November 12, 2011

Is it 'unnatural' to feed dogs a vegan diet?

Some say that feeding dogs a plant-based diet is unnatural; that an animal-based diet is their natural diet. I have experimented for 3 decades, and have been successful in caring for our canine cousins and feeding them totally vegan. So now it is proven by us (and many others) that dogs can thrive from the plant kingdom. So I say to canines and humans in one breath, if you can survive without causing harm to other feeling animals, why choose to be a part of harming fellow animals? 

I feel that I'm taking my best friends along with me on my evolutionary journey. In the last three decades, we have fed them vegan meals consisting of well cooked legumes, some grains (buckwheat, quinoa are best) as the main part of the meal, with some vegetables (squash, small amount of cooked broccoli). We've learned that it is important to add cooked carrot, butternut squash, or sweet potato (an orange colored vegetable for beta carotene which the dog forms into Vitamin A in their body, like we do.) We also include a small amount of raw vegetables (grated carrot or beetroot, finely cut greens or cabbage, or sprouts, if the dog likes some raw foods). A small amount of ground seeds can be added. To this, we add a variety of supplements that may include: VegeDog powder, B-12 fortified nutritional yeast, non-animal derived Taurine and dash of L-carnitine, vegan vitamin D powder (and allowing them to get sunshine on belly to activate any possible making their own Vitamin D), kelp and sea vegetable flakes for mineral content, DHA/EPA algae-derived supplement, Green Mush, etc. Taurine is supplemented for the prevention of heart disease (in an herbivorous diet for dogs). (Both Taurine and L-carnitine sometimes replace drugs if the canine is already diagnosed with cardiomyopathy.) Some commercial vegan kibbles/treats now include Taurine and L-Carnitine (amino acids), but I still think it should be supplemented (but not over-supplemented) in their home-made meals; beyond the kibble. Finally, the meal is topped with a bit of oil that makes it irresistible (flax or hemp oil are good and are sources of omega 3 fats). Other additions are amylase and enzymes to help digestion, cranberry to balance the urine Ph, ground flaxseed, etc. 

It's not well-known that canines are metabolically omnivores. However, their physical requirements are not that of humans. I think they require more protein than I do. They manufacture their own vitamin C when needed. Certain foods we commonly eat are toxic to them. Metabolically speaking, dogs have a few characteristics of an omnivore such as being able to convert carotene to Vitamin A (a feline can't do this), Tryptophan to Niacin, Cysteine to Taurine and Linoleic acid and Arachidonic acid. 

To become vegan, regardless of species, so it seems, takes evolving out of the killer instinct. Kisses; our rescued dog in New Zealand, was abandoned in the surrounding woods. We bonded immediately when she came to me from out of the forest. When she was young, and shortly after we found each other, she killed a bird. I reacted very upset. She never has killed a bird or other animal again. I was just being honest that harming other animals upsets me. Dogs appreciate honesty. Kisses can run right back into the surrounding forest. She does not have a leash, rope or a collar; she can run away to live freely - easily. There are small animals as well as water for her to drink everywhere; she could sustain herself and live free of my imposing a plant-based diet on her. She chooses to live with us. Real life experience speaks louder than what you read online or in books.

Beautiful was a Golden Retriever who as a young dog, killed a mongoose – before she came to live with us. She ‘veganized’ and her nature grew gentler on a plant diet. When Beautiful was introduced to our rescued rabbit friend, there were three of us in a calm and quiet space. I was in the middle to be sure the introduction went smoothly and it did. Beautiful soon began protecting our rescued rabbits from other dogs that came near. She would let them know with her body language and snarls - to 'back off'. We have photos of Poof ; the magic rabbit jumping on her and playing. Beautiful went from a killer to a protector of rabbits as she "veganized". 

Breaking the spirit of a horse is to me, unthinkable…to break their natural expression of freedom. But to break ‘the spirit to kill’ – is thinkable. We experimented in these realms with about 10 or so dogs that we shared life with, plus “rent-a-dogs” (wink), that were all fed a whole foods vegan diet, as well as some commercial vegan kibble. What animals have evolved to do that enabled them to survive in a particular environment is “natural”; but only for that environment. However, our canine companions are no longer in that free-living environment. Does the domesticated dog that has been heavily manipulated by years of selective breeding even resemble a "natural" dog such as a wolf or dingo? They are rescues from the 'system of domestication' and they're living with us. It has been one of my greatest joys to share life with dogs that evolved out of their “natural ancestral diet” to thrive from the plant kingdom.

Every animal is ‘a somebody’ - a unique individual that should have the basic inherent right to freedom from harm by humans, and even to be helped by humans. It's a speciesist mindset to think that only humans deserve the basic right to freedom from enslavement and confinement of innocent beings, freedom from sexual assault, commodification, torture and murder. Any animal that can suffer should have the birth-right not to be made to suffer by humans. This is really elementary stuff...a perception that we probably felt as a child but were indoctrinated into believing animals are for human use, similar to the misguided thought pattern of women are for men and people of color are for Caucasians; a mentality that needs to be “risen above”. While progress is being made with racism and sexism globally, humanity's unjust speciesism is finally rising to the forefront by vegan pioneers and forerunners of a less violent and a better world.

We and our dogs feel like we rescued each other! Our dog friends are happy, healthy, and hurting no one...isn't that “natural”? So is it unnatural? No more unnatural than a dog eating a cow, or a dog eating cancerous animals, or a canine eating factory-farmed animals out of a tin can, or stealing the breath of life out of one animal to feed another animal. Commercial standard pet food contains slaughterhouse offal, grains considered 'unfit for human consumption' (moldy, for example), waste products including: intestines, udders, heads, hooves, condemned parts rejected for human consumption including 4-D animals (animals used for food that are picked up dead, dying, diseased or disabled) and sometimes cats and dogs that have been euthanized along with the drugs that killed these animals that doesn't cook out, (and turns companion animals into cannibals).

Our canine companions live as long as their counterparts, and they do that without participating in animal exploitation; so I really don't see the argument against it that both non-vegans and vegans maintain. Being considered for the Guinness Book of World Records, is the dog Bramble, that was propelled into her 28th year being fed exclusively organic lentils, brown rice and vegetables; a plant diet. Source 

The Pet Food Institute, the trade association of pet food manufacturers, has acknowledged the use of by-products in pet foods as additional income for processors and farmers: “The growth of the pet food industry not only provided pet owners with better foods for their pets, but also created profitable additional markets for American farm products and for the byproducts of the meat packing, poultry, and other food industries which prepare food for human consumption.” - Pet Food Institute. (Fact Sheet 1994. Washington: Pet Food Institute, 1994.) In other words, when we purchase standard commercial pet food, we are aiding and helping those institutionalized exploiters of animals to increase their profits. Many vegans seem to rationalize the fact that they are still part of the demand for animals to be exploited when buying nonvegan products to feed their rescued friends. 

And just because something is "natural" does not mean that it is good. Killing other animals might be natural in the "natural" world, but is it good? One of the most horrific video's I've ever witnessed was animals of the wild killing a baby animal; eating the baby while the baby is still alive and crying - I will have nightmares forever from witnessing the life of prey animals in the wild. Is killing other animals ever good? Killing other animals can be avoided in humans and dogs. There IS an evolutionary process. Not that long ago cannibalism was “the way things are” in New Zealand (where I write to you from) and surrounding islands like Vanuatu. Yesterday’s “natural” is tomorrow’s “unnatural”. 

For information on how to successfully feed dogs ‘vegan’, go here:


WolfEagle said...

Been meaning and wanting to look into vegan logic for dogs.... Your article has opened the door for me. Thank you.

healer said...

I loved this article.It taught me alot especially about why dogs are omnivores. it also pointed out some ironies of what is "natural"- statements that can counter the instant protest one encounters when you tell them your dog is vegan. both my dog and my cat are vegans. i can eat their food if i wanted - i love that! I used get grossed out feeding them animal flesh.

angelsense said...

Thank you for your great article. As a pet caregiver is our duty to help our pets to evolve spiritually . That is why it is so important to give them a vegan karma free diet.

Michele said...

I am searching for information on feeding cats a raw vegan diet. After reading "Pottenger's Cats" I realized how beneficial a raw diet is for both humans AND animals (none of whom cook their foods). I have yet to find someone that can share with me the diet that they have fed to successful raw vegan cats but I am still searching...

The Bible makes it clear that both humans AND all animals were vegan before the Flood in NOah's day (Gen 1:29,30) and in Isaiah, it talks about a time in the future when man and wild beast will be in peace and harmony with one another suggesting that we will all go back to a vegan diet including the animals.

Until then, I keep searching for ways of helping my cats go vegan.

If you know any suggestions, please e-mail me at


M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

I don't know or recommend a raw vegan diet for cats.

Anonymous said...

You're an idiot. Your dogs may have "survived" but I'm damn sure they'd scream "give me some damn meat!" if they could talk. It's one thing to put yourself on this diet, but you're torturing your dog so another animal doesn't feel any pain. Go buy a big lamb steak and put it in his bowl, he'll show you how he feels about being vegan.

Paul said...

Your dog only eats this vegan diet because he doesn't have any other choice unless he wants to starve. I think it is very unnatural and extremely illogical to force your beliefs onto an animal that is a natural carnivore. It is also extremely shocking that this is coming from people who believe so strongly in animal rights.

If animals deserve rights, like you claim, then how about putting a meat dish and a vegan dish side by side and let the dog choose. I guarantee 10 out of 10 times the dog goes for the meat.

A dog in the woods has no choice but to kill to survive. It is amazing the ignorance in this post.

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

Hi Paul. I'm not ignorant to the fact that humans classify dogs as carnivore. I believe the system of domestication is unnatural, period. However, if Kisses lived in the wild, she would most likely not even be alive today, as it is harsh to be a free-living animal. And she can easily live freely in the surrounding woods, but chooses to live with me. To live with me, is to live vegan.

You can put a whole chocolate cake in front of a child or an apple, and they might choose the cake, pretty likely, so that analogy does not fit in with my perception of what is The Truth. Just because Kisses might choose to eat flesh over plant foods, does not make it The Truth (with a capital T), for me. What about all the other animals that are exploited, don't they count or have a say so in the matter? If dogs fed vegan only lived a few years because of eating plant foods, then maybe you would have a case.

Since they can live as long or longer than dogs fed animal flesh, I don't see the question. Why should I impose suffering on other animals to feed a dog that is my companion?

I'm not ignorant, I just have a different perception of "what is right" than you do.

Anonymous said...

If you havent heard of V-dog vegan dogfood, here's the link. They talk about what sizes/breeds may need supplementation and why they dont make catfood.!/Vdogfood

Unknown said...

Just like humans have dentition that enable them to thrive on a vegan diet, dogs and cats have carnivorous dentition showing what they evolved to be. The issue is not whether they can survive or thrive on a vegan diet, it is whether they have a CHOICE. We cannot impose our philosophy on them, since they are enslaved they have no choice but to eat what you feed them.
Were they free to be whom the earth meant them to be, they would kill other animals to survive, just like their silvan relatives, the wolves and coyotes.
On top of them eating an unnatural diet,most of them are fed kibble-most of which have gmo ingredients and grain by products-corn,wheat gluten which will lead to many illnesses. Imagine eating that bowl of kibble for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
CATS CANNOT BE VEGAN they are obligate carnivores.
I am a vegan by choice and have rescued enslaved nonhuman animals for many years, they deserve to eat what they were meant to eat.

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand Vegans; as they think they can bring this entire peaceful Utopian future where no animal will ever eat another animal and no human will ever eat another animal.

But this is just all pure fantasy. I understand you don't like the idea of other living things eating other living things but that is the reality that we live in!

Wild lions and tigers will continue to hunt other living things unless you catch them all and enslave them to eat a vegan lifestyle but of course for animal freedom speakers that would be 'animal cruelty' to make them live under certain rules.

M. (known as) "Butterflies" Katz said...

Hello to the last anonymous commenter: First of all, animals are not living things - that's important. They are living beings - which is quite different to being a living thing.

Lions in the wild have no other choice. Humans do. We CAN live vegan - we can live without intentionally and needlessly harming other animals - therefor we should as a matter of justice.

Let's start with those of us who are not living in the wild.

Anonymous said...

Carnivores eat meat. How hard is that to understand? No amount of plants is going to sustain a damn lion

Anonymous said...

Mi hijo perro es vegetarino 100%, soy vegana y amo que mi hijo tambien me acompañe en la lucha, ademas que sea un ejemplo de salud para todos los animales humanos que también son parte de su familia y que sigan su camino. Si se puede <3. Muchas gracias por su articulo. Saludos desde Perú (mi dulce hogar) <3