According to Forbes, veganism has risen by 600% in the US between 2014 and 2017. With so many pet parents going vegan, it’s natural to consider that dogs and cats might benefit from a similar change in diet. If it works for humans, after all, it should work for animals, too, right? Wrong. Cats and dogs have specific anatomies dedicated to the consumption of a particular type of food. In this article, we’ll examine veganism and its impact on pet diets and explore why it may not be a good idea to try feeding your cat or dog a vegan diet, even if you’re on one.
Veganism In Humans Is A Choice
Many people choose veganism because they are proponents of ethical treatment for animals. Some just can’t see animals harmed in any form, especially not for food. Humans, being omnivores, can benefit from diets that include both meat and vegan options. However, our choices are based on our consumption and what we know goes into our bodies. Human beings can track their calorific and vitamin or mineral intake and adjust them to suit. Our pets don’t have that luxury, and as we will find out, animal anatomies are not designed for non-meat diets.
Understanding Pet Digestion Systems
Cats are carnivores and require certain critical amino acids in their diet if they are to survive. Veterinarians have found that the lack of specific proteins in cat diets (like taurine, for example) can lead to potentially fatal conditions such as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). You may think that this is just a matter of the kind of protein that cats are fed, but it goes deeper than that. Vegan-based diets lack the amino acids (basic building blocks) of protein necessary to allow cats to build these usable proteins. The result is that they can fall ill and die while on a vegan diet.
Dogs have an arguable advantage when it comes to partaking in a vegan diet. The journal Nature finds that dogs have adapted amylase genes, which allow them to digest plant matter. Scientists believe this adaptation resulted when dogs started to eat scraps left behind by prehistoric humans. Despite their penchant for digesting vegetables, dogs will still suffer severe malnutrition if put on a vegan diet.
Options Are Available
If you’re a vegan pet parent and you’re concerned about feeding your dog or cat meat products, there are viable options available for you. Wild Earth produces a strain of dog food that replaces animal components with fungi and other more organic matter like sea algae. Ami is an Italian company that makes vegan cat food that has been fortified with essential proteins that cats need if they are to remain healthy and live happy lives. Pets are not humans, and attempting to treat them as such can lead to severe damage to their bodies. Caring pet parents may choose these options or might let their pets get away with being non-vegan. After all, in the wild, it’s unlikely that they’d defer to a vegan diet.