Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you all had a fabulous 2017 and you have an even better year ahead. As I’m sure many of you have, I have lots of New Year resolutions, from exercising more to trying to get better at keeping in contact with friends; it’s a long road ahead! One of my other resolutions is to make more vegan choices. As colleagues and friends can attest, my Veganuary has not got off to the best start…unless halloumi and chocolate milk are an exception. However, my exact issue with the diet is its lack of flexibility, and I feel that many are put off cutting down their meat/dairy intake because of the absolute nature of the diet. That, and I’ve tried vegan cheese…it’s rank.
That’s said with absolutely no disrespect to vegans, in fact, I take my hat off to you! Absolute willpower goals. However, I was recently intrigued by a post I saw posted on one of the many wonderful canine community groups on Facebook. The creator asked about the ethics of vegans putting their dogs on vegan diets. As you can imagine, it caused quite the controversy, with many for, many against and even more using the post to write foul-language insults hurled at anyone and everyone, regardless of their position on the subject, and adding a minimal contribution to an otherwise intelligent debate.
This argument intrigued me, as it was not something I’d ever really thought of before. The ethics of an absolute vegan diet means meat-free, but should that be stretched as far to include the family pet? Many seem to think so, and take almost a go-hard-or-go-home approach to Veganism. But, is that such a bad thing after all?
Endorsements from The Vegan Society and Peta highlight that dogs and cats can not only live long and healthy meat-free diets, but that they can actually be better for our beloved pets, in the same way that a plant-based diet for humans helps to fight and prevent heart disease, diabetes and cancer. In fact, when I noticed that many of the studies that proved dogs NEEDED meat in their diet were funded by dog-food companies, the cynic within me went into overdrive. I read numerous accounts of dogs that had been bought up vegan, and thought that it wasn’t quite as cruel and unnatural as I first thought.
I then looked at the other side of the argument. There were hundreds upon hundreds of people claiming that ‘dogs have canines for a reason’ and that it was in their nature to eat meat-based diets. Many seemed to suggest that vegan diets for dogs would lead to shorter lifespan, health complications and restricting your dog from living their best life. The idea of a vegan dog didn’t sit well with me – not least because they don’t have a choice in the matter, and rely on you, as owners, to decide what’s best. This led me to be certain of at least one thing – it would be cruel to make your dog into a vegan after several years of eating meat.
Although dogs understand us in many ways, they wouldn’t be able to understand the shortage or complete lack of what was once the main element of their diet; and there would be no way for you to explain it. It would be like Lindt suddenly removing all Lindor chocolates from the shelves, with no explanation, justification or sound reasoning as to why; which would make me VERY mad.
So, 500 words later, and I still can’t quite seem to make my mind up. I think it’s not a good idea to change their diet halfway through their life as mentioned previously, but when it comes to bringing them up as vegans or vegetarians, the jury is still out as far as I’m concerned. I need to do a lot more research on whether dogs can live a healthy life, to the full, on a meat-free diet.
But that’s where you guys come in; the wonderful world of online dog owners, lovers and enthusiasts who all feel so passionately about topics like this. Please use the comments below or on social media to let me know your thoughts on this somewhat controversial topic, so I can help to make my mind up!
If I get enough material to work with, you can expect to see a ‘Round 2’ of dog veganism coming soon, where I pick my favourite arguments for and against to make my final call!