As humans, we have an abundance of information available when it comes to our daily meals; where our food comes from, which nutrients it contains, what health (dis)advantages our diet has and so on. We can make a decision about our diet based on scientific facts.
By now there’s plenty of evidence that a vegetarian diet is perfectly okay for humans and that it even has several health benefits when combined with the necessary supplements, such as vitamin B12. We’ve consciously made the choice to not eat meat anymore since 2016 and haven’t had any deficiencies. 😊
The question now is whether our beloved four legged friend, who descends from the wolf, can follow our lead here? 🌱
Our dogs can sometimes be just as picky or even pickier than us when it comes to the menu of the day. They prefer a certain type of food or have a favourite snack: Naya prefers chicken while Peluche loves fish. 🐟
It doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore that your dog might prefer a carrot or pumpkin snack. 🎃 Anyone with an apple of cherry tree in their garden knows dogs can’t resist these whenever they fall down! An intermediate snack is one thing, a completely vegetarian diet is another.
“Grandmother, why do you have such big teeth?” 🐺
Mammals produce an enzyme called amylase. It breaks starch down into quick sugars, which provide energy. This means that dogs are able to digest grains. However, there’s a difference with humans in how it’s done.
People produce amylase in their saliva, which means that we give our digestive system a helping hand when we’re chewing our food.
Dogs, on the other hand, have no amylase in their saliva and chew their food for less time. In fact, many dogs just gobble up their food in one sitting! So their mouth doesn’t actually help with the breakdown of carbohydrates. Those big teeth are there to tear meat, break bones and be able to eat cartilage. 🍖
Eat your veggies! 🥦
A change in diet has an impact on the digestive system. Meat digests much faster than grains and plants. This is one of the reasons why a cow has four stomachs. The grass she eats has to be chewed several times before it can be digested. 🐄
Compared to humans, dogs have a fairly short digestive system. This means that they don’t digest food the same way. They can’t process vegetable food like we can.
Plants contain cellulose. It’s a building block for the cell wall of the plant. Cellulose is very difficult for dogs to break down. For example, if your dog ate some raw carrot, you’ll find whole pieces of carrot in his stool. 🥕 If you cook vegetables first, the cellulose degrades more easily.
Although dogs digest meat much better, there are different types of fruit and vegetables that are good for them when given in moderation. 🍌 We’ll publish some lists later on.
Follow your gut
The intestines are one of the most important organs in the body. They’re responsible for the proper functioning of the immune system and help remove harmful substances from the body. The intestines absorb nutrients and push waste products out. If you want to know how healthy a diet is for your dog, it’s important to look at how healthy his gut is.
When dogs follow a vegetarian diet, they will have deficiencies in proteins, calcium and vitamin D. 🌞 Dogs desperately need the two amino acids L-carnitine and taurine. Plant-based foods simply don’t have enough these. If your dog is lacking these, she’ll develop heart problems that will lead to strokes at an early age.
Obviously, the quality of the meat is extremely important! Pork is a poor choice because it contains way too much fat. 🐷 Give your dog fresh meat that has been approved for human consumption.
We treat our dogs as family, take them anywhere with us, even put on jackets and little shoes. Why not give them the best food? 🍗 Fresh food might be costly, but believe me: you’ll save on vet bills. And after all, what are a few extra pounds if our dogs can live longer and healthier lives?
Follow the law of nature
All signs indicate that dogs are carnivores. 🥩 As an animal lover, a vegetarian diet may sound good to you, but you’re not doing your dog any favours, on the contrary!
Being vegetarians ourselves, we sometimes get finger-pointed at for being hypocrites since we still feed our dogs meat. Our response: you stop eating meat for the well-being of animals, right? Why would you then harm your dog by giving him food that’s bad for him?! If all people became vegetarian or vegan, there would be way less animals in horrible circumstances. The meat industry was created for humans, not dogs. We could have far less animals in way better circumstances if we only used meat to feed animals that otherwise would have to go out and hunt for themselves. This discussion could go on for days, but I hope you get my point. 😅
If you really want your dog to become a vegetarian just like you, first discuss this very thoroughly with your vet. In case you choose to go through with this, good follow-up is extremely important.
It may be a better option for you to get a pet that naturally follows a plant-based diet if feeding meat really goes against your values. You can also choose to only feed your dog meat that comes from animals that had a nice life. There are several dog food brands that only use free-run chicken for example. 🐓
Are you a vegetarian yourself? How do you feel about this? Please share your opinion with us in the comments below! ☺