Your Dog Wants Steak

Preface: I love my two cats, and Mrs. Storm and I consider them to be part of our family. This despite the fact that one of them has drawn more human blood (mostly ours) than some vampires. That said, when I read this in an article on…

Shelley Boyle says having a vegan food option for her dog, Cleo, allows them to share the same ideology.

…my brain started to stammer, and my voice followed suit. After vomiting unintelligible syllables for a solid ten seconds, I read the rest of the article and came to several conclusions:

– Many people care very deeply for the animals in their lives, and animals in general. I find this to be excellent.

– There are a lot of people whose commitment to their beliefs leads them to expend a lot of extra energy to live by those beliefs consistently. I find this also to be excellent. If a dog can live as healthy a life on a vegan diet as it could otherwise, and you’re willing to make the effort to make it happen, then good onya.

– All that said, your dog wants steak. I have no science behind that statement, but go ahead and place a t-bone and a Tofurky on the floor in front of a hungry canine and see what happens. And except in the case of animals whose health can only be improved by removing animal proteins from their diets (not possible with cats, according to the article), the vegan diet is not for the animal’s sake, it’s for their caretaker’s satisfaction. By extension, if I wanted my cats to live by my values, I would insist that they get an education and learn to play Settlers of Catan.

Again, I’m not questioning the underlying values. My own meat consumption has been trending downward for years, and is likely headed towards zero. But vegan diets for dogs does pose another moral question: if meat consumption is the orgasmic experience it seems to be for dogs, and they don’t have the ability to make their own judgements about whether eating meat is right or wrong, is one really giving them the best possible life by denying them that pleasure?

I don’t think the answer is a simple one. On top of that, I’ll only have limited time over the next few days to respond to any irate comments that may be posted. But it’s late, this post is late, and I have to get up early to do a soundcheck here at PAX, so I’m going to have to leave it to y’all to ponder.

On top of it all, now I’m hungry, too.

Good night,



  1. Lena
    Posted March 12, 2011 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    That’s nuts. Your dog has no ideology. Another thing I can’t stand is when people do things like this with their little kids, who don’t understand the concept.

  2. Alex Wollangk
    Posted March 23, 2011 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Dogs are carnivores. They evolved to get their energy from protein and fat. They are opportunistic carnivores which means they are a LITTLE more tolerant of carbs, but in general the Atkins Diet is where you want to steer your dog. For some REALLY good info on canine and feline nutrition, check out:

    (I work at a pet supply store and while I sell a lot of Orijen I am under no obligation to promote it. We sell a lot of Science Diet but I would never promote that. Science Diet *IS* a big upgrade from Kibbles and Bits, but Orijen is so far beyond what Science Diet ever dreamed of they don’t really compare.)

  3. Todd
    Posted March 24, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink


    “That’s nuts. Your dog has no ideology. Another thing I can’t stand is when people do things like this with their little kids, who don’t understand the concept.”

    Is it any more or less nuts that teaching them a fat man who lives at the North Pole will bring them presents? Or that the some guy was nailed to a tree for their sins? Or that capital/communism is the only way to go? Parents inflict ideologies on their kids all the time. All groups do that. Some of these ideologies are so prevalent that you take them for granted. Vegetari/Veganism does not have that priveleged status, so you balk.

    Dogs don’t have ideologies and inflicting that on a dog might constitute cruelty. A human can go their entire lives being happy and healthy without ever eating animal parts. There’s a bit of a difference there.

    That said, i feed my cats all manner of critters. They are cats. If i had a dog, he’d get steak. Not off MY plate, but maybe in the form of kibble.

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