Choosing what to eat, or what not to eat, is a very personal choice. However, there are individuals who early on or who perhaps later on in life are encouraged by health professionals to eat a certain diet to help prevent, reduce, or eliminate certain health conditions which they suffer from. Of course, the buck stops with us, now doesn’t it? In the end, we choose what we want to eat.
So this leads me to the following question: what are our ethical and moral obligations to our canine companions? Do we feed them dog food made from meat or should we feed them a vegetarian diet? Despite that fact that many people would like to believe otherwise, dogs, like humans, are omnivores. Unlike cats, it is not necessary for dogs to eat meat. Therefore, should we choose to feed man’s best friend dog food made with meat products?
Although the meat industry would like us to believe a different story, meat is perhaps the most polluted food product on earth. Chock-full of antibiotics, growth hormones, even chemicals like lead and mercury, meat is literally a minefield. And as meat is consumed, these unhealthy byproducts are stored in the body much like a time bomb waiting to go off. Additionally, a significantly high fat and protein diet can seriously contribute to cardiovascular disease, diabetes as well as liver damage.
A few positive byproducts of feeding Fido plant-based food, include:
1. A vegetarian canine diet saves lives.
In modern factory farms, animals are routinely injected with hormones and stimulants to make them grow bigger and faster. Many dairy ranchers use recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to enhance milk production, despite the fact that this chemical - which has been implicated in causing cancer and other diseases - shows up in milk. Feedlots are crowded, filthy, stinking places with open sewers and choking air. The animals would not survive at all but for the fact that they are fed huge amounts of antibiotics. In some farms, cattle are fed "renders" - dead and grounded up cows. To induce and increase egg production, chicken are kept in tight cages and kept awake under bright light 24 hours a day.
2. A vegetarian canine diet is better for the environment.
A vegetarian diet reduces the destruction of tropical rainforests, wildlife habitat, and help to save endangered species! Rainforests are vital to life on earth - they regulate the global climate and the water cycle, absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and provide humans with medicines, food, and much more. Sadly, rainforests are cut down to make room to raise cattle. Every second, one football field of rainforest is destroyed in order to produce 257 hamburgers.
Two-thirds of Central America’s rainforests have been destroyed, in part to raise cattle whose meat, typically found in hamburgers and processed meat, is exported to profit the US food industry.
A vegetarian diet reduces pollution in the land and waters: Modern factory farms are sprayed with herbicides and pesticides to grow grains to feed cattle. These chemicals destroy topsoil and leak into the ground and nearby streams and rivers. Over 4 million acres of cropland are lost to erosion in the US every year due to plundering farmlands to fatten animals for slaughter. High contents of toxic chemicals are often found in fish in many parts of the world’s lakes, rivers, and oceans.
A vegetarian diet reduces the production of carbon dioxide (CO2). An average car produces 3 kg of CO2 a day while the effort to clear rainforest to produce beef for one hamburger produces 75 kg of CO2. Eating one pound of hamburger does the same damage as driving your car for three weeks!
Another benefit of eating a vegetarian diet is that it also reduces the depletion of our oceans' marine lives and the destruction of corals & reefs.
3. A vegetarian canine diet saves energy and natural resources.
Eating a vegan diet reduces waste and devastation of earth’s precious resources. Consider the enormous energy put into growing grains to feed cattle. Aside from the gutted rainforests, up to 5000 gallons of water for is required to raise one pound of beef! According to the US Department of Agriculture statistics, one acre of land can grow 20,000 pounds of potatoes. That same acre of land, when used to grow cattle feed, can produce less than 165 pounds of edible cow flesh.
Last December, I went to a local Petco and I kindly explained that I would appreciate having vegetarian options of dog food to purchase. I also explained that it is my firm belief that when given the choice, most caring pet owners would definitely consider purchasing more humane, plant-based dog food for their pets. The manager, a retired history teacher, welcomed my request and arranged for me to speak with the regional manager. In short, the decision was made to stock both canned and dry vegetarian dog food. I was particularly pleased, and relieved, to learn that the vegetarian dog food has become quite popular, hence sales are up!
Please sign the petition below and ask Petco and Petsmart to stock more vegetarian dog food. Consumers have a voice (and we also have the bucks) to influence in a positive way Corporate America. Let's remember that!