Veganism is a philosophy that prioritises the well-being of all animals. So can vegans own pets?
It’s a question that has been hotly debated, and the answer is not as clear-cut as you might think.
If you’re a vegan who owns a pet, or if you’re considering adopting one, this article will help clear up some of the confusion around whether or not it’s possible to do so without compromising your vegan values.
PETA’s position on pets
If you are a vegan, you have probably heard of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). They are an organization fighting for the ethical treatment of animals. So what do they say about vegans having pets:
“We encourage people who have the time, money, patience, commitment, and love needed to care for an animal for life to adopt one from a shelter—or, better yet, to adopt two compatible animals so that they can provide each other with companionship.
With so many animals in need of homes, there is no chance that we will “run out” of animal companions in our lifetimes. But PETA believes that it would be in animals’ best interests if they were no longer bred to be dependent on humans.”
The Lesser evil?
For most vegans, their stance on pets can be summed up as the lesser of two evils in modern reality. For millions of animals in the world, life as a pet is their best hope for happiness, safety, and longevity.
Having pets as companions is more ethical than returning them to the wild, euthanasia, or keeping them in shelters. So while vegans still want to end the existence of animals as pets, adopting a companion is preferable to their current fate.
Pet vs A Respected Companion
Veganism is all about reducing the suffering and exploitation of animals, so how do vegans justify keeping a pet? After all, doesn’t owning a pet imply that you’re treating an animal as property?
The answer is no! Vegans don’t see animals as property; they see them as ‘respected companions’ or family members, and they treat them accordingly.
As long as these chosen companions are given an environment they can thrive in, are treated with respect, and have their health prioritised, then vegans who keep animals are justified in their decision.
Neutering and Spaying
Wanting to end the pet industry while keeping a companion means stopping the breeding of these animals, which means when adopting a pet, it’s vital to ensure they are neutered or spayed.
The overabundance of domesticated animals, due to the lack of spaying and neutering, has led to an excess of pets. So this process is key to the long-term aims of the vegan movement in relation to pets.
PETA has done a lot to advertise the importance of this and states:
At PETA, we love and respect the animal companions who share our homes. Contrary to myth, PETA does not want to confiscate beloved, well-cared-for companions and “set them free.” What we do want is to reduce the tragic overpopulation of dogs and cats through spaying and neutering. We work hard to prevent more dogs and cats from being born, because there are nowhere near enough good homes for all the animals that already exist, which results in almost unimaginable suffering.
Are you really a vegan if you give meat to your pet?
We all know that vegans aren’t supposed to eat meat. But what do you feed your pet if your pet is an obligate carnivore? And are you really a vegan if you give meat to your pet?
The definition of veganism excludes all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, and a lot of vegans are serious enough about their ethics to abstain from giving meat to their animal friends.
Ultimately, you will have to make a decision about what to feed your pet. There is no single “right” answer—this is a matter of personal morals and choices. If you don’t have a pet yet, you could consider adopting an animal that isn’t an obligate carnivore to avoid the moral dilemmas associated with its diet.
Luckily though, for many vegan companion owners, due to the growth of veganism and understanding the importance of animal companions, there has been an increase in vegan options of dog and cat food, that make sure dietary needs are still being met without the need for meat.
One amazing example is Benevo, a pet food brand that promises to help keep your beloved family members thriving on a vegan diet.
The Overall Verdict
So, can vegans own pets? The answer is YES – and they should! Vegans who adopt companion animals and prevent further breeding are doing the best thing possible for animals in need of homes.
The bottom line is adopting animals is definitely a step in the right direction for bringing an end to animal exploitation, but ultimately no one should pass judgment on anyone for the way they apply their vegan beliefs.
Thank you for reading, and please share with friends if you found this helpful!