Vets have advised against non-meat and non-dairy diets for domestic
pets despite the increasing popularity of a vegan product designed to cover
cats' and dogs' dietary needs.
Vegan Pet was developed by a Victorian
health food maker to include the essential nutrients cats and dogs would miss
out on in a vegan diet.
Derived from entirely non-dairy and non-meat
sources and designed with the help of a Murdoch University professor, studies
have shown it can provide the short-term dietary needs of domestic
It is sold in Queensland at the ethical alternative pet food store
Complete Pet Company in Keperra. Owner and operator Jenny Golsby says vegan and
vegetarian pet foods are becoming more popular as pet owners search out ethical
alternatives to mainstream pet food.
Despite the product's growing
popularity and dietary provisions, veterinarians still hold concerns a non-meat
diet could harm domestic animals, especially cats.
Animal Veterinary Association president David Neck said he would immediately
advise owners against feeding their animals an exclusively non-meat and
Dr Neck was particularly concerned with how a non-meat
diet could provide carnivores, such as cats, "a complete and satisfying"
"Millions of years of evolution have dictated what is best to go
into these animals, and [some pet owners] trying to change that in the course of
one generation does not make sense to me," he said.
"It really is a
concept I struggle to come to terms with, that you would take what is the
natural diet of such an animal and alter it in such a radical way.
tell you from my experience with cats and dogs they don't have any ethics about
where their food source is derived from.
"If a vegan pet owner is making
that decision on behalf of a pet that they own, they should perhaps consider the
reasons they have that pet."
Vegan Pet creator Sandy Anderson said she
understood the concern veterinarians had with animals being fed vegan
Her decision to develop dry food and tinned food products was
motivated by the concerns she had seeing her friends feed their animals vegan
food not designed for pets.
"I realised the animals weren't getting
everything they needed having studied a basic nutrition course," Ms Anderson
"So what I did then, for their good, was try and find out whether
you can have vegan cat food [with the proper nutrients]."
developed the products with the help of Nick Costa, head of biochemistry and
nutrition at Murdoch University's School of Veterinary and Biomedical Science,
ensuring the food met the needs for complete and balanced diet, according to the
dietary requirements tabled by the Association of American Feed Control
The food passed tests for short-term effects, palpability and
Concerned with the quality of pet food sold by mainstream
distributors, Ms Anderson said the proof of the food's suitability for animals
was in their reaction to it.
"Some animals have been on it for eight or
nine years and they are still thriving on it," she said.
"People say that
cats are carnivore and they should be fed meat, which they should.
my theory is if you can feed an equivalent that the cat enjoys equally and it
supplies everyone of those nutrients in the meat source, what harm is being
Professor Costa said long-term studies needed to be conducted on
the product and he personally believed a meat diet was preferable for
But he said the product was a viable alternative for people wanting
to feed their animal a vegan diet.
"What it does do, through Sandy's
efforts, is for those people who are vegans, and who eschew red meat completely,
and meat products generally, then this gives them an alternative that has
complete and balanced nutrient profile that has been partially tested in terms
of digestibility and palatability, " Professor Costa said.
hasn't been tested for is long-term trials, where you can see if it is affecting
reproduction long term, heart function long term, through taurine, or whether it
is affecting visual processes long term.
"But in support of the food it
has been going a decade and if those systems were problematic Sandy would have
heard from people who had been suing it by now."
Dr Neck believes there
is another solution for animal lovers keen to feed their animals a vegan
"If you're a vegan, and you have ethical concerns about feeding
animal-derived protein to your pet, well I could probably recommend a rabbit or
a guinea pig as a pet, that you can source their nutrients from," he
"Rather than make ethical choices for an animal."
Simply So That Others May Simply Live
Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.
Changes have not been saved
Press OK to abandon changes or Cancel to continue editing
Your browser is not supported
Kindly note that Groups does not support 7.0 or earlier versions of Internet Explorer.
We recommend upgrading to the latest Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Firefox. If you are using IE 9 or later, make sure you turn off Compatibility View.