February 9, 2015 by The Zemanifesto
I know there’s no way this single sentence can stem the torrent of protein-deficient fury this article is bound to incur, but I’m not arguing against reducing meat in your diet or the diet of your children — I’m not. Feed your kids whatever you want, they’re little dicks anyway.
I personally don’t agree with the philosophical underpinnings of meat-free eating, I don’t enjoy a meat-free diet and I’m not convinced it’s the healthiest way to eat. But I’m not here to debate the comparative merits of a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle with those of a more traditional omnivorous one, not when it comes to people anyway.
Dogs are not people (adorable rain slickers notwithstanding)
People in the U.S. — those who don’t struggle with food insecurity — are generally free to do whatever they want when it comes to their eating. Most children raised in strictly vegan homes will ultimately leave the nest, and if they decide to eat worms at that point nobody’s going to stop them.
Domesticated dogs, on the other hand, are more or less completely reliant on their human caretakers when it comes to nutrition. They’re counting on you to provide them with the food they need to thrive, because apart from their marked preference for meat, they aren’t really that discerning when it comes to what they put in their mouths. They’ll eat scraps, they’ll eat garbage, they’ll eat shit — they’ll even eat fast food.
Put a burrito in front of a cat and see if it even notices. But put it in front of a hungry dog and kiss your burrito goodbye. There’s a reason it works like that.
Time to drop dat dog science
Domesticated dogs are the descendants of wolves — everybody knows that. They are members of the animal family Carnivora, like cats, which obviously makes both animals carnivores. But unlike cats, which are obligate carnivores (and MUST eat a diet primarily consisting of flesh), dogs are scavenging carnivores with the ability to eat non-meat items to SURVIVE, which is the key phrase here.
“You can see dogs living on the scraps. They can survive on almost nothing once they’ve evolved to living on the streets… (but) if a dog has a choice he’s not picking a pile of beans over chicken or meat, and he’s not going to be lapping up soy.”
The consensus of veterinary professionals is that you can feed your dog a meat-free diet without killing it, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to enjoy it, and it isn’t easy to do correctly. Dogs have higher protein requirements than humans and a meat-free diet requires the addition of synthetic amino acids to food. So if you were planning on the “all natural” route, you’re fucked at square one.
And there’s no doubt that leaving meat out of your dog’s diet creates new opportunities for adverse health impacts.
Amy Farcas, a clinical veterinary nutritionist at the University of Pennsylvania, said that a balanced meat-free diet is possible for dogs, with a major caveat. From The Dodo, emphasis mine:
“A well-formulated, high-quality vegan diet for a typical dog can provide adequate nutrition just like a well-formulated high-quality meat-based diet, though it is easier to make the meat-based diet with a larger margin for error and safety.”
To sum it up, there is no special benefit in feeding a non-meat diet to your dog and it’s safer and easier to feed it what it actually wants anyway.
Just buy a fucking bunny, dude
Unless your dog has an allergy or other medical issue that necessitates a meat-free diet, you’re probably forcing it to abstain from its natural diet because of your personal convictions about meat. You’re asking yourself, “how can I reject the cruelty/folly/whatever of eating meat in my own diet but support it by buying meat-based food for my dog?”
Only maybe the real question isn’t whether or not you should feed your dog a meat-free diet, but wether or not a person with a meat-free lifestyle should keep a carnivorous animal as a pet. There are, after all, animals which thrive on meatless diets, and many of them make excellent pets. Tortoises and iguanas are both strictly herbivorous, and if you don’t like reptiles, just buy a fucking bunny, dude.
But your dog? It wants to eat meat, and not letting it do that is kind of a dick move.