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Are Vegan Dogs the Future?
Humane Society goes into the dog food biz

Earlier this month, the Humane Society of the United States announced it would be marketing an all-natural, vegetarian, organic dog food called Humane Choice—responding to the public’s desire for a cruelty-free option with ingredients we can trust. I admire the work of the HSUS, but I greeted this announcement with a big, Huh?

First, is it really a good idea for a nonprofit advocacy organization to go into a commercial venture supplying food to the animals they are supposedly working to protect? Isn’t that a conflict of interest? Especially, when food safety is such a controversial and important issue.
Second, vegetarian dogs? Really? No animal protein—someone is going to have to explain this to my dogs. To me, this sort of feels like the last straw in remaking dogs’ in our own image. I’m no food expert but Susan Thixton at TruthAboutDogFood.com isn’t liking what she sees on the label. Here’s what she has to say about the first five ingredients:

“Organic ground canola seed, organic brown rice, organic soybean meal, organic buckwheat, organic flaxseed. This dog food would rate in Petsumer Report three paw prints on a five paw print scale. It does not contain chelated or proteinated minerals (for better absorption); it does not contain probiotics (to build a stronger immune system).  An email sent yesterday (2/5/10) requesting country of origin information of ingredients has not been responded to; my guess would be some vitamins and minerals are sourced from China.”
And don’t get me started on the fact that the food comes from Uruguay. What about supporting our farmers? Not to mention the environmental impact of creating a new product that has to be sent from another hemisphere. I really want to hear what Bark readers think. Is this the future? Does it make sense to you?


Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom. lisawogan.com
CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Karyn C Cowdrey | February 9 2010 |

Yet another proof positive that HSUS true agenda has NOTHING to do with actual animal welfare and EVERTHING to do with eliminating animals from our lives.

First, there have been many studies done that show a 'vegan' diet or a 'vegetarian' diet are harmful to dogs and deadly to cats.

Then there is the entire 'non-profit' issue when we know that they will indeed profit from sales of such a food by misguided pet owners who THINK they're doing a great thing for their pet as well as HSUS....

When is the government going to start doing a better job of regulating GOOD pet diets as a general rule?

Submitted by Anonymous | February 17 2010 |

My dog is a healthy, happy 10 year old vegan dog. He gets all the nutrition he needs from his balanced commercial veg food. His coat is luxurious and soft, and everyone always thinks he's a puppy bewcause he's so energetic. Please don't bash what you don't know.

Submitted by Anonymous | May 15 2010 |

Karyn- where are all of these studies "proving" that vegan diets are harmful to dogs? I've found none. Funny how you didn't post any links.....

Submitted by David Pelfrey | February 9 2010 |

Notice the brand name of this absurd product: HUMANE CHOICE.

There's an extra "e" on the end. It should be called HUMAN choice.
That's because only a human would make such a foolish, dangerous choice for a dog.
Put another way, you can't find a dog anywhere on the planet as stupid as the average HSUS
And even the sneakiest hound is never as intellectually dishonest as the agenda-minded
operatives at HSUS.
How can I protect my dog from these do-gooders?

Submitted by Carolyn | February 10 2010 |

Vegan dogs? I don't think so. Sounds like they have a few "problems" on the sourcing as well which I would find concerning. I admire the HSUS as well but I would never support them with a purchase of this food. Dogs might survive on the diet, but I seriously doubt they would thrive.

Submitted by Maura | February 11 2010 |

Some dogs have to eat a vegetartian diet. My sisters dog is allergic to meat and gets very ill from any product with meat in it. He can only eat vegetarian. It's too bad:( Still don't think I'd recommend this food to her though.

Submitted by Julia Kamysz Lane | February 11 2010 |

Wow, talk about projecting human motivation onto our dogs! If people want to go vegan, I'm all for it - especially after having watched the documentary "Food, Inc." - but vegan dogs? I started grinding my own raw food for my dogs because one of them was allergic to grains in commercial kibble. All five dogs lost weight, gained muscle and haven't needed a teeth cleaning in years once we changed to a grain-free raw diet. Does the HSUS think grain is a natural part of a carnivore's diet?

Submitted by Rebecca Forrest | February 11 2010 |

Vegetarian dog food is ABSURD. Not only that, it's NOT made from US-inspected ingredients! And you're absolutely right about Susan Thixton (love her website!). Either the ingredients or the processing or both will come from Uraguay.

Hasn't the pet food industry learned yet about the dangers of circumventing the US inspection safeguards? Not that US inspection guarantees a quality or totally safe product, but skipping that step is really asking for pet illness and death. It's positively shameful!

And of course the pet food industry HASN'T learned. All they've learned, for the most part, is that it's cheaper to make a dangerous product than it is to make a safe one.

That's why my husband and I have been so careful to research and find the company with the best, safest, and most nutritious pet products on the market. We like the company and the products so much that we just had to represent them. And the company we've chosen is the one that Susan Thixton relies on for her own pet food!

You can see our products at www.PawPrintsLife.com.

Submitted by Kathrine Konetz... | February 13 2010 |

I've gotta sing with the choir on this one; what a ridiculous idea. Dogs can survive on many different diets, but to thrive they need a certain amount of animal protein. While I am normally on board with most of what the Humane Society does, my thought is that someone jumped the shark with this idea. Of course there's a conflict of interest! And why would any of us trust ingredients from China? Sorry, no thanks.

Submitted by DogLover | February 16 2010 |

I wouldn't buy this food even if it was good for my dogs (which it's not...) for the sole reason that it benefits the HSUS. Many people are still unfamiliar with what this group now stands for. It might be a good idea to take a look at the following links:





Submitted by Elaine | February 17 2010 |

My dogs are vegans and they are happy and healthy.
In fact, one of them is an energetic border collie mix who does flyball!
Vegan kibble keeps her healthy and my conscience clear.

From an article on this topic at Vegan Soapbox:
"Dogs are carnivores in taxonomic classification only. Wild dogs are not carnivores, they are omnivores. You don’t need a degree in biology to know this. Just take a hike around the Las Vegas area until you see some coyote scat. You’ll see a lot of bean and pea seed coats from the mesquite trees that live around here. These bean pods are one of the southwestern coyote’s staple foods."
source: http://www.vegansoapbox.com/review-the-simple-little-vegan-dog-book/

Submitted by angeltrail | February 17 2010 |

yes, there can be healthy vegan dogs.
yes, it is worth the effort .
to prevent suffering, to help animals. You can make your own, or buy other available brands,so if you are not a fan of hsus skip their food and buy elsewhere. But consider it an act of kindness for all the animals, not just the dogs. We need to see past a certain species and gift a kind life to all animals.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 17 2010 |

My very healthy, energetic 9 year old "puppy" is vegan and loves both her vegan dog kibble & carrot "treats". I find it amazing that people will criticize "my choice" to not feed her the cancer-ridden, cruel, not good enough for human consumption meat that is used in regular dog food (not that the meat provided for humans is safe, healthy, free of cruelty).
Yes, it is my choice...my choice on her behalf to abstain from the exploitation of her (and my) fellow animals friends!

Submitted by Anonymous | February 17 2010 |

Of course dogs can be vegan, mine has been for eight years and he is doing extremely well for a 13 year old dog. There is nothing special about animal protein. Protein is protein, whether it comes from a bean or from muscle tissue. If you do feed your dog or cat a vegan diet, you can take a few simple steps to ensure that they are getting the nutrients they need, namely B12, calcium, iron and zinc. This is not a difficult task! Sad to say that my dog eats better than most people in this world, he gets a hand made, hot meal twice a day that has all of his nutritional requirements.

If you honestly think that feeding a dog commercial dog food is a healthier choice than a vegan alternative then you have some research to do. A vegan diet is optimal for human health and is easily adaptable for a dog or cat.

Submitted by AnSciGrad | May 17 2010 |

I'm pretty certain that's not true for cats. Things like Taurine cannot be made by the body, must be ingested from another animal that can metabolize and create them.

Submitted by Jack | February 24 2010 |

On 17FEB the local [Eureka, CA] paper published my letter to the editor (www.times-standard.com/letters/ci_14416130) critical of the Humane Society's vegetarian kibble. On 20FEB, the Humane Society COO replied (www.times-standard.com/letters/ci_14439401).

Read the reply and ask yourself: What is he replying to? Did he address the issue of carnivores and meat?

While a statistically insignificant number of canines may "require" meat-free kibble, the HSUS does not offer a kibble for the remaining 99.x%.

Note to Self: Before donating to any major charity, research at www.charitynavigator.org.


Submitted by AnSciGrad | May 17 2010 |

Technically I think this diet could work, (although cats literally could not survive w.o animal ingredients).

We should just be happy the author mention how silly it is we are outsourcing this product. Why not use American or at least North America production sites?! Be green and support our country!

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