The vegan pet food industry is now worth billions. But can plant-based meals really meet a dog or cat’s nutritional needs?
Father Terry Martin, a Catholic priest in West Sussex, became a vegan almost three years ago. The transition was fairly abrupt: he was alone eating a roast dinner with his dog Pepe on his knees (“I know,” he says. “Terrible.”) when he was struck by the realisation that the animal he was eating had been “just as sentient as the one sitting on my lap”.
At the time, Pepe, a cockapoo, was also a strict carnivore. “I actually raw-fed him, so talk about going from the ridiculous to the sublime,” says Martin. Raw-feeding involved buying prepared, frozen raw-meat meals and defrosting them. “He liked it, and for a while I was a bit of an advocate for it, but when my ethics led me to become vegan myself I thought, I can’t actually have meat and dairy products in the house any more. It’s just not something I’m prepared to do. So I looked into vegan food for dogs.”