New study claims vegan diet is just as healthy for pets

According to a study that hopes to promote plant-based meals for pets, a vegan diet for cats and dogs can be as healthy as a meat-based diet.

The study comes from veterinary professor Andrew Knight of the University of Winchester. Knight said plant-based diets may work well or even better than meat-based pet foods in terms of certain health outcomes, although synthetic nutrients are needed to supplement the diet.

In the UK, where the University of Winchester is located, pet owners who do not give their animals a “proper diet” can be fined more than $ 27,500 or be jailed on behalf of the Animal Welfare Act of 2006. The law does not stipulate vegan or vegetarian meals as inappropriate.

“We would not recommend feeding a dog a vegan diet as it is much easier to get the wrong balance of nutrients than to do it right, which carries a risk of nutritional deficiencies and associated illnesses,” Justine Shotton, president of the British Veterinary Association. , said The Hill.

Pets need a balanced diet and could have very specific nutritional needs that would likely not be met by a vegan diet, veterinary experts have said. However, Knight’s findings indicate that plant-based pet foods were nutritionally equivalent to products containing meat.

“Dogs, cats and other species have nutritional needs, they don’t need meat or any other special ingredient. They need all of the nutrients, and provided they are provided with a diet tasty enough to motivate them to eat it, and digestible, we would expect them to thrive. And that’s what the evidence seems to indicate, ”Knight told The Guardian.

While dogs are omnivorous, cats are carnivorous and require specific proteins in their diets, including taurine, according to The Hill.

According to the Washington Post, 180 million pets in American homes are fed beef, lamb, poultry, or pork at almost every meal, as animal husbandry is responsible for up to 15 % of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles estimate that dogs and cats account for up to 30% of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the United States. If American pets were their own country, they would eat the fifth meat in the world, according to the Post.

Many pet food companies have started developing insect-based alternatives for dogs and cats, with 55% of customers liking the idea of ​​using sustainable alternative protein ingredients in pet foods. animals, according to a Petco survey.

Illinois recently became the fifth state to ban pet stores from selling dogs and cats from breeders, although they are allowed to hold adoption events for cats and dogs from animal shelters and groups. rescue. The bill aims to end the breeding factories, which supply the majority of pets sold in stores.

The number of cat and dog adoptions has increased during the pandemic, including in the eastern metropolitan area.