On Good Morning America, the hosts talked about people who chose to raise their pets vegan. This has been controversial for sometime, and you hear so many facts from both side that it is hard to discern who’s telling the truth. Basically, from information I’ve seen, a dog can eat very well on a vegan diet. However, raising your cat vegan may be a little trickier. So, to make things easier for you, I decided to spend some time researching veg*n diets of dogs and cats. Please remember though that I am not an expert on nutrition or veterinarian science, and if you are really concerned you should talk about this with your vet.
Overall, dogs take well to a vegetarian or vegan diet. According to one study, done on 300 veg*n dogs,
Of the 12 lifelong vegetarians in the study, 100% were in good to excellent health. Of the 26 dogs who had been vegan or vegetarian for 90% of their lives, 22 (84.6%) were in good to excellent health. …
There also appeared to be a health advantage to veganism over vegetarianism: 82% of dogs who had been vegan for five years or more were in good to excellent health, while only 77% of dogs who had been vegetarian for five years or more were in good to excellent health.
Some of the conclusions of the study included that a veg*n diet seemed to promote the immune system against infections, with less infections occurring the longer the dog had followed the diet. Cancer rates were also lower. Also, there could be a problem with high alkaline levels which could lead to urinary tract infections, although cranberry supplements would help. Another health issue to watch for is a L-carnitine or taurine deficiency, but supplements are available for these too.
There are many foods that are fine for humans but poisonous or unhealthy for your canine friends. Here’s the list of things to avoid (if I’ve left anything out, let me know):
Broccoli (although small amounts might be ok)
Xylitol (found in sugar-free foods)
The main problem people take with veg*n cats is that felines need taurine, vitamin B12, vitamin A, arachidonic acid, and arginine (all usually found in meat) in order to remain healthy. It is true that supplements can take the place, but it is difficult. Even VeganCats.com, a site promoting veg*n cats, has said that some cats need a diet that does include some meat. Adding enzymes pH to every meal is neccessary to leave your cat without a urinary tract infection. It is also recommended that you take your cat to the vet regularly to check for urine acidity.
Another problem is that plant-based proteins are less easily digested by cats than meat-based proteins.
Here is a list of foods that could poison your cat:
Milk (despite popular culture, many cats are lactose-intolerant)
When it comes to cats, it seems that the only way to successfully feed them a veg*n diet is to be extra-vigilant about every meal they have and consult your vet for regular checkups.
You can buy vegan cat food from VeganCats.
If you have a dog, then help them go vegan! It’s healthy and easy to do. But be way more cautious with cats. I’ll admit that this is an issue I struggle with. My baby, Flava Flav, is not vegetarian in the least. My mom feeds him meat. I have obvious ethical issues with the meat industry, and if I were living on my own might consider dog ownership even though I’ve lived 90% of my life with a feline pal.