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Switzerland

Dogs Go Vegan

More and more vegetarians and vegans are keeping meat and animal products out of their pooch’s chow bowl. But some warn that even though they are omnivores, dogs need their meat. And by the way: don’t even think about trying to give a carrot to your cat.

Hmm... That's not my bone?
Hmm... That's not my bone?
Magali Dubey

GENEVA - Add together 3,160 grams of cooked chickpeas, 83 grams of tofu, 27 grams of textured vegetable proteins, 30 grams of baking soda, 21 grams of oil…and a dash of salt. Is this the latest recipe for a miracle detox diet or a way to avoid this winter's flu bug? Try again! But first, add just 25 more grams of the secret ingredient "Vegedog 1" – a mix of vitamins, trace elements and amino acids– and you'll get a three-day vegan meal for a man's best friend: his dog.

Though still far from common, more and more vegetarians (people who don't eat meat) and vegans (those who don't eat any animal product) are deciding to impose their eating habits on their animal. On specialized forums, many of them say they are disgusted by the idea of buying meat-based food for their cats or dogs. They share recipes for home-made pet food or names of websites selling veggie biscuits, and give each other advice for a smooth transition.

At the head of the movement, Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), the US-based animal rights organization known for its "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" campaign and its public stunts against celebrities. But behind the usual claims, the association also wants to blow the whistle on the other ingredients contained in these products, from antibiotics and pesticides to meat coming from sick animals. Giving only vegetable food to your pet would make it healthier and live longer. This way of life would be particularly suitable for dogs, which are technically omnivorous. Cats, however, are carnivorous.

So, is a veggie dog a happy dog? Blondine Monnard, president of the Dog Friends Society in Geneva, is skeptical. "When you adopt an animal, you also adopt its nature," she says. "In that case, dogs are meat eaters. Putting them on a vegetarian diet is as absurd as feeding cows with bone meal."

According to Julika Fitzi, a vet for the Swiss SPCA specialized in dogs, the most important point is to be careful about giving your pet balanced food: "Even though it doesn't need it daily, meat contains essential nutriments for your dog's body, especially if it is growing or if it is being trained for sporting events. At its natural state, a dog could feed on vegetables for a while if there is nothing else available. But if it has the choice, it will always go for the meat."

For sociologist Emmanuel Gouabaut, an expert on the human-animal relationship, this kind of action reveals a change in the relations humans have with their pets. "We went from a domestication relation to friendship. This is especially true for dogs which are less independent than cats."

More and more dog owners see their pets as a member of the family, taking part in daily life, hobbies, even having birthday parties for them. "Teaching them our values, like veganism, is just the next step," says Gouabaut. "In this case, it's interesting to know that the word companion comes from the Latin cum panis: with whom you share the bread."

Read the original article in French

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