Happy Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day!

One of the most common questions we receive here at Farm Sanctuary is whether or not it is ethical and safe to feed your dog a vegan diet. In honor of International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day, we’ve consulted experts in the field of companion-animal health and have also compiled some personal stories from Farm Sanctuary staff members with vegan furry friends!

Here’s some information on the makings of a balanced dog diet, plus a plant-based dog biscuit recipe that your four-legged friend is sure to love.

FAQs

  • Is a vegan diet safe for dogs?
    • Experts in nutrition and veterinarians agree that a plant-based diet for dogs can be safe as long as it is complete, balanced, and includes all of the essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that they need.
    • Quotes from the experts:
      • “[T]he complete and balanced pet foods are formulated to meet a pet’s complete nutritional needs. So the things that are missing, that would be present in animal foods, are added to these vegetarian diets. A lot of people feel very strongly that pets should not be fed vegetarian diets, but it is possible to have a pet food that meets nutritional requirements using only vegetarian ingredients and those products are on the market.”
        Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH
      • “The important thing is that you use a diet that has been shown to be nutritionally adequate for whatever stage of life you’re feeding, and it is absolutely possible to find a good quality commercial pet food that doesn’t have animal products in it.”
        Kathryn E. Michel, B.A. , D.V.M., M.S.
      • “Most dogs can benefit from a vegan diet. Thanks to ten thousand years of evolution alongside humankind, dogs are now physiologically omnivores. This means they can thrive on a nutritionally balanced plant-based food.”
        Lorelei Wakefield, VMD
      • So, what do I feed my newly plant-based dog?
        • There are many options for plant-based commercial dog food out there. Some popular brands are V-dog and Natural Balance Vegetarian Formula. You can also consider cooking homemade meals for your dogs, although it is highly recommended that you consult your dog’s veterinarian before making any dietary changes in order to ensure that all of his or her dietary needs are being met. You can also add supplements to ensure that your canine friend gets all of the essential nutrients he or she needs. Examples include Green Mush or adding ingredients like flax oil and chia seeds.
      • What foods should my dog avoid?
        • Some foods that are okay for humans can be toxic for dogs. These include (but are not limited to) onions, avocados, grapes and raisins, chocolate (or anything else containing caffeine), macadamia nuts, garlic, pits from peaches or plums, and human vitamin supplements containing iron. Please consult your vet and do research on other potentially hazardous foods, and if you are unsure, always ask a professional.

A look at Farm Sanctuary staff members and their (vegan!) furry friends:

“About two years ago, I started to question why I as a vegan was still buying meat for my dogs. They hated their kibble anyway; why not give vegan food a try? Not so surprisingly, they ate it (after I poured in some nutritional yeast and some vegan butter). And as a result, both dogs, one of whom who was called obese and the other who had begun to experience premature arthritis, are fitter and healthier than ever. Our vet didn’t bat an eyelash when I mentioned I’d begun to feed them vegan food. The proof was there in front of him. “ —Lindsay

“Goliath has been vegan for about seven years and Napoleon has been since I rescued him about five years ago. Since they’ve been vegan, they’ve been really healthy and active. Goliath has never had to go to the vet for anything other than her regular checkups. Both have had regular blood work and are in great nutritional health. They are super active and love going for walks and hikes. They’re just the most wonderful little dudes in the world” —Breezy

How to celebrate National Dog Biscuit Day with compassion

Animal advocate, author, and Farm Sanctuary Board Member Tracey Stewart features these Pumpkin Dog Biscuits in her wonderful book Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their Lives Better.

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Also: these super-simple and healthy dog biscuits are made with only three wholesome ingredients. You can also add mint for fresh breath, flax oil for a shiny coat, and chia seeds for added protein! Pug-tested, dog-mom approved!

 

Ways to be Compassionate for Random Acts of Kindness Day

February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day! Celebrate this day (and every day!) by extending your kindness not only to the individuals around you, but also to actions that help keep the earth and all of its inhabitants healthy! Here are three ways we can celebrate and support farm animals:

  1. Share a #CompassionateMeal with a friend, neighbor, or coworker.

This day is the perfect opportunity to teach your friends, family, and community about why compassionate meals are important to you. Learn more here.

  1. Go veg for a meal … or a day!

Be kind to animals and the planet by cooking, baking, or exploring plant-based options in your area for one meal, or the whole day. You can find lots of easy, yet amazing recipes throughout the V-lish site, including the blog! Or use apps like Happy Cow to find cruelty-free restaurants in your area. Get creative, and be sure to share your creations and ideas with friends and family!

  1. Bring a compassionate meal to someone in need.

Pay it forward by sharing the meal you made above; taking someone in need out to dinner; or bringing warm, healthy, store-bought meals to someone in need.

 

Lessons from Sales and Marketing

We are always looking for the best insights to help Farm Sanctuary’s members make a difference for farm animals in the real world. Perhaps the most powerful thing each of us can do is to help new people open their hearts and minds to the plight of chickens, pigs, turkeys, and cows. The sooner people recognize that these individuals are friends not food, the sooner we will end the horrors of factory farms.

To that end, we are happy to bring you this blog post by Tobias Leenaert. We hope you find it useful!

Whether we like it or not, if we really want to change the world, have to be in the business of selling something. We want to sell a message, a habit, a lifestyle… whatever you want to call it. We are idea merchants, and we need to get as many people as we can on our bandwagon, in whatever ways that are helpful.

I love to read out of the box and see if I can apply ideas from different domains to our efforts. Here are some concepts and lessons I’ve taken from sales and marketing.

The customer is king
People who currently eat animals are the people we want to reach and become part of our team. Since this is the case, we can’t alienate them. They are our future allies. Badmouthing them will usually not motivate them to come closer to us. If we’re angry at them, if we accuse them or judge them, that’s kind of equal to giving up on them joining our team. Rather, like with customers, we need to listen to them, treat them like royalty, give them a cookie or bake them a delicious cruelty-free pie.

You are not your audience
You are not the same as the people you want to reach. Like a car salesperson, you have to adapt your message to what you think people like, are interested in, are open to, are ready for. Just talking about what you want to talk about is equal to the car salesperson talking endlessly about a fancy, expensive sportscar’s horsepower or technical abilities (because that is what fascinates them) to a young parent who is only interested in the safety aspects of a family vehicle.

Reaching new people has to be about your audience’s needs, not your own.

Diffusion of innovation
We need to segment our “customers” into different categories. Innovators have different reasons for picking something up than the late majority. As animal advocates, we’re all innovators, and the arguments that worked for us will not necessarily work for people who are, in this domain, laggards. The famous marketer Seth Godin puts it like this: “The mistake idea merchants make is that they bring their fringe ideas to people who don’t like fringe ideas, instead of taking their time and working their way through the progression.”

What Godin and others are saying is that we should meet people where they are, and appeal to the values that they already cherish, rather than telling them which values they should have.

Winning an argument is losing a customer
Even if the other person tells you that you are right, you haven’t necessarily had a positive impact. When the other person feels they’ve lost, it may make them feel even less sympathetic towards you or the cause you defend. Benjamin Franklin said it like this: “If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve a victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s good will.” Dale Carnegie said it even simpler: “You can’t win an argument”.

Persuasion resistance
Most people don’t like to be convinced by others and don’t like being told what to do. Also, with regard to the food that’s on their plate, they’ll decide for themselves. They need no government regulations or animal rights or vegetarian groups preaching to them about what to eat, and what not, how much of it, or how they should prepare it. They’ll make up their own minds about all that, thank you very much. It is, therefore, more productive if we don’t give people the impression we want to persuade them of something, and instead help them come to their own conclusions.

Customer retention
Finding new customers is a lot more expensive than trying to keep customers and make sure they buy again. In our domain, research shows that a large number of vegetarians and vegans – no less than 84% – at some point drop out. We should have enough attention for customer retention, and make sure that as few slide off the wagon as possible. We can do that, among other things, by creating communities, making our team more welcoming, and paying enough attention for nutritional pitfalls.

Switching costs
Many people care about animals, but are afraid of the practical consequences of caring about them. It is, in other words, too difficult to make the switch. Switching costs, in marketing terms, are the costs that one incurs when changing products, suppliers, brands, etc. These costs can be financial, but they can also be, for example, time costs or psychological costs. Phone or insurance companies, for instance, want to make switching to their product as little of a hassle as possible (while at the same time, trying to make switching away from their products as difficult as possible.). Likewise, we need to make it as easy as possible for people to adopt the habits of compassion. Preferably, so easy that they don’t even need any reason or motivation.

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Farm Sanctuary Statement on USDA’s Animal Welfare Information Purge

Update: Why is Trump covering up animal cruelty cases?

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The Washington Post reports:

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday abruptly removed inspection reports and other information from its website about the treatment of animals at thousands of research laboratories, zoos, dog breeding operations and other facilities.”

Gene Baur, Farm Sanctuary’s President and co-founder, has issued this statement:

“Farm Sanctuary encourages transparency and accountability, and we are very concerned about the USDA’s recent decision to remove records of animal welfare violations from its public website. This change enables animal abusers, and we urge that it be reconsidered.”

Read full article>>

Catching up with V-lish!

As we’ve said before, sharing amazing food is an awesome way of helping new people open their hearts and minds to taking constructive steps for animals. Here are a few recent posts from our friends at V-lish:

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National Cheese Lovers Day

Pie and Chocolate Cake

Bean Beans, They’re Good for Your Heart

And two recent Ask the Dietician:

Vegans Who Can’t Cook

Snacks for Kids