How I broke my last link to the slaughterhouse
by James Van Alstine
So you and your family are vegetarian,
or better still, vegan, but how about your four-footed friend? Your
fridge is cruelty-free and pantry purged of dead animal parts, but one holdout
remains. Your dog friend¹s kibble still contains one or more animals including
chickens, lambs, cows. Loose labeling laws mean dog food may even contain dog
and cat remains, along with unsavory animal by-products gleaned from rendering
I am living proof that it is possible, and even healthful, to
break your last link with the slaughterhouse. Teddy, a nine-year-old corgi with
whom I share a home is lean, fit, happy and vegan. Initially, I looked the other
way when it came to Teddy¹s diet but eventually confronted the cruelty in his
bowl and began to transition him toward a vegetarian diet. As an interim step, I
switched his kibble to a vegetarian food (Nature's
formula) but continued to provide meat in the form of raw organic human-food
Eventually, I lost my stomach for this half-measure and
brought Teddy along on the vegan journey. He didn¹t complain.
But others did complain. Vets, neighbors, and family members
suddenly became experts in dog nutrition and said Teddy¹s vegan diet was
"unnatural" or even unsafe.
It is true, I conceded, that dogs and their wolf cousins are naturally
meat-eaters, distinct from humans who are naturally vegetarian. Yet, I knew no
companion dog who ate a ³natural² diet. I know no companion dog who is sent out
to hunt, or who is routinely provided with live, whole, rabbits, squirrels or
grouse. All the dogs I know are provided with a commercial kibble, and perhaps
some canned food, which is mashed, boiled, baked and processed through
innumerable steps into something resembling nothing in nature. A meat-based
kibble diet for a dog is no more natural than a Twinkies and cola diet would be
for a human.
When discussing a vegan diet for your dog, vets, much like
their human medical school-trained counterparts, are likely to be skeptical.
Rather than asking your vet from a "should I"
perspective, I¹d recommend soliciting advice from an attitude of:
"This is my choice, now how can I best proceed?"
If, then, a dog¹s diet is not natural in the context of
sharing a home with humans, the criteria really becomes meeting the dog¹s
nutritional needs, safely and regularly.
A prepared vegetarian kibble can be a good start. Teddy also
enjoys lots of fresh, raw veggies as treats. He responds to carrots as other
dogs do to liver treats. Dogs mostly enjoy being given a treat more than it
matters what (or who) the treat is (or was). I've
known vegetarian dogs to get by all right on a veggie kibble alone, but those
provided regularly with a homemade fresh food fare far better.
Along with his veggie kibble, Teddy gets a home-cooked soft
food (more wholesome and less fattening than even vegetarian canned dog food).
The soft food (recipe to the right) includes lots of protein, vitamins and other
essential nutrients in a whole-foods context. The preparation methods used
assure an optimal mix of enough cooking or processing to make the food usable in
a dog¹s short digestive tract while avoiding unneeded cooking that can destroy
vital nutrients. Vegedog®, a supplement designed for vegan dogs, helps assure
complete, effective nutrition.
Teddy¹s Special Dinner
Measurements are inexact - this is
home cooking, after all.
Make a big pot of brown rice, overcooked for digestibility (or
toast to crack the grains before boiling). Throw in some quinoa for variety and
some finely chopped garlic (and perhaps some parsley or basil) for flavor and
aroma. (Yields at least five cups.)
Make a smaller pot of beans (black, pinto, kidney or mixed)
Overcook the beans (add the lentils later in the boil). Add
vinegar to the water to reduce gasiness. (Yields at least three cups.)
Chop and lightly sauté in olive oil (again for digestibility)
a whole bunch of leafy greens (kale, chard, collard, etc.). Always use at least
one green leafy vegetable and/or alfalfa.
Mix cooked ingredients into large mixing bowls (it usually
takes the two largest mixing bowls in my kitchen).
Grate two cups of raw carrots. Always use at least one orange
Yams or sweet potatoes are also great, provided they are
Mix in two cups of uncooked rolled oats.
Add about a cup of water and 1/2 cup of olive oil.
Add 1/2 cup of ground flax seed or 1/4 cup flaxseed oil.
Add 1 to 2 cups of wheat germ.
Add 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast.
Add 2 teaspoons of kelp.
Add 3 ounces of Vegedog supplement.
Add some garlic powder.
Mix thoroughly. Add water and/or oil if it seems too dry. It
should not come out as a paste or dough, That is too moist.
Divide into manageable containers (I use the cheap semi-
disposable sandwich boxes) and freeze. Teddy¹s daily breakfast and dinner
consists of about two parts kibble to one part home-cooked food, with a dash
more Vegedog thrown in.
Don¹t substitute onions. They are harmful to dogs and cats.
or read: Vegetarian Dogs: Toward a World Without Exploitation,
by Verona re-Bow and Jonathan Dune for more info and recipes
See also "Food Pets Die For:
Shocking Facts About Pet Food," by Ann N. Martin.