A surprising number of pet owners, particularly those who are vegan, are interested in feeding their pets a plant-based diet, according to new University of Guelph research.
Researchers with U of G’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) along with colleagues in New Zealand surveyed 3,673 dog and cat owners from around the world to learn what they fed their pets and themselves.
Six per cent were vegetarian (meaning they ate no meat but ate dairy, eggs or honey), 4 per cent were pescatarian (they ate fish and may eat dairy, eggs or honey), and nearly 6 per cent were vegan (no animal products).
“That percentage, 27 per cent, might sound like a small number, but when you think of the actual numbers of pets involved, that’s huge, and much higher than we expected,” says lead author Sarah Dodd, currently a PhD candidate in OVC’s Department of Population Medicine.
Among the rest of the vegans, nearly 80 per cent were interested in helping their pets to switch to a plant-based diet if it could meet their needs.
About 35 per cent of owners whose pets ate conventional diets were interested in switching their animals to a vegan diet. The research appeared in the journal PLoS ONE.
Dodd says while her team’s research was not designed to assess whether vegan pet diets are a growing trend, she expects interest in the diets to increase. Previous studies have shown that pet owners tend to offer the same kind of diets to their dogs and cats that they adopt for themselves.
“People have been hearing about how vegan diets are linked to lowered risks of cancer and other health benefits in humans. There is also growing concern about the environmental impact of animal agriculture.”