The number of people switching to a vegan diet has more than trebled in the last 13 years. And now it appears that a large number of those people are looking to impose the same dietary rules on their pets.
A study at the University of Guelph in Canada has found that a whopping 27% of vegan pet owners enforce a plant-based diet on their pet. Of the remainder, 78% said that they would consider phasing out their pet’s consumption of meat.
The research asked over 3,500 pet owners worldwide and found that the owner’s eating habits had a strong influence on those they enforced on their pets.
When looking at the full picture of pet owners (both meat-eaters and non-meat eaters), the study found that over a third were considering switching their pet to a plant-based diet.
The biggest stumbling block among most of them was the effects that this might have on their pet.
Over half (55%) of respondents to the study said they would need to understand the implications on their pet’s health before committing to a new diet. The picture as to whether eradicating meat from a cat or dog’s diet is beneficial is a little murky.
There has been little in the way of study on the effects of eliminating meat from a pet’s diet. One study in 2015 in the USA did find that 37% of meat-free dog foods failed to meet the nutritional standards of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
There have also been some concerns expressed that vegetarian alternatives to traditional dog foods lack the required amino acids and proteins to be considered a healthy diet for dogs.
Despite these findings the jury still appears to be out on the perfect diet for our pets.
Until more research is undertaken that is unlikely to change. However, that does not mean to say that the number of ‘vegan’ cats and dogs will stop growing. Dr Sarah Dodd, who carried out the studies at the University of Guelph suggested that because pet owners are likely to adopt the same eating habits for their pets as they adopt for themselves thinks “it is safe to say that the interest in these types of diets is likely to grow.”