April 29, 2008

Raw Vegan Pets... Possible?

I started a thread on a raw foods forum with one thing in mind, finding tips to try and make feeding my pets raw meat easier for me to deal with... but I came away with quite a different outlook. (that's my pooch Tatum over there... cutie, isn't she?!)

Here is what I wrote in that thread ...
My family was vegan for over 8 years before becoming raw. Our veganism was first and foremost about ethical reasons (animal welfare and rights). Environmental concerns came second. And health came in last. We became raw vegan almost a year ago (wow, it's been a long time) for our health. So my point is, even before our health concerns, we were all about the animals.

Now, we have started the process of moving our dog to a raw foods diet, and have/had plans to do the same to our kitties in the coming weeks. However, a few nights ago as we were driving back home (we just went on a cross county trip - south carolina to las vegas and back again), I got a huge pit in my stomach about our decision. I am and have always been totally opposed to the idea of raising animals for food. 8 years ago I pledged to myself that I would no longer support such a cause. It disgusts me, it saddens me, it really hits me on a deep level. So how can I, in good conscience, continue to buy raw animal meat for my pets?

I'm not opposed to the eating of raw meat for carnivores (which people are not). It's not the idea of my dog eating an animal that gets me ... it is strictly the fact that the animal hanging out of my pets mouth was specifically raised for such a purpose. That's disgusting to me. Severely disgusting!

I know, I know - all of our domestic companions should have just been left as they were ... wild, and then we wouldn't have these problems. But, that's just not reality. We don't purchase from petstores. Our pooch and both cats were all stray animals that we took in to save them from the death that would have been their fate had animal control picked them up.

Has anyone else struggled with this? How did you handle it?

I would love to hear any thoughts, ideas, feelings, stories, etc on the subject ... I really am very torn over this!

As I said, my outlook on this entire thing has since changed.

My pets are not in their natural setting. They have been domesticated, and as such, no foods I could feed them would be considered "natural". Unless I turn them loose outside to hunt for their own food, and unless that hunting provided 100% of their dietary needs, nothing I could give them would be natural. The canned and packaged foods available to our pets is anything but natural! The raw meats I was buying for them were also not "natural".

At the beginning of my Vegan journey, many years ago, I did read a lot about vegan pets. I took a lot of it to heart, but at that time it was enough trying to learn about the human aspect of veganism, I just didn't have the devotion at the time to truly embrace the pet aspect.

Becoming raw has really opened up my mind even wider. I truly feel raw plant foods are what humans were meant to eat. It's our natural diet, and I love that I am no longer "forcing" myself to eat unnatural foods because of societal pressures. As such, I felt really very strongly that every living being on this earth should be granted the freedom to live in the ways they were naturally developed to live in. Which led me to seek out ways to "get over" the raw meat thing in order to provide my pets with the foods that were natural to them.

However, as stated above, I no longer feel I can provide my pets with anything remotely close to their natural diet - as they are not in their natural setting. So no matter which route I take (meat based / plant based) it is going to be unnatural.

I am not going to torture my soul with something that really isn't necessary for healthy living. I just can't do it. It was eating at me, stressing me, filling me with such guilt and disgust. I know those feeling would never go away, so I knew that in trying to keep their diet as close to natural as I could in order to maintain their health - I was risking my own health in the process (I fully believe stress and worry will kill you faster then any SAD food ever could). Aside from the emotional part of it, I also just cannot and will not get used to having raw meat in my house. The contamination issue was always right there at the forefront of my thoughts. The constant worry and scrubbing and re scrubbing that was going on was enough to drive me absolutely crazy. My natural cleaners didn't feel sufficient to me, so I was usually commercial "poison" to try and make sure I killed every last living "meat bacteria" around ... and even then I still felt unsatisfied. I just cannot live with raw meat in my house - I can't.

We're already transitioning our dog to a raw vegan diet, and she is doing beautifully on it. She loves her food. With inspiration from Ani Phyo and her gorgeous raw vegan dog, Kanga - I absolutely LOVE making my pooch her food. Dogs are easy. Natural omnivores, their bodies are fully capable of thriving on plant foods. We don't even have to supplement with them, we just have to take extra care in making sure their diet is varied - just like the rest of the family! Our cats are a bit more tricky, and we are definitely taking our time with them. Unlike dogs, they are carnivorous in nature. We will be supplementing their raw vegan diet to ensure they are getting everything their unique bodies need to thrive. We will absolutely make sure they have the taurine they need... which can and is made vegan style. Interestingly enough, in regular packaged cat foods, a taurine supplement has to be added (just like we'll have to do with raw vegan foods) - as any natural taurine is lost during the cooking process.

In an ideal world, no, this isn't what my pets would naturally gravitate towards ... but, having been domesticated, the "natural world" was taken away from them, so we are trying to make do with what we have. If my pets can be healthy, happy, thriving creatures with NO suffering involved for any other creature ... then, you know what, I'm going to take it. It's the best we can do.


  1. This is so interesting to me. Feeding our animals has been a big worry for us for a long time. I would much rather feed them a healthy, plant-based, raw food diet like they would get in the wild - but it's true, they're not wild animals. Nothing about their lifestyle is natural. In the wild, they wouldn't be fed twice a day by the dishwasher in ceramic bowls. But that's how it is. Our animals are rescues, too. When we adopted them, we weren't even fully vegetarian yet. We weren't aware in that way. We fed them the cheap stuff from the grocery store. Then we became more aware, but also more poor. We simply CANNOT make their food by hand from fresh ingredients. We don't have the money for that. We've compromised by getting them a healthy brand of food with no byproducts and from sustainably raised products. I hate this, totally and completely, but we're compromising to our situation. I just can't be hard and fast about what they eat right now. In the future, I definitely hope we can, but for right now, we just do the best we can. That's all any of us can do.

  2. Even on a budget there are dry Vegan foods I can totally recommend, no need to feed them meat especially as dog food is made with infested garbage meat unfit for human consumption. Stay away.

    I use natural balance vegetarian dog food and you can buy it online: http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=492846011%2C518172011&brand=Natural%20Balance

    My Moogie is my world so I would never let him fall into ill health - in fact he has thrived and lost weight just like the vet wanted us too. The worlds longest lived Yorkie was also a vegan.

    I supplement the dry food with raw, healthy snacks and he loves Vitalife's dry sweet potatoes as an alternative to rawhide.

  3. I actually wasn't trying to switch my dog to a raw vegan diet but he was drinking so many of my smoothies and veggie juices that he wasn't eating his vegan kibble. In fact before I was even giving them much of that, they were not eating much breakfast. For now, I am going to have one cooked meal a day for them and one raw meal of a smoothie (greens, banana, hemp protein, chia seeds). I'll let you know how it goes.