- So far, there is no evidence that a vegan or vegetarian diet provides any health benefits for pets;
- Many commercial vegan and vegetarian pet foods are nutritionally inadequate;
- Insect-based pet food manufactured by Gopetcan is a sustainable, meat-free alternative to vegan, vegetarian, and meat-based pet food that’s both nutritious and safe for your pet.
Over the thousands of years of domestication, dogs became man’s best friends. It is no wonder that we want our dogs to live long, healthy, and happy lives, and we try to treat them the same way we treat our children. Unfortunately, with these good intentions at heart, many pet owners begin experimenting with their pets’ diets and lifestyles without having a good understanding of what’s good and bad for the animal. Today, as more people are choosing vegan and vegetarian lifestyles for themselves, many pet owners are also switching their pets to a meat-free diet. This article will discuss what the scientific community is saying about vegan and vegetarian diets for pets and discuss other meat-free alternatives you can consider for your pet.
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Alternative pet diets are trending
There are multiple diets that people choose for their dogs. For example, the popularity of grain-free pet foods is rising at a blistering pace since many believe that gluten has an adverse effect on human health. In comparison, the well-known benefits of organic ingredients for people are also marketed as favorable for pet health. Many pet owners even choose a raw diet for their pets. However, vegan and vegetarian diets remain among the most popular diets for pets, and there is a logical explanation. Millions of people refuse to eat meat to live more eco-friendly lives, while others are concerned about animal well-being, have beliefs about the health effects of animal-based foods, or follow dietary restrictions imposed by their religion. Interestingly, many people who have chosen a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle for themselves are also switching their animals to meatless diets. Many surveys conducted in recent years show that those who limit their consumption of animal-based foods tend to go for vegetarian or vegan pet food, especially when religious or ethical concerns are involved. But one question remains unclear: is a vegan diet healthy for dogs?
Vegan and vegetarian diets for pets – are they safe?
Vegetarian and vegan dogs
Several studies show that vegan and vegetarian diets can pose significant health risks for pets. Only a well-monitored vegan diet can provide a dog with enough nutrients. After thorough testing, many commercial vegan and vegetarian pet foods turned out to be nutritionally inadequate for the pets’ health. Researchers even found that some samples contained mammalian DNA, even though they were marketed as plant-based foods.
Other diets might seem healthy on paper but fail to work in real life. For instance, recent studies have found that gluten-free diets might result in severe health problems for dogs. Unfortunately, at the moment, there’s not enough research regarding vegan and vegetarian diets for dogs. So, despite what many companies advertise, there’s no definitive proof that vegan dog food is safe and healthy for pets. In fact, so far, a lot of research seems to be pointing to the opposite.
Vegan and vegetarian cats
Unlike dogs, cat diets have not changed much after their domestication, and they remain obligate carnivores. While it doesn’t necessarily mean that raw meat is the best food for cats, a plant-based diet is unlikely to meet their nutritional requirements.
Based on feline and canine physiology and nutritional requirements, there is no real reason to believe that feeding cats and dogs vegan diets can benefit them. Of course, you might choose this option due to religious or ethical concerns. Still, it’s important to understand that the potential benefits of a vegetarian diet for humans probably do not apply to your pets. Until more studies are conducted, you should be cautious about the risks that a vegetarian or vegan diet might pose.
What about a meat-based diet?
But all of this does not necessarily mean that your dog will be healthy if it’s fed a meat-based diet. People often compare their pets to wild canids and felids, assuming that things that animals eat in the wild will be nutritious and healthy for their dogs and cats as well. However, it is essential to remember that feeding a raw diet to your domesticated pet can lead to malnutrition, parasite infestation, and other health issues. In addition, many centuries of domestication led to significant changes in the anatomy and physiology of our pets, and pet owners should remember that.
Commercial meat-based pet foods might be harmful
Did you know that even high-end commercial pet foods made from meat can be unhealthy or even dangerous for your pets? Usually, everything that is considered unfit for human consumption by the U.S. Department of Agriculture goes into supermarket pet food. This often includes ground-up animal organs, bones, and other body parts. Moreover, such pet food often contains the flesh of the dead, dying, diseased, or disabled animals. To make matters worse, the level of hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics found in the regular kibble often exceeds safe levels. The Association of American Feed Control Officials, responsible for setting standards in the pet-food industry, does not test these foods.
Do not forget that your pet’s meat-based diet has a negative influence on the environment. For example, in the USA, cats and dogs rank in fifth place for global meat consumption, as they consume one-fourth of all animal-derived calories in the country, contributing to the release of up to 64 tons of greenhouse gasses.
But my pet needs protein. What should I do about it?
We are glad that you asked this question. Insect-based pet food is a relatively new product on the market, but it’s already taken the world by storm. Gopetcan’s insect-based pet food is an excellent source of protein for dogs of all breeds and ages. The National Research Council reports that pets need protein, but that protein source doesn’t matter all that much. Thus, your dog can get all the necessary protein from products that do not contain actual meat. Unlike plant- and meat-based diets, insect-based pet food manufactured by Gopetcan can provide your pets with enough nutrients while remaining sustainable and safe for your pet’s health.
Transitioning your pet from a meat-based diet to an insect-based pet food
Of course, you cannot switch from a meat-based diet to our insect-based pet food immediately. The transition should be gradual and take at least 1-2 weeks or even longer for pets with particularly sensitive stomachs. You can start by adding a small amount of insect-based food to your pet’s regular food every day. Then increase the percentage of insect-based food slightly each day. If you notice your dog is not comfortable with the new mix, slow down for a bit and proceed at a pace that will satisfy both you and your dog. Usually, one or two weeks is enough for such a transition.
Is it healthy for dogs to be vegan?
Although dogs can survive on a vegan or vegetarian diet, there is no evidence that a vegan or vegetarian diet is beneficial for your pets.
Why should dogs not be vegan?
Many commercial vegan and vegetarian pet foods turned out to be nutritionally inadequate for the pets’ health. Only a well-formulated and monitored vegan diet can provide your dog with enough nutrients.
Do dogs need meat in their diet?
After thousands of years of domestication, dogs became omnivores, so they do not require meat to live a long and happy life. However, they still need protein. If you prefer a meat-free lifestyle for your pet, consider choosing insect-based kibble as your pet’s primary source of protein.
Can dogs stop eating meat?
You can feed your dog a vegan or vegetarian diet, but only a well-planned meat-free diet can provide a dog with enough nutrients. Insect-based pet foods can become a great meat-free substitute for your pet.
How often do dogs need meat?
The National Research Council reports that pets need specific nutrients, such as protein, not specific food sources, such as meat. Thus, your dog can get all the necessary protein from products that do not contain actual meat, for example, insect-based pet food.