Pets & Veganism: Should Animal-lovers Have Pets?

11 Sep 2020

@ancamonica profile image
ancamonica

dog peeking from white background

Historically, many animal species have been domesticated by humans to serve diverse purposes, from protection and companionship to food and labor. The big question now is: as vegans how do we view this domestication, especially when it comes to our beloved pets?

Author Stephen Budiansky believes that we “saved species from extinction by domesticating them and that animals chose domestication, preferring the comfort of captivity to the dangers of the wild”. This misguided thinking defines the traditional view of domestication.

Through domestication, wild animals are taken from their natural habitat, and through selective breeding, in captivity, they become dependant on humans for all their needs. From where they sleep to what they eat, their lives are programmed to accommodate ours.

woman cuddling a cat

The first animals to be domesticated were goats, dogs, and cats, and then larger animals such as oxen and horses, which were used for transportation. Herbivores are the easiest animals to domesticate because they don’t require humans to kill other animals to feed them.

Evolution is a one-way ticket. Animals have been bred to promote certain traits, over time these animals are entirely removed from their wild ancestors. Dogs, who were initially domesticated from wolves to assist humans in hunting, are now an entirely different species. There are over 340 domesticated dog species, and most of them now live in our homes and have become integral parts of our families.

Domestication is a done deal, there’s no going back. Dogs and cats are now our pets. They brighten our lives by simply being there for us and showing us love. Let's face it, when you come home from work and see their faces, you don't think about the negative side of domestication.

man hugging his dog

Due to the surplus of cats and dogs artificially engineered by centuries of forced breeding, there are over hundreds of thousands of pets abandoned each year in the UK alone! Most don't receive the care they need. We have a moral obligation to care for these animals. Instead of buying animals from breeders, we should adopt strays from shelters.

No, we can't reverse domestication, an abandoned dog in the street can’t return into the wild. The dog's DNA and instinctive traits have changed. We have changed the natural environment to one in which they can't survive without us.

As humans, vegans and non-vegans alike, we have a moral responsibility towards all animals. Whether it’s a beloved pet safely at home, or an abandoned stray at a shelter, we should love and care for all domesticated animals to the best of our capabilities. This is our obligation.

We made them, and we now need to be on their side. #Adoptdontshop

You can follow Anca-Monica, the author of this article, on Instagram. She posts regularly about vegan and sustainable fashion.

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@kavumaisaac profile image
kavumaisaac2 YEARS AGO
Oooooo
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@vikas profile image
vikas2 YEARS AGO
Thanks for the great article!
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@veganrecipesandvibes profile image
Earthling Ed has done a few talks on this subject and it’s really interesting! I think that living with a pet can be a mutually beneficial relationship (especially if that pet has been rescued from an otherwise unsatisfactory or unsafe life). Unlike eating meat, where that is only beneficial to the human. Obviously supporting puppy mills and breeders doesn’t align with vegan ethics, but I think that rescuing/adopting an animal to provide them with a better life can be vegan. Also Ed has a podcast on the pet food industry (he addresses the “does feeding my pet meat make me less vegan” question). It’s really eye-opening!
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@vikas profile image
vikas2 YEARS AGO
What does he say about feeding pets meat?
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@princeofparrhesia profile image
But you're still using an animal for a purpose rather than allowing them to freely live their own lives and make their own choices. I feel like this is a slightly complex issue in that there are domesticated animals that can't survive in the wild that need caretakers but the real issue is that they exist in the first place. And I don't think that adopting animals and using them as emotional support or human relationship replacements really does either party any favors.
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@safariveg profile image
safariveg2 YEARS AGO
Another debate to write about could be wether a vegan owner should or should not have their dog/cat/pet also vegan. Its a personal choice, of course. But an interesting topic to talk about
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@tadegrimberg profile image
tadegrimberg2 YEARS AGO
@safariveg no, an animal's nutrition it's not a personal choice. They have to eat what they have to eat, naturally, in order to have an optimal health.
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@brtjohns profile image
brtjohns2 YEARS AGO
For me this conversation is pretty cut and dry. A main principle of veganism, for me, is all about to whom I'm giving my money. As we all know, mainstream dog and cat food are loaded with animal parts, byproducts of the factory farm and other animal exploitation industries. A vegan doesn't give their money to that, therefore they shouldn't purchase it for their pet. There are more and more vegan dog food brands emerging that make it possible to feed a pet dog without unsuitable allergies. Seems the same can't be said for cats. I hate to promote ownership of other animals, but there are several herbivorous animals who fit a vegan lifestyle, if that animal is in need of a caring home and guardian. So, the conversation of ethics of animal ownership aside, vegans have options for having an animal companion.
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@brtjohns profile image
brtjohns2 YEARS AGO
I work with dogs. Absolutely love them, and I'd love to have a couple doggo friends living with me but I'm very nervous about them not acclimating to vegan dog food. It's such a risk. So, unless there's a dog shelter somewhere feeding its residents vegan food, I don't think it'd be responsible of me to adopt assuming things will be fine.
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@carolize profile image
carolize2 YEARS AGO
I wholeheartedly agree with everything that's been said here, however, and I apologize for being "that" person, but this happens to be my field of expertise and thus I feel it's my obligation to inform you - we did not tame wild wolves and teach them to hunt for us. The progression from wild wolf to tame dog was very much a gradual, natural process of evolution, which we then realized we could take advantage of, and then we interfered and things spun out of control VERY quickly into the situation we have today. The sheer volume of animals that are now dependent on us and also severely suffering because of us is repulsive and we do need to take responsibility and help them, there's absolutely no arguing that!
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@veg-ana profile image
veg-ana2 YEARS AGO
Question: If we hypotetically agreeded that pets must return gradually to their old habits and ancient instincts, could this be done? For example, firstly we could (in a perfect society) let them choose wether if they prefer to sleep in a house or any other place, and the cities would been provided by food and water for them (in a safe environment with no cars, etc) and approach them into more and more natural environments until they learn again their own individuality and survival skills.
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@carolize profile image
carolize2 YEARS AGO
Unfortunately, no. There is a lot we can do as a species to make the world a better place and to help alleviate the suffering wr have caused so far. But we can never ever go back to the way things were before. You cannot "unevolutionize" a species. They would have to go extinct, and even then, their impact would have already affected the world in some significant way, and so would their extinction. It sounds like a simple change or solution, but every single action has a ripple effect and causes a chain of reactions. We can never go backwards, only forwards!
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@irrationalnumber profile image
irrationalnumber2 YEARS AGO
Adopt pets, do not make them breed, let them gradually go extinct. It is a sad fate for a sentient being to be born with a body programmed to be our slaves.
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@camilat profile image
camilat2 YEARS AGO
💖💕💕😇
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@alexgravel profile image
alexgravel2 YEARS AGO
Well said!
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@mrgeoor profile image
mrgeoor2 YEARS AGO
Wonderful article about a non very commented but still important topic :)). Yet still this brings me some questions. Should we adopt those animals until the end of their days so as to pay our debt with nature, and finishing with them the pet world? Like, should we end up with pets at all? The second one is, are all pets equally ethical? Some people have complained about me for this. I come from a rural area and there dogs can develop their natural faucets. Dogs run, hunt, play and bark. However in the city dogs stay quiet, do tricks and live in flats. Is it moral having a dog in a flat? I think they should ban it
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@veganverist profile image
veganverist2 YEARS AGO
💚💚💚
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@manjugarg profile image
manjugarg2 YEARS AGO
Great. Article !! It’s a very debatable . If you r vegan and still serving touching and keeping it for your dog need , you become part of it 😘 but I believe it is very hard to say who is right or wrong !! Yes in India I have seen perfectly healthy dogs on vegetarian diet . ..
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@miriamy profile image
miriamy2 YEARS AGO
this is something I think about too! Thanks for the article :-)
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@preethiness profile image
preethiness2 YEARS AGO
Interesting article! Well written. Thanks
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@sofiferrer profile image
sofiferrer2 YEARS AGO
There are many studies that prove that dogs can thrive on a plant based diet. My dogs are vegan since puppies and are really healthy. No more allergies for one of them. Their veterinary studies are perfect. They eat The Green Dog and I can’t stop recommending it because I see the results. Cruelty free, eco friendly and finally complete and balanced pet food.
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@miandad profile image
miandad2 YEARS AGO
Informative!
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