better place to discuss it than on my blog during Vegan MoFo?

My kitty cat companion, Stewie.

So what do you all think: should companion animals/pets be given vegan pet food?

Do you feed your pets vegan pet food?

I wanna hear your opinions!


Jeni Treehugger said...

I feed my 3 cats meat. This is something I've considered and worried over a LOT. I have come to the conclusion that I wouldn't force anyone or anything to be vegan (my hubby is pescatarian, all my friends eat meat...) so why should I force my cats who are, by nature as you said, omnivores.
I will continue to feed them meat.
Your cat is adorable.

VeganCowGirl said...

Stewie is so cute! I agree that I kitties seem to want to eat meat (well at least tuna!) by nature, so I have never tried to veganize my kitties.....though they do like a lot of vegany stuff.
But, I too feel guilty and yucky about the factory farm issue, so I buy organic kitty food to try and deal with that issue...just a thought.

Jeff said...

We've been feeding our dogs Urban Wolf which blends with raw meat, usually ground chicken necks from Whole Foods, and fish. We supplement it with sweet potatoes. They seem to be a lot healthier since then.

My feeling is that, in the wild, dogs and cats aren't vegan but omnivores so we try to give them what they would choose naturally.

Laura said...

i'm loving all the feedback!! good points, guys! keep it coming!

miss v said...

i don't feed my dogs vegan dog food - because they aren't naturally. instead, i add things to the regular dog food that is vegan... and i use half as much food as normal. it makes me feel better about.

Cynical Dirt Doll said...

This subject is such a struggle for my husband & I. I truly think it's cruel to feed a vegan diet to animals. At this point we feed our cat and dog a diet of raw meat and veggies, but every time I go to the store and buy meat I feel as though something dies inside.
As much as I adore our babies, we're going to think long and hard about getting any more when these guys have left us, unless we can come up with some sort of compromise!

Anonymous said...

I'm really late to the game on this post, and I know it's a touchy issue for a lot of people, but I have a few things to add. As cats and dogs have been (unfortunately) fully domesticated, arguments about what they would do in "the wild" don't seem to me to hold much water. Dogs are not "obligate carnivores", and are thus not dependent on dead animal flesh to meet their dietary needs. Feeding dogs a vegan diet is not particularly controversial. Cats, on the other hand, are more complicated. For example, cats need taurine, which cannot be sourced from plant matter, for basic health. Vegan cat foods include synthetic taurine to meet this requirement, which some argue couldn't possibly be as nutritious as animal-sourced taurine. This, however, begs the question of the quality of non-vegan kibble in the first place; it's arguable that manufacturers boil the crap out of kibble and thus have to add synthetic nutrients after the fact anyway. If you're interested in learning more about this I'd recommend educating yourself as much as possible on the subject -- perusing, reading "Obligate Carnivore", checking out the ingredients and nutritional content of any food you're considering feeding to cats, and reading up on nutrition specific to your companion animal (just as any new vegan would do for themselves!).

kakistocrat said...

One way of assuring that you're not buying meat obtained in a cruel fashion is to make your own cat food. The problem with buying cat/dog food is that they tend to use super low quality meat, along with a bunch of other ingredients that are completely unnecessary. By making your own, you control where the meat comes from and what goes into the food, thereby ensuring that your cat is getting the best nutrition possible. Here is a good place to learn about what your cat should be eating. If you don't have the time to make your own cat food, here is a company that makes raw cat food.

kakistocrat said...

Also, dogs are omnivores and, like humans, and can derive what they need nutritionally from plants. Cats are, however, OBLIGATE carnivores, which means they are one of very few animal species on the planet which absolutely require protein from animal flesh to live. They do not have the ability to "make up" what they need from plants. Cats will eat grass only in order to "clean out" their system. It is not for nutritional value. Their intestines are far too short to get all the nutrients they need out of plants. Many people also like to make the argument that "my cat likes vegetables!" I like junk food, and I could probably subsist on junk food for a fairly decent amount of time, but sooner rather than later, I will probably die a painful death; point being, one shouldn't judge what whether something is good for someone (somebeast?) just because they think it's tasty.

lamont said...

"obligate carnivore" is a misleading term. While there are no naturally occurring sources of taurine, except meat, the taurine in *all* cat food is synthetic - it's much cheaper for the pet food makers that way.
As for "forcing" a diet, cats don't eat cows in the wild; their diet would be insects and rodents with occasional birds. Fish would be a rare event. So feeding a cat slaughter house scraps is, in fact, forcing an unnatural diet on the animal.
The question to be asked is if a vegan diet promotes good health for the cat. If it does, then how can you justify forcing an unnatural diet of scraps and chemicals to satisfy your fantasies that your cat is some primal predator?
And how can you continue to patronize the slaughterhouse industry?