After a long day of work or school, many of us come home exhausted. We open the door and are greeted by our furry friends, always so eager to see us (even if we’ve only been away for five minutes). This is the type of home that I grew up in, full of pets that felt like part of the family.
One of the reasons I went vegan is because I am such a huge animal lover. I’ll be the first at parties to find the animals and cuddle them to both our hearts content. I believe that ALL animals are sentient beings and that there is no “humane” way to capture and kill them. But once I went vegan I wondered if owning a pet would be considered vegan?? The answer? It’s complicated. I’d like to start this off by saying that this is entirely my opinion and does not mean that all vegans, or people for that matter, feel the same way.
Breeding animals: It’s not uncommon that when people want a dog they want a specific breed. They may feel a particular tie to a certain breed that they grew up with. So why is breeding dogs wrong? It’s no secret that the most sought after breeds tend to be the ones with the most genetic disorders. By choosing to control breeding we are producing weaker animals that won’t live as long. At what cost? Just so we can have a dog that looks like the one we grew up with? Okay okay so maybe you don’t go for the pure breed route. So what about adoption?
Adoption: ‘Adopt don’t shop’ seems to be quite the phrase these days as more people realize the harmful effects of breeding animals. In fact an estimated 25 million animals become homeless every year. These are animals that we have domesticated over time and therefore can’t fend for themselves in the wild. Some of these dogs end up in animal shelters or humane societies and are put up for adoption. Of this 25 million an estimated 16 million die in pounds or shelters each year.
So we should just encourage people to adopt all the animals’ right? Sort of… In my opinion if you’re going to get a pet you should most certainly rescue one from the pound. They aren’t homeless because of the way they look or their personality. They are homeless because of the excess amount of breeding that goes on. They are simply victims of our past actions.
What it really comes down to for many vegans is why someone would put their pet’s life before other animals. Veganism is about animal rights and the freedom of animals. Yet we have domesticated cats and dogs to the point that they simply wouldn’t survive for very long without us. When we rescue an animal we are attempting to give it a better life, to save it from being killed. I admire this and it truly warms my heart to see the amount of love people give to their pets.
As a vegan I don’t think I would ever own a pet unless it was adopted. But even then cats and dogs are natural carnivores and need meat in their diets. In order to properly feed my pet it would have to be at the expense of other animals. So why should other animals die just so my cat can live? Like I said it’s VERY COMPLICATED. I won’t say that I’ll never own a pet and I know that plenty of vegans do. Owning a pet is a personal choice and not one that I, or anyone else for that matter, should make for you.
When I was in India I remember being absolutely baffled by how many stray and starving dogs roamed the streets. Dogs there weren’t pets and people treated them the way American’s might treat crows. And while that may sound appalling to you, people from India and other parts of the world can’t even fathom the atrocities that we inflict upon cows and pigs.
It’s all about perspective and the reality we grew up in. If we grew up with pets we may feel differently than someone who didn’t. If we grew up in the USA we may feel different than someone in India. I grew up loving the animals in my home but also eating one every night with dinner. Then I realized that ALL animals are magical, conscious beings who don’t want to die. We all have the choice to love animals; whether they are our pets or not. So what do you choose?