Dog, cat… How to have an animal if you are vegan?

We can consider the fact of raising animals for entertainment reasons, to own their person, to impose our company on them for our own pleasure, to lock them in a limited space. […] related to animal exploitation. » In his book Vegan planet: think, eat and act differently (ed. Marabout, 2017), the geography researcher Ophélie Véron is categorical: you cannot call yourself vegan and have a cat or dog at home. In a French-speaking context, veganism refers to the practice of not eating anything that comes from animal exploitation. », explains Claire Camblain, geographer and subject specialist. Simply put, vegans do not eat meat of course, nor milk, eggs, honey and do not wear wool or leather.

In fact, being the owner or master of your animal seems far from these ethical commitments: how to feed it, if not with meat croquettes ? Is he comfortable in an apartment ? By paying attention to certain rules, vegans still choose to live with animals. This is the case of Larisa Ficulle, an Italian doctoral student in literature, vegan for a year. For me, having pets is not the opposite of veganism. I live with my boyfriend who has several cats and that is not a problem for me. The important thing is to always adopt it, don’t buy it. » By becoming a vegan and antispeciesist, she changed the way she lived with her cats: I am not their girlfriend. I try to find a balance between their freedom of choice and the fact that we live together. I also realized that I can’t hold them in my arms if they don’t want to, for example. »

A third of French households have a dog. © EB/Reporter

We avoid punishment or humiliation »

The question raised by adopting an animal when we are vegan is also the destruction of our dominance reflexes. It begins with the status of this partner within the home: We want these animals to enter the family code as is currently the case in Spain »said Amandine Sanvisens, co-founder of the animal protection association PAZ. Concretely, this means for example that a judge must consider the said animal, which is considered a which is given sensitivity » when the couple separates and proposes possible shared custody. This also goes through the vocabulary used: we don’t train, we educate. We avoid punishment or humiliation »SAYS Reporter Anissa Putois, communications manager for the Peta France association.

These reflections are still very new. For a long time, our relationship with animals was utilitarian, according to science and environmental historian Valérie Chansigaud, author of History of animal domestication (ed. Delachaux and Niestlé, 2020): The first domesticated species was the wolf, which gave rise to the dog. In documents dated from 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, we see hunters surrounded by dogs, sometimes hidden by leashes. »

It wasn’t until the Renaissance that our relationship with animals became entertainment: We notice in the paintings small dogs with women and children. It was a sign of nobility to have a pet “nonsense”. “In XIXe century, dogs were integrated into the bourgeois way of life, soon followed by cats. Since then, our four-legged friends have a very important place in our daily lives. In April, a third of French households had a dog, according to the institute THAT’S IT.

The sensitive topic: croquettes

The most sensitive topic remains food: does not want to model a vegan and antispeciesist behavior of a hunting and carnivorous animal contradictory? ? “ “What do you think about vegetable food for dogs and cats ?” Is there a more controversial question than that? ? I get this every time I do a Q&A. And every time I answer, I get angry ! »said La petite okara, a youtuber creator of vegan recipes, in a video two years ago [1]. himself, who has none no definite opinion on the matter », chose meat kibbles adapted to his dog’s digestion after trying different options.

The question of food gave many knots in Larisa Ficulle’s brain, before she reached this conclusion: Unlike dogs, which are omnivores, cats have no choice but to eat meat. As a result, I felt less guilty giving him his food, that I didn’t eat it. »

Some believe that it is possible to feed your animals in a vegan way without putting them at risk, such as Amandine Sanvisens, especially that the pet food contribute a lot to the slaughterhouse industry ». There is also the question of ecology: according to the American researcher Gregory Okin, in the United States alone, the production of meat for croquettes and pâtés produces emissions equivalent to Co2 of… 13.6 million vehicles. By protecting the environment, we also protect animals.describes Anissa Putois. So we need to push our vegan lifestyle. » And so vegetalize the food of pets. If we see that this food is not suitable for his cat, we stop of course. The idea is not to impose an ethical vision that harms one’s health. »

For dogs, a vegan diet is possible and even better for their health, according to a study from the University of Lincoln. But according to veterinary nutritionist Charlotte Devaux, this study is wrong because it was funded by the organization ProVeg International and describes more correlation effects than causation. In general, according to M.ME Devaux, you should be very careful with nutrients: For people who decide to cook for their animals, it is very difficult: it takes about fifteen different ingredients and we have noticed many cases of undernutrition, especially in cats. » The latter actually requires taurine, a living acid that is synthesized very little.

Mealworms at different stages of their life cycle at the Ynsect farm near Dole, in the Jura. © Roxane Gauthier / Reporterre

So what to do ? Put your companions first, even if it means disregarding the lives of other animals ? For Charlotte Devaux, to limit the damage, we can turn to the almost vegetarian veterinary range: They offer foods based on soy, but with fish oils, for example, or lanolin from sheep to meet the needs of vitamin D3 specifically. » Other ways out of the factory farming system: insect-based alternatives.

The urgency of overcrowded shelters

These compromises can be a stumbling block for vegans. Purity is never achieved in complex situations », shadow Claire Camblain. Ditto for sterilization, some vegans struggle to prevent animals from giving birth. However, the associations are united: in the summer of 2021, Peta published a column, signed by 101 veterinarians, calling for the sterilization of dogs and cats to avoid the birth of hundreds of thousands of unwanted animals that, due to the lack of adequate homes, will be abandoned, neglected or killed. ».

Some shelters are so full that they can no longer accommodate the animals. » Peta

Because there is an emergency: 100,000 animals are abandoned every year in France, which is the champion country of Europe »Anissa Putois regretted. Some shelters are so full that they can no longer accommodate the animals. So these are euthanized if they are in perfect health. » This is also why we need to fight for the purchase, which condemned a candidate for adoption, because he lost his place in a family ». On November 30, 2021, the French parliament adopted a law that prohibits the sale of dogs and cats in pet shops, too early weaned and victims of impulse buying ». We must move on, according to the animal protection association PAZWHO calling for an end to all commodification of all pets »referring to Amandine Sanvisens.

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