Dogs and cats are going vegan
Pet owners are more likely to be vegetarian or vegan than members of the general population, which is not surprising considering many choose not to eat meat or animal products due to concerns for animal welfare. However, they face a moral dilemma when it comes to feeding their pets foods containing animal products.
Canadian researchers wanted to estimate the number of meat-avoiding pet owners, identify concerns regarding pet food and estimate the number of pets fed a plant-based diet. A survey of 3673 pet owners revealed that 6.2% were vegetarian and 5.8% were vegan, which is a higher prevalence than has been reported in the general population. They found that, with the exception of one vegetarian pet owner, vegans were the only ones who fed plant-based diets to their pets.
While only 1.5% of pet owners fed their cats and dogs solely plant-based diets, an additional 15% were interested in doing so. The most commonly reported concern regarding meat-based pet foods among all pet owners was the welfare of farmed animals (39%), which could explain the interest in plant-based diets. However, 74% expressed concerns about the nutritional completeness of strictly plant-based pet foods, and 45% wanted more information demonstrating their nutritional adequacy. The availability of these diets, veterinary approval and costs were also concerns.
Despite these figures, the majority of pet owners (65%) reported they would not feed their pets a plant-based diet even if one met all of their criteria. The researchers said this was expected considering the majority of people consume an omnivorous diet themselves. They concluded: “It is clear that an association exists between the diet a pet owner has chosen to follow and the diet they choose to feed their pet.”
Considering the number of pet owners already, or at least considering, feeding plant-based diets to pets, and the implications on pet nutrition, the researchers also suggested that further research is needed.
The research was published in PLOS One.
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