Veganism has been on the rise––but we should limit that trend to humans, no?
According to a study conducted by researchers with the veterinary college at the University of Guelph, Canada, more than a third (35 percent) of people are interested in putting their pets on a vegan diet––and 27 percent have already done so.
More than 3,670 dog and cat owners from around the world participated in the survey. Of that number, 55 percent agreed "that certain measures would need to be met in order for them to commit to changing their pet's diets, such as gaining veterinarian approval and ensuring their animal's nutritional needs are met," according to a report.
Surprisingly, only 6 percent of the survey's respondents are vegan themselves, says Dr. Sarah Dodd, the study's lead author:
"That percentage, 27%, might sound like a small number, but when you think of the actual numbers of pets involved, that's huge, and much higher than we expected."
Dodd suggests that the number of people feeding their pets vegan diets might increase as time goes on, too, though more research is needed to understand the "nutritional benefits and consequences" of committing pets to a vegan diet:
"People have been hearing about how vegan diets are linked to lowered risks of cancer and other health benefits in humans. There is also growing concern about the environmental impact of animal agriculture. So, while only a small proportion of pet-owners are currently feeding plant-based diets to their pets, it is safe to say that interest in the diets is likely to grow."
That's a problem, as IFL Science points out:
Obviously, you won't ever see a wolf or wildcat guzzling down a spinach smoothie. Their domesticated cousins, cats and dogs, are also widely referred to as carnivores, although dogs are sometimes described as omnivores as they do eat some vegetation. Unlike wolves, domestic dogs have evolved genetic variations that allow them to digest starch, found in crops such as potatoes, wheat, corn, and rice. Cats, however, are obligate carnivores, meaning they can't survive without meat. A cat being fed a strict vegan diet will likely die of malnutrition. ...
A 2015 study found that the majority of plant-based dog foods were not compliant with accepted standards of pet foods and there were concerns regarding the adequacy of amino acid content. According to the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association, a survey of 86 vegetarian dogs in Europe found that over 50 percent of them were eating diets deficient in protein, essential amino acids, calcium, zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. In particular, dogs require two amino acids, called L-carnitine and taurine, that are extremely hard to obtain from a plant-based diet unless it is supplemented.
While domestic dogs are, as mentioned above, omnivores, feeding a vegan diet to a cat "would be like me feeding my horses meat. You're taking a whole species of animal and trying to force it to eat something that it isn't designed to handle," Lew Olson, Ph.D. and author of Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs, told WebMD.
The reaction to this news has been particularly heated––it's generally agreed that forcing pets to adhere to a vegan diet is unethical.
Let's not and say we did.