When you and your family are following a vegetarian/ vegan diet, mostly because of ethical reasons, it really becomes an issue when it comes to feeding your pets. We have four pets: two cats, almost 20 years old, and two dogs: Buddy (11 years old) and Ben(newest family member, 1 and a half years old). In the past we used to feed Buddy dry kibble in the morning and canned food in the evening. No matter what brand you buy, it really doesn’t look like real food at all. Who knows what sort of disgusting things the big companies put in them and especially what kind of meat they use, probably all the pieces that butchers don’t want. When he was 5 years old, we would make his food ourselves, buying meat at the supermarket, usually ground beef, and giving it to him raw with some rice and shredded vegetables (just a few!) and that was already better than giving him the canned food with the unknown ingredients in it and also it improved his digestion so much. But slowly we got back to the premade food, probably because of insufficient time or laziness.
Then two years ago I asked myself a question: can dogs and cats be vegetarian? so I started researching a lot on the subject, although it was quite difficult because of little resources on the internet concerning this subject. I found out different websites and articles and became more knowledgeable. Dogs can easily be vegetarians, just like humans, they are omnivores; cats on the other hand have a more difficult time (they are carnivores) and they can’t live without a protein called taurin, so it’s still possible but it’s risky. I also found out that in America there are a couple different supplements you can buy to add to your homemade plant-based pet food, it’s called VEGEDOG or VEGECAT. This product is sold as a dry powder and you just have to add as little as a teaspoon per meal, depending on your pet’s size.
During my reasearch I found out that one of the longest living dog on the planet was a border collie named Bramble that lived on a vegan diet based on lentils, rice and veggies and lived until he was 27, unbelievable! google him and you will see 🙂
When I first started to make Buddy’s vegan food, I was afraid he wouldn’t accept it, he is a very snobby eater, but he actually did! Ben on the other hand will eat anything and he had no problem at all. Making homemade dog food is very simple, and once you get used to the idea it doesn’t seem time consuming; just make a big quantity once or twice a week so you have it ready in the fridge for every night, or you can even freeze single portions in plastic cups to have ready.
Our routine has become like this: vegetarian dry kibble in the morning, which you can find in almost any pet food shop, and homemade vegan food in the evening.
I can’t tell you enough how much my dog’s humor, hair, breath, energy has improved on this diet. Not only you are helping the environment and avoiding torturing animals, you can also improve your pet’s health and happiness!
HOW TO MAKE VEGAN HOMEMADE DOGFOOD:
the meal is basically composed by 5 elements: Protein, Carbs, Vegetables, Fats and supplements (optional). It’s kind of the same as humans, but emphasize on more protein.
1) PROTEIN: protein accounts for 1/2 of the total meal and can be lentils, black beans, chickpeas, tofu etc. Make sure you cook the beans well, to imrove digestibility, or you can buy canned to save time.
2) CARBOHYDRATES : carbs account for 1/4 of the total meal and can be rice, pasta, barley, farro etc.
3) VEGETABLES : veggies account for 1/4 of the meal and can be leafy greens like kale, swiss chard, spinach etc. or red and orange veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin etc. try with different vegetables and see which one your dog prefers. I usually cook them a little with the rest of the carbs and protein.
4) FAT: fat is a very important component in their diet and it can be extra virgin olive oil or other type of oil, ground flax seeds, almonds or other nuts etc. I give my dogs 1 tbls of olive oil for each meal.
5) VEGEDOG supplement: just to make sure he is getting all of the vitamines he needs I give him 1/2 tsp of this supplement which should be the best on the market.
NOTE: to add more flavorings you can also add herbs/spices like fresh mint or parsley( for the breath ) or ginger (for the heart) or cinnamon. I like to add ground turmeric and they love it.
Also try to mix the ingredients to see what your dog prefers and also to make sure he/she gets different nutrients.
HOW TO SERVE IT:
-An important thing is to mash everything. Dogs don’t chew that much or at all so it is useful to help them out by mashing everything and keeping a little bit of crunch, for example I usually use an immersion blender and still keep some chunks in it.
-Serve at room temperature.
-When first starting on this diet, start by changing only one of their meals of the day for one week, then try with going all vegetarian. If your pet has been used to eating kibble or meat for many years, his body will need a little bit of time to adjust.
-As for serving size: use the guidelines on pet food packages and add a bit more, vegetarian food has fewer calories so you can give your dog a bigger quantity.
BE CAREFUL AT:
Last but not least there are a couple of foods which are dangerous for dogs, if you google this on the internet you will find a precise list but these below are generally what they should stay away from:
raisins, grapes, onions, chives, cocoa, nutmeg, paprika, salt, pepper, avocados, chocolate, coffee, gum, macadamia, mushrooms, mustard, walnuts and any kind of fruit seeds.
(google or ask your vet for more information about foods to avoid)
Buddy and Ben are so happy with what they eat, they lick their bowls until there is not even a shine of oil. After 2 years of being on this diet Buddy will pretty much eat anything now, if we give him a piece of carrot or broccoli he will eat it like a bone.
I highly encourage to try making homemade food for your pets, it is so much better than buying it, you know what you are giving them, it is better for them, it is cheaper, and deep down they will appreciate your effort.
Ben loves apples, everytime I eat an apple, he’s there ready for the last parts of it, check this video out: