Mishu the Cat is on a Vegan Diet - But Is That REALLY Safe?
By Bri Luginbill More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the The Scratchpad Blog Series
Before Marco Pagliarulo adopted his cat Mishu in 2010, he was already living a vegan lifestyle himself. He didn’t eat meat, poultry, fish, or any by-products by these animals, including eggs and cheese. When his pet cat became a part of his life, he decided Mishu should live as he does.
“I don’t want to kill other animals to feed Mishu when I can just allow all of them to live,” said Pagliarulo.
He feeds his cat two different brands of vegan cat food. One of the brands is Ami Cat, a cat food imported from Italy. It sells for $28 per 2 kilogram bag. This food contains corns, peas, rice and potato protein.
There is some controversy on this subject. Cats need protein to live and are classified as carnivores. Plus, not all protein is seen as equal according to veterinarian Erika Sullivan. Cats can break down animal protein, but they don’t have the digestive enzymes to break down plant protein.
“They need (their nutrients) directly from meat. I am vegan. This is the one time I do promote eating meat,” says Sullivan.
On the other side of the argument, commercial food developer, James Peden, believes veterinarians do not know enough about pet nutrition.
What Veterinarians Think
“There are few studies on animal nutrition and many veterinarians have limited training in the area,” he says. When she graduated in 2005, nutrition was an OPTIONAL rotation at the Ontario Veterinary College.
More than just one pet owner is adopting a vegan lifestyle for their cat. Marco Pagilario is not alone in his thinking. Pet owners and vegans, Ari Moore and her partner had their cat go vegan too. She researched just as Pagliario had for vegan cat food options, talked with other vegans, and decided to match her ethical beliefs not only with her lifestyle, but her cat’s as well. She also believes living out her veganism with her pet cats helps reduce her environmental footprint.
“Just converting plants to animal protein is outrageously unsustainable. Anything we can do to reduce that makes like a little better for everybody,” Moore says.
It seems like there are many conflicting opinions of whether it is healthy for cats to live a vegan lifestyle. Talk to your veterinarian if you are considering this, but also talk to fellow vegans. Research and take both sides of the argument into account before making a decision.
Do you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet? What do you think about this? Should a person's dietary practices extend to their pets? Why or why not?