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.