In the past decade, men and women around the globe have transitioned to a vegan diet in record numbers, propelled largely by a growing body of research pointing to better health outcomes, and by catastrophic weather events and wildfires that fuel concerns about the contribution of animal-based food production to climate change. Jan Allegretti, author of The Complete Holistic Dog Book: Home Health Care for Our Canine Companions, explains how a vegan diet for dogs and cats may improve health outcomes and longevity.
‘A Vegan Diet for Dogs and Cats May Improve Health Outcomes and Longevity’
Consumers who reduce their consumption of animal products for health reasons are motivated by reports of increased longevity, reduced risk of cancer, better weight management, increased energy, and more. As they begin to feel better, lose weight, and see improvements in their own health metrics, they often wonder if their dogs’ or cats’ health might benefit from a similar dietary change. Even among those who eat meat themselves, the steady stream of news about the health benefits of a vegan diet weigh heavily after grieving one more beloved dog or cat who succumbed too early to cancer, or who seemed to age too soon or deteriorate too quickly.
For a caregiver who chooses a vegan diet due to environmental concerns, it’s a short step to recognise that a companion’s meat-based diet also contributes to depletion of water supplies and rainforests, and to the production of methane and other greenhouse gasses. The higher proportion of animal products in the typical meat-based diet for a dog or cat means the impact is greater as well. A 70-pound canine eating a raw meat diet consumes roughly twice as many calories from animal sources as a meat-eating human, with twice the environmental impact. The effects of a feline diet are even more pronounced.
Many who chose a vegan diet out of concern for the animals used as food struggle daily when they feel compelled to include meat in their companions’ meals. Many times, I’ve heard the strain of conflicting priorities as a caregiver chafes against the perceived need to feed meat, in direct opposition to a desire to extend compassion to all species. For that individual, the revulsion that comes with handling animal flesh at mealtimes is not only unpleasant but can itself become unhealthy.
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