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Vegetarian/vegan and keeping carnivorous pets

(52 Posts)
AndHarry Tue 17-Mar-15 09:03:36

Is it being hypocritical to be a vegetarian or vegan for moral reasons while also keeping, say, a cat or dog for your own enjoyment? Unless you let them go wild and hunt their own food you'd need to buy them meat which conforms to lower standards than meat for human consumption.

Any thoughts?

mousmous Tue 17-Mar-15 09:08:46

imo yes
but I also think that keeping pets is

mousmous Tue 17-Mar-15 09:09:03


worldgonecrazy Tue 17-Mar-15 09:09:57

I don't find it hypocritical at all. Meat for animal consumption is killed to the same "ethical" standards as meat for human consumption. AFAIK the meat also has the same hygiene standards as the tinned stuff is fit for human consumption.

Incidentally, pet dogs are not carnivorous, they are omnivorous.

AndHarry Tue 17-Mar-15 09:19:19

So it's not hypocritical to buy meat for your leisure pet while maintaining that it's wrong for humans to eat meat?

Boggling at the thought of a vegetarian dog grin

base9 Tue 17-Mar-15 09:27:59

Why worry about hypocrisy? Everyone does what they can in this life. If a person has made an ethical decision not to eat meat, which enormously reduces their negative impact on animal welfare, I would not question their decision to wear leather, or feed meat to a pet. Their ethical contribution is theirs to decide. Most meat eaters will eat chickens and cows, but would not eat cats or horses. That is also hypocritical, I suppose - if you eat one animal you should eat them all. I have friends who would never buy products tested on animals but will eat meat.
Everyone draws their own line.

AlpacaMyBags Tue 17-Mar-15 09:34:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FishWithABicycle Tue 17-Mar-15 09:38:40

It's not unethical for a cat to eat meat. A cat doesn't have the capacity for moral/ethical thought, and doesn't have the biological capacity to digest a vegetarian diet. I have a rescue cat - if he wasn't my pet he'd have been put down. Given that the pet food I give him seems to be mostly made from waste by-products of a meat industry that will go on whatever I do, I don't think it's hypocritical to buy whiskas.

Everyone has a disjoint between the ethics they might like to follow in the real world and the ethics they actually manage to follow. A lot of meat eaters won't eat veal and try to eat "happy"/ethically reared meat but will make exceptions when it suits them. Vegetarians who eat milk and eggs have to accept that these products only exist as part of the meat industry, but if they don't want to be vegan that doesn't make their vegetarianism pointless. We are all imperfect beings with limited capacity doing our best in the situation we are in.

FishWithABicycle Tue 17-Mar-15 09:39:51

Brain error "follow in the real world" I meant "follow in the ideal world"

worldgonecrazy Tue 17-Mar-15 09:40:14

I am a vegetarian (for over 45 years) and I have never maintained that it is wrong to eat meat. I do think we could treat our meat animals a lot better though, and fully support hunting and shooting as I think it far kinder to the animals than mass-produced meat.

AndHarry you may want to check the dictionary for the difference between "omnivore" and "vegetarian". (though it is possible to buy vegetarian dog food for those who prefer that ethic)

AndHarry Tue 17-Mar-15 09:55:58

I knew someone would pick up on the omnivore thing. I do know it means they eat both, I was just taking the thought to extremes smile

If vegetarians/vegans didn't have pet cats, no animals would need to be reared and slaughtered to feed them. While cats naturally eat meat and don't make decisions based on ethics, by deciding to have a cat the owner is also deciding to contribute to the demand for meat. Even if pet food is a by-product of human food, someone making the choice to keep a cat for their own amusement is contributing to the demand for those animal products. If individual demand didn't matter then there would be no point in anyone being vegetarian or vegan at all.

To state my own interest here, I'm neither a vegetarian nor a pet owner. The question is purely theoretical based on idle pondering smile

ragged Tue 17-Mar-15 09:57:45

Part of the reason I stopped being Vegetarian (after 17 yrs) was the assumption that I must be an animal rightist or have problems with meat on moral grounds (neither was true, so assumptions got on my nerves a lot).

I find moral-vegans who own cats confusing, too.

I was vegetarian for protest-against-waste reasons. So I feel very uncomfortable with local vegan animal shelter that provides a pleasant retirement home for ex-farming animals. They raise lots of money & use of oodles of volunteer time to allow animals to just live there and use lots of resources and serve almost no function (not even perpetuating rare breeds). If waste bothers you like it does me, then that all looks morally very wrong.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Tue 17-Mar-15 09:58:22

You can buy vegan food for both cats and dogs (and yes it has all the right things to keep them healthy). Seems like a rather joyless existence for the animals though.

code Tue 17-Mar-15 10:03:34

Cats are obligate carnivores. If they don't eat meat they become unwell and die. For humans meat eating is a choice. There is the difference.

AndHarry Tue 17-Mar-15 10:03:55

Vegan food for cats seems to be a bit cruel really. It sounds like the animal equivalent of a diet of vitamin tablets and Slim Fast shakes.

AndHarry Tue 17-Mar-15 10:06:12

Agreed code. My argument is that by choosing to have a cat (and if no one wanted pet cats, there wouldn't be any) the owner - not the cat - is making a conscious decision to increase demand for meat products, which they say they are against.

code Tue 17-Mar-15 10:31:46

Yes I guess you are right. People have all sorts of reasons for eating a vegetarian diet though, some quite selfish rather than moral / ethical objections. I'm not a vegetarian so don't have this quandary.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Tue 17-Mar-15 11:12:14

I also think that people who choose to do something with a net positive impact on the world (veggie/vegan etc) shouldn't be subject to constant nitpicking - is your cat vegan, what about the air miles etc.

AndHarry Tue 17-Mar-15 11:32:41

True. If someone bangs on about how cruel it is to eat meat though and is a cat owner then they're opening themselves up to their remaining few friends to roll their eyes a bit.

ouryve Tue 17-Mar-15 12:10:04

AndHarry Tue 17-Mar-15 11:32:41

True. If someone bangs on about how cruel it is to eat meat though and is a cat owner then they're opening themselves up to their remaining few friends to roll their eyes a bit.


Ah, so you started this thread,fully intending to be goady, then, because you have a problem with people who choose not to eat meat? Because that's what it sounds like from this message with your use of "bangs on", or "remaining few friends".

AndHarry Tue 17-Mar-15 12:16:27

confused No, my intentions in starting this thread are as stated above. The question occurred to me in no particular context, so I asked for opinions, which have been interesting. I have no particular thoughts or feelings towards vegetarianism or veganism.

AndHarry Tue 17-Mar-15 12:24:39

If someone continually goes on and on about their pet subject, be it vegetarianism, Herbal Life, religion, or whatever, then they start losing friends as they're uncomfortable and boring to be around. That's all that was meant.

LentilAsAnything Tue 17-Mar-15 12:31:26

I am a long-term vegan, and I think it IS immoral to keep one animal alive, so that you can fuss and pet it, causing hundreds of other animals to be bred into a horrible existence only to be slaughtered so that your chosen animal may live. I would rather see dogs and cats euthanised once and for all, and the need for pet food totally eliminated. Dogs and cats CAN survive well on vegan petfood; it is now made to such a standard that it provides all the nutrition necessary. I still think the impact on the planet of keeping so many cats and dogs alive is detrimental to our earth's resources. We should all be vegan too, so that we may have minimal impact on the planet. Consumption as it is is totally unsustainable.
However, many vegans disagree with me re my stance on pets. I do find that hypocritical of them.

MrsCosmopilite Tue 17-Mar-15 12:38:26

My cat is a rescue pet. If she'd not been homed by us, she'd have been euthanised.
I'm vegetarian, hoping to transition to vegan. However, cats are carnivores. It is not up to me to impose my views/attitudes/ethics on others. If the cat were younger, I might have taken a different stance but to change the cat's diet now would kill her.

I have potentially inflammatory views though as despite the fact that I would not kill an animal to eat or wear, I think that IF the animal has been killed for food, it is wasteful to not use the other by products. I don't advocate killing animals for food/fur but we live in such a 'disposable' society and are squeamish about far too much that we need to be realistic about these things.

LentilAsAnything Tue 17-Mar-15 12:46:59

You ARE imposing your views on others though, MrsC - namely, those chickens, cows, sheep and pigs who are bred so that your one rescue cat can live. In a numbers game, my argument wins - one cat's lifetime's worth of food = many animals killed to feed it. The fact is, your cat CAN survive on vegan petfood.

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