Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Vegan cat and dog food

I have often questioned whether feeding our animal friends a vegan diet is the right thing to do. I am passionate about being vegan and of course, I want to transform everyone I love into a vegan but I try not to push my beliefs and values onto other people. With that in mind, I've never tried to "push" my veganism on any of my pets either. (Although, of course, I'm the one who decides what my cat and dog eat in the end, no matter what the decision, so I guess I'm pushing something either way!)

I've been doing some research on this, and it seems that vegan food is actually quite healthy for cats and dogs. Nevermind the fact that cats are "naturally" carnivores. There's nothing natural about a cat living inside a house and being taken care of by people. There is nothing natural about giving your pet cat or dog shots against rabies either. So the nature thing is really not a valid argument in my mind.

I found an article about a cat sanctuary in India that experimented with vegan cat food. I will try to come back to this topic, because information is scarce and most of what I read is promoted by companies that are selling vegan pet food. Although, if they are successful in selling.... i guess that means that the food is working for the pets and their owners. I think I will definately give this a try with my next animal, and I will let you know my results.

Here is the article for your reading pleasure:

Cats go vegan in Asia's biggest feline shelter

West Bengal, India, 09:15 AM IST

Kolkata - In Asia's biggest shelter for rescued cats, the feline inmates are turning vegetarian these days, thanks to animal lovers who import alternative Italian food for the furry laptops.

These days the cats in Karunakunj, a centre for rescued animals near here run by the Compassionate Crusaders Trust (CCT), are getting addicted to an Italian food which is completely vegetarian.

'To avoid serving non-veg food to cats some of our animal-loving patrons thought that we should try to find out an alternative vegetarian food which can provide cats required nourishment and at the same time save innocent lives of other animals,' said Debasis Chakraborti, founder of CCT, a strategic partner of Maneka Gandhi's People for Animals (PFA).

'After a lot of search the animal lovers found a company in Italy - AMI Srl - which can supply 100 percent vegetarian food without any ingredients of animals or insects but having all non-veg food qualities,' said Chakraborti as he laid out the veggie spread before the residents of the cattery.

Karunakunj, about 25 km from here in Thakurpukur area of South 24 Parganas district, is an animal farm complete with freely roaming dogs, an aviary, a burial ground for pets and the biggest cat shelter of Asia where even the walls are painted colourfully like a Disneyland and props like logs fitted to keep the cute creatures rolling in their playful mood.

'Of the 90 cats in our shelter we have chosen 10 (for veg food). We weighed them before introducing them to the food and then segregated them from the rest. They have fully accepted the food and in fact are overfeeding themselves,' said Chakraborti.

'The ones who are not separated are also given the food and they all are liking it as well,' he said.

This dietary change, launched last week, was inspired by the principle of non-violence advocated by the Jain religion.

'I am an animal lover and a Jain by religion. So hurting even a small ant is unacceptable to us. After a lot of searching we could locate this company in Italy,' said businessman Bulbul N. Shah who along with M.N. Shah, another animal lover, sponsored the food to begin with.

'I hope we would continue to get the programme organised and sponsored as both Jains and non-Jains from across the world would come forward to promote love and care for the animal world,' Bulbul N. Shah hoped.

Said Chakraborti: 'As it is difficult and expensive to import small quantities we can provide pet lovers with food at a nominal handling charge which will in turn support our financial needs.'

Bulbul N. Shah said, 'Shelf-life of this food appears to be six months and therefore four months consumption can be ordered at one time as two months time should be kept for transit.

'If we are successful in sending right message to right place, requirement will grow fast to bring down carrying cost considerably.'


Monday, July 30, 2007


I had to repost this article found on www.grist.org because I found it truly fascinating. When you throw some seed on the ground or in a birdfeeder for our little feathered friends in the freezing cold winter, you think you're doing a good thing. At least I always have. It never crossed my mind to think of the environmental impact this action would have.

Dearest Umbra,

Every winter I take pleasure in putting out birdseed to feed the backyard wildlife. I purchase the easily available, run-of-the-mill, found-at-my-local-hardware-store type of seed. My question is, in the big picture ... am I doing more harm than good? If the feed I am using is grown conventionally, am I doing a greater harm to the ecosystem as a whole? Or, on balance, is it better to provide free nosh to the locals?

Rebecca in northwest Pennsylvania

Dearest Rebecca,

Bird feeders can be seedy hangouts.

A tiny conundrum. I could find no definitive study on this topic, so we must wing our way through the eco-thicket. I don't think the ecological impacts of birdseed production are so bad that filling feeders must cease. Hobbies that involve regular purchases of supplies will always have an ecological impact. Stuff has an ecological impact. You have to weigh the benefits within your conscience in this case, but let's go over some minutiae.

Wild birds can survive without human assistance (it's bird welfare, I tell you). Bird food is technically unnecessary, bird food -- sunflower seeds, millet, corn, etc. -- requires all the inputs of conventional agriculture, if people did not buy the bird food to begin with, then maybe water, pesticides (which might be harming other birds), fertilizers, fuel, and packaging would not be used to make the bird food ... hard not to conclude that you should stop buying bird food. I mean: you are doing more harm to the ecosystem than if you were not feeding birds. Except, maybe in your desperation for a hobby you would pick up drag racing, and if bird feeding were the only way to stop the drag-racing addiction, then bird feeding would be better.

There are potentially harmful impacts of bird feeding. One mentioned above is that birds could be harmed directly or indirectly during the growing of the bird food, through pesticides or habitat disturbance. Organic feed would potentially solve both impacts, but not certainly. If you're considering organic feed, it is available online, though an excellent study has concluded that birds do not prefer organic feed (by Danielle, a fifth-grader in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.). You can harm backyard birds by taking a slovenly approach to feeder maintenance and contributing to the spread of diseases such as trichomoniasis. Backyard feeders should be cleaned fortnightly with soap, water, and a weak bleach solution. Old, moldering food must be removed. Cats must be deterred from killing the birds, preferably by complete confinement within the home. Birdbaths should be emptied and cleansed daily (this will also stop mosquito breeding within).

Let's just finish up with a little more discussion of birdseed, because agriculture is fascinating. The basic, good birdseed is black-oil sunflower seed. Sunflowers are one of the only agricultural crops, and the only oil seed crop, native to what is now the United States of America. The seeds are used mainly for their oily properties, which are excellent -- mild flavor, high smoke point -- although they do also have "confectionary" uses, i.e., we eat them whole as snacks. Birdseeds are basically the almost lowest-quality oil seeds. We can thank the Russians for the current popularity of sunflower oil, as they developed the extra-oily varieties we use today. One more little tidbit: sunflower oil, which is also used in some biofuel mixes, contains energy content equal to 93 percent of the energy content of No. 2 diesel fuel. Zounds.


source: www.grist.org


I just recently moved back to Canada to start up a website called LAVA. Leather Alternatives and Vegan Accessories. I believe that there is not only a need for a store in Canada that is 100% vegan and offering all kinds of differents products that vegans have trouble getting elsewhere (ie SHOES!). The goal is to receive questions from readers and post the answers on this blog. That way, all of us vegans can benefit from all the information for free. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or if you just want to say hi, please email me at kellytwomey@gmail.com and I will get back to you.

Right now, I'm just finding out how everything works. I will have the store part of the website done by the end of this year.

I'm really eager to get started though! By becoming vegan you are not only taking a huge step to help a lot of animals, you are also helping our planet. Here are just a few facts on why veganism is good for our planet:

- Rainforest is still being bulldozed to make way for grazing animals, or to make way for crops to feed livestock.
- Storage of massive amounts of manure containing ammonia is the second biggest cause of acid rain (after fossil fuels).
- It takes 1000L of water to produce 1kg of wheat. It takes 100,000L of water to produce 1kg of beef.
- Animal agriculture is extremely inefficient and is a huge contributor of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (greenhouse gases that cause global warming).

Want to read more about it? Please check out http://www.viva.org.uk/guides/planetonaplate.htm