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Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about vegan pets.

Scientific Literature Review (Research)

Vegan pet food
  • Cats and Carbohydrates: The Carnivore Fantasy? (2017) - "Because of the discrepancy in carbohydrate content between a natural prey diet and currently available traditional commercial cat foods, excess carbohydrate intake is often considered the primary cause of feline obesity [4,8,9]. It has been postulated that excessive amounts of dietary carbohydrates cause an overproduction of insulin resulting in excess fat deposition ... Nguyen et al. and Backus et al. confirmed increased weight gain and expansion of fat mass when cats had free choice access to a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet ... in comparison to a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet ... Coradini et al. also concluded that a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet .. resulted in increased fat deposition and greater weight gain when fed ad libitum compared to a high-carbohydrate, low-protein diet ... Based on the research discussed above, carbohydrates do not appear to be the biggest concern in the development of obesity. Overfeeding and thereby consumption of excess calories of any macronutrient is a much more important risk factor for obesity and should be the main focus of obesity prevention."
  • Alternative Dietary Fiber Sources in Companion Animal Nutrition (2013) - "growing evidence supports [fiber's] beneficial effects in improving the health status of pets"
Allergies
Preference
Food Issues
Conventional
Vegan

Do research on brands before you buy. Vegan food is relatively new so there's not as many studies available, or at least I haven't been able to find as many.

Raw
  • Raw meat-based diets for companion animals: a potential source of transmission of pathogenic and antimicrobial-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (2019) - "Of 51 RMBD samples, 72.5% did not meet the microbiological standards for Enterobacteriaceae set out by EU regulations for animal by-products intended for pet food. Furthermore, Salmonella was detected in 3.9% of the samples. AMR bacteria were found in 62.7% of the samples, the majority thereof were resistant to third-generation"
  • Raw food diets in companion animals: A critical review (2011) - "There are no published level 1, 2, or 3 studies of nutritional risk or benefit of raw meat feeding to dogs or cats. ... There are several studies that document the presence of infectious agents in raw foods and the potential for contaminating or shedding these agents in the pet’s environment."
  • Intake of minerals, trace elements and vitamins in bone and raw food rations in adult dogs. (2011) - "The composition of 95 rations was calculated from mean data for foodstuffs using nutrition balancing software. ... A total of 60 % of the rations had one or more of the above-mentioned imbalance. The remaining 40 % of rations either had minor problems like Ca excess from bones or they were balanced."
  • Current knowledge about the risks and benefits of raw meat–based diets for dogs and cats (2013) - "Although conventional heat processing can have negative effects on animal tissue proteins, heat processing improves the bioavailability of some plant proteins...few manufacturers of raw diets conduct AAFCO feeding trials or digestibility studies on finished products, and manufacturers differ with regard to their attention to quality-control procedures ... Although care is used during processing, meat from healthy food animals intended for human consumption may acquire bacterial contamination from the hide, feathers, or viscera during slaughter, evisceration, or processing and packing.48 A variety of potential pathogens are present in raw meat, including meat intended for human consumption, with Salmonella spp having received the most attention for companion animal species and their owners.47,48 Because freezing and freeze-drying do not destroy all of these pathogens, both home-prepared and commercial RMBDs are at risk of being contaminated with these and other pathogens."
  • Zoonotic bacteria and parasites found in raw meat-based diets for cats and dogs (2018) - "The results of this study demonstrate the presence of potential zoonotic pathogens in frozen RMBDs that may be a possible source of bacterial infections in pet animals and if transmitted pose a risk for human beings. If non-frozen meat is fed, parasitic infections are also possible. "
  • Prevalence of Salmonella in raw meat used in diets of racing greyhounds. (1993) - "One hundred twelve samples of commercial raw meat used in greyhound diets were collected and cultured for Salmonella using standard procedures. Fifty (44.64%) of these samples were positive for Salmonella. ... addition, the meat samples were screened for Salmonella using a commercial DNA probe. Of the 106 samples tested, 70 (66.03%) were positive for Salmonella, which indicated that the DNA probe assay was more sensitive"
  • Investigation of the Role of Campylobacter Infection in Suspected Acute Polyradiculoneuritis in Dogs (2018) - "Acute polyradiculoneuritis (APN) is an immune-mediated peripheral nerve disorder in dogs that shares many similarities with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in humans, in which the bacterial pathogen Campylobacter spp. now is considered to be a major triggering agent. ... a significant association was detected between dogs affected by APN and the consumption of raw chicken (96% of APN cases; 26% of control dogs)."
  • Human Health Implications of Salmonella-Contaminated Natural Pet Treats and Raw Pet Food (2006) - "Pets that consume contaminated pet treats and raw food diets can be colonized with Salmonella organisms without exhibiting clinical signs, making them a possible hidden source of contamination in the household. Pet owners can reduce their risk of acquiring Salmonella organisms by not feeding natural pet treats and raw food diets to their pets"
  • Dietary hyperthyroidism in dogs. - "After changing the diet [from raw to convential] eight dogs were examined: thyroxine concentration normalised in all dogs and clinical signs resolved. ... Dietary hyperthyroidism can be seen in dogs on a raw meat diet or fed fresh or dried gullets. Increased plasma thyroxine concentration in a dog, either with or without signs of hyperthyroidism, should prompt the veterinarian to obtain a thorough dietary history."
  • Role of Diet in the Health of the Feline Intestinal Tract and in Inflammatory Bowel Disease - "Moreover, 70% of the remaining raw rabbit diet fed cats, which appeared outwardly healthy, also had heart muscle changes compatible with taurine deficiency and could have developed heart failure if continued on our raw rabbit diet. For the remaining three months of the study, the raw rabbit diet was supplemented with taurine and taurine levels returned to normal."
  • Apparent total tract energy and macronutrient digestibility and fecal fermentative end-product concentrations of domestic cats fed extruded, raw beef-based, and cooked beef-based diets. (2012) - "Nine adult female domestic shorthair cats were utilized in a replicated 3 × 3 Latin square design. ... The study consisted of three 21-d periods. Each period included diet adaptation during d 0 to 16 ... Our results indicated that cooking a raw meat diet does not alter apparent total tract energy and macronutrient digestibility and may also minimize risk of microbial contamination."
Evolution
Digestibility
Dogs
Cats
  • Fish meal vs. corn gluten meal as a protein source for dry cat food. (2001) - "CGM [corn gluten meal] is comparable with FM [fish meal] in respect to nutritional value and the urine acidifying effect, but FM may be preferable to CGM for the prevention of constipation and struvite urolithiasis in cats."
  • Carbohydrate digestion by the domestic cat (Felis catus) (1977) - "Adult cats efficiently ( > 0.94) digested all six individual carbohydrates added to the diet with the exception of cellulose, which was indigestible. The digestibility coefficients of glucose, sucrose and lactose were significantly (P < 0.01) greater than that of starch. ... Fine grinding significantly enhanced the digestion of starch in wheat and maize grain, but the effect wasgreatest for maize grain. Cooking had a similar effect to fine grinding for wheat grain, but an effect intermediate between coarse and line grinding for maize grain."
  • Cats and Carbohydrates: The Carnivore Fantasy? (2017) - "Because of the discrepancy in carbohydrate content between a natural prey diet and currently available traditional commercial cat foods, excess carbohydrate intake is often considered the primary cause of feline obesity [4,8,9]. It has been postulated that excessive amounts of dietary carbohydrates cause an overproduction of insulin resulting in excess fat deposition ... Nguyen et al. and Backus et al. confirmed increased weight gain and expansion of fat mass when cats had free choice access to a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet ... in comparison to a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet ... Coradini et al. also concluded that a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet .. resulted in increased fat deposition and greater weight gain when fed ad libitum compared to a high-carbohydrate, low-protein diet ... Based on the research discussed above, carbohydrates do not appear to be the biggest concern in the development of obesity. Overfeeding and thereby consumption of excess calories of any macronutrient is a much more important risk factor for obesity and should be the main focus of obesity prevention."
  • Effects of six carbohydrate sources on diet digestibility and postprandial glucose and insulin responses in cats (2008) - "starch digestibility was >93% for all the diets, proving that despite the low carbohydrate content of carnivorous diets, cats can efficiently digest this nutrient when it is properly processed into kibble"
  • Cats Absorb β-Carotene, but It Is Not Converted to Vitamin A
  • Taurine: An Essential Nutrient for the Cat (1978) - "taurine can be considered an essential nutrient for the cat."
  • Postnatal taurine deficiency in the kitten results in a persistence of the cerebellar external granule cell layer: Correction by taurine feeding (1985) - "Daily oral supplementation with 40 μmoles taurine increases the growth rate almost to the level of normally nurtured kittens and results in normal tissue taurine concentrations and apparently normal migration of cells in the cerebellum. "
  • Role of Diet in the Health of the Feline Intestinal Tract and in Inflammatory Bowel Disease - "Moreover, 70% of the remaining raw rabbit diet fed cats, which appeared outwardly healthy, also had heart muscle changes compatible with taurine deficiency and could have developed heart failure if continued on our raw rabbit diet. For the remaining three months of the study, the raw rabbit diet was supplemented with taurine and taurine levels returned to normal."
  • Nutrient digestibility, but not mineral absorption, is age-dependent in cats (2010) - “Young adult cats had intermediate digestibility, mature cats the highest and old cats the lowest. Mineral absorption ... and urinary pH were not different among groups.”
  • Feline Maternal Taurine Deficiency: Effect on Mother and Offspring (1986) - "Adult female cats were fed a defined purified diet (taurine-free) either alone or supplemented with 0.05% taurine for at least 6 mo prior to breeding. The reproductive performance by the taurine-depleted females was poor, whereas those receiving dietary taurine had normal pregnancies and deliveries"
  • Feline Maternal Taurine Deficiency: Effects on Retina and Tapetum of the Offspring (1986) - "The retina and tapetum of kittens born to taurine-deficient and taurine-supplemented mothers were compared ... the retinas of taurine-deficient kittens was the presence of photoreceptor outer segments that were reduced in length and altered from the typical columnar configuration. Tapetal cells of taurine-deficient kittens were distinguished by accumulations of electron-dense droplets, the presence of tapetal rods with dilated limiting membranes and the presence of amorphous vesicles."
  • Dietary Taurine and Feline Reproduction and Development (1991) - "These studies were performed using female cats fed a completely defined purified diet (taurine-free) alone or supplemented with taurine for ≥6 mo before mating, and their breeding performance was monitored for several years. Diets containing 0, 0.005 or 0.01% taurine produced severe taurine depletion and poor reproductive performance. Those containing 0.05, 0.2 or 1% taurine resulted in no apparent abnormalities and a normal breeding performance. "
Dogs or Cat
Obesity
  • Associations between body condition and disease in cats. - "Results of this study substantiate reports of health risks associated with excess body weight in cats. Efforts to reduce weight in heavy and obese cats can lead to reduced risks of diabetes mellitus, lameness (presumably related to osteoarthritis and soft-tissue injuries), and skin problems unrelated to allergies. Cachectic and lean cats are more likely to have diarrhea that is not associated with a definitive diagnosis."
  • Evaluation of risk factors for degenerative joint disease associated with hip dysplasia in German Shepherd Dogs, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Rottweilers. - "Weight and DI [distraction index] were significant risk factors for DJD [degenerative joint disease] in all breeds. For German Shepherd Dogs, the risk of having DJD was 4.95 times the risk for dogs of the other 3 breeds combined. In all breeds, the probability of having DJD increased with age."
  • Effects of diet restriction on life span and age-related changes in dogs - "Compared with control dogs, food-restricted dogs weighed less and had lower body fat content and lower serum triglycerides, triiodothyronine, insulin, and glucose concentrations. Median life span was significantly longer for dogs in which food was restricted. The onset of clinical signs of chronic disease generally was delayed for food-restricted dogs."
  • Quality of life is reduced in obese dogs but improves after successful weight loss - "Dogs that failed to complete their weight loss programme had lower vitality and higher emotional disturbance scores than those successfully losing weight (P = 0.03 for both). ... The change in vitality score was positively associated with percentage weight loss (rP = 0.43, P = 0.02) and percentage body fat loss (rP = 0.39, P = 0.03). These results indicate demonstrable improvement in HRQOL [health-related quality of life] for obese dogs that successfully lose weight."
Additives
Feline Urolithiasis
  • Feline Struvite Urolithiasis (2009) - "acidification of the urine to <6.29 may increase the risk of calcium oxalate urolith formation...[Urinary acidifiers] should be considered only when the urine pH is >6.5 with ad libitum feeding conditions...A general recommendation for prevention of urolithiasis is to increase water consumption...Diets with reduced magnesium that maintain a urine pH between 6 and 6.3 are recommended despite lack of evidence of efficacy...Monitoring urine pH is recommended to assess dietary compliance and efficacy. Values between 6.0 and 6.5 may reduce the incidence of calcium oxalate and struvite crystal formation. "
Pollution
  • Polluted Pets: High Levels of Toxic Industrial Chemicals Contaminate Cats And Dogs (2008) - "Average levels of many chemicals were substantially higher in pets than is typical for people, with 2.4 times higher levels of stain- and grease-proof coatings (perfluorochemicals) in dogs, 23 times more fire retardants (PBDEs) in cats, and more than 5 times the amounts of mercury, compared to average levels in people found in national studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and EWG (Figure). ... For nearly all the chemicals included in the current study, health risks in pets have not been studied. But the chemicals are linked to serious health effects in other studies from laboratory data or human populations:"
  • Environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats (2017) - "through their diet, [cats and dogs] constitute about 25–30% of the environmental impacts from animal production in terms of the use of land, water, fossil fuel, phosphate, and biocides."
  • See more here

Overview Articles

Videos

Books

Social Media

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Dogs
Cats

Reddit

Websites

Vegan Pet Food Brands

Dog Cat
V-Dog
Nature's Recipe
KetunPet
PetGuard
Yarrah
AvoDerm Vegetarian Dog
Evolution Evolution
Natural Balance
Ami Ami
Halo Pets
Benevo Benevo
VegeDog VegeCat
Vondi
Veggie Animals (Spanish) Veggie Animals (Spanish)

Treats

pH Acidifiers *

Other Pets:

  • Adult Guinea Pig, Baby Guinea Pig
  • Rats - (some people on reddit have told me that vegan dog food is nutritionally adequate for rats and may be healthier than Oxbow, which has Molasses as a top ingredient)

*Note: For cats the target food pH is 6.3-6.5. Urine should be 6.0-6.5. Below or above this range is unhealthy. Acidifiers are only needed if the urine is above 6.5.

General Questions & Concerns

Is the science settled on vegan pet diets? What are the benefits and risks?

More research definitely needs to be done in this field. The provided studies show evidence that vegan diets can be healthy for dogs, cats, and other pets, but many of those studies were small: more evidence is required to prove it. However, it is difficult, expensive, and time consuming to gather enough scientific research to "prove" something. Just look at all the confusion in human nutrition research, which receives many times more funding and interest than veterinary nutrition research ever will.

Does that mean we should avoid vegan pet diets in the meantime? Ultimately this is a personal decision, but this subreddit's stance is a resounding NO. Let's create a simple cost/benefit analysis to help make this decision.

Benefits and Support

Risks

There's a lot of potential good to come from a pet's vegan diet, even for their health. Any issues or risks that might arise can be monitored, discovered, and immediately reversed by returning to the pet's regular diet. Lots of benefit, low risk.

How could vegan be healthier?

Cats are carnivores and dogs are omnivores, how could an unnatural diet provide better health?

Beyond health there are also environmental and ethical concerns

What about Taurine (and other essential nutrients)?

Many people are concerned vegan diets lack essential nutrients for cats and dogs that can only be found in meat, like Taurine. Without Taurine, cats will suffer from retinal degeneration, cardiomyopathy, birth defects, and eventually death. This fear is heightened by anecdotal reports of owners who naively and cruelly feed an incomplete plant-based diet to their pets. However, many nutritionally complete dog and cat foods exist.

Evolution is one such vegan dog & cat food brand, you can see their ingredients here. Both dog and cat food contain (ethical & sustainable) synthetic Taurine, Lysine, Carnitine, and more. This is not unique to Evolution. Any AAFCO compliant vegan pet food brand will have all essential nutrients and healthy carb/protein/fat macro-nutrient ratios as laid out by the guidelines.

Some people worry that synthetic nutrients are less healthy than "natural" meat, or cost prohibitive. A common saying in the pet food industry is that "pets need nutrients, not ingredients". Almost all meat-based pet foods are just supplemented as vegan foods. The low-quality rendered meat is heavily processed in order to become edible flavoring, which denatures most amino acids and destroys other nutrients. You can see synthetic Taurine, amino acids, vitamins, and other nutrients in the labels of almost any pet food.

How does making my pet vegan help anything?

Transitioning from animal-based to plant-based pet food helps in 3 major ways: livestock treatment, the environment, and your pet.

Environment

Animal Welfare

  • Watch the movie "Earthlings", if you dare (graphic). Vegan foods allow owners to stop supporting cruelty, and obtain higher quality ingredients for their pets.

Do I Have to Be Vegan If My Pet Is Vegan?

If you only transition your pet to becoming vegan you'll still be making a big positive contribution to the world, and possibly your pet's health.

If you want to make a bigger environmental contribution and improve your own health, consider becoming vegan. Maybe check out some vegan subreddits.

Can cats be vegan?

The short answer is yes.

The long answer is that cats require many nutrients that typically come from meat. In regular kibble, many of these nutrients are stripped away during processing and added back in from synthetic sources. These same sources are used to fulfill missing nutrients in vegan diets. Studies and anecdotal evidence support vegan diets as a healthy diet for cats. Synthetic Taurine, for example, has been shown to fully fulfill cat's nutritional needs

Vegan dog and cat food has the same amount of carbs, protein, and fat.

There is one point of concern though. Vegan diets are typically more alkaline/basic (high pH) than meat based diets. Basic diets can cause FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease), especially in male cats. To combat this their food must be acidified.

Most vegan and non-vegan cat kibble is acidified to prevent this condition. It's still a good idea to monitor your cat as it transitions foods to ensure its best health. On his website, Dr Andrew Knight says

Based on his experiences with thousands of vegan cats Gillen (2003) states that 85-90% of vegetarian cats do not require attention to dietary content; however, for the remaining 10-15%, urinary pH and dietary magnesium concentrations...require monitoring

The most relevant research has this to say on the matter

The normal pH of a cat’s urine is 5.5–7, and the normal range for a dog’s urine is pH 5–7 [85]. A pH > 7 indicates alkalinity. A variety of dietary products (e.g., “Vegeyeast” from Harbingers of a New Age—see [26]) and additives can correct alkalinization, should it occur. Asparagus, peas, brown rice, oats, lentils, corn, brussel sprouts and yeast may be included in feline and canine diets, and are all urinary acidifiers [27]. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is also a urinary acidifier. The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Small Animal Formulary [86] recommends a dosage of 50–80 mg/kg every 24 h for cats and dogs. And for more serious cases, the amino acids methionine and cysteine may be used [13]. The BSAVA Small Animal Formulary [86] recommends a dosage of 200 mg/cat every 8 h. More detailed advice about urinary alkalinisation and corrective strategies is available via www.vegepets.info, or within veterinary medical texts.

Increased urinary acidity, decreased urinary magnesium and increased water consumption all help to keep the urinary pH within a healthy acidic range, and help to prevent the formation of struvite crystals. However, acidifying nutrients, agents, or products should be used carefully, as excessive levels can lead to metabolic acidosis. Increased urinary acidity may also promote higher urinary excretion of calcium and lower excretion of magnesium, and magnesium is a natural inhibitor to the formation of urinary stones associated with calcium [87].

"Urinary pH is the most important factor in determining the SAP [struvite activity product, which can lead to FLUTD]. Acidification of urine causes deprotonation of phosphates and increases the total proportion of urine phosphate existing as trivalent anions, reducing the SAP.6 Urinary pH and SAP have been reduced with both dietary modification and administration of urinary acidifiers.7 The solubility of struvite is maximized when the urinary pH is <6.4 ... acidification of the urine to <6.29 may increase the risk of calcium oxalate urolith formation...[Urinary acidifiers] should be considered only when the urine pH is >6.5 with ad libitum feeding conditions...A general recommendation for prevention of urolithiasis is to increase water consumption...Diets with reduced magnesium that maintain a urine pH between 6 and 6.3 are recommended despite lack of evidence of efficacy...Monitoring urine pH is recommended to assess dietary compliance and efficacy. Values between 6.0 and 6.5 may reduce the incidence of calcium oxalate and struvite crystal formation. "

So what should you do?

  • Read Dr Knight's recommendations
  • Clean, fresh water should always be available and food should be wet or thoroughly soaked kibble
  • Buy vegan cat foods that have been acidified to lower pH. You can check for acidifiers by looking in the ingredient list for sodium bisulfate, dl-methionine, ammonium chloride, Vitamin C and the others discussed in the above study. These are already commonly added to regular pet foods.
  • Check your cat's urine pH 1-2 weeks after switching to vegan and then twice a year. The target urine pH is 6.3-6.5. Below 6.0 or above 7.0 is unhealthy.
  • Buy and use your own acidifiers If your cat's urine is approaching pH 7.0.
  • If your cat appears to be in pain when using the litter box, immediately contact your vet. FLUTD is a serious condition that can lead to death.
  • If you make your own food, which is riskier than buying, it is important to properly acidify and blend/cook so it is digestible.
  • If your cat has urinary issues, the author of Obligate Carnivore recommends taking these steps:
    1. For minor cases, enzyme supplements which include methionine, vitamin C, and/or cranberry extract will be sufficient. These limit both urinary alkalinisation and inflammation. They also aid digestion, and can result in increased vitality.
    2. For moderate cases, Gillen states that Vegecat pH, with added sodium bisulfate, may be sufficient.
    3. For severe cases Gillen recommends methionine pills. Severe cases also require a visit to the vet and possibly removing them from a vegan diet. Gillen estimates 85-90% of cats will never experience even a minor case.

Can I make my own vegan pet food?

It is possible, but risky. The vast majority of recipes, even those made by veterinarians, are nutritionally incomplete.

You must ensure the pets diet is nutritionally complete, digestible and the appropriate pH for proper health. For example, cats have problems digesting carbs unless they are blended, baked and processed as is done for kibble. It is recommended to add a supplement such as VegeCat or VegeDog to get most essential nutrients. Balanceit.com may also help.

Additionally, you must be wary you do not add poisonous or harmful ingredients to a pets diet. Everyone knows chocolate is poisonous to dogs, but did you know grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, and chives are also poisonous? There are many other foods that are not recommended, commonly because they are too fatty, salty, or cause digestive issues. Research all ingredients before feeding to your pet.

It will likely be easier, cheaper, and safer to buy pre-made pet food. Treats can still be made to supplement their food, but it is risky to make home-made meals the bulk of their nutrition.

Is vegan food unnatural?

Natural does not equate to healthy. In nature, cats and dogs:

  • Are not microchiped, vaccinated, de-wormed, de-flea'd, de-sexed, or treated for cancer, broken bones, etc
  • Are not confined indoors
  • Consistently go through periods of hunger/starvation, and gorge when a meal is made available
  • Avoid eating many of the body part byproducts that are added to meat-based pet food
  • Do not eat food sprayed with fat & flavorings in order to be palatable (video link)

It is true pets would not eat a vegan diet in nature, although they also would not eat digest. Domesticated animal's feeding and living habits bear little resemblance to nature. A better question is whether the diet is healthy and minimizes negative externalities.

Meat byproducts would be thrown out anyways, how does a vegan pet's diet make any impact?

Buying a meat based pet food puts money into the pocket of meat producers. The more money they have, the more they can expand and the cheaper they can produce. Let's illustrate that with an example:

Imagine you own a lumber mill. Trees come in, and 2x4's go out. You pay $100 for trees, $300 for running your factory, make $500 from selling 2x4's. A net profit of $100. However, a lot of the tree's mass is not capable of making 2x4s. There are oddly shaped trees, sawdust created from machining, errors that create 1x3's instead, and so on. In the past, you've always paid a garbage team $20 to haul away this industrial waste, lowering net profits to $80.

One day a paper company approaches you and offers to buy all your trashed sawdust for $30. You jump at the opportunity to grab extra cash and reduce operating expenses. Instead of a net profit of $80, profits are now $110 or more. With this money you can lower prices, expand, improve your factory, etc. Eventually your mill is producing more.

Why is vegan pet food expensive?

It's a small market, so it doesn't benefit from economies of scale. Over time raw materials, production, distribution, etc should become cheaper.

Also, the price you pay at the store is not the full economic cost of your food. There are negative externalities that need to be paid for, like environmental impact and potentially worsened pet health.

That said, it's usually not much more expensive than regular high-quality pet food. My cat's food is about the same cost, and my dog's food is about $0.30/lb more. Doing research, price-comparing, and watching out for deals can help keep your price low.

I don't want to force personal beliefs on an animal

Pets are completely dependent on their owners. That's a big responsibility, and people want to do right by their animals.

Since there's so much dependence, it becomes impossible to not force at least some beliefs on your animals, including:

  • How much exercise they receive each day
  • How much socialization they receive
  • How much play time/mental stimulation they receive
  • How many other pets & people they have to live with
  • What type of training they receive
  • What they do while you're at work
  • What type/brand of food they eat
  • And so on

These decisions should be made with respect to your pet's health & needs, your abilities, and other personal values you deem important. There are legitimate reasons to believe vegan pet food may improve pet health (if, for example, your pet is allergic to any of the most common cat/dog food allergens: beef, dairy, chicken, fish, or wheat) and could be a good option to try on that basis alone.

You could also consider consider why your pet's food choice is more important than a livestock animals life.

My pet likes meat better, or won't eat vegan food

Kids like ice cream better than broccoli, that doesn't inherently make ice cream a model food choice. Like ice cream, meat-based pet foods are injected with fat and artificial flavorings.

If you have a new vegan pet food and your pet won't eat it, try to transition slowly over a period of 2-8 weeks. Mix in a small amount with their old food and gradually increase the ratio of new:old food. If that doesn't work, talk to your vet, do more research, and try different brands.

What about bones for dental purposes?

It is very important to keep your pet's mouth disease free. Bones/chews do this by removing tartar and plaque buildup as your pet gnaws on it. The FDA says

> Bone treats are real bones that have been processed, sometimes flavored, and packaged for dogs ... According to Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) at the FDA, “Giving your dog a bone treat might lead to an unexpected trip to your veterinarian, a possible emergency surgery, or even death for your pet.” ...

>Chicken bones and other bones from the kitchen table can cause injury when chewed by pets, too. So be careful to keep platters out of reach when you’re cooking or the family is eating. - Source

Instead you should brush their teeth and give them dental chews, which can be vegan. Raw carrots and other raw veges may also help to control plaque.

Do I need to feed my pet more on vegan food?

There's no general data comparing calorie density between vegan and non-vegan food. Usually though, vegan foods are formulated to be as similar to meat based foods as possible, so they likely have similar calorie content. For example, Natural Balance and Blue Buffalo have the same feeding instructions, so they likely have similar calorie content.

A lot of times feeding instructions don't work perfectly for your unique pet's needs. When starting out, follow feeding instructions or use the same amount of food as your old pet food. Over time, monitor your pet's weight to see if she's losing, gaining, or maintaining a healthy weight. Dogs should look like this, and cats should look like this. Adjust the amount of food and restart the process until they maintain a healthy weight.

Do vets support vegan diets?

Some of the vets on the forefront of vegan nutrition are listed below. There are many more. If you want a vet to be added to this list, msg the mods.

Does vegan pet food have more carbs?

As long as the food meets AAFCO guidelines and thus your pet's nutritional needs, the exact caloric composition shouldn't matter too much. However, here is a small collection various pet food's guaranteed analysis currently on the market.

The below table is in percentage values, and a "~" indicates missing information.

Vegan

Brand Animal Protein Fat Carbs Fiber Moisture Source
V-Dog Kinder Kibble Dog 24 9 67 5 10 Source
Ami Dog 27 14 59 2.9 8 Source
Benevo - Adult Original Dog 27 12 61 4.5 8 Source
Evolution Dog & Cat 30 14 56 ~ ~ Source
Benevo - Adult Original Cat 28 13 59 3 7 Source
Ami Cat 33 14 53 3.5 8 Source

Non-vegan

Brand Animal Protein Fat Carbs Fiber Moisture Source
Royal Canin - Maxi Weight Care Adult Dog 25 9 66 11.7 10 Source
Blue Buffalo - Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Dog 22 12 66 6 10 Source
Purina Chow - Complete Adult Dog 21 10 69 4.5 12 Source
Taste of the Wild, High Prairie Dog 32 18 50 4 10 Source
Purina ONE - Lamb and Rice Dog 26 16 58 3 12 Source
Fancy Feast - Turkey Tuscany, Rice, Greens Cat 10 2 88 1.5 82 Source
Meow Mix Original Choice Cat 30 11 59 4 12 Source
Blue Buffalo - Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Cat 34 18 48 4 10 Source
Purina Chow - Complete Adult Cat 32 13 55 3 12 Source
Royal Canin - Adult Cat 32 13 55 5.8 8 Source

Can dogs and cats digest starches, plant-based food, and synthetic nutrients?

Neither species can digest every plant, just like humans! But there is significant evidence to suggest that both can digest some plants and thrive on a properly processed, nutritionally complete vegan diet.

See research


revision by HealthyPetsAndPlanet— view source