A vegan diet, just for you or can pets have it too?

Veganism is the practice of not eating meat or products of animal origin. As people who follow the vegan diet don’t consume any animal products, they might also prefer it if their pets follow that as well. There are a plethora of reasons why individuals adopt veganism into their life. Some aim to reduce their carbon footprint, some oppose the meat production process, and some would just like to improve their health! 🍃

A survey conducted by the University of Guelph’s Veterinary College in 2019 has shown some increased diet trends in pet parents. Over one-third of 3,600 pet parents worldwide are interested in changing their pet’s usual dietary regime to a vegan diet, while 27% of vegan respondents have already done so.

However, the question of “Can our pets be vegan?” is still widely debatable amongst pet parents and veterinarians. Naturally, common pets like dogs and cats need high amounts of protein to sustain their healthy body, as protein is crucial for cellular growth and muscle repair.

🐶 Dogs are omnivores. They can eat both plants and meat. When deciding whether to feed meat to your dogs or not, you must first consult with a veterinarian to create a nutrition plan. Each dog’s meal plan depends on its individual physical health, breed, gender, and age.

🐱 On the other hand, cats are carnivores. Their body cannot digest carbohydrates as effectively as protein. That’s why cats need more protein from meat. Taurine, in particular, is an essential amino acid found solely in animal-based proteins. It’s a necessity for your cat’s eyesight, growth, and immune system.

Did you know?
Turning cats vegan violates the Animal Welfare Act in the UK because the law requires pet owners to ensure all their pets’ needs are met.

Pet food made from animal tissue grown in a lab is also an interesting innovative option. It’s produced without Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS), so you’re sure your pet gets the nutrients they need. However, they’re also uncommon, expensive, and may create a larger carbon footprint than the standard pet food production process.

Additionally, there are options for flexible vegan pawrents. For a few years now, insect-based pet food has become popular because the production process releases less carbon dioxide compared to other meats. However, insect farming technology is very new and only produces ingredients in much smaller quantities, and thus insect-based pet food is also expensive. Making it not very sustainable or attainable to many pawrents.

It’s a good thing to feed your pets while also being concerned about ethical and environmental issues. Keep in mind that pets, by nature, need certain nutrients in order to live healthy lives. Changing your pet’s diet should be based on providing them with a high quality of life, and keeping them happy and healthy. All while relying on your veterinarian’s advice. 🐾

Did you know?
The by-products of the meat production process for humans, like scraps and organs, are food waste. Pet food production actually helps us manage this waste.

This article is reviewed by the veterinarian from Small Animal Teaching Hospital, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University (CUVET)

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