Ever been asked that question, vegans? It seems to be the last resort of some omnis when they’re challenging your veganism. I don’t get challenged very often, mostly because I don’t hang out with assholes, but I’m ready if I’m ever asked this question.

No, my dog is not vegan. She’s a canine, a relative of beautiful wild wolves, and a true carnivore as evidenced by her big canine teeth. Mina could, if pressed, rip open another animal with her teeth and eat it raw. My friend Kestrel said you just have to look closely at a wild wolf’s eyes to see that same spark in your furry beloved’s eyes. It’s true, I see that wild spark in Mina’s eyes when we’re playing, when she’s shaking a squeaky moose toy by the neck to “kill” it, when she pulls on a rope toy to take it away from me, as if she’s tearing prey away from another dog.

Yes, being vegan and living with a non-human carnivore does require us to procure the carcass of dead animals for our pets to eat. I fed Mina processed, dry kibble for most of her life until she got lymphoma and started chemotherapy. Now she eats boiled chickens that I buy from Whole Foods and boil and dismember myself – a task I do not enjoy, I can assure you. However, Mina really enjoys chicken-cooking night! When she knows I’m out in the kitchen with the gloves on and incense burning, she comes around the corner and looks at me with shining eyes, waiting for that first sample. Even during the worst weeks of her chemotherapy, when she could barely eat, Mina never failed to show excitement when the chicken was ready for her bowl. She usually eats enough for an entire day in that one sitting, and doesn’t lift her head from her bowl until it’s all gone.

She does not behave that way for carrots. Or potatoes. Or any other vegetable. In fact, Mina simply doesn’t like vegetables, which has confounded her holistic vets who want her to get nutrients from whole foods. Instead, Mina gets some of her required nutrients from bone meal and a daily vitamin and some other sources. The girl is not an omnivore and she’s certainly not a vegan.

Now, I have read about people who are successfully raising their dogs and cats on healthy vegan diets. Maybe you know someone who’s raising vegan pets? I understand, really understand, their reasons for doing so because none of us likes being part of farming animals for food and no one wants to feed carcass from a factory farm to their beloved. The vegans I know who feed their pets animal-based diets go miles out of their ways and pay extra money to buy the most humanely raised (because let’s face it, there’s nothing humane about slaughter -ever), sustainably farmed, antibiotic- and hormone-free carcass they can find. I know several vegans who live with a beloved pet and make this compromise every day.

If your pet is vegan and healthy and really loves the vegan food you buy or make for him, that’s great. Maybe it depends on the individual, or maybe you need to start them on a vegan diet when they’re puppies, but I don’t believe it will work for every dog or cat. It doesn’t work for Mina. I think she might resort to biting my leg if I ever bring home another can of vegan dog food.

Will a vegan diet save your furry friend from cancer? Mina’s cancer vets tell me that her diet had nothing to do with her cancer. I want to believe that but there’s a niggling voice in my head that tells me all that dry, processed, and expensive kibble didn’t help her. So, I have no answer for that question. What I do know is that she’s a happy carnivore right now, in this moment, and that makes me happy, too.

s.

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