I think the short answer is YES, with appropriate micronutrient supplementation including enzymes, antioxidants, probiotics and others, as found in Pet Plus of course! There are numerous examples, but the longest living dog on record was a healthy vegan Welsh Collie called Bramble who died aged 25 years. Not bad considering the average lifespan of domesticated dogs is 12 years.
Understanding that everything is damaged by processing, I have been eating a raw, living, vegan diet for about 20 years and feeding raw food to my pets. I have been a feeder of BARF, raw meat, raw bone, raw offal, raw organ meat and raw, blended / pulverised green vegetables and Pet Plus for decades, believing that cats and dogs are carnivores. Maybe it is time to move beyond this widely promoted dogma and explore how and why we can transition from killing animals to feed our pets.
Should I feed my dog vegan food? This is an increasingly important question, especially considering our current global climatic challenges. It has been shown scientifically that animal agriculture (livestock farming) accounts for at least 53% of the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming.
Apparently, if all humans and pets stopped consuming dead animals (commonly known as meat and fish) and their ‘excretions’ (eggs and dairy products like milk, cream, butter, yoghurt, cheese), climate change would cease to be potentially catastrophic. Everything we can do as individuals to help prevent this impending disaster is worth doing.
There is no need for any of us to consume animal based diets. In fact, vegan and vegetarian diets have been shown to reduce heart disease in humans, which could help dog owners to keep up with their dogs! It’s easy and cost-effective to make nut and seed based milks, creams, cheeses, yoghurts and delicious vegan meals.
Every vegan meal is a bonus point for the planet!
Dogs are very adaptable and hence, great survivors. In the wild, they scavenge to find what they need. Dogs are omnivorous carnivores, unlike cats. They do not necessarily hunt for live prey, like cats do.
You will have noticed when you take your dogs for a walk in the countryside, they eat herbivore faeces, vegetation and the smelliest, most rotten carcass they can find! And their digestive system is designed to cope with exactly this ‘predigested’ bacteria laden food.
Youngberg et al. (1985) found the average gastric pH (stomach acidity) of dogs ranges from pH1.5 to pH2.1 a couple of hours after consuming a meal, when gastric juices would be in full flow. At this sort of acidity a raw meaty bone would be rapidly broken down, often reduced to liquid chyme within an hour (Lonsdale, 2001). Pathogens are unlikely to survive.
How do they fare on vegan foods?
Have you ever been out to pick fruit such as brambles (blackberries) in the Autumn, with your dog? I’ve always been amazed at how many they eat. When I make my green juice every morning, the dogs enjoy the pulp and some of the juice too. They love to chew the stalks of broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower, and whole carrots too, cleaning their teeth and exercising their jaws while they chew.
Avocados and coconuts are very nutritious food for dogs too, containing plenty of high quality saturated and unsaturated fats which dogs can easily digest, gaining plenty of healthy calories. Sadly, we don’t find many of them in my garden in UK!
But in the tropics, dogs love to eat avocados that fall from the trees. I’ve watched them carefully removing the delicious flesh from the skin, leaving the stone untouched and showing no interest in the leaves or bark. Their natural instinct saves them from the toxin, ‘persin’, which is found in all those inedible bits and has erroneously lead some people to believe that ripe avocado flesh is poisonous. In fact, ripe avocado and coconut flesh have an important role to play in any vegetarian and vegan diet for dogs.
Gleaming coats, bundles of energy, a robust immune system, problem-free digestion, odourless faeces and healthy long lives are some of the benefits experienced by vegan dogs. And humans!
Commercial Vegan Dog Food
There are numerous commercial vegan dog foods available, but I have yet to find a raw one. So you could simply add Pet Plus to the processed commercially available vegan dog foods. This puts the life back into the food and makes it more easily digestible, with less waste.
Vegan ingredients are a lot cleaner than the unsaleable animal parts masquerading as ‘animal protein’ in the ‘meat based’ processed pet foods. Did you know that animal products like chicken feet, wings and beaks count as ‘animal protein’? It’s a fairly gruesome exercise to investigate the real ingredients hidden in pet foods. It’s much safer to use a meat free diet.
Home Made Vegan Dog Food
You could also make your own. If you are eating living raw food yourself, you will be experiencing incredible health and vitality. I have been eating like that for decades and know plenty of others enjoying the same vibrant lifestyle.
When you make your own raw food, make some for your dog too. Just add more of the protein source, like sprouted lentils and soaked nuts. Make yourself delicious dressings using tahini or soaked nuts as a base, blending with red peppers or some of your green juice, or spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass or barley grass powders. For higher calorie vegan dog nutrition, you could add the flesh of ripe avocado and coconut.
There are countless vegan diet recipe ideas in books and online. Your dog will love them too! Have a look at https://therawfoodscientist.com/ for ideas for humans which can easily be adapted for dogs. You could follow Johnny Juicer and his vegan dog Noah on Instagram for an amusing take on this. Many of the top performing athletes eat this way and they are certainly not suffering from protein deficiency!!
Is there any reason not to feed the same, albeit higher protein, to your dog?
Being scavengers, dogs can live on virtually anything. But we’d prefer our furry friends to thrive rather than just survive. Processed commercial pet foods of all descriptions provide most of the basic nutrients for dogs to survive, but many seem to lack available essential nutrients and can cause allergies and digestive problems. The only way to be sure of what you’re feeding your pet is by making it yourself and giving it raw.
Many pet parents worry that the vitamin and amino acid profile of a vegan diet is inadequate for their dog. Just remember that everything living comprises protein, fat and carbohydrate in varying proportions. The highest protein vegan foods are soaked nuts and sprouted seeds, so blend these up and add them to your dog’s food to provide plenty of amino acids. Although dogs lack salivary amylase, their pancreas and intestines produce plenty, so digesting starch and carbohydrates is not a problem. Mixed with Pet Plus, your furry friend will be very well nourished.
Does it have to be all or nothing?
To my mind, every vegan meal is a positive contribution to global health. This includes climate change, animal health, farm animal cruelty and the health and longevity of our pets. Even if we feel that feeding raw meat, bone, offal and organ meats is best for our dogs and cats, it doesn’t need to be every single meal, does it? We could feed them plant based diets for 4 days a week and meat based diets for the remaining 3 days a week.
However, in our shockingly polluted world, toxins are inevitably consumed by every living being. Pollutants land on the grass and crops which are eaten by herbivores and farm animals (like sheep, cows, pigs, chickens and goats). These accumulate in their muscles and fat with every mouthful they consume over their entire lifetime. Yes, even organic farms have polluted land, water and air.
So inevitably, all animal proteins are contaminated with an accumulation of all the environmental toxins, drugs, growth promoters and parasiticides to which farm animals are exposed. So if we feed dead animals to our pets, they are taking in a lifetime of toxins from the slaughtered animals they’re eating and accumulating those toxins in their own bodies, a process known as bioaccumulation. It seems to me that a meat free diet would be much better.
What about insects and grubs?
Veterinary nutritionists are exploring the possibilities of using insects and their larvae (grubs) as a source of nutrients for dogs and cats. This sounds like a viable alternative for pet diets! Insects and grubs have been consumed by people and animals all over the world for centuries. I have just ordered some insect based kibble from Yora Pets for my team to try. Not ideal because it’s processed, but mixed with Pet Plus, it seems a pretty good solution to this conundrum!
My cat has just proved that eating grubs is great! I was putting wriggling meal worms out for the birds and he just gobbled them up! Perfect! Cuts out the middle man (or bird!)
Maybe it’s time for humans to be humane
From a humanitarian perspective, why do we think that it’s OK to be kind and loving to our pets, yet cruel and dispassionate to our farm animals? If pet owners in UK did the same to their pets as the meat, dairy, egg, bird and fish industry does to farmed animals, they would be in prison! What’s the difference? They are just as sentient as our pets.