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Top 10 Pets for Vegan Households

Vegans who follow an ethical lifestyle, who would however like to share that life with an animal, can have several questions – for instance which pets are vegetarian or vegan so that they can blend seamlessly into an ethical lifestyle. There can be ethical questions such as this one: should vegans have pets at all? As to this, most vegans tend to agree that so long as you treat your pet well, with affection, having pets is fine.

Then there is the other question: Dog and cat lovers may well wonder if it is possible to feed their pet a vegan diet. After all, veganism is about ending the exploitation of other animals, and about letting them live on their own terms. So, one may argue that having a vegan cat or dog is foisting a human agenda on an animal; an animal who is naturally carnivorous. Many vegans choose not to have dogs and pets for this reason.

While the jury may be out on several of these questions we look at the top vegan pets one can have.

1. Mice and Rats

mouseThese are intelligent and fun pets and can very easily be raised vegan.

2. Gerbils

gerbilThese gentle and hardy animal are another popular choice as a house pet. They are clean, produce little odor and are sociable creatures.

3. Hamsters

hamsterAnother popular option as a family pet, a hamster subsists on fruits, nuts, berries, fruits and other dried foods.

4. Guinea Pig

guinea-pigDocile and responsive, these rodents are another popular choice. Grass, hay, legumes, raw fruit and veggies are their foods of choice.

5. Rabbits

rabbitRabbits – cute, furry and quintessential consumers of lettuce and carrots would have to be one of the most obvious choices when it comes to vegan pets.

6. Tortoises

tortoiseThese phlegmatic, gentle creatures are easy to care for. Their vegetarian diets are easily provided for, and these pets tend to live a lot longer than rodents.

7. Cats

catWhile the ethics of limiting a carnivore to a vegan diet may be a matter of argument, many vegan pet owners will testify to their feline thriving on a vegan diet.

8. Dogs

dogDogs are omnivores by nature, and they are known to thrive very well in vegetarian and vegan households.

9. Small Birds

love-birdsParakeets, lovebirds, finches, canaries and various other small birds make great vegan pets.

10. Small Fish

fishMany small fish can also be vegan and can be a good choice of pet for an ethical lifestyle.

Leave a Comment

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne Jonson October 30, 2013

Having an animal at your household intentionally is NOT vegan! There is nothing “good” in the “choice” of stealing an animal from its natural habitat and bringing it home just because your selfish need for a companion! It’s ok with animals which have been abandoned or which you saved from slaughtering but what about hamsters, birds and fish ?!! The chance you get those kinds of pets by accident just because you saved them is approximately.. let’s say it’s once in a great while.. I’m also going to take a rabbit home but only because someone saved it from murdering and it’s searching home! How many of the animals listed here are really going to be saved? (With the exception of dogs and cats and some other kinds).. I’m talking about all the fishes, snakes, birds, hamsters and all the other exotic animals in the shops.. Are you going to attack the shop and take all the animals? I deeply doubt even if you’re vegan that you will do that.. Not all vegans have the guts to enter a pet shop or a lab and save the animals.. Honestly, I don’t think this article is about that.. Than what? What’s the point of listing all those kinds of animals as good pets? Buying them not because you wanna save them but just because they’re good companions?! C’mon.. That’s not vegan! Even if you attack a pet shop,for examples, will you take all the animals in your household or you would rather let them free in their natural environment? If you’re vegan, I suggest the latter.. (there might be some exceptions, for example if the animal is not in a good condition to survive in nature or if you really have no options to travel to the Atlantic ocean to let the fish be free or in the Amazon jungle to let the parrots.. But! As I say these are just exceptions!).. Correct me if I’m wrong.. But this is a pro-exploitation article! Animals belong to nature and not in the pet shops or your household (unless there are no chance for better conditions than your home, then it’s totally OK! But I don’t think it’s the point of this article.. Go vegan! Not “vegan”!

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Josie April 24, 2016

I’D LIKE TO POINT OUT, just so everyone can see this. That their are actually small animals, and sometimes fish, and many birds at the spca all of the time. Their are always animals to save. Their are numerous other rescues in many areas of the world too.

I for one have rescued two rats, and a cockatiel. They are obviously a domesticated type of the two(rats). My cockatiel being from Australia couldn’t be set free in Canada. She would freeze. My two rats couldn’t be set free here, because they would be killed off and wouldn’t know how to fend in the wild. Not to mention the kind of rat that I own are not indigenous to this area(it could create problems in my area). So at that point, it is a matter of taking care of them until they die. If we’re not directly supporting the breeders, or directly supporting the suppliers then we are not contributing, but helping the animals. Cause if everyone started adopting from shelters breeders will eventually go out of business, then their dog will end up in the spca, then will be fixed and adopted out. Thus causing no more animals to be breed or domesticated. But it has to be something that a majority has to work towards. It is in actuality the most humane way to deal with this problem.

Just think, if we’re not the ones to do this then the animals will most of the time go to bad homes, the cycle will continue, or the animals will just be killed(put down.) I’d rather not have “vegans” mass murdering domesticated animals like PETA does. Its about correcting our mistakes.

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Philippe December 8, 2013

What the hell! To have a bird encaged is absolutely non vegan! The small fishes are “produced” in industrial farms, generally in poor conditions, to be sold in tiny aquarium, like any disposable good. Please take a step back! I do not know about the other kind of animal, but this is non sense.

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Henley June 28, 2014

So it’s unethical to rescue animals from these situations and give them the best environment that you can, given that it’s horribly dangerous to ship them back to be released into their native habitat? So we should just kill them long before the natural end of their life, because it’s not vegan to give them the best you can?

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Philip January 10, 2014

It’s cruel to feed a cat a vegan diet. They are 100% carnivores, and have the digestive systems to match. Dogs are different, however, and there are many lines of dog food that offer vegetarian formulas for the vegan pet owner. You’d want to make sure you adopt your veggie dog from a shelter or rescue, though, so as not to support puppy mills and breeders.

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Erwin September 25, 2016

My cats love veggies. I notice they also eat weedy plants, I assume for healing purposes.

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Jolana May 22, 2017

This is an old comment I know, but listen.

If you work in the vet practice you’ll see what happens when cats eat things that aren’t meat. They get urinary blockages from a buildup of crystals in their urethra. They are meant to eat nothing but meat, that is a fact. They chew grass when their stomach is upset, for roughage, to help the problem in their digestive tract move out. They should not be fed anything but meat. You wouldn’t feed a lactose intolerant person dairy. And if you did, and they were a cat, they’d probably be chewing grass because their tummy hurts.

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Laura June 1, 2017

Yeah, but they don’t survive on that. Believe me, if a cat can’t go outside and catch themselves some birds/mice/…, she doesn’t have the same fur conditions, not the same level of activity. I saw that and for me feeding a cat vegan is cruel.

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Pamela September 15, 2017

Cats mostly eat vegetables and plants for “pooping purposes”.

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Kristin February 2, 2014

Before my question, I have some comments for those who commented before….

What you seem to neglect to realize is that there are many, many already-domesticated animals out there in need of homes. I absolutely don’t believe in buying animals and supporting the horrible breeders or stores….But, there are many small animals and animals of a large variety of species who for some reason or another are in need of a home (whether it is being rescued from death, or from a bad or neglectful situation, or simply that the person who got them in the first place can’t or won’t provide them with a home anymore). There are many wonderful rodents out there in urgent need of rescue all the time!!!

And, I do suppose that keeping a bird confined can be controversial….But, with domesticated animals, it might be what they are used to, and is largely about being kept safe….That being said, they should not be constantly confined or confined in a small space. And, they should get a great deal of socialization.

And, I vehemently disagree with the comment against vegan cats! Cats are domesticated animals…They eat whatever people give them–which is usually horrible crap that is not good for them, and contains disgusting carnage. There are a variety of well-formulated vegan cat and dog foods out there now-a-days that cats and dogs can thrive on…That contain the vitamins that they need, and are very enjoyable for them.

To the article poster (compliments on the adorable pictures, by the way, and appreciation for highlighting how wonderful rodents can be as pets :-))…I was wondering if you know of any pre-made vegan foods for hamsters/gerbils or birds, or if it would be dietarily complete to home-make a mixture of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains.

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Not Important October 4, 2015

Since you vehemently disagree with the millions of years of evolutionary cycles that it took to bring us the felines we have today, then it is ok to go against nature and feed carnivores a vegan diet.

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iv June 2, 2016

any type of cat food goes against nature. they don’t eat chickens, sheep and cows in the wild, as much as they would soya beans and corn oil. they eat rodents, birds, amphibians- let me know when you see a commercially available cat food that doesn’t go against nature. do some research and you’ll see that most cat food has taurine added to it-correlating with reduced incidence of dilated cardiomyopathy. http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4615-3436-5_8#page-1

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Erwin September 25, 2016

What’s natural has never been the basis for what is moral.

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Kristin January 14, 2017

As I stated, they are not wild, and they eat things that wouldn’t be considered “natural” for them in any context. Whatever domesticated felines are being fed, it is something being given to them that was formulated or purchased…There’s NO reason that that shouldn’t be a compassionate, animal-free food!

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Laura June 1, 2017

There is, because cats aren’t vegans. I mean, feeding them cheap cat food is the same cruelty, but feeding them vegan cat food isn’t acceptable either. If you can’t deal with it, don’t adopt a carnivore or at least make sure that the cats can go outside safely, meaning you don’t live in a city, where they can help themselves for the things they miss out. I wouldn’t want to live on vitamin pills, so why should I feed my animals that way? I don’t want to harm them. They are animals, who don’t need meat like rabbits or pigs. Sometimes I feel like some vegans are extremly naiv, dumb and blue-eyed. Someone, who ignores the natural needs of an animal is as worse as eating meat.

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Kendra September 4, 2016

What the hell???? Cats can’t properly digest plant matter!! They don’t have a cecum

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Laura June 1, 2017

Yup, but some egocentric vegans don’t want to accept the natural needs of their animals and make them suffer. I guess they believe, that every living being is truly vegan and started to devour meat by accident. I for myself condemn such people as the opposite of animal lovers and put them even under people, who eat meat themselves. If you can’t deal with the natural ways of your pet, don’t adopt it in the first place and choose some omnivore or herbivore pet like rabbits or pigs. If you already have it, you need to stay responsible and don’t kill her slowly by feeding crab and after you allowed that cat/dog a wonderful life, you shouldn’t adopt another carnivore.

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Pamela September 15, 2017

“Vegan” and “Cat Food” don’t belong in the same sentence. Cats, ALL CATS, are obligate carnivores. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnivore#Obligate_carnivores) This means they derive not some, but all of their nutrition from the meat, organs, fur, feathers, and skin of other animals. Due to their physiology and short intestinal tracts, even feeding cats a diet of grains and vegetation with a little meat would leech nutrients from their body quickly. In other words, they poop so frequently, their body wouldn’t have time to absorb any vitamins.
The fact that Cats CAN eat plants does not mean that it SHOULD be their main diet. Reverse the sentiment, I can feed a horse an all meat diet. They may eat it, but eventually they will become malnourished and die.
Further suffering caused by the lack of TAURINE in vegan diets includes:
* Dilated Cardiomyopathy-**Their heart loses the ability to pump blood. You would literally be breaking their hearts.**
* Blindness and retinal disorders.
* Skeletal deformities
* Impaired blood clotting
* hair loss
Cats have zero moral quandaries when it comes to their place in the food chain, it’s not our job to inflict our values onto them. If we invite a cat into our lives, we must respect nature, understand the commitment, accept the scientific facts, and do the best that we can by those who do not have the freedom to choose for themselves.

Yes, I make my own cat food – organs and all.

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Cuthers February 27, 2014

Dogs are carnivores. Pet food companies tell us that they are not as veggies are cheaper than meat. They are effectively wolves, which are also carnivores. Just look at their teeth, for one! They can’t digest plant matter fully as theh do not have herbivor molars. The exact same goes for cats.

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kara July 25, 2014

You are correct! To remain healthy a dog has to have a diet of at least 85% protien (animal and plant protien are two completely different things!) And a cat’s diet need to be at least 95%. The problem comes because cheap grainy pets foods are well… cheap. And most people cant afford grain free. But people do the best they can. My girls are inside girls because I love them and dont want to see their remains getting picked at by vultures on the side of the road. I love my babies (including my rat and my snake) and I will defend them from anything, including self righteous people who think they know better.

If you “rescue” a rabbit or rat just to release it, thats a death sentence. Those animals are domesticated and CANNOT survive on their own in the wild.

I am going to stop now before I get any more indignant.

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Nate July 26, 2014

Cuthers, dogs are omnivores, they are not wolves nor equal to them. have you ever had a dog? do companies trick us into thinking we see them try and eat everything? how often do cats for example try and steal cookies? cats are carnivores, dogs are not. that said, if we make food that fulfills all the needs, the fact it is not met does not matter, the animal is not going to care, if they do (especially cats) you will know it. i would not have either but i respect those who do and take care of them, as they are not suitable for the wild.

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Not Important October 4, 2015

A cat is most definitely suitable for the wild; simple observations will prove this.

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Laura June 1, 2017

Cats are suitable for the wild, yes, but ever looked into cities, where they have a problem with street cats? They don’t look healthy. Abandoning a cat is just the opposite of being vegan!!! Feeding them vegan too, by the way. They are carnivores and can’t properly deal with just veggies. If your cat can go outside and fetch himself something, it’s okay. If not, don’t have a cat. Simple. And if he gets too old to hunt, you have to accept that and buy organs from the butcher. (no pig, unless you cook it through)

Also not every dog is an omnivore, which you can’t see from the outside. Dogs just begin to change, that doesn’t mean that your dog is one of them like not all humans can devour milk properly – that’s too something you just can`t see from the outside. I wouldn’t experiment with my animal’s lifes. Just see it that way: Your dog would get meat in every other enviroment too.

If you can’t deal with feeding meat, than stay a responsible owner until your pets pass away naturally and don’t adopt carnivores anymore. Go with omnivores (pigs, rats,…) or herbivores (rabbits, horses,…) instead or leave it at all.

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Jan February 12, 2015

Feeding your cat a vegan diet is pure animal abuse! They digestion is not able to handle that. They are not able to process plants like we do so they will never be able to get nutrition from them. They become sick. You are basically making them starve from malnutrition like in some concentration camp. Everyone doing this should be prosecuted and those poor animals taken from them. This is not a matter of discussion it is a pure fact! Ask anyone who works with animals or educate yourself about carnivores. Please delete carnivore animals from this list. No one should feed them like this.

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Ren June 21, 2015

I completely agree with you! Dogs and cats are carnivores, cats being obligate carnivores and dogs being a bit more omnivorous, but even as such majority of their diet should be animal protein. And even as a dog is not 100% wolf, you can’t take a carnivorous animal and breed it to be a herbivore. Their digestive system is not deigned to handle large amounts of plants, their stomach acids are not strong enough to break down the plant matter to get the nutrition they need. Even if these vegan dog foods have all the minerals etc. a dog needs, they still lack the correct proteins a dog needs to build muscles and keep it’s organs running smoothly.

When it comes to cats, I have first hand experience with my cat. He used to belong to my classmate but due to some unfortunate (though fortunate for me) events she could no longer take care of him so I took him in. She used to feed him this run-of-the-mill supermarket dry food, and sure, he survived on it, but as I gathered information about cat nutrition and read the label, I realized how bad it was for him. I then switched to grain-free quality cat food and the change was unbelievable. His already shiny coat had a completely new look to it, he gained appetite and he ate the food without any gimmicks having to be done to the food (mixing in treats and sauces), he was much more energetic and playful, his eyes looked clearer and his breath stopped smelling so bad. You could also see the change when cleaning out the litter box. Much smaller amounts of feces, which shows that the food is getting utilized better and more completely. The quality of the feces was also better. I also changed his wet food to a grain-free option after noticing there was wheat and such fillers in his old wet food (who knew?) and the effect was similar.

I can’t imagine it’s very vegan to slowly kill your loving companion because their natural diet doesn’t fit your world view. Seems like animal abuse to me. I also should probably specify that I am not a vegan and searched about this topic purely out of interest towards it.

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Ceana July 23, 2015

In response to aprevious comment you would be surprised how many fish need rescuing,rescuing (I have rescued fish). The majority of fish owners treat them like ornaments and keep them in unfiltered bowls with no plants because then they couldn’t see their “ornamental” fish and these fish usually die in a matter of months in toxic water because these idiots didn’t research the nitrogen cycle.

Even buying them, if you can provide a huge tank with established water chemistry and plants to mimic their natural habitat is, saving them from being bought by the people who treat them like ornaments.

I am not a fish owner, I am their guardian ensuring they live the full span of their lives in comfort.

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enm April 28, 2016

“Even buying them, if you can provide a huge tank with established water chemistry and plants to mimic their natural habitat is, saving them from being bought by the people who treat them like ornaments.”

No, it’s not. Buying fish is supporting the industry that breeds more of them to be put out there and bought by people who treat them like ornaments. I agree with the other things you said though.

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Kristin January 14, 2017

There are literally thousands of vegan cats in the world, and long-established, vet-approved, nutritionally-complete vegan cat (and dog) foods…Don’t comment on things which you do now know about.

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Vikramsrinivasan October 8, 2015

Ok so it is wrong to keep a dog or a cat and feed it VEGAN BTW I’m vegetarian. They need protein in meat for their bones and muscles. There also are vegan dog food most are unhealthy for them same with cats. This might be irrelevant but it is as bad to eat animals than to trap them in a cage. Even though it is rare some cats are vegetarian they will not eat meat. Now with fish hamsters gerbils and rats and rabbits it is okay because your rescuing them from predators. BUT BIRDS they are vegan but it is sad to be trapped in a cage being laughed at every day getting fed with turtles wow that is mean they need a large amount of space to live. Oh also with fish you can not wait there not cleaning the water while letting them die. And with pigs and cows in my opinion that’s demented.

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Val December 13, 2015

PLEASE take dogs and cats OFF your list, UNLESS the “rescuers”
are willing to feed them a SPECIES-APPROPRIATE DIET.
I am currently eating a plant-based diet, but I would NEVER
impose that on my cat!!
I FULLY agree with Jan. If someone is feeding a natural carnivore
a “vegan” diet, they should have the animal taken from them and be
charged with animal abuse!
If vegans/vegetarians want to help cats and dogs, but feel they can’t
ethically feed them a carnivorous diet, they should donate time and
money to charities that help homeless pets (of all types), and get a
rescued NATURALLY-VEGAN pet.

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Kalyani February 23, 2016

I’m really scared because my grandma doesn’t want a cat if it eats meat so if i do this it could be a risky shot.

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Anon July 2, 2016

You need to take down this ridiculous article.
Dogs and cats cannot “thrive” on a vegan diet. They NEED meat. Do your research…

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Mal September 9, 2017

I’ve been veggo my whole life and have cut out dairy etc. but refuse to call myself vegan. The premise of zero animal cruelty is simply hypocritical – what happened to the animals who lived on the land the crops are grown? Your house occupies land once where wildlife roamed. The remaining habitat is often so limiting to natural wildlife populations that they starve. Adopt a fricken pet, let it live a happy life, and get on with it. Great article.

Ps – if some of the posters here haven’t read how to be ultraspiritual and see the absurdity i suggest they do lol

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