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Old 10-21-2007, 03:14 PM   #1
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Vegans and their pets

Since so many of you here have mentioned being veggie, or vegan, I was wondering if you could answer this for me. What do you do with your pet? Or do you not want a pet if you have to feed him meat, and have you ever gotten rid of your pet because you didn't want to feed him meat? I hope not, but I have heard a lot of this and it's worrying me. I hate to think there may be cats and dogs not taken as pets, or even gotten rid of, because of an anti-meat stand taken by the owners. First let me say I do respect the decisions of anyone to eat or not eat what they want. I am just interested to know how this has or has not affected you and your pet personally. I would like to hear the different stories. I would say that dry food would be a good option, since it's mostly grain and doesn't look or smell like meat? But there is no way to convert dogs and cats over because they are for the most part carnivores not omnivores like people and there are things in meat they need to survive. Any stories or input on this?
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Old 10-21-2007, 03:22 PM   #2
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Growing up, we had a neighbor who was vegan and she refused to feed her dog anything with meat in it. The dog clearly had some health problems. It was underweight and didn't seem very energetic (even though it was a young dog). One night, my dad noticed the woman hitting the dog. He questioned what was going on, and apparently, the dog had found some meat for itself the neighbor was unhappy about it. My dad called the county and she was investigated for animal abuse, and if I remember correctly, the dog was taken away and the woman was fined for neglect.

I was a vegetarian for a number of years. But I don't think it is right to inflict that on a pet, especially a carnivore. Humans can make a conscious choice, animals can't. I'm sure there is probably a way to correctly balance a diet for a pet, but I still don't think it is fair to them.
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Old 10-21-2007, 03:31 PM   #3
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I think it's easier for dogs to be vegetarian -- they'll eat anything (but be sure to read up on the list of foods you should not feed dogs, like chocolate and onions).

Different vegetarians handle it differently. Some are comfortable feeding their pets meat, some are not. I had a vegetarian housemate who fed her dog, Sierra, dry mix (meat-based). She also occasionally fed her venison (her dad hunted occasionally). Sierra loved all kinds of food, though -- she went nuts over tofu or fake meats.

Cats, I hear, have more of a nutritional need for meat in their diets than dogs, but some vegetarians feed their cats a vegetarian diet along with supplements.

If I were a pet owner, I'd definitely look for alternatives to conventional pet food. The pet food industry is pretty nasty.
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Old 10-21-2007, 03:44 PM   #4
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Originally posted by SeattleVertigo
I think it's easier for dogs to be vegetarian -- they'll eat anything (but be sure to read up on the list of foods you should not feed dogs, like chocolate and onions).
Not all dogs. Some--like my own--generally dislike carbohydrates and won't eat vegetables.
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Old 10-21-2007, 03:53 PM   #5
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I've heard of vegetarians or vegans feeding their cats/dogs only vegetarian food.

Some cat owners insisted their cats felt as healthy as any cat, but also refused to believe that when the cat is out on herself she might be catching some mice, rats or whatever without her owner noticing.

As vegetarians here have pointed out you can substitute meat with other things as long as you watch your diet more closely as to make sure you get all the nutrtionists you otherwise would have gotten through the meat.
I don't know to what extent that works with animals like cats or dogs since their bodies are different and hence they might rely on meat more strongly than people.
It's not as much a conscious decision as it is just a basic need. And denying an animal what it needs only to satisfy ones own beliefs is in my eyes cruelty very close to torturing the animal.
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Old 10-21-2007, 04:02 PM   #6
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I'm not a vegetarian so I haven't researched this extensively, but there are vegan pet foods commercially available for both dogs and cats (as SeattleVertigo touched on, cats on such foods usually require a supplement containing certain amino acids, fatty acids and vitamins, which cats, unlike dogs, can't synthesize on their own from plant proteins). I could be wrong, but my guess is that such diets are no worse than the ones most pet owners are already feeding their pets to begin with. You're already feeding them an unnatural diet anyway by offering them canned pet food or kibble made with ingredients convenient for the manufacturers, rather than letting them hunt or scavenge for themselves.

Especially in the case of cats though, I think if you're determined to try this route with your pets, then you owe it to them to make sure their vet is aware of the situation and monitoring them to ensure there are no signs of nutritional deficiency. There are also pet foods made with free-range meats and/or sustainably caught fish available, which could be another 'more ecofriendly' option.
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Old 10-21-2007, 04:08 PM   #7
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Originally posted by yolland
I could be wrong, but my guess is that such diets are no worse than the ones most pet owners are already feeding their pets to begin with.
IMO, this is true. Foods like Iams, Friskies, Pedigree, even Science Diet - basically whatever is found at Target and other grocery stores really have no business being pet food. Diet is hugely responsible for so many aspects of an animal's health, but many pet owners don't even know the signs of poor diet (if your dog smells, if the coat is dry and not shiny....dogs and cat should not smell and should never need baths unless they get into something).

I would NEVER consider feeding my dog or cats a veggie diet, but it can be done, IF you are feeding raw/homecooked food. You would have to know a ton about proteins and how each material is digested and metabolized to do it, though. I would guess that you'd have to use a grain protein source (like the poor quality foods use - corn gluten meal, etc) and those sources of protein really are not natural or healthy for animals, though it can be done. I know one person who tried. She is a veggie and her dog had many health issues so the dog needed a specialized homecooked diet anyway. It was a major failure and now both of her dogs eat raw/homecooked diets that include raw meat.

Ideally, dogs and cats should eat grain-free foods. At the very least, they should not be eating commercial foods that contain and corn, wheat, soy or either of those as a gluten meal.

ETA: As far as the research I've done, this site offers the best and most objective analysis and review of dog kibble. I personally do not feed anything that's not 4/6 or better and all of my dog's kibble is supplemented with extra things she needs (yogurt as a probiotic to prevent ear infections, canned sardine for omega-3s to keep her coat in condition, additional meat that I am eating, and raw eggs).
http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/dog_food_reviews/
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Old 10-21-2007, 05:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Vincent Vega

It's not as much a conscious decision as it is just a basic need. And denying an animal what it needs only to satisfy ones own beliefs is in my eyes cruelty very close to torturing the animal.
That is pretty much what I was thinking, it can be cruelty to the animal to deprive it of nutrients it needs and food it enjoys. The whole paradox here is that one of the main reasons people go vegan is because of animal rights issues, yet by harming our most precious animals, domestic pets, it's defeated that purpose. I don't like to think how many pets have been malnourished, or even given to the pound to be killed, because someone couldn't feed them meat. So they saved a cow, and hurt their most faithful friend. I hope that doesn't happen much, and I do applaud those who search for alternatives, though I am sure it must be costly and a lot of trouble. It's even better if a person can bring themself to feed the animal meat anyway even though they're against it.

I remember reading a story about how Paul McCartney's dogs got so fed up with their veggie diet they went on a wild spree and started killing the chickens on the farm. Like some of you have said, with humans it's a conscious choice, but animals don't understand that, and nature rules their hunger, so their old instincts might just kick back in when they feel desperate.

Liesje, you say you don't feed your animals pet food? What do you do, cook for them? I'm serious, I see you have a very large dog and several cats. What do you do? Feed them sardines and real 'people' meat?
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Old 10-21-2007, 05:19 PM   #9
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Life is rarely black and white. I can live quite nicely and inexpensively on a vegetarian diet, but it's a lot harder for my cats and dog to do the same so they don't get a vegetarian diet. If I was wealthy enough to provide them with vegetarian diets -- either custom or commercial -- I would do that, but it isn't an option. Because no one else wanted them virtually all my cats' and many of my dogs' options were: 1) constant hunger, untreated illnesses/injuries, and an early death living as a stray; 2) capture and euthanasia; 3) live with me and get vet care and basic commercial pet food. My critters are generally happy, healthy (essentially -- a couple do have some health issues, but they are elderly and their problems are mostly age related), and long lived.

I can live with that.
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Old 10-21-2007, 05:26 PM   #10
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I feed my dog Wellness (canned and dry), because it's a meat based pet food without all the nasty commercial pet food crap in it. I also subscribe to a raw feeding community on Livejournal, and from what I read there, you can feed you pet (not just cats and dogs) better and in the long run (according to most of them) more cheaply than with commercial dog foods. I'd feed raw too, but I don't have the freezer space to do it properly right now. I don't think carnivorous or even omnivorous animals should be forced to eat a vegan diet.
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Old 10-21-2007, 05:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Butterscotch
I remember reading a story about how Paul McCartney's dogs got so fed up with their veggie diet they went on a wild spree and started killing the chickens on the farm. Like some of you have said, with humans it's a conscious choice, but animals don't understand that, and nature rules their hunger, so their old instincts might just kick back in when they feel desperate.
I seriously doubt the reason the dogs started chasing and killing the chickens was because they were fed up with their diet. Let's face it, for a dog chasing and killing stuff is exciting and fun. And chasing and catching chickens has a very high "woohoo! what fun!" factor for dogs. They run around crazily, squawk, flap their wings -- it's like party time for dogs.
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Old 10-21-2007, 05:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by clarityat3am
I feed my dog Wellness (canned and dry), because it's a meat based pet food without all the nasty commercial pet food crap in it. I also subscribe to a raw feeding community on Livejournal, and from what I read there, you can feed you pet (not just cats and dogs) better and in the long run (according to most of them) more cheaply than with commercial dog foods. I'd feed raw too, but I don't have the freezer space to do it properly right now. I don't think carnivorous or even omnivorous animals should be forced to eat a vegan diet.
can you tell me more about the raw feeding community? i'm a veggie and i hate cooking/touching meat...so i'm sort of reluctant to do that.

oh and i'm a pescetarian, but i feed my dog meat. i'm very picky about what dog food and treats he gets. reading the stuff on the bags really scares me.
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Old 10-21-2007, 06:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by unico


can you tell me more about the raw feeding community? i'm a veggie and i hate cooking/touching meat...so i'm sort of reluctant to do that.

oh and i'm a pescetarian, but i feed my dog meat. i'm very picky about what dog food and treats he gets. reading the stuff on the bags really scares me.
http://community.livejournal.com/rawdogs/profile
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Old 10-21-2007, 06:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by unico


can you tell me more about the raw feeding community? i'm a veggie and i hate cooking/touching meat...so i'm sort of reluctant to do that.

oh and i'm a pescetarian, but i feed my dog meat. i'm very picky about what dog food and treats he gets. reading the stuff on the bags really scares me.
Mia, you can also buy pre-made raw diets. Nature's Variety has one and it's pretty much one of the most amazing dog foods ever. Problem is, it's far more expensive to feed pre-made raw than make raw, and most people feeding raw do it in part b/c it ends up being cheaper.
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Old 10-21-2007, 08:31 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by indra
Life is rarely black and white. I can live quite nicely and inexpensively on a vegetarian diet, but it's a lot harder for my cats and dog to do the same so they don't get a vegetarian diet. If I was wealthy enough to provide them with vegetarian diets -- either custom or commercial -- I would do that, but it isn't an option. Because no one else wanted them virtually all my cats' and many of my dogs' options were: 1) constant hunger, untreated illnesses/injuries, and an early death living as a stray; 2) capture and euthanasia; 3) live with me and get vet care and basic commercial pet food. My critters are generally happy, healthy (essentially -- a couple do have some health issues, but they are elderly and their problems are mostly age related), and long lived.

I can live with that.


I didn't mean imply that it can't or shouldn't be done with my first reply. I was a vegatarian for moral reasons, but I think meat eating animals should have meat. But whatever anyone's choice, at the end of the day, I agree with Indra. The most important thing is the health and happiness of the animal.
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