Although I am an introvert and a very private person; I do feel that my message I have to spread is so important, so I’m happy to share my story as a vegan vet in the April issue of Vegan Life 2022. Here it is –
I’m going vegan and turning our family dog vegan too…….
This is what I announced to my husband on the day after my 52nd birthday not even having been vegetarian before this time. Our millennial pharmacist son had been vegan for a few years and I always admired him, never dreaming that I would be following suit. My husband is a vet like me and he was shocked – not for me, but for turning our little family rescue dog vegan – something he knew nothing about and he was very concerned about Ruff’s future health as we all just adore him.
This meant that I had even more to prove – to myself that I had to get it right as Ruff is the most important little 4 legged family member (as all our dogs are), but also to my very sceptical husband who didn’t agree with it but allowed me to go ahead.
As a GP vet working at the PDSA charity and seeing about 40 animals a day; I had one particularly heartbreaking day where I had to put 4 animals to sleep for obesity related issues. Either they were too heavy to stand and were crippled with arthritis, or their poor diet had resulted in cancer that had spread so quickly due to the inflammation of obesity – I felt drained and despondent that day.
I was determined to do something about it, and once home, I announced to my family that I was going to start Slimming Pets classes and teach owners how to feed their dogs properly.
I joined our local Slimming World classes to get an idea of how it all worked (yes it did benefit me too:) . The best investment I made, was to throw myself into the fascinating world of pet nutrition to ensure that I knew as much as possible.
We are taught very little about pet nutrition at vet school. The pet food world is dominated by the big companies who sell their food to vet practices so that we don’t really need to know much more than which branded pet food bag to reach for in a consultation – it isn’t good and only when I started researching did I realise how much we had missed out on!
I did course after course (one I even did twice) and I made contact with the top vet nutritionists in the UK as all the information seemed to lead to the fact that the more plant-based ingredients that were added into your dog’s diet; the healthier they would be.
I reached a dead end in the UK as even the top vet nutritionists told me that processed hydrolysed meat-based food was sufficient and they referred me to the US where I could purchase supplements if I wanted to go down the plant-based route. This wasn’t good enough for me. I didn’t like the fact that there was such a great carbon footprint importing from the US and everything was packaged non-sustainably in plastic tubs!
My next route was to turn to Germany where plant-based feeding of dogs was 8 years ahead of the UK. I was thrilled to meet the co-founders of the highly successful company VegDog – 2 inspiring and wonderful ladies who just wanted to enhance the health of pets. They put me in touch with their german vet nutritionist and my final puzzle piece slotted into place – finally I had what I needed.
I finally had all the proof and evidence that plant-based feeding of dogs was safe, healthy (if not even healthier) than meat-based feeding and I finally convinced my husband when he saw how much Ruff loved the food, that everything I was doing was right.
It has been the most exciting journey of my career as a vet and only once I knew that I had it 100% right for our own little Ruff, could I then think of helping other owners with their beloved dog’s future health.
I want to highlight other amazing dogs and their carers in this column as feeding your dog a 100% vegan diet is definitely the best way forward for their health, for your health (yes there is nothing more mindful than cooking for your pet), and for our very fragile planet…..and we haven’t even mentioned how amazingly kind we are being to all the farm animals out there who deserve a life and not be fed to our dogs!
Vegan Dog Food and Just be Kind Supplement is recommended by Dr Arielle Griffiths MRCVS, Director of Just be Kind Dog Food Ltd and Ruff plant-based family dog
Pets at Home own brand Wainwrights launch a plant-based tinned and dry dog food in their stores
The Guardian features Dr Arielle Griffiths, vegan dog Ruff and other wonderful vegan dog owners
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