I don't eat meat - but my pets do!

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By Joy Gaston, Director of Development

As I wait to pick up my order at the meat counter, I scan the cases in front of me and feel slightly uneasy.

“Hello,” a voice greets me. 

“Yes! I called in an order; six pounds of chicken feet and four pounds of knuckle bones.”

I make the extra journey to this butcher shop because it sources it’s meats from a small farm that raises organic, grass-fed, pasture-range animals. The bone broth I make from these animal bones has become the delight of my and my friends’ dogs.

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For years I have been meat-free for probably the same reasons most vegetarians and vegans are: the environment, health and compassion. I oppose factory farming and the slaughtering of animals for our consumption.

I am a triathlete, master competitive rower and a vegetarian. Years ago, I discovered that I don’t need meat to be strong and healthy.

But do my pets?

I have thought about this for years and have researched the opinions of other pet owners who are meat-free themselves. Whether or not pets need meat in their diets is a hot, emotional topic - feelings are intense and mixed.

My personal research has concluded that my dog and cat need their species-appropriate diet which includes meat. Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative-wellness veterinarian, outlines what a species-appropriate diet is and offers excellent suggestions on how to best provide that for our pets.

What I did notice in the discussion groups debating vegan versus meat diet for their pets was the lack of conversation regarding the quality of the food they used.

The one area of my life where I don’t cut corners is the food I buy for my pets and myself. The money I save by not eating meat goes toward buying fresh, higher-quality foods for my pets and myself. In the long run, I do save money by keeping us all healthy.   

The controversy that exists between the meat-eaters and non-meat eaters over what they feed their pets will rage on. In my opinion, our pets are not the real cause of factory farming and the deplorable conditions under which animals are raised for slaughter. It’s the human passion for over-consumption of meat including the demand for cheap meat by fast-food empires that offer few meatless alternatives on their menus.

I found some peace in living a mindful lifestyle which includes what I buy, use and consume. Being proactive with my pets’ and my health care, I always look for cruelty-free products, buy organic with certain foods, support local farmers, eat clean foods and always buy free-range animal products for my pets.

Life coach, Rasheed Ogunlaru, once said, “There’s a vast space between being simply human to being truly humane.”