Can dogs be vegan? — Plantiful Coach

Since it looks like I may soon be sharing my new home with a beautiful big diva of the canine persuasion, I figured it would be a good time to read up about dogs and a vegan diet — and share my learnings here. Companion animals globally have a massive environmental footprint, so if it’s possible to reduce their impact while keeping them healthy, happy and thriving, why not?

For the same reasons that humans can thrive on a plant-based diet, so can dogs. After all, our canine friends are omnivores too, and can digest a wide variety of foods including plants and animal flesh. Even though our evolution followed very different paths, humans and dogs alike have developed an amazing ability to metabolise nutrients from all kinds of sources. Indeed, humans and dogs can survive and thrive on an exclusively plant-based diet.

[Cats and other felines, on the other hand, are obligate carnivores: their survival depends on nutrients that are only found in animal flesh. That said, some sources claim that it’s possible to synthesise those nutrients, and supplement a plant-based diet for cats.]

Just as the meat that humans eat has an enormous environmental impact (a beef burger uses almost 15 times more water than a soy burger), the same goes for the meat fed to companion animals: whether they’re eating grass-fed beef or factory-farmed chicken scraps, meat-based food has a much bigger impact than plant-based.

So how do you go about feeding a dog a plant-based diet? Nowadays there are vegan dog foods (kibble) available on the market — but they can be pretty expensive. After all, they’re catering to a niche market, and they’re not propped up by meat industry subsidies. The good news is that with some careful planning, you can batch-prep your pup’s vegan food in your own kitchen. There are plenty of online resources and recipes: but definitely do your own research to find your dog’s particular nutritional needs, including their requirements for protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. The nice thing about good quality store-bought kibble is that it should be fortified with the vitamins and minerals that may not be present in home-cooked plant-based foods, although if you do your homework you should be able to ensure that your pup gets what they need, even if that means adding a couple of supplements.

And hey, it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. You could vary your dog’s diet and feed them a vegan meal a couple times a week, or you could reduce the amount of meat they eat at each meal by adding vegan food to the mix. Just like with humans, ‘flexitarianism’ is a valid option for dogs!

If you’ve got experience feeding dogs a vegan diet, I’d love to hear from you — pop me a comment 🙂 This is just the start of something new for me: I am not an expert on dog nutrition, so please do your own research before making any changes to your buddy’s diet.

Originally published at https://plantifulcoach.com on October 23, 2020.

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Plantiful Coach, 9 years in the making. https://plantifulcoach.com

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Muriel Gravenor

Muriel Gravenor

Plantiful Coach, 9 years in the making. https://plantifulcoach.com

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