As a devoted pet guardian, you strive to provide the loving care for your furry companion. However, one of the most complex ethical dilemmas you may face is whether to opt for meat-based pet food or to explore plant-based alternatives.
You understand that your pets' health, happiness, and longevity are important factors to consider but you feel uneasy having to continue to support the meat industry through purchasing pet food.
You ask yourself: "Can my home be completely free of animal-based products and be assured that my pets will be happy and healthy on a plant-based diet?"
Well, you may be relieved to know that there is a solution to this conundrum! Contrary to popular belief, feeding your pets a plant-based diet is not only feasible but can also be highly beneficial for their well-being!
1. Good Health
Veterinarian Dr. Armaiti May reinforces this statement by saying “Cats and dogs have nutrient requirements, which are not the same as ingredient requirements.”
One study found that dogs, who were eating 100% plant-based for 12 months, maintained good health (from being fed meat previously). 2
Another study concluded that "a significant and growing body of population studies and case reports have indicated that cats and dogs maintained on vegetarian diets may be healthy—including those exercising at the highest levels—and, indeed, may experience a range of health benefits." 3
2. Long vegan life according to studies
An interesting study published in 2021, explored the lifespan of cats on a plant-based cat food and meat-based cat food. The results were very optimistic: cats fed a plant-based diet had the same life span, if not longer, as cats who have been fed conventional diets.
In addition, "fewer cats fed plant-based diets reported to have gastrointestinal and hepatic disorders. Cats fed plant-based diets were reported to have more ideal body condition scores than cats fed a meat-based diet". 4
The results speak for themselves: both dogs and cats can thrive on a vegan diet. In fact, not only can they be healthy, but they can also experience optimal health and well-being!
3. It's Delicious!
Another valid concern you may have is whether your pets will enjoy eating vegan pet food and be happy with it. You might have thought to yourself: "Is it cruel not to feed meat to a carnivore"?
In regards to dogs, one common myth is that they're carnivores, when in reality, they've evolved to do quite well on an omnivorous diet.
Veterinary professor Andrew Knight conducted the largest study on behavioral pattern and palatability of vegan dog food versus meat-based dog food, and found that dogs seem to be just as happy being fed vegan pet food as they are fed meat-based pet food!
He adds: ''... they display all the signs that they really like and value their food and just as likely do to this with vegan pet food than with meat-based pet food. They don't seem to be suffering, at all, quite the contrary, when they're fed these vegan pet food.'' 5
While cats are obligate carnivores, studies have shown that they can obtain all of their nutritional requirements from a complete and balanced vegan cat food. However, some pet guardians may still wonder whether their cats will be happy with a plant-based diet.
Another study from Prof Andrew Knight, studying the behavioural indicators of palatability and welfare implications, showed:
"Based on these owner-reported behaviours, our results indicate that vegan pet foods are generally at least as palatable to dogs and cats as conventional meat or raw meat diets, and do not compromise their welfare, when other welfare determinants, such as nutritional requirements, are adequately provided, cats enjoy eating plant-based cat food just as much as the meat-based cat food." 6
In the interview posted above, Prof Andrew Knight adds to these findings, saying: "... across all of these studies, it seems that the cats, on nutritionally sound vegan diets, aren't doing any worse and are actually doing better in a few respects as well." 7Based on the opinions of experts and scientific evidence, you don't have to struggle with this ethical dilemma. The fact is that cats and dogs can thrive on a properly balanced vegan diet, while also enjoying their food and maintaining good health.
4. Vegan pet food has been around for years
With the rise of veganism over the last few years, it might seem like vegan pet food is a relatively new concept. However, did you know that vegan pet food has been around for over 30 years? Pet guardians all over the world have been feeding plant-based pet food to their pets with great success and observed significant improvements in their pets' health!
Over the years, we have collected numerous testimonials from pet guardians who were once in the same moral dilemma as you may be now. We'll let them tell you their story:
"Buddy is a completely different dog since going vegan. He came to us very sick with chronic diarrhea and a whole host of medical issues. He is so incredibly happy and healthy now. We are so thankful." Shanna H.
"As vegans ourselves, my wife and I felt there had to be a better way than to feed our 3 rescue cats other animals. We did a *lot* of research and were amazed to find that a plant-based diet could be equal *if not better* than a commercial animal diet for our girls. We had to try a few different foods before settling on one that they found the most palatable. We didn't notice many changes in their health or behaviour - which is a good thing! One thing we did notice though is that their breath doesn't smell anymore. On their commercial animal product diet, they always had stinky breath - but no longer!" Adrian F.
"I wanted to lessen my impact on the environment and still feed my cats and dogs a healthy diet. My dogs are already on vegan food for 6 years now and doing very well. I decided to try it with the cats and am beginning my mixing it with what they already eat. They like the taste and are doing well." Karin N.
Taking everything we've explored so far into consideration, the dilemma you are facing has a simple win-win solution: with properly balanced plant-based pet food available, you can have confidence that your feeding your pets all the nutrients needed with no negative consequences on their health, other animals or the planet.
Also, you don't have to make the transition to a 100% plant-based diet right away! Many pet guardians choose to introduce plant-based pet food gradually, alongside their pets' regular meat-based food.
From there, they can slowly increase the amount of plant-based food in their pets' diets until they are fully transitioned. This approach allows pets to adjust to the new diet gradually and helps pet guardians observe all the positive benefits along the way!
Still on the fence or looking where to start?
To help you determine whether a vegan diet is appropriate for your pet, we recommend starting with our Online Assessment. The assessment is designed to help shed light on this moral dilemma and provide answers to your questions and concerns.
Once you have completed the assessment, you will have the option to request a FREE sample pack of cat or dog kibbles. These sample packs are an excellent way for your pet to try out different flavors and brands and help you narrow down which options they prefer.
Start the assessment today!