I came across an interesting debate among vegans not long after my husband, Jake and I began a vegan lifestyle. The topic made us think hard about how we were caring for our pets, and I believe learning more about this topic taught us how to care for our three fur babies even better than we did before because we had a greater understanding of their bodies and their needs.
This important topic is the following: if you as an individual or family, are following a vegan lifestyle, do you make your pets follow a vegan lifestyle as well? In a brief summary of me and my husband’s opinion, no, this is not a healthy or sustainable lifestyle for cats and dogs.
Our Little Beasties
Jake and I own three pets, a four year old Yorkshire Terrier named “Fluffie”, a three year old orange, outdoor, tom cat named “JG”, and a six month old Seal Mink Snow Bengal cat named “Mazel.” We love our little fur babies, and we take care of all three beasties as best we can. Because Jake and I chose to own these three animals and they, in turn, depend upon my husband and I for all of their needs, including food, shelter, and grooming, we feel a huge responsibility to give them the best care possible. Animals do not get to choose who owns them, but humans who choose to own pets have made a commitment to care for a creature who wholly depends upon their human for their needs. This relationship creates a beautiful bond between pets and their masters– just look into your pets eyes and you will see a profound love for you, their human, shining through!
Choosing a Vegan Lifestyle
When Jake and I began to eat vegan, we were merely following a plant-based way of eating and had not thought about the way animal products were used in the rest of our lifestyle. However, since then, we have learned much more, made additional changes not related to our food, and yes… we do use honey for medicinal purposes, which if you are interested, I will be happy to answer any questions about my husband and I made this choice because we do understand that “true” vegans do not use honey.
However, back to Fluffie, JG, and Mazel and their food. Jake and I believe that cats and dogs were not created to eat a vegan diet because cats and dogs need meat in order to provide their bodies with all the nutrients that their bodies need. When cats and dogs are forced to eat vegan by their owners, I say forced because cats and dogs would not make this choice on their own accord, it becomes very difficult for their bodies to be healthy. This is especially true for cats because their bodies do not have the enzyme, amylase, that digests carbohydrates anywhere in their digestive tract! While it is possible to feed cats and dogs a vegan diet, it is an intensive, tedious, and costly task, and for me, personally, I would be worried all the time about my pets’ health. Even though I extensively researched feeding Fluffie, JG, and Mazel a vegan diet, Jake and I decided that a vegan diet would not be the best way to care for the animals in our protection and that doing so would be a disservice to our pets because it would put their health in jeopardy.
After studying about the nutrient needs of cats and dogs, Jake and I made several changes to our pets’ diets, but we did not choose to make our pets vegan. Although I will write an in-depth post about our current pet food in the future, in short, we no longer use dry kibble food because of the lack of nutritional benefit to our pets, and I make all of their food using raw meat (again, I will do an instruction post soon!). However, just because our pets are not vegan, we still do our best to make sure to choose the “best” meat option available to us, such as organic, antibiotic free, and free-range, so that we support the conventional meat industry as little as possible. Although we would love to not support the conventional meat industry at all and buy our meat locally from free-range, antibiotic-free farms, right now that is not an option for Jake and I; however, we will continually be reevaluating the places we choose to purchase meat and the types of meat we purchase. Our goal is to purchase the freshest, cleanest, and most ethically produced meat available to use as food for Fluffie, JG, and Mazel.
I would love to see your thoughts on this post, so please comment or ask any questions! In addition, if you were inspired to put a picture on Instagram because of this post, tag me at #shalomhomestead!
Best wishes and shalom, friends!