We have all heard about the endless list of health benefits of going vegan such as reducing the risk of colon cancer, diabetes and heart disease. It is pretty easy and straightforward for humans, but what about pets? Whether you are a vegan pet parent or not, you have certainly come across the vegan diet idea from other pet parents, pet food suppliers, veterinarians or pet nutritionists. However, is this diet suitable for cats and dogs? Will our furry friends get sufficient nutrition to keep them healthy? Keep reading as we unearth amazing facts to help you decide if a vegan diet is the best for your little animal companion.
WHY DO PETS GO VEGAN?
For Your Pet’s Good
There are plenty of reasons for your pet to go vegan. Implementing a vegan pet diet means improving the quality of life experienced by your pets, especially in terms of nutrition, environment and health provided the pet food is tailored and formulated with essential nutrition that fulfils your pet’s dietary requirements according to its age, size and general health. As such, when choosing vegan pet food, it is best to err on the side of caution by choosing well-known established brands backed by research and science. Feeding a nutritionally inappropriate diet, be it vegan, vegetarian, meat or grain diet is associated with long-term risks of developing dietary deficiencies and diseases over time.
Moreover, pets with food allergies are typically sensitive to specific animal proteins and very rarely to gluten or dairy. Thus, eliminating processed animal products through a vegan diet May help to overcome the allergies provided the replacement diet is able to provide all the essential nutrients. Rest assured that you can always approach a veterinarian or pet nutritionist for professional advice.
Even For Your Own Good
If you are a vegan pet parent yourself and possess a strong passion for veganism, you may consider a vegan diet for your pet as well. Just like how you started your journey to veganism, we would carry out tons of research on what it takes and how to be vegan, specific ingredients to look out for and alternative ingredients to ensure we get the right amount of nutrition to stay healthy. Guess what – the same goes for your pets! What’s even easier is that you can consult your regular veterinarian or pet nutritionist if a vegan diet is suitable for your pet and the recommended ingredients to look out for that work best for your pet.
Definitely In The Favour of The Environment
Whether you are a vegan pet parent or not, we all have our personal ethics toward creating a better environment. The good news is that…vegan pet diet can be a huge contributor! A study shows that the meat consumption by U.S. cats and dogs ranks them on the fifth spot in the global meat-consumption list, in which the diet could release as much as 64 tons of greenhouse gases (PETA, 2022)1. Hence, having your pets go vegan can certainly help enhance environmental sustainability. Less meat, fewer greenhouse gases.
TRANSITIONING TO A VEGAN DIET
As much as pets can go vegan like us humans, their diet transition is not as drastic as how ours can be. A sudden change to a new diet, regardless of what kind of diet, is not encouraged. Such sudden change in diet will often lead to digestive upset issues such as diarrhoea, vomiting or food refusal.
The Ratio Method
As much as pets can go vegan like us humans, their diet transition is not as drastic as how ours can be. A sudden change to a new diet, regardless of what kind of diet, is not encouraged. Such sudden change in diet will often lead to digestive upset issues such as diarrhoea, vomiting or food refusal. A proper plan and gradual transition from the current food to the vegan food in a period of over a week (or more depending on your pet’s acceptance and receptivity) will help to ensure success. Based on the feeding guidelines, we can start with 75% of the original food and 25% of the new vegan food. Increase the percentage of new vegan food and reduce the percentage of old food by 25% every 2 to 3 days. This ratio method applies to many diet transitions without interrupting your pet’s digestive system and food acceptance. We can also try to create a fun and pleasant experience for the dietary change by incorporating healthy tasty treats or bonding time over food with the pets.
Other Factors to Consider
Going vegan is not just about selecting the right ingredient, but also ensuring the vegan pet food encompasses the right and sufficient nutrition that fits your pet’s age, breed, weight, activity level and health conditions. Generally, senior and junior pets have different nutritional needs. Older pets tend to gain weight more easily due to their reduced metabolic rate and lowered activity levels. As such, the vegan pet food chosen should contain reduced energy and fat content while still maintaining a good source of quality protein that is highly digestible by senior pets. Junior pets, on the other hand, will require higher energy, fat and protein content to support their robust growth and high activity levels.
Home-cooked Vegan Food for Pets
Definitely a no-no, UNLESS the home-cooked food is under the stringent guidance and supervision of a qualified veterinary or pet nutritionist. A nutritionally balanced home-cooked diet is very difficult to achieve, be it the conventional meat-based, vegetarian or vegan diet. A commercially complete balanced diet is formulated using specific software and methodology to ensure all the nutritional requirements of the pets are met using a combination of raw materials that provide specific requirements of nutrients to ensure pets’ good health throughout their lifetime. Feeding an imbalanced diet will lead to negative consequences in the long run. The common physical signs of poor nutrition include poor hair coat, lack of energy or deterioration of body condition.
Meatless Monday or Plant-Based as Alternatives
With the rising trend of veganism in pets, pet parents may feel eager to have their fur kids try to go vegan, but not on a full-force vegan diet considering their fur kids’ may not welcome the new diet. Here comes the global Meatless Monday campaign or plant-based diet to the rescue! These diets are likely to be introduced into pets’ diets soon due to their rising popularity in the pet food industry. Unlike vegan or vegetarian, these initiatives are a seemingly less stringent and softer approach to promote less meat and more plants to ensure a healthy and balanced diet for your pets in the long run. Your pets will still reap the best of both worlds without the risk of being nutritionally compromised. Pet parents can also have more flexibility and choices when it comes to food options for their fur kids.
VEGAN CATS VS VEGAN DOGS
The safety and good health of our furry kids are equally as important. After all, it is their health and well-being that come first regardless of the type of diet they consume.
Cats on a Vegan Diet
Cats are obligate carnivores, and they require certain amounts of amino acids, which can be derived from meat, to be healthy especially when it comes to their eyesight, growth and immune system. The lack of these proteins can lead to health problems. Thus, a vegan or plant-based diet is not recommended for cats.
Dogs Adapting to a Vegan Diet
Things work pretty differently for dogs. Based on the largest study to date, vegan diets are healthier and safer for dogs than conventional meat-based diets as long as they are nutritionally complete (Carrington, 2022)2. Dogs can easily adjust to vegan or plant-based diets, but the pet food has to be formulated to meet all their nutritional requirements. This is because dogs possess several key omnivorous qualities like molars with relatively flat surfaces designed to grind up bones as well as fibrous plant material, they have the ability to digest most carbohydrates they consume and they have a small intestine that occupies about 23% of the total gastrointestinal volume, which is consistent with other omnivores. Hence, plant-based and vegan diets are suitable for them.
STAYING ON TOP OF THE PET FOOD TREND
As in any dietary plan, veganism in pets is seeing a growth in demand as people seek a healthier and more sustainable way of eating. Especially pet parents who are vegan certainly would want their pets to follow a similar diet. As much as our concern for a sustainable environment is vital, the safety and good health of our furry kids are equally as important. After all, it is their health and well-being that come first regardless of the type of diet they consume.
Being an innovative and pet-loving company, all pet food produced and manufactured at Pet World Nutritions centres around the good health of pets. So, pet parents can enjoy more play with their dogs and get closer to their cats. Pet World Nutritions is constantly working and exploring the possibility of introducing healthy vegan dog food to meet the vegan demands in the pet food industry. So, do keep your eyes peeled on our socials and websites to look out for the latest addition of mouth-watering pet food and exciting updates to help you strengthen the bond between you and your pets!
- Peta.org. 2022. Meatless Meals for Dogs and Cats | PETA. [online] Available at: <https://www.peta.org/issues/animal-companion-issues/animal-companion-factsheets/meatless-meals-dogs-cats/> [Accessed 19 June 2022].
- Carrington, D., 2022. Like a dog with a bean … vegan diets found to aid canine health. [online] The Guardian. Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/apr/13/vegan-diets-are-healthier-and-safer-for-dogs-study-suggests#:~:text=Vegan%20diets%20are%20healthier%20and,surveys%20completed%20by%20their%20owners> [Accessed 19 June 2022].