As pawrents, we always want to make sure we're including our four-legged friends in everything we do. That's why we're here to help you and your pets this Veganuary! If your furry companion would like to give Veganuary a go, we're here to give you all the information you need to decide whether it's right for your pack...
Can dogs be vegan?
The simple answer is yes, dogs can be vegan! Our friends at The Pack explain it best; "Dogs’ internal make-up has adapted over thousands of years of domestication to allow them to easily digest and process plant-based diets. Today, they can get everything they need, nutritionally, from a meat-free diet. And yes, that includes protein! Protein molecules are made up of strings of 20 amino acids. When a dog eats a protein source, their digestive system breaks it down into amino acid building blocks, which are then used by their bodies to make lots of different proteins (the ones needed to build muscle, produce hormones or fight infection). Dogs can make half of the 20 amino acids by themselves, including taurine, while the other 10 amino acids need to be eaten. If a dog food contains enough of all 10 of these essential amino acids, it can be labelled ‘complete’. And yes, you’ve guessed it: high-quality plant protein can contain all ten! Dogs can get all the nutritious proteins they need from vegan dog food."
Can cats be vegan?
The short answer is no, cats cannot be vegan or vegetarian. Cats are obligate carnivores which means they need meat in their diet. According to the Blue Cross, "the problem is that cats require a much higher level of protein than dogs and humans, and their ability to digest and use carbohydrates is much lower. Until more research is undertaken, we do not yet know what the implications of feeding your cat a vegan diet will be." Whilst cats cannot be completely vegan or vegetarian, they may still enjoy some plant-based treats in addition to a healthy, balanced diet.
Is it healthy for dogs to be vegan?
Dogs can thrive on a plant-based diet! In fact, eating a balanced, vegan diet is actually the healthiest option for most dogs. This is because plant-based dog foods help to prevent cancer, fight infections, control allergies, reduce risks of hyperthyroidism, improve coats, reduce risk of diabetes, reduce arthritis, help with weight loss and much more. In fact, Bramble, a 27-year-old Collie who once held the Guinness World Record for being the oldest living dog, ate a vegan diet!
Is it better for the planet for dogs to be vegan?
"Plant-sourced alternatives to meat need far fewer natural resources and create lower greenhouse gas emissions. A third of all calories in the crops we grow are fed to animals we farm, with only 12% of those calories being ‘recycled’ by humans when we eat meat, eggs and dairy. That’s an enormous waste! Put it this way: if we stop growing plants to feed farm animals and instead grow pulses, fruits and vegetables for humans and pets, we could feed an extra 350 million people (and a whole lot of dogs too)" according to The Pack. According to the calculations of animal nutritionists, if you switched your 70-pound retriever to a plant-based diet you could save 2,200 gallons of water, about 60 square feet of rainforest, about 90 pounds of grain and two farmed animals’ lives every day.
If you're going to switch your dog to a vegan diet, make sure to do so gradually, as you would with any changes to their food. Make sure to pick a good quality, complete dog food to keep your pup happy and healthy!