What is vegan dog food?
The kind you can buy, is basically kibble without the meat. Kibble already adds synthetic vitamins, the only difference here is the number of synthetic vitamins added to make it nutritionally adequate. There are nutrients found in meat (such as taurine) that dogs absolutely require to live, that cannot be found in ANY plant based sources. In order to be vegan, these nutrients can not come from animal sources and therefore MUST be synthetic.
There are multiple problems with adding synthetic vitamins. These are just a few:
- The body can’t process them correctly so they can lead to deficiencies.
- They tax the liver, get passed as waste and can cause countless other health problems.
- Many are made in China and other countries where standards are low and are contaminated and dangerous.
- Manufactures are not obligated to disclose the amounts present after processing. This is made worse by the fact that they degrade over time.
- A pet food sitting in a warehouse for a year before getting to a store shelf, could have almost none of the original vitamins added in it that are listed on the label and this is perfectly legal.
Both vegan and premium traditional kibble pet foods add these synthetic vitamins due to the severe lack of nutrition in kibble regardless of the ingredients. This is due to the processing required to make it shelf stable. Nutrients are lost and need to be added back in to meet minimum requirements. What makes vegan food worse is the amount they must add because of the essential nutrients missing by not having meat.
Also the meat is being replaced by plant-based carbohydrates. Dogs require little to no carbohydrates biologically. These tax every vital organ as they are eliminated from the body. This speeds up the aging process and leads to chronic diseases.
The Vegan Argument
People argue that dogs have adapted over the years of being fed kibble, however research based science clearly proves that this is not the case.
A pug may no longer resemble a wolf, but his digestive tract DOES! Breeding has changed the way our dogs look and behave but biologically speaking, their DNA differs from wolves by only .02%.
Dogs unlike cats (who are obligate carnivores) can technically eat other things. They are survivors. Eating things other than meat has helped them survive during hard times in environments where food is scarce. This has been proven by their survival on kibble. However, mere survival does not make kibble or vegan kibble healthy. This has been made very obvious by the growing numbers of diseases that are currently plaguing the canine population. Everything from arthritis due to nutrient deficiencies to cancer is directly related to their diet. Bad breeding may exacerbate this but it is far from copiable for all of these health crises.
The small amount of actual meat left in kibble after processing, was pretty much all dogs had left of what their bodies (carnivore bodies) were meant to eat. Taking that away increases the danger posed by kibble 10X. There is no credible evidence to counter what science has already determined biologically appropriate for a canine. There is no reason dogs should be experimented on to counter sound medical evidence.
Vegan dog food has not been around long enough. People can be paid to tell stories about examples of healthy vegan dogs. Those who want to believe it will not challenge these accounts.
While I stand behind vegan ideals 100% when it comes to animal cruelty, factory farming and the devastation to our planet, dogs are not responsible for any of this and should not be made to pay the price for it.
Without human intervention, dogs eat based on instinct. This is the same as how a cow knows to eat grass. In the wild, dogs would eat wild prey. This is proven through studies done on the stomach contents of wild dogs and wolves. They eat based on what their body needs and was designed to digest.
Do we need to work towards fixing what we’ve done to our planet? Absolutely, but just because we can choose the diet for a particular species, doesn’t mean that we have the right to.
Humans alone are the reason our planet is suffering because of the meat industry.
Dogs also have a large population because of humans. We as a species have an obligation to work on fixing both of these issues, not by denying what another species needs to live but addressing the actions of our own.
I stand behind vegan ethics to protect our planet. One way to do this is to stop eating meat ourselves, because we can do so safely. Dogs can not and should not be made to.
Why is vegan pet food becoming popular?
There are a culmination of reasons for this. One is that the pet food industry is a very competitive multi-billion dollar industry. They influence everything from dietary industry standards to veterinary schools, hospitals, pharmaceuticals and even labs. The market has become turbulent. More people are looking for traditional kibble alternatives. Being different, gets attention and nothing is more different than trying to feed dogs without meat. On the other side of things, the human food industry is going through very similar issues. Milk produces for example, lose profits every time someone opts to buy animal free varieties. Companies are now becoming diversified in order to stay afloat. Many now make non-dairy and other products as well.
Who is really responsible for the vegan dog trend? I can’t say that I know for sure, but what I do know is that there are definite monetary incentives for many parties. They were smart to target a group who wants to believe that this is a safe alternative. They will be easier to convince that it’s ok through whatever random “evidence” they choose to provide.
We already know that doctors can be bought and so can reviews. We see this happen in virtually every other industry. The difference here is that they are honing in on something that people care very deeply about.
To be a vegan isn’t easy! You HAVE to care deeply to live this way of life. The fact that the good intentions and passion of this well established group is being capitalized on is truly deplorable. I don’t know at this point who is funding the marketing behind the movement or who is actually set up to make money and who is being conned, but I do hope that it comes to light eventually. Allowed to progress I am very afraid of what else may happen to the dogs who are already barely surviving on kibble fed diets.
The move towards putting vegan dog food in shelters:
This is currently happening in LA and is of particular concern for a multitude of reasons.
One being that it is being made to look altruistic, which I do not believe it is. This makes it that much more offensive. Shelters are overcrowded and we know this. They need a LOT of food. Because of this, they look to be a good way to make a large dent in breaking away from the issues caused by traditional pet food companies on the environment. Again, this issue of overfilled shelters has become a problem because of humans.
Dogs that end up in shelters are often malnourished and have an even greater need for quality nutrition. Giving them a plant based diet puts them at an even greater risk of becoming even sicker.
Sick dogs in shelters are often put down because there is not enough money for medical care. Sick dogs also have a harder time being adopted because most people don’t want to take on an animal with medical needs.
The other issue with malnutrition, is the simple fact that time and again it has been proven to be a significant factor in behavioral problems. When a dog is missing nutrients, it has a much harder time in social situations and if shelter dogs didn’t ALREADY have a hard time due to histories of abuse, this is clearly not going to make their lives any easier.
My final issue, is that when fed a vegan diet as long as they may be in a shelter (often years) if the adopting parents decide against it, the dog may not be able to cope digestively. I see this as a play to keep customers of vegan dog foods and nothing else.
Even if I am wrong about all of the corporate corruption, and this movement really is entirely based on a group of people who just care about the environment, I can not support the way they are going about doing that in this case. I see this as animal abuse due to misinformation at best, and human vegan abuse as well at worst, if it really is being funded by people talking advantage of this group of people desperate to save our environment.
I am one of them, and I do my part by not eating meat among other things. I also raise my dog responsibly and this includes feeding her a species appropriate diet and only buying her food from ethical meat sources.
I see no reason why dogs should suffer because of problems that humans have created and therefore should not be targeted in trying to fix it. There are other ways to help our planet that are safe and there is no valid reason to risk our dog’s health in this way.
I’d also like to add here that this in no way means that I believe that dogs can not benefit from eating vegetables! I absolutely believe that they can and should have access to them in their diet. All I am saying here is that plant-based food should not make up their ENTIRE diet.
To sum up, I’ll use the words of Dr. Judy Morgan: “If you want a vegan pet, get a bunny!” Please, do not do this to your dog!
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