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What Do You Think? Should Our Dogs be Vegan?

A research study by the University of Winchester, UK, of 2,536 dogs over the course of a year revealed that those on a well-balanced plant-based diet exhibited fewer signs of poor health, such as common illnesses or repeated trips to the vet. Almost half of the dogs fed a conventional omnivorous diet — based on meat, grains and some vegetables — required medication considered non-routine, while just a third of vegan dogs needed them. For all the time, money and heartache saved on staving off illness — coupled with dogs reportedly finding vegan food as tasty (according to the research) — the researchers suggest a vegan diet could be a worthwhile switch.

“Our study is by far the largest study published to date,” said lead researcher Andrew Knight, “It revealed that the healthiest and least hazardous dietary choices for dogs are nutritionally sound vegan diets.”

My first skeptical question when I read about a university research study is: what company funded the study? However, Victoria and I did switch our dog Forbes to vegan dog food several years ago, largely based on our own ethics. But if the above study is correct, then there are also major health reasons to do so. We had to go through several different vegan dog food brands, which Forbes quickly rejected, until we found a brand called Bramble, which he seems to enjoy. Bramble was a vegetarian-eating dog in the UK who lived to be over 25 years old, and at the time held the Guiness World Record for being the world's oldest dog.

However, I also admit that Forbes' favorite "treat" is when I share a Beyond Burger patty with him. To him, if it smells like meat and tastes like meat, then it must be meat. So, I suspect that in his heart (and stomach) he still has a preference for meat. And that raises the question of whether we should "impose" a vegan diet on our dogs based on our human ethics. The answer for us was "yes", but it was not an easy process at the time.

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Debbie B.
Debbie B.
Apr 17, 2022

I believe cats can not thrive on a vegan diet and need meat and I have chosen to buy them and feed them high quality wet and dry food. My beloved dog, Bella, 17 years old, died in Feb. 2020. I did not do a vegan diet with her because of her age. Meaning when I became a vegan in 2017 she was already a senior dog and with health issues (not eating well, too thin), I didn't feel I could attempt to switch her over. I have some friends who had been able to move their dogs over to a plant based diet with no issue. My mentor and good friend is one of those who has not swit…

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Thanks for your comment Debbie. My understanding is that there are vegan cat foods available, but everything I have read says that cats are obligate carnivores And it is a bad idea to try to force them into a vegan diet. As a general matter, I am not in favor of imposing my ethics on other species - their health should be the preeminent concern. On the positive side, our rescue pigeon- Thunder the Wunder Pigeon - seems to be a very happy vegan.

Rev. William


Apr 15, 2022

This is a great question, William. I saw the report as well. Since I live with cats, it's endlessly more difficult to make a decision. It is one of those really messy ethical things I think about a lot. By domesticating cats and dogs, we humans have created a system that correlates to the massive number of animals in shelters, and then suffering for other species to create pet food, among many other issues. I just finished reading Marc Bekoff & Jessica Pierce's book "A Dog's World: Imaging the Lives of Dogs in a World Without Humans" that had some pretty interesting things to say. I also think "The Clean Pet Food Revolution" by Ernie Ward, Alice Oven, and Rya…

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