Lots of vegan and vegetarian people own an emotional support animal. ESAs provide people with vital, life-affirming companionship, love, and support. A growing awareness of animal rights within society has potentially played a part in the big rise in ESA ownership. It has also played a role in the recent increase in the number of people choosing a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle.
People opt to eat a vegan or vegetarian diet for different reasons. Some choose to go meat-free for the health benefits, others because they feel it is more moral and better for the environment. Emotional support animal ownership and veganism are compatible lifestyles, and many animal-lovers chose to own an ESA while choosing not to eat animals.
Vegetarians and vegan ESA-owners love their ESA best friend and want the best for their emotional pet. “Can my ESA be vegetarian?” or “Can my ESA be vegan?” are questions more and more people are now asking. An emotional support animal vegetarian diet can be a very healthy option. But it is not necessarily optimal for all species of ESA. Nor is it necessarily ideal during every period of an ESA’s life. Emotional support animal vegan nutrition is not a black-and-white topic.
With many emotional support animals, a largely vegan or vegetarian diet will work well. But with certain species, a plant-only diet will not be optimal. Different types of ESAs have different dietary requirements. So let’s look into whether your ESA can follow your vegan or vegetarian diet.
Vegan and Vegetarian Diets Are Becoming More Popular
Between 2014 and 2017, the number of vegans in America grew by 600%, from 1% to 6%. This is a huge increase. Vegan and vegetarian eating has become mainstream, especially in the bigger urban areas and among millennials. Plant-based diets can be healthier and more sustainable than diets that are heavy on animal products. With this steep rise in the number of people living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, many ESA owners are wondering “Can my ESA be vegetarian or vegan?”
Many Vegans and Vegetarians Want Their Emotional Support Animal to Follow Suit
People who live a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle report numerous health benefits and a marked increase in feelings of psychological and physical wellbeing. Often, moving to a plant-based diet leads to immediate weight-loss, increases in energy levels, better sleep, and improved mental clarity. With all of these benefits, it is no wonder that many vegan ESA owners are keen to explore the possibilities of an emotional support animal vegan diet for their emotional pet.
Is It Safe For an Emotional Support Pet to Be Vegan or Vegetarian?
Before you implement an emotional support animal vegetarian diet (or vegan diet) for your pet, it is crucial that you establish whether or not it will be suitable for your particular type of ESA. Emotional support animal vegan nutrition is great for certain species, but it is not optimal for all species. Some species of ESA will be deprived of vital nutrients if they do not eat meat. Not all animals can get all the nutrients they need from plants.
Different Emotional Support Pets Have Different Dietary Needs
Many of the most popular ESA species have their own specific dietary requirements. Some can do well on a vegan or vegetarian diet; others will not.
Dogs are omnivores, so they can survive on emotional support animal vegan nutrition. But it is difficult to get your dog all of the nutrients it requires through plant-based food only. Dogs need a lot of protein, and many dogs fed mainly on leftovers or commercial dog food have been found to be deficient in protein. Chewing on bones and tough hide is very psychologically and physically satisfying for a dog. All in all, while your ESA dog will survive on a vegan diet, it is unlikely to thrive without meat.
Cats are obligate carnivores and therefore meat is an essential mainstay in their diet. Your ESA cat cannot get all of the nutrients that it needs to be healthy and happy from a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Pigs are omnivores and survive in the wild by foraging for plants, fruits, vegetables, fish, and insects. On farms, pigs are mainly fed meat-free diets of corn and soybean meal. A pig can be healthy on a well-chosen, nutritious emotional support animal vegan diet.
What If a Vegan or Vegetarian Diet Is Not Ideal For Your ESA?
For animals that do better eating a meat-based diet, such as dogs and cats, it is important that you provide them with what they need. If a vegan or vegetarian diet isn’t safe, it’s more important for them to be healthy and happy so they can enjoy their life and offer you the emotional support that you need.
Living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is a great choice for animal-loving ESA owners. But many of the most popular ESA types, including dogs and cats, will not thrive if they are forced to eat a meat-free diet along with their owners.