A growing number of people are advocating for vegan diets for their pets for ethical, environmental and health reasons.
“I live with two vegan dogs and a vegan cat. We like to feed our animals without exploiting other animals,” said Matt Johnson, a California-based vegan activist.
In many cases, the decision to switch meat-loving pets to a vegan diet is made because of the owner’s ethical preferences. Most pet foods are made with byproducts from factory farms, so switching to vegan alternatives is a way to avoid subsidising the industry.
“If you run a vegan household it’s a bit like a kosher household,” said Myron Lyskanycz, the CEO of the Florida-based Halo Pets, which makes a brand of vegan dog food. “You don’t want to contaminate your house with meat-based products.”
Lyskanycz has seen a surge of interest in Halo’s vegan range, which swaps meat for chickpeas, peas, oats and vegetables. “It’s our fastest growing product in the company,” he said.
Lindsay Rubin from the San Francisco vegan dog food company V-Dog has seen similar growth, particularly in California, New York and Portland – American cities where there are large human vegan populations.
“In the pet food industry, trends for pets follow trends for humans,” she said. “We want them to be healthy and contribute less to environmental degradation.”
Veganism among humans is certainly on the rise. According to one 2017 report, 6% of US consumers claim to eat a plant-based diet – a 600% increase since 2014 – while another indicated that a third of Americans are cutting back on meat consumption through celebrity-backed initiatives like Veganuary and meat-free Mondays.
“In the last 10 to 15 years, we’ve seen people become very interested in where ingredients come from and how they are sourced,” said Lyskanycz.
This combines with a trend Lyskanycz refers to as “the humanisation of pets”, which is particularly prevalent among millennials, who have become the