This document will provide information regarding vegetarian pets in light of ethical as well as nutritional perspectives. Our thanks to Peter Csere, Ednshell, Rawbert for assisting with the production of this document! The document is presently in its early stages of production. (Some parts may not be updated and some links may have changed, since this is still a work in progress.)

Table of Contents

1 Accepted Terminology

Carnivore: meat eater (Latin, carne meaning 'flesh' and vorare meaning 'to devour') is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal tissue, whether through predation or scavenging. Animals that depend solely on animal flesh for their nutrient requirements are considered obligate carnivores while those that also consume non-animal food are considered facultative carnivores. Taxonomy order: carnivora.

Omnivore: are species that eat both plants and animal material as their primary food source (from Latin: omni, meaning "all, everything"; vorare, "to devour"). Taxonomy order: doesn't exist.

Herbivore: are organisms that are anatomically and physiologically adapted to eat plant-based foods. Taxonomy order: doesn't exist (likely because of the large variety of morphological structures).

Frugivore: is a fruit eater. It can be any type of herbivore or omnivore where fruit is a preferred food type. Taxonomy order: doesn't exist but assigned to some bats (chiroptera).

2 General Concepts

2.1 Isn't a carnivore supposed to eat meat?

A carnivore has the tools with which to process meat with a reasonable amount of efficiency. However, this fact doesn't mean that a carnivore has to eat meat. According to the United States National Research Council what is required are "specific nutrients" not "specific feedstuffs" (Nutrient Requirements of Cats).

2.2 My what big teeth you have!

Here is a string of moving the goal post arguments that are quite common to this issue:

  • they must eat meat to survive! … ooops i'm wrong about that because there are plenty of them alive … so
  • they must eat meat to thrive! … ooops that's wrong too because comparison by any parameter (activity, energy, temperament, coat quality etc) shows them comparable or even better to meat-eating counterparts … so
  • well it's not their optimal diet, damn it! … ooops i can't demonstrate this either especially considering they (at least dogs as per survey) don't get many of the same illneas their meat-eating counterparts … so all I'm left with is …
  • they must eat meat because they have big teeth! ya!! that's gotta do the job!!

While this observation is correct, it doesn't offer much to the argument since many creatures are herbivores who happen to have big teeth such as gorillas, hippopotamuses, elephants and even a classified carnivore, the giant panda whose diet consists almost exclusively of bamboo shoots.

2.3 What about the species-specific or biologically natural diet?

Cats and dogs are observed to be carnivorous bearing all the skeletal specialization of carnivora. The fact that some of them can thrive on vegan diets ought to be taken as evidence that there's no such thing as a "natural" diet that one must eat to be healthy. We have needs for specific nutrients, not specific nutrient delivery systems.

Some people (even vegan advocates) make statements like "If we [believe] that it is wrong for natural vegetarians to be force-fed meat, the inverse should be equally morally objectionable". Notions such as these have no foundation in either science nor logic.

Scientifically, this statement incorrectly assumes that having the tools to eat meat (ie 'natural carnivore') means that the individual must eat meat. Apart from being shown to be nonsense empirically since carnivores do eat vegetable matter, no account is taken of evolutionary development: for instance, the canine family has had 50+ million years to develop omnivorous capabilities.

The logical absurdity appears in a variety of forms. The statement essentially says that if vegetarians shouldn't eat carnivore, then carnivores shouldn't eat vegetarian.

First, the statement is a non sequitur because it does not follow that if members of group A shouldn't eat what members of group B eat, then members of group B shouldn't eat what members what group A eat.

Second, it subscribes to the erroneous form that

if A ⇒ B, then B ⇒ A.

By that sort of reasoning you would conclude:

if x > 0 ⇒ x2 > 0, then x2 > 0 ⇒ x > 0

which is incorrect.

2.4 Wouldn't dogs and cats eat meat in the wild?

They probably would if they could catch creatures. Some people don't realize that hunting isn't a high return prospect. For instance, a wolf's chance of catching prey is under 8%. Also, wild meat isn't the healthiest stuff, not only because it may be poor quality, diseased or even poisoned, but also because of various other issues such this one (eg cystinuria) noted here:

Dietary management of maned wolves should minimize excess protein intake by limiting prey consumption and acclimating animals to extruded diets for domestic dogs.
Feed intake and digestion in the maned wolf

One thing is for certain, domesticated dogs and cats just don't go around hunting down cattle and pigs, so to argue that in the wild they'd eat meat and then feed them corpse parts out of a can or blended into kibble, seems to be a case of over-enthusiastic absurdity.

2.5 What are some of the hazard of meat-based diets?

The health hazards of commercial meat-based pet foods are extensive, and difficult to avoid. They may include slaughterhouse waste products; 4-D meat (from dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals); old or spoiled supermarket meat; large numbers of rendered dogs and cats from animal shelters; old restaurant grease, complete with high concentrations of dangerous free radicals and trans fatty acids; damaged or spoiled fish, complete with dangerous levels of mercury, PCBs and other toxins; pathogenic bacteria, protozoa, viruses, fungi and prions, and their associated endotoxins and mycotoxins; hormone and antibiotic residues; and dangerous preservatives. The combined results are rendered so delicious to cats and dogs by the addition of ‘digest’ - a soup of partially dissolved chicken entrails - that more than 95% of companion animals subsist primarily on commercial meat-based diets.

Unsurprisingly, diseases described in the scientific literature following long-term maintenance of cats and dogs on commercial meat-based diets include kidney, liver, heart, neurologic, eye, muscoloskeletal and skin diseases, bleeding disorders, birth defects, immunocompromisation and infectious diseases. As a practicing veterinarian I agree that so-called degenerative diseases such as cancer, kidney, liver and heart failure are far more common than they should be, and that many are likely to be exacerbated or directly caused by the numerous hazardous ingredients of commercial meat-based cat and dog diets.
(from original VegePets Home - which has been updated)

For details and references, see
Health Hazards of Meat-Based Commercial Diets for Cats and Dogs

2.6 What about raw meat?

One of the angles resorted to by the anti-veg camps is to say that raw meat is ideal for dogs and cats, since there really is serious evidence against so many commercially prepared meat-based foods.

However, despite many anecdotals about the benefits of raw meat there is considerable doubt too suggesting that you invite serious problems going that route.

  • "Certainly pet food companies will tell you of the dangers inherent in feeding raw meat to pets, such as salmonella, e coli, listeria, and other bacteria. Some veterinarians also take this stance." (Raw Food Diet for Cats: A Natural Solution)
  • "Opponents believe that the risk of nutritional imbalance, intestinal perforations and foodborne illnesses posed by the handling and feeding of raw meat and bones would outweigh any benefits. The assertion that raw feeding is inherently better because it is natural [see Natural=Good?] has also been criticized." (Raw feeding Wikipedia)
  • The risk of bacterial contamination is very real: "In the wake of the widespread pet food recall, many owners have decided to feed their pets a raw food diet. This diet can pose many problems for your pets. Raw meat and eggs can carry disease-causing bacteria and parasites, including E. coli. Also, you can contract a disease by inappropriately handling the raw food. Many veterinary hospitals place pets that are on a raw food diet in an isolation ward to eliminate risks to other patients. Your veterinarian can give you the best nutritional advice for your pet." (Accreditation Matters: Don’t Catch This!)
  • There seems to be some substantial research on as evidenced by the James O'Heare book: Raw Meat Diets for Cats and Dogs? (Ebook link)
  • Humans are often at risk from handling raw meat for their pets: "Furthermore people can be infected by eating undercooked meat or even handling raw meat and not washing their hands afterwards." (Toxoplasmosis danger highlighted)

Many raw food advocates point to the Pottenger cat experiments for support. However, there is some doubt as to whether those experiments conducted between 1932-1942 would even pass the criteria for being scientifically valid.

Here are some concerns about those studies from Lesson of the Pottenger's Cats experiment:

  • Domestic cats today reproduce just fine on "cooked" commercial pet feeds
  • The study was not well-controlled
  • The significance of taurine wasn't known at that time (eg see Sturman et al 1985 / 1986) and the cats likely experienced such a deficiency
  • The experimental diet was restrictive (meat, milk, cod liver oil)
  • The results have never been duplicated

And supported in various articles such as this one:
The infamous Pottenger study is mentioned, which is a common warning sign of veterinary nutritional pseudoscience. This is a poorly designed experiment from the 1940s that involved feeding milk and meat, either cooked or raw, to cats. The cats fed the cooked meat developed nutritional and developmental diseases, which is often cited as evidence that raw foods are healthier than cooked foods. Unfortunately, the complete lack of experimental controls or proper evaluation of the subject, and the simple fact that both diets were grossly deficient and utterly unlike the commercial pet foods the study is usually used to criticize, make the results meaningless. Pseudoscience at its best, or worst.
Standard Process=Standard Nonsense

And here:
One study used by many people feeding pets a raw diet to back up their claims of raw food being superior to cooked food is Francis M. Pottenger, Jr.'s study of 900 cats over a period of 10 years from 1932 to 1942. His results showed that cats that were fed 2/3 raw meat, 1/3 raw milk and a small amount of cod liver oil were disease free and healthy while those fed the same food with the meat cooked developed degenerative diseases and reproductive difficulties, with new generations plagued with health problems. The study was done before the importance of taurine in a cat's diet was known and it has been suggested that the group of Pottenger's cats on cooked food simply suffered from taurine deficiency as heating or cooking food causes a reduction in taurine content. Pottenger himself concluded that there was likely an "as yet unknown" protein factor that may have been heat sensitive.[citation needed] In a study on feline maternal taurine deficiency, the group of taurine-deficient cats exhibited symptoms similar to the Pottenger's cats on a cooked diet.

In another study, the cats were fed 2/3 milk and 1/3 meat. All groups were fed raw meat with different groups getting raw, pasteurized, evaporated, sweetened-condensed, or raw, metabolized vitamin D milk. The cats on raw milk were the healthiest while the rest exhibited varying degrees of health problems similar to the previous cooked-meat study. This study has been cited by raw milk proponents as evidence of the benefits of raw milk.
Wikipedia article

Generally, Pottenger's subjecting cats to experiments for ten years, does not provide grounds to conclude raw is better than cooked for any species at all.

2.7 Interesting excerpts from a PETA email highlighting various facts about veg pets.

A vegetarian diet may seem to be an unusual option for a carnivore, but when we consider the eating habits of dogs' and cats' free-living relatives, we find that meatless diets are not so unusual for them after all. The Encyclopedia Britannica tells us, "Although the Carnivora are basically meat eaters, a substantial number, especially among bears and procyonids [e.g., raccoons], feed extensively on vegetable material."

Many cats, both domesticated and free-living, are known to enjoy "salad"-grasses and herbs such as catnip. It is healthy for cats to eat plant material as a supplement to their diet, but what we tell people is that it is important to be aware that cats need specific nutrients that must be added to a diet free of animal products. Any changes made to a cat's diet should be done under the supervision of a veterinarian.

In nutritional terms, it would make more sense to designate dogs as omnivores; not only do they happily consume vegetable matter as well as meat, they also derive nutritional benefits from it. Coyotes in Wyoming may prey on flocks of sheep, but those who live in southern California are renowned for their raids on crops of melons, peaches, apricots, grapes, plums, and cherries. Wild canids such as foxes and coyotes seem to prefer fruits and berries when they can get them: When rose hips, apples, and blackberries are in season, they account for up to 90 percent of the red fox's diet, despite the abundance of available prey.

By contrast, typical ingredients in commercial pet food-cooked cows and horses or parts of cancerous chicken deemed unfit for human consumption-can hardly be considered "natural" sustenance for dogs and cats. Although commercial food packages are usually stamped "100% nutritionally complete," no ingredient list ever mentions that the term "meat byproducts" can legally include "4-D" meats (meat from animals who arrived at the slaughterhouse dead, dying, diseased, or disabled), "rendered" roadkill, and-according to a San Francisco Chronicle (February 1990) exposé-euthanized dogs and cats from the pound.

Equally unnatural are the chemical preservatives and artificial colors and flavors-some suspected of causing cancer and kidney damage, among other diseases-that find their way into most supermarket pet foods. These highly processed foods no doubt contribute to the incidence of diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and other common ailments suffered by dogs and cats.

A report issued by the National Academy of Sciences assures dog guardians that canines "are remarkably adaptable to a wide range of ingredients, texture, and form in terms of what they will eat. Though many dogs may prefer animal-based protein, they can thrive on a vegetarian diet."

Of course, a vegetarian diet, like any other, must be properly balanced, and a veterinarian should be consulted before making any drastic changes to one's animal companion's diet. We often tell people to keep in mind that all dogs and cats are different, so it is essential to monitor their health and, if there are problems related to the new diet, to adjust it accordingly. For more information, your readers may want to consult our factsheet.

We also encourage anyone interested to read the following books:

  • Obligate Carnivore: Cats, Dogs and What it Really Means to be Vegan by Jed Gillen
  • Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Richard H. Pitcairn, D.V.M. and Susan Hubble Pitcairn

Companies that offer vegetarian and vegan foods for animal companions (and that don't test their products on animals) are listed at the end of the factsheet linked above.

3 Vegetarian Dogs

3.1 How to transition dogs from their former diet to their new diet?

Dogs have individual gourmet tastes just like people so making a change in diet might give them some pause. If they refuse to eat, you can easily let them fast on water for a day or two or even longer. Water fasting will help clear out toxins, revive their taste buds, give their digestion a rest and jump start them on a new path of health. In fact many people fast their dogs for 1-3 days every month or even more often trying to mimic how dogs might eat in the wild. So no worries if your dog doesn't take to the new diet right away.

3.1.1 Cooked home made vegan diet

This can work well if you have left overs from cooking or just want to monitor what your pet is eating more closely. Here is a good guide to follow to figure out nutritional values: YOUR DOG'S NUTRITIONAL NEEDS . Then you can use or CRON-O-Meter - Download to track the nutritional values of the food your dog eats. After a few days, you'll have a good idea of what a daily menu will look like and not need to track their food intake as closely.

3.1.2 Kibble vegan diet

This can be a convenient way to feed the dogs in your care. Kibble provides a complete balanced diet, with supplements already added. You can try soaking the kibble with a little water if they don't take to it right away or adding a little something at first like nutritional yeast or pumpkin.

3.1.3 Raw vegan diet

If you are on a raw vegan diet, this can be very convenient. There are numerous foods to feed dogs on this diet but bananas can be a good staple, some people report using raw potatoes too. To find your dogs nutritional needs use this scientifically researched pamphlet: YOUR DOG'S NUTRITIONAL NEEDS . Then you can use or CRON-O-Meter - Download to track the nutritional values of the food your dog eats. After a few days, you'll have a good idea of what a daily menu will look like and not need to track their food intake as closely. Sample menu of a raw vegan diet for a 70 pound dog, approximately 1800 calories of raw food:

"We feed him a varied diet with the seasons and add or substitute lots of things but the staple diet for our dog is 14 large bananas, a head of lettuce or a cucumber or celery and 2 tablespoons of ground sesame seeds or an avocado or some nuts. This gives him 17 grams of fat and 30 grams of protein. This varies day to day but this basic menu covers his caloric needs and fat and protein needs."

3.1.4 Do vegan dogs benefit from supplementation?

In India, dogs have been fed vegetarian for centuries off table scraps with no supplementation but as research comes out on vegetarian and vegan dogs, some evidence suggests that supplementation is beneficial. Please do your own research on supplementation for dogs. The following article (though somewhat outdated) covers several supplements: Dogs can be vegan too.

Additional reading:

"HEALTH CONCERNS have led to a surge in pet-owners changing their pets' diets and swapping meat for vegetables and fruit, according to a 2008 study by UK insurance company … there are now more than 145,000 cats and dogs in the UK on a vegetarian diet."

3.2 What dog food brands are available?

Most major dog food producers have a vegdog line these days not for ethical reasons, but because the other stuff creates numerous problems. Of the smaller companies, notable ones are:

  • HOANA: Harbingers Of A New Age provides supplements of various sorts that can be used to prepare different types of dog foods including kibbles.
  • Ami: A popular food in Europe for many years which is also available in North America presently.
  • Evolution Diet: Offers vegdog food.

4 Vegetarian Cats

4.1 Transitioning cats to veg

Depending upon the cat and the veg food, you may have instant success or not. In the latter case, it's important to realize that some cats can be reluctant to try something different in the same way some people will not try anything new. Furthermore, some cats can become 'attached' to certain cat foods to the point of even developing allergic reactions to one's they aren't used to. So the issue is not one of going from meat-based to veg (it's not like cats know there is meat in certain kibbles), it is a matter of getting the cat to ease into a different food.

Therefore, going slow often makes the transition a success. For instance, Ami recommends mixing the old food with the new gradually increasing the latter over several days till a full transition is made. Often though if you go from a dry cat food to a moist one, such as some of the HOANA recipes, your cats may jump to it right away! Moisting dry kibbles is often works well too.

Sometimes adding 'goodies' can make the transition very appetizing. For instance, certain nutritional yeasts (eg torula or the HOANA brand) are relished by cats as is canned pumpkin.

The thing to always keep in mind though is what one cat likes, may be what another cat refuses. So in difficult cases, it may be necessary to try various items and approaches.

4.2 What cat food brands are available?

Presently, there are 3 veg products that we are aware of for cats:

  • HOANA: Harbingers Of A New Age provides supplements of various sorts that can be used to prepare different types of cat foods including kibbles. They also offer various 'side products' such as enzymes and yeasts. This is easily our favorite (and our cats' too) likely because the food is fresh and tasty.
  • Ami: A popular food in Europe for many years which is also available in North America presently. Ami offers nutritionally complete kibbles specifically designed to overcome allergies and difficult digestion.
  • Evolution Diet: Offers a variety of veg cat foods (dry and moist)

5 Ethics

5.1 As a vegan, are you imposing your ethics on your dog or cat by feeding a carnivore a veg diet?

No. You are simply imposing your ethics on yourself by refusing to participate in the imprisonment, exploitation, abuse and murder of other sentient beings. If your carnivore hunts, he/she does the killing. If you purchase slaughtered animal remains for your carnivore, you violate vegan ethics by your action.

5.2 If you think you have to feed a carnivore a vegetarian diet, get a bunny!

Since it has been clearly established over 2+ decades that carnivores do fine (often even better) on a veg diet, here is the counter proposal: if knowing via both research and anecdotal reports, that carnivorous pets thrive (by any parameters you choose to employ!) on vegan food, you still insist they be fed the bodies of other animals, you should choose a bunny or a chicken as an animal companion.

If you won't feed your pet a cruelty free diet, don't keep a pet!

That way you will not be willingly contributing to the imprisonment, exploitation, abuse and murder of sentient beings.

5.3 Isn't it unethical to not promoting species-appropriate diets?

There is no such thing as a species-appropriate diet if you are arguing along the lines that cats must eat meat and humans must eat fruit. Different species have developed certain physiological advantages at consuming certain things, but that doesn't mean they do not thrive eating things beyond the superficial physiology. As such, you are not harming the carnivore by feeding a veg diet.

5.4 What if you found out that you were wrong and were depriving your dog (or cat) of part of what it needs as a complete diet? Would you just ignore the evidence? Would you give up owning dogs because you didn't want to be part of the whole meat thing?

First let's be completely clear on something. The question of 'finding out that we are wrong' is pragmatically pointless. It's too late and the only people "ignoring the evidence" are those who insist on feeding meat to their dogs. The issue of whether veg dogs can be healthy is not something that is debatable in the present day and age. There are numerous reasons why as well as a survey which clearly shows various benefits to being veg.

However, let's go beyond the established health benefits and deal with the ethical ramifications of the "carnivores must eat meat" mantra.

Let us for argument's sake go with the certainty that feeding veg to your dog is setting it up for some real health problems. Let's even play out the mantra to an extreme and insist that your dog would die if it didn't eat meat. Furthermore, let's take the hunting option away because your dog is too domesticated to know how to hunt. Also, let's take away the possibility of any alternate solution such as scientifically conjured nutrients or even enzymes, so that we are reduced to something as black and white as you must get the meat for your dog or your dog dies. I don't think we can stack things any further in favor of this scenario.

What to do in this hypothetical scenario?

In this situation, one has to make a decision as to whether the survival of your dog is justified over the survival of say a number of lambs or chickens. People are occasionally faced with this situation in certain areas of the world - they can't eat the vegetation, so they kill a creature who can and eat that. Some would say killing for one's own survival is ethically justifiable. Presumably, some would kill a lamb if their child's life depended on it, so why not do the same for your dog?

We do get into some problems though if we are talking about your own sanctuary lambs who you rescued from just such a fate. In fact, let's get back to the child that we are so willing to kill a lamb for. Suppose there wasn't a lamb, but another child? Would it be ethically justifiable to kill someone else's child so that yours could survive? Or suppose the other happened to be your other child and not someone elses. It starts getting messy when things are closer to home, doesn't it?

Back to the dog. It seems ok to kill someone else's lamb for your dog, but now we don't have a lamb anymore, but another dog - say your other dog. Would you kill one for the other? In nature, one dog would likely kill the other in order to survive, but how easy is it now to make the decision yourself?

And that's just it, isn't it!

The vast majority of people don't do the killing themselves. In fact, they don't even have to make the decision, because all you do is pay someone else to do the dirty work and pick-up the slab of meat that came from a sentient being that you never have to face.

Scenario over - back to the real world.

We don't have to worry about the dilemmas generated by the scenario. We know veg pets are healthy and will stay healthy. Given this inarguable reality, let's look at the morality a bit further.

Some people here have adamantly stated that we not impose our ethics on our dogs. By what reasoning, do we have an ethical basis to impose our ethics on the victims? Do they not count? Were they sent here by the creator to be pet food?

While i appreciate these people love their pets as they would they own children (and quite rightly so), it is inappropriate to use that 'love' to justify certain attitudes.

You see this sort of comment attempting to intimidate veg dog owners:
"I don't believe in cruelty to animals, and I think it would be cruel to force a dog to be vegan."

But it's ok to force a pig to be dog food?

Or this concern:
"Trying to make a carnivore vegan is a very UNVEGAN thing to do, because you're potentially harming an animal."

Where does the potential of supposedly harming an animal outweigh killing a lot of them?

Or this bit of bravado:
"People who don't want to feed meat to their dogs, shouldn't be allowed to have them"

According to various sources, the number of animals killed by a human who eats corpse parts, is about 100/yr. Consider a dog who is a quarter the weight of a human. This dog would likely eat 25 animals/yr. Over just a 10 year period feeding your dog a meat diet could cost the lives of 250 sentient beings! Exactly how do those who feed their dogs animal parts, justify the murder of 250 sentient beings just so they can feel good about their dog's diet?

What we really need to ask is
"If you are going to kill sentient beings to feed your dog, should you be allowed to have a dog in the first place?"

So just whose ethics need a closer examination?

Is it the person who through a veg diet helps their dog thrive, backed by years of anecdotal evidence, vet examination and approval, even studies that show the longer a dog is vegan the less likely are they to succumb to certain illnesses and does not require the slaughter of any sentient beings?

Or is it the person clinging to the 'carnivores must eat meat' mantra, who has been refuted conclusively over and over again just as surely as those clinging to their flat-earth delusions?

Whose ethics are in need of an overhaul?

6 Some interesting tidbits

6.1 Veg lion

The True Story Of A Vegetarian Lion

lion and lamb

The lion who lay down with the lamb

Once upon a time, in 20th century America, there lived a lion who refused to be violent. Those who cared for her tried to train her to behave in a way they thought was dictated by nature—but she refused. Instead, she taught her keepers that man's idea of what constitutes "natural" animal behavior, is not necessarily what God created the animals to be.

The Prophet Isaiah told of a millennial world in which the "lion would lay down with the lamb." For most people this is a promise so improbable it seems as if the very nature of animals must undergo a drastic change before that prophecy can be fulfilled. It seems they must metamorphose into different creatures; that although their outward appearance may remain the same, their inner structure must somehow be altered. Because, ultimately, we believe that biology is destiny.But the story of Little Tyke, a lioness who lived at Hidden Valley Ranch in Washington, gives evidence to the contrary.

Born to a mother who had been caught in the wild and imprisoned in a zoo-cell for many years, it seemed unlikely that Tyke would survive her birth. Impregnated five times in seven years, the fierce mother had destroyed each of her previous cubs before zoo-keepers could get near her. This behavior only added to the mother's reputation as a particularly ferocious animal: a born-killer. Yet in the wild, lions have been observed wailing in agony over a still-born cub. Perhaps this "killer" lion destroyed her cubs to prevent them from having to live out the horror of her own existence. She could not prevent her captors from having her impregnated, but she could thwart their plans to imprison her offspring.

But although the mother managed to badly maul the new cub, Little Tyke was rescued from her and sent to Hidden Valley Ranch. She lived there with Georges and Margaret Westbeau for the rest of her life.

During that time she taught the Westbeaus, and the thousands who came in contact with her, that much of what we believe about the nature of animals is the result of the way in which we have treated them. Animals have learned to fear, dread and attack the human beings who torture, imprison and kill them– without compunction or remorse for the enormous amount of pain and suffering they inflict on God's other creatures.

But at Hidden Valley Ranch, Little Tyke was raised with great love and kindness. The story of her life was later chronicled by Georges Westbeau, in a book he wrote about the gentle lioness. (Information about where to purchase this book is provided at the end of this article.)

The numerous photos in his book show Little Tyke living with lambs, dogs, cats, chickens and deer, in happy companionship. And the stories that Westbeau relates about life on the Ranch make fascinating reading. But beyond the fascination and wonder of this narrative is the deeper sense of the "rightness" that the peacefulness and nonviolence at Hidden Valley Ranch evokes. It is a sense that the relationship between humans and animals can—and should—be different than it is.

But in order for this to happen, men and women must alter their behavior: it is the savagery of the human heart that must change. We do not have to wait until God changes "savage" animals into different kinds of beings in order for them to live in peace and harmony with mankind. And nothing in Westbeau's book makes this clearer than the report of Tyke's lifelong insistence on a vegetarian diet.

It was an insistence that her caretakers tried to overcome for four years. Convinced by scientific findings that the lion would die if she did not eat meat, the Westbeaus tried every possible subterfuge in order to get her to become a carnivore. But Tyke would not. And in spite of the fact that science had declared a lion's system was programmed to eat flesh, and would die without it, Little Tyke lived on.

Not only did she survive, she thrived on her vegetarian diet, becoming as healthy a lion specimen as anyone had ever seen. Still, it took four years for the Westbeau's to stop trying to find ways to get her to become a flesh-eating creature. And, eventually, it was a quote from the Bible that put their mind at rest about Tyke's health and her diet.

It came about after yet another expert had been asked if he knew of some formula which contained meat, that the lion might be persuaded to eat. Westbeau writes that the man he spoke to "turned to look at me with serious eyes, then asked 'Don't you read your Bible?' I admitted I didn't read it as much as I probably should. He continued, "Read Genesis 1:30 and you will get your answer."

The author goes on to tell how he looked up this verse of scripture and "to my astonishment I read these words 'And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat:and it was so.'" After this, Georges reports, "we didn't worry anymore about Little Tyke's diet."

In spite of the belief that biology is destiny and that animals, in particular, behave on the basis of instincts which cannot be altered (except, perhaps, genetically) the life of Little Tyke challenges these scientific "facts." And the same chapter of Genesis which allowed the Westbeaus to accept Tyke's vegetarianism also reports that both humans and nonhumans were created to be nonviolent. It tells how God breathed the breath of life into them and later pronounced all creatures to be reflections of the goodness and love in which they had been created. "And God saw every thing that he had made and, behold, it was very good."

But for the most part, even "believers" ignore the scriptural explanation of the nature of creation and choose to believe the scientific explanation that violence is programmed into humans as well as animals. This is a convenient belief. It means there is nothing that we who live in the present time can do to help prepare the way for a millennial world. After all, until God changes ferocious creatures into nonviolent beings, there can be no Peaceable Kingdom.

But in twentieth century America, at Hidden Valley Ranch in Washington, there was a place in which love and compassion ruled, and because of that, the lion did lay down with the lamb. And with a host of other creatures—even that most dangerous species of all: homo sapiens.

Source: All Creatures
Additional Reference: Vegetarian Lioness: Little Tyke

6.2 Veg shark

Shark with a preference for greens

Florence the six-foot tropical nurse shark has confounded her keepers by spurning all offers of tasty fish in favour of lettuce!

The first shark anywhere in the world to survive a surgical procedure ‘out of water’ Florence may now lay claim to the title ‘world’s first vegetarian shark.’

The displays team at Birmingham’s National Sea Life Centre is resorting to devious tactics to make sure she gets the protein she needs.

“We’re having to hide pieces of fish inside celery sticks, hollowed out cucumbers and between the leaves of lettuces to get her to eat them,” said curator Graham Burrows.

“And it has to be well hidden, because if she realises it’s there she’ll ignore the offering and wait for the strictly vegetarian option.”

Florence’s mouth is filled with razor-sharp, serrated teeth designed for demolishing fish and crustaceans.

Instead she uses them for pulping broccoli and cabbage and any other greens she can steal from fellow ocean tank resident Molokai the green turtle.

It is not the first time Florence has caused her guardians some concern.

“She was off her food for a good while when she first arrived from Florida with three other nurse sharks at our main collection centre in Dorset,” said Graham.

“She was given an ultrasound scan which revealed a fishing hook buried deep inside her mouth.”

That is how Florence came to be operated on by specialist vet Nick Masters from the International Zoo Veterinary Group in Bristol.

The groundbreaking procedure saw Florence sedated, then lifted onto a makeshift operating table where Nick successfully removed the hook while tubes pumped saltwater through her gills.

“The hook had obviously been there for years and was badly rusted which is what had made her so ill,” said Graham. “She was put on anti-biotics and made a swift recovery.”

Graham and his team are determined that their history-making shark is not going to fall ill again through lack of proper nourishment, and use every trick they can devise to make sure she has a proper diet.

“Nurse sharks do occasionally graze on algae in the wild, and we weren’t surprised when Florence first stole some of Molokai’s greens,” said Graham.

“We just weren’t expecting her to go completely veggie. We wouldn’t want her to be an embarrassment to the other flesh-eating hammerheads and black-tipped reef sharks in the ocean tank.”

florence and lettuce

Florence at work on some lettuce

Source: Market Birmingham article

6.3 Veg spider

Veggie spider shuns meat diet

A spider that dines almost exclusively on plants has been described by scientists.

It is the first-known predominantly vegetarian spider; all of the other known 40,000 spider species are thought to be mainly carnivorous.

florence and lettuce

Dodging ants to reach leaf tips

Bagheera kiplingi, which is found in Central America and Mexico, bucks the meat-eating trend by feasting on acacia plants.

The research is published in the journal Current Biology.

The herbivorous spider was filmed on high-definition camera (see link below to go to article).

The jumping arachnid, which is 5-6mm long, has developed a taste for the tips of the acacia plants - known as Beltian bodies - which are packed full of protein.

But to reach this leafy fare, the spider has to evade the attention of ants, which live in the hollow spines of the tree.

The ants and acacia trees have co-evolved to form a mutually beneficial relationship: the aggressive ants protect the trees from predators, swarming to attack any invaders; and in return for acting as bodyguards, the ants get to gorge on the acacias' Beltian bodies themselves.

But the crafty Bagheera kiplingi has found a way to exploit this symbiotic relationship.

One of the study's authors, Professor Robert Curry, from Villanova University, Pennsylvania, told BBC News: "The spiders basically dodge the ants.

"The spiders live on the plants - but way out on the tips of the old leaves, where the ants don't spend a lot of time, because there isn't any food on those leaves."

But when they get hungry, the spiders head to the newer leaves, and get ready to run the ant gauntlet.

Professor Curry said: "And they wait for an opening - they watch the ants move around, and they watch to see that there are not any ants in the local area that they are going after.

"And then they zip in and grab one of these Beltian bodies and then clip it off, hold it in their mouths and run away.

"And then they retreat to one of the undefended parts of the plant to eat it."

Like other species of jumping spider, Bagheera kiplingi has keen eyesight, is especially fast and agile and is thought to have good cognitive skills, which allows it to "hunt" down this plant food.

The spider's herbivorous diet was first discovered in Costa Rica in 2001 by Eric Olsen from Brandeis University, and was then independently observed again in 2007 by Christopher Meehan, at that time an undergraduate student at Villanova University.

The team then collaborated to describe the spider for the first time in this Current Biology paper.

Professor Curry said he was extremely surprised when he found out about its unusual behaviour.

He said: "This is the only spider we know that deliberately only goes after plants."

While some spiders will occasionally supplement their diet with a little nectar or pollen, Bagheera kiplingi's diet is almost completely vegetarian - although occasionally topped up with a little ant larvae at times.

Professor Curry said there were numerous reasons why this spider might have turned away from meaty meals.

He said: "Competition in the tropics is pretty fierce so there are always advantages to doing what someone else isn't already doing.

"They are jumping spiders, so they don't build a web to catch food, so they have to catch their prey through pursuit. And the Beltian bodies are not moving - they are stuck - so it is a very predictable food supply."

Acacias also produce leaves throughout the year - even through the dry season - which would make them attractive.

And Professor Curry added: "Because the plants are protected by ants, they have none of their own chemical defences that other plants do."

Source: BBC News

6.4 Cat food preferences

Cats resort to the sense of smell rather than taste according to a study published in the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition. A cat's olfactory senses are naturally geared to proteins and fats:
When your cat sniffs its food, odors linked to proteins and fats often come up winners, and for good reason. Proteins and fats are the single most important ingredients in a feline diet. That's because in the wild, cats are carnivores. They live on diets composed almost entirely of meat, with only a small amount of vegetables and essentially no grains. House kitties, however, can benefit from certain high quality grains, which serve as energy-producing carbohydrates. These may include corn meal, rice flour, grain sorghum and wheat. The smell of these ingredients, however, will not entice your cat in the same way that meaty odors can.
The Daily Cat: Diet and Ingredients Food Preferences

6.5 Veterinarians supporting vegcat diet

This is a transcript of the video Peter Csere produced here. It provides substantial information as well as an impressive list of veterinarians who are supportive of vegan cat diets as of 2014.

Quack Veterinarians Who Feed Cats a Vegan Diet

Today I'm going to talk about quacky veterinarians who support feeding a plant-based diet to a cat. That's right - bad, horrible, unscientific vets who deserve to have their licenses revoked.

But there's a more important point to be taken. Typically when an internet troll makes the appeal-to-authority claim, that no veterinarians support the idea of cats fed a plant-based diet – it quickly turns into a moving-the-goalpost argument. So you provide one or two vets, and they say “Ok, but that's just one or two, they're quacks.” Goalpost moved. So you provide a study and 5 or 10 more vets, and they say “Ok, but that's not science – the vast majority of the literature says that what you're suggesting is bad” (This is untrue, only 1 formal study has ever been done on this specific topic, and 2 informal surveys, and they all support the practice) Then they say “the vast majority of veterinarians do not support this either.” (That's true, but the vast majority of general practitioners give harmful health advice to humans – this is clearly an appeal to authority.) Also, they have successfully “moved the goalpost” so far that the original argument is completely replaced. Since no one argued that the vast majority of scientific literature or the vast majority of veterinarians promote a plant-based diet for cats, their response to your patient humoring of their appeal-to-authority fallacy is a non-sequitur as well as an obvious straw-man. Remember that an argument that adheres to logic and reason cannot rest solely on appeal to authority, popularity, or novelty – which the aforementioned argument does. It also cannot rely on dishonest tactics such as “moving the goalpost” - in other words, when you satisfy the stated requirement, the requirement then changes, so that it quickly becomes clear that the opponent never had a static position to begin with.

That being said, it is indeed helpful to have professionals in the field of veterinary medicine supporting the practice of feeding a plant-based diet to cats. Until we abolish the human practice of breeding domestic animal species altogether, and until cultured meat becomes a viable alternative to feed the remaining domestic felines, this is, quite simply, the option that best meets the needs of ALL involved – not JUST the cats, but also the chickens in Auschwitz and the humans that attempt to ignore the chickens in Auschwitz because they feel strongly that their Fluffy is so much more important… “because obligate carnivore.”

People like to say “obligate means they don't have a choice.” Indeed, the cats do not have a choice as to their biological makeup. But I have a choice as to whether I want to support the animal holocaust and kill a thousand chickens to feed one cat. Call me logical and ethically consistent, but if you put 1,000 chickens in front of me, and one cat named Fluffy, and asked me to choose whether to personally kill all 1,000 chickens to feed the cat over its lifespan, or kill the cat – Hmmmm… - kobayashi maru I'd kill neither, I'd take away the cat's bag of Friskies and give him a bag of Ami.

So without further ado, here are the veterinary doctors who support this terrible quackery that happens to be the only ethically consistent and ecologically sound way to feed a domestic feline, at least until cultured meat becomes commercially viable.

I'll start with reviews of the book “Vegetarian Cats and Dogs” by animal nutritionist James A. Peden.

British trained veterinarian Dr. David H. Jaggar reviewed the book Vegetarian Cats & Dogs by James A. Peden documenting the research that resulted in Vegepet™ products. He stated:

Vegetarian Cats & Dogs is a solid work of ethical integrity and is meritorious as an example of applying scientific information to progressive ends. The scientific rationale is as sound as the moral arguments are incisive and persuasive. The author is sincere in his commitment to a scientifically sound means to feed dogs and cats with superior nourishment (meeting all the known nutritional requirements for different stages of life), while at the same time reducing large scale animal suffering in agribusiness.

So you see, this veterinarian is able to consider MULTIPLE aspects of the argument SIMULTANEOUSLY. [FLASH CRITICAL THINKING IMAGE.] Almost without fail, the people who tend to argue against this, ONLY consider the fact that cats have fangs. They only consider the cats, never understanding that the large scale animal suffering in agribusiness is not a separate, distinct problem that can be completely ignored “because obligate carnivore.” The one cat is seen as objectively more important than the 1,000 chickens that must be killed to feed it, so much more important that humans, a taxonomically frugivorous species, should actually raise billions of domestically bred animal slaves in captivity, and kill them just to feed precious Fluffy.

Dr. Michael Lemmon, DVM stated:

As a veterinarian being concerned with the animal’s health, it is very encouraging to observe their health improving in many cases after being on the new regimen.

Dr. Andrew Knight, veterinarian, BSc.. CertAW, MRCVS stated: Hazards posed by meat-based diets The health hazards of commercial meat-based pet foods are extensive, and difficult to avoid. They may include slaughterhouse waste products; 4-D meat (from dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals); old or spoiled supermarket meat; large numbers of rendered dogs and cats from animal shelters; old restaurant grease, complete with high concentrations of dangerous free radicals and trans fatty acids; damaged or spoiled fish, complete with dangerous levels of mercury, PCBs and other toxins; pathogenic bacteria, protozoa, viruses, fungi and prions, and their associated endotoxins and mycotoxins; hormone and antibiotic residues; and dangerous preservatives. The combined results are rendered so delicious to cats and dogs by the addition of ‘digest’ - a soup of partially dissolved chicken entrails - that more than 95% of companion animals subsist primarily on commercial meat-based diets.

Unsurprisingly, diseases described in the scientific literature following long-term maintenance of cats and dogs on commercial meat-based diets include kidney, liver, heart, neurologic, eye, muscoloskeletal and skin diseases, bleeding disorders, birth defects, immunocompromisation and infectious diseases. As a practicing veterinarian I agree that so-called degenerative diseases such as cancer, kidney, liver and heart failure are far more common than they should be, and that many are likely to be exacerbated or directly caused by the numerous hazardous ingredients of commercial meat-based cat and dog diets.

"I have successfully maintained many dogs and a few cats on a vegan diet. In fact, some of my canine patients who switched to a vegan diet have experienced improvement in their skin allergy symptoms as a result of leaving meat out of their diets."

– Armaiti May, DVM, CVA, Los Angeles

Dr. Richard H. Fried, VMD (Lincoln Square Veterinary Hospital, NYC) “Yes, Dr. Fried has experience with clients feeding cats and dogs a vegan diet. […] [He] is willing to work with pet owners who want to try a vegan diet for their companions.”

Dr. Lorelei Wakefield, VMD (NYC) -Published a study on cats fed a plant-based diet.

Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, Sedona, Arizona "This is very important work. In our time we cannot sustain the use of animals as a major or primary food source. It is simply not possible considering how very inefficient it is to feed edible grains and other vegetable sources to animals so that they, in turn, will be eaten. Even more important are the very real health effects from feeding at the top of the food chain. We don't know the levels of pollutant accumulation in the tissues of animals, but in people it has been found that well over 100 chemicals are now resident in our tissues especially in those that regularly eat meat. Avoiding animal flesh in our diets very much reduces this toxic accumulation. Lastly, from an ethical standpoint, our food animal industry results in very great suffering for large numbers of animals and it is logically inconsistent to treasure one animal (the one emotionally close to us) at the cost of other animals being treated inhumanely. To find alternative diets for dogs and cats that do not include meat is very important work and needs to be done."

Veterinarians on Dr. Pitcairn's book:

"Pets have never had it so good!" –Michael W. Fox, former vice president of the Humane Society

"For many of my clients, Dr. Pitcairn's book is their trusted holistic health guide for their canine and feline companions needs, full of practical pointers for the concerned caregiver”a must read for those embarking on the worthwhile journey towards restoration of their pets' health and happiness. This new edition is a must-have for the pet care library." –David Evans, DVM, CVH, Natural Care Clinic for Pets

"Would you like your dog and cat to live a longer healthier life? This easy to use and well researched book is a must for you. Every one of my holistic clients has Dr. Pitcairn's book and many have told me how frequently they read it for treatment of minor problems, nutritional information and how to make lifestyle choices to improve health for themselves, their animals and our planet." –Dr. Christina Chambreau, Homeopathic Veterinarian and author of the Healthy Animal's Journal

"The third edition of this "landmark" text is welcome, and will take up space on my bookshelf, as well as the bookshelves of many of my colleagues and clients." –Carvel G. Tiekert, DVM, Founder, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association

"Dr. Richard Pitcairn again demonstrates why he is so respected in his field. This book should be required reading for anyone seeking true, lasting health for their animals and will continue to be a must-read for my clients." – Larry A. Bernstein, VMD

"I anticipated that this 3rd edition would be a thorough and thoughtfully-written guide to natural health care for animals, packed full of useful information and practical tips. My expectations were exceeded! Dr. Pitcairn has a wonderful way of making both basic principles and complex topics fresh and reader-friendly, all the while gently raising questions that encourage thinking and re-thinking conventional "wisdom" in companion animal care. Who should read this book? Those just embarking on the path of natural health for their pets, those who have been on this path for years, and every holistically-minded veterinarian who wants to understand root causes of disease and expand his or her repertoire of treatments that truly support and help restore health. Although I have used and recommended the earlier edition of this book in my practice for years, I plan to make this new edition required reading for my clients." –Lynn S. Peck, DVM, MS Holistic veterinarian and researcher

"Once again Dr. Pitcairn has given animal caretakers the definitive how-to for a healthier, more natural and holistic approach to animal health. This up-dated edition, in his easy-to-read, story-telling style, has added information on diet and vaccinations based on recent research. The results achieved in animal well-being by incorporating the dietary, herbal and homeopathic information provided in previous editions have spoken for themselves. The new information contained in this new edition will raise the quality of our companion animal health just that much higher." –Dr. Kimberly Henneman, DVM


Dr. Richard Pitcairn: Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats (Over 400,000 copies sold)

Animal nutritionist James Peden “Vegetarian Cats and Dogs” (1999)

Jed Gillen (author) “Obligate Carnivore” (2003)

Peta has a factsheet:

Dr. Andrew M. Knight, DVM While attending veterinary school, he was the first veterinary student in Australia to be allowed a conscientious exception in the policy requiring terminal surgeries for animal research.

Article: (read an excerpt – the part about the studies)

Darwin Brightsman, PhD Formulated the Evolution Diet vegan pet foods

Dr. Lorelei Wakefield In 2006 veterinarians Dr Lorelei Wakefield and colleagues published the following study comparing the health status of 34 cats maintained on vegetarian diets, and 52 maintained on conventional diets, for at least one year. No significant differences existed in age, sex, body condition, housing, or perceived health status between the two groups. Most of the caregivers in both groups described their cats as healthy or generally healthy. To my knowledge, this is the only study published to date of the health status of cats maintained on nutritionally sound vegetarian diets.

Wakefield LA, Shofer FS, MIchel KE. Evaluation of cats fed vegetarian diets and attitudes of their caregivers. J Amer Vet Med Assoc 2006; 229(1): 70-73.

In conclusion, anyone making the following statements: “There are no veterinarians, or there is not a significant number of veterinarians, who support feeding a nutritionally complete plant-based diet to domestic felines.” “Feeding a plant-based diet to a domestic feline is impossible. It is not safe.” “Science clearly shows that this is not healthy.” Is categorically incorrect. Those are, quite simply, false statements. They do not hold up to scrutiny and are not scientifically valid. They are also contrary to direct experience of thousands of pet owners who have been doing this collectively for over 3 decades, since it was first made possible in the 1980s. It is not an experiment, it is not a fringe science. It works, people do it, and there are at least 6-7 companies who have been producing nutritionally complete plant-based cat food for years. Perhaps in the future we will have other options, and eventually we will no longer have human-bred domestic species, but right now, this solution best meets the need of all involved. If your proposed solution considers Fluffy but ignores the chickens in Auchwitz, then it is, by definition, speciesist. Below I have linked to the relevant websites and publications for your review. If you like this video and want to see more, remember to like, share, and subscribe.

7 Links

The facts about vegetarian cats and dogs.

Harbingers of a New Age
Making it possible for cats and dogs to go vegetarian since 1986.

Ami Pet Foods
Cruelty free foods.

Nutritionally complete and balanced pet food from Australia.

USA retailer.

Europe retailer.

Scientific American: Veggie Cat Food? Why Not All Cats Need Meat
Some tips (and warnings) for considering switching your cat to a vegetarian diet.

Vegan Pets Group
This is a informative forum group with plenty of material for prospective and experienced vegan pet guardians.

The Csere Videos on Vegan Cats
This is useful collection of videos made by the knowledgeable Peter Csere on various topics of cats fed vegan or otherwise. Peter provides information and can help you customize vegan cat diets through his vegan cat facebook group.