Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Nacho is Green

Not only does she love our green shopping bags, Nacho's diet is more eco-friendly than most cats.

I know the issue of vegan pets is a controversial one, even amongst vegans. But before we even adopted our kitten, I knew that I would be terribly uncomfortable about buying and feeding her dead animals. Especially after I've read in a few places that pet food often contains downed slaughterhouse animals, the leftover bits from abbatoirs, and sometimes even euthanised shelter animals. I didn't want to force my dietary choices onto a carnivorous animal (dogs are omnivores, and most people have no qualms about veganising them, but cats are a bit trickier), but I knew I had to at least give Nacho the option.

I did a bit of googling, and found a vegan animal food supplier in Australia.
Veganpet is Australian-owned and operated, making Nacho's diet local when compared to multi-national pet food companies. It offers complete nutrition for dogs and cats, and puppies and kittens. The ingredients are human-grade, organic where possible, and entirely plant-based. It is more expensive than the crap you buy in a supermarket, but comparable compared to the veterinarian-recommended brands. When I compared the nutrition information with Hill's Science Diet, it is almost identical--except the ingredients in Veganpet don't come from 'chickenmeal', 'beef fat', and other deadly sources.

Cats have a few specific dietary requirements, namely tuarine, which are not naturally found in plants. But, what the big pet food companies don't tell you is the tuarine contained in their food is artificial and plant-based, so Veganpet is on par.

But would Nacho like it? We started her on the food she was eating at the shelter. After a week, I was sick of the terrible smell of that death-food, and started mixing in a bit of Veganpet. She didn't bat an eyelid. I mixed in more Veganpet. She still paid no attention. Eventually we switched her entirely. She loves it. If she had rejected the food, I would have given up on the idea of a vegan cat, but luckily, she made the ethical choice :-)

To give Nacho some variety, we occasionally mix her food with veggies like mashed pumpkin or potato. We're still experimenting with foods to see what she likes and dislikes, but beans (specifically the water they're cooked in) are a popular item. She also regularly steals cereal from our bowls in the morning while I'm making the tea. If we have cake on the counter she licks the crumbs from the plate. Nacho's willingness to devour Veganpet means that her ecological footprint is much smaller (she's very glad about that), and she can live a healthy, happy life without cruelty to other animals (this makes her even more happy).

If you're not convinced, check out the website. There is interesting information about the dietary requirements of animals, the nutritional information about the food, and other info.


reiskeks said...

I think it's more important if the cat is healthy and not what is "expected" to be fed... Since cats, in their natural environment, would almost entirely live on hunting mice, and all the "usual" cat food does not contain any mice of course, it is the same "natural" or "unnatural" to feed a cat with plant protein, probably the only other acceptable choice (for the cat, not ethically) would be organic meat. Anything else is the same unhealthy for cats as it is for humans, all the negative effects of consuming factory farming meat show up even more quickly in a small cat...

As for the cake crumbs and other things, take care that Nacho does not steal any chocolate cake - chocolate and cocoa are toxic for cats!

So far I know, cats cannot taste "sweet", but they have a very developed taste for "fatty", they love it, and since fat is - in human foods - very often contained in sweets and cakes (and chocolate, alas), a lot of cats seemingly have a "sweet tooth" :)

shawna said...

we feed our dog veganpet and she LOVES it (but she loves pretty much everything foodwise) and she seems to be pretty healthy (she's been on it for a year). before we got our dog we used to feed our neighbours cat a bit of veganpet catfood samples that we had as treats when it came over-- the cat thought it was the best thing ever!

the pleasantly plump vegan said...


Al said...

That's great! I always heard that cats can't be healthy on a vegan diet. Obviously some can be. Yay!

kristy said...

Be careful with what human food you give nacho.

Cats shouldn't really eat potato according to this site anyway:

Also, another thing I didn't realise until we had Molly for a quite a while is that some common pot plants are quite toxic to cats:

Ashasarala said...

Nacho is just so adorable!!!

I am having troubles about what to feed my kitty. She's also got a pretty big gut even though we don't ever over-feed her. I give her a natural brand from Whole Foods that she likes (it says it doesn't use harsh chemicals and weird remains you find in most pet food), but it's not vegetarian and it makes me so uncomfortable buying it, but my choices are limited.

I could buy natural vegetarian cat food online, but that would cost me an arm and a leg. I could never keep up. For now, we do what we can.

I envy you! Your cat gets to be a veggie and tree-huggin' hippie! No fair! ;)