Ask the

The team from Veganuary answer your questions about veganism 

I'd like to start feeding my dog vegan chow… How do I go about doing this?

Dogs can do very well on a plant-based diet, but it must be a specially formulated food and not just an extra portion of whatever you're having. There are many things we eat - onions, leeks, garlic, avocado, grapes, xylitol, for example - that are toxic to dogs.

Plus, our physiology and nutritional needs are quite different. So, buy a dog food, and one that is 'complete'. That means it has all the nutrients dogs need and is not just a kibble to be added to a meal.

There are many good quality brands of vegan dog food - both wet and dry - to choose from. We'd suggest you don't buy a 25kg sack straight away. Your dog may not like the first type (unless he or she is a Labrador and will eat anything!).

Buy small packs to start with and assess palatability. It's really important you don't make the change too quickly. Although lots of people go vegan overnight, there is a good chance they will have experienced some digestive issues as a result.

Gently introduce the new food a little at a time, mixed in with their old food. If they like it and do well with it, gradually increase the amount over 7-14 days.

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Why is silk not vegan?

It's a minefield, isn't it? You start off wanting to save chickens from factory farms and end up realising just how much society uses and commodifies animals of all shapes and sizes.

Silk is not a manmade fibre; it is made by silkworms who are also kept on farms. In fact, they are not worms at all but the caterpillars of silk moths. When the caterpillars are ready to change into moths, they cover themselves in a cocoon made from silk threads which are secreted from glands in the caterpillar's head.

To retrieve the silk, the cocoons are put into boiling water, which softens the gum that holds the cocoon together and allows the silk threads to unravel. It kills the caterpillar in the process.

Around 15 caterpillars are killed to make just one gram of silk thread. Like all farmed animals, the silk moth has been purpose-bred to maximise productivity, which means their bodies are too big for their wings, and they are unable to fly.

It has also left the adult males unable to eat as their mouth parts are underdeveloped. No creature is too small to be harmed in the pursuit of profit, it seems. Ethical silks can be made from renewable plant materials such as banana or pineapple leaves, cactus or lotus flower, though these are not always easy to find.

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Our star buy

Benevo
Adult Dog Original
Benevo's dry food is nutritionally complete, GMO-free and wheat-free, making it ideal for dogs with sensitivities to wheat protein. The little donut shaped kibbles are made from a blend of protein rich soya, corn and rice, with a lovely deep aroma coming from nutritious brewer's yeast. It's also fortified with all the essential extra vitamins and minerals required for the good health and wellbeing of dogs.
£39.99, veggiepets.com

VeganLife

The lifestyle magazine written by vegans for vegans.