When we become vegan, it is normal to examine every part of our lives, to wonder whether it’s OK to still wear leather shoes you already own, whether to go through the bathroom cabinet throwing away any product with an ingredient you cannot recognise and, perhaps most contentiously of all, what to feed the rest of your family — both human and animal.
Those who have rescued birds or bunnies won’t have such an ethical dilemma, but what about those of us who have dogs and cats? If we want to step away from funding animal farming and slaughter, what does this mean for our companion animals?
If you examine this issue in any depth, you are likely to hear both convincing arguments and horror stories from each perspective. There are some dogs who have taken to a vegan diet and flourished; there are some who haven’t. There are some cats who — despite being obligate carnivores — have adapted to a vegan diet; and there are tales of those who have instead run away in order to get meat from another household.
Choosing what to put in your own body is not easy; choosing what to feed those you love the most can be extraordinarily difficult. But the choice must depend on each animal and whether he or she can adapt, and remain healthy and happy. Our first duty must be to the animals who depend on us.
Those who would like to explore meat-free animal foods will find a good range available now, and the advice is to do nothing suddenly, but to phase in new foods very gradually. There may an acceptable compromise in mixing veggie ‘pet’ foods with their traditional one, thereby reducing the overall amount of meat consumed.
Whatever conclusions you come to, and whatever you decide is best for your companions, we would urge tolerance of those who have come to a different conclusion to you, based on their companion’s needs and health.