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Vegan Dogs (and homemade dog food!)

Anytime someone meets my dogs (and they’re aware I’m vegan) they ask if my dogs are vegan too. I would have thought the answer would be an obvious “yes” but most often, people seem surprised when I tell them, “yup, the whole family is veg!”

I get the question via email too, so I thought I’d put it out there that yes, my dogs are vegan and they are thriving.

If you’re wondering if dogs can be vegan, the answer is yes. Dogs, like humans, don’t need meat to survive. The pugs’ vets in Boston, Los Angeles and New York City have all been supportive of their vegan diet and one even said she would recommend a vegan diet over an omnivorous one if she thought more dog owners would be open to the idea.

Although there are several brands of vegan kibble on the market (Nature’s Balance, V-dog, Wenaewe, Pet Guard, Avo Derm, Natural Life, Evolution Diet and Wysong) I prefer to make vegan dog food myself.

It all started a month ago when we ran out of vegan kibble at home, and to make matters worse, the store was sold out, too. Obviously the pugs couldn’t go hungry so I made them a plate of rice and beans. The next morning I made them a plate of peas and apples and that night, peas and beans. It continued on for days and by the time the store had called to say they had our kibble, I didn’t bother to go buy it.

Of course, Scott was skeptical. He wondered how long I’d last at making fresh meals for our dogs every day, twice a day — but a month later I’m still doing it!

I’ve noticed a dramatic shift in the pugs since we started on home cooked meals. Although they liked their vegan kibble, they were never excited about meal time. Really, they could take it or leave it. Now they bark and do circles — they couldn’t be more thrilled to eat their supper.

I’ve also noticed a change in their…bodily functions. The pugs were never constipated or anything, but we always had to walk them around the block a few times before they were ready to do their business. Now, they poop much quicker and with more ease. I’m convinced it’s all the added fiber. There is little to no fiber in kibble, so it’s not surprising they’re going much more easily now.

I’ve also noticed a change in their urine. Quaid and LilyBean used to have deep yellow pee, which always made me worry they could be dehydrated. Now their urine is much, much lighter in color. I’m convinced its because they’re getting water from their food now. Water is in the rice they eat and the beans I cook for them– vs. kibble which is dehydrated.

By now you’re probably thinking “This sounds great, but I don’t have the time to cook two meals for myself, let alone my dog!” But I promise, you do — and it will save you money! I’m spending a fraction of what I used to on kibble!

Here’s how I do it: I cook an entire bag of brown rice once a week, storing leftovers in my fridge. I do the same with a bag of beans and I’ll steam or bake sweet potatoes while I’m add it. Every day I’ll put brown rice, beans and either a sweet potato or thawed frozen peas into their bowl. It takes seconds.

I’ve also recently started added chopped fresh apples and zucchini from my garden. I also keep a bag of puffed brown rice on hand, and a few cans of beans, just in case I run out.

When I started making my own dog food, I was skeptical I’d have the time or energy to keep up with it — but it hasn’t been a problem at all and now it’s a habit. I’ll put rice and beans on the stove when I’m watching a movie, cleaning the apartment or doing something else. An hour later I have all their food done for the week and I’ve been known to swipe some for myself, too.

I’ve also realized that I can thaw frozen peas under hot water in less than 20 seconds when I’m really desperate. (They really love peas!)

I can’t recommend making homemade vegan dog food enough. The pugs seem to like every bean, vegetable and fruit I throw at them, but they’re particularly fond of: corn, peas, sweet potatoes, black beans, kidney beans, black soy beans, tempeh, apples, bananas, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, asparagus, brown rice (they actually won’t eat white rice), collard greens, kale, spinach, whole grain cereal and oatmeal.

Just be sure to avoid giving your dogs raisins, grapes, garlic, onions or mushrooms.

Perhaps my pugs are the luckiest dogs in the world, at least in terms of their food (they’re still envious of dogs with big backyards!) but hopefully with this post I’ll convince a few more dog owners to nurture their pets with natural, plant-based foods!

Update: we now live abroad where I have no choice but to feed the dogs home cooked meals. I start with a protein base — beans or lentils, and then mix in leftover raw vegetables (chopped well), pumpkin (for Lily Bean’s eyes) and any leftovers or leftover grains I have, like brown rice. We joke that the dogs are our compost bin. I always make sure to give them a mix and variety — right now their food is a base of lentils, with bell pepper, cucumber, yellow squash, cabbage, lettuce and cauliflower, plus some leftover rice.

Supplemant: I use veg-e-dog supplement as a proactive measure. The company sends great dog food recipes with their vitamins which I love!

Article excerpted from www.happyherbivore.com

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Bill Clinton Goes Vegan

Photo by Flickr User marcn

A year ago, Bill Clinton made headlines for his “almost vegan” diet. Now, he is in the spotlight again for his diet, claiming he is now 100 percent vegan.

PETA’s “Person of the Year” appears to be living up to his title by sharing his message about the health benefits of a vegan diet.

“I had played Russian roulette because even though I had changed my diet some and cut down on the caloric total of my ingestion and cut back on much of the cholesterol in the food I was eating,” Clinton said, according to the Boston Herald. “I still – without any scientific basis to support what I did – was taking in a lot of extra cholesterol without knowing it. So that’s when I made a decision to really change.”

Some studies have shown that vegans have a lower risk for developing diseases like cancer, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Bill Clinton not only wants to improve his own health but also the health of others. The Clinton Foundation has teamed up with the American Heart Association to provide better school lunches and promote exercise.

Article excerpted from www.organicbugblog.com

The reason to become a vegan is not only for diet purpose, it will also keep us to become a healthy person and have a lower risk of sickness or diseases.

Lazy Vegan Miso Soup

There’s nothing quite like sitting down at a nice Thai or Japanese restaurant and sipping on a warm bowl of miso soup. It’s equally nice to enjoy this dish from the comforts of your own home, especially on a rainy or sick day when you want nothing more than to be curled up in sweatpants with a movie or a good book. Unfortunately, miso can often be misleadingly made with a soup base called dashi, which is a mixture of water, dried seaweed and fish flakes.

The good news is that this simple and delicious comfort food can be recreated as a vegan soup with very little effort. Typically,  pair the soup with a nice, fresh Asian salad or vegan lettuce wraps.

When you’re feeling the blues or needing a little pick-me-up, just go to your fridge and use whatever vegetables and protein products you have on hand to fuel your miso.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg. Silken tofu, or whatever tofu you have on hand. Silken makes the miso more closely resemble the restaurant-style dish
  • 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • ¾ c. green onions, chopped
  • 6 medium-large white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 TB miso paste. South River organic sweet white miso paste is one that can last for decades in your refrigerator.
  • 2 large vegan bouillon cubes or 2 TB Better Than Bouillon paste. Follow instructions on container.
  • 1 dash sea salt
  • 4 – 6 c. water

First, slice your vegetables. Feel free to use whatever vegetables you like. Celery works well, as does seaweed, or any variety of mushroom.

Drain your tofu and cut into tiny cubes.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Once your water is boiling, dissolve the miso paste in the water. Stir.

Add your vegetable broth or vegan bouillon. Stir.

Add carrots and/or other vegetables (not your green onions or mushrooms) and let all the ingredients reach a full boil again. This will soften your vegetables. Once your miso is to this point, bring to a simmer.

Just a couple of minutes before serving, add the green onions. sea salt, and mushrooms.

Then add the tofu.

Let ingredients cook for 2 -3 minutes to allow the flavors to mix together, and serve!

Makes 4 – 6 bowls.

Article excerpted from www.organicbugblog.com

Reasons a Vegan Diet Can Cause Weight Gain

Many people choose a vegan lifestyle for ethical, health, or environmental reasons. But if you’re solely going meat-, dairy-, and egg-free because you think it will help you drop pounds, you may end up gaining rather than losing weight. Remember that just because a food is vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthier or lower in calories. Keep these points in mind to avoid plumping up on your vegan diet.

  • Chowing on vegan junk: French fries, tortilla chips, and Swedish Fish are all free of animal products, but they’re also high in fat, sugar, and calories. Just because some junk food is vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthier.
  • Loading up on bread and pasta: Many people don’t know how to cook vegan meals, so when you head to a dinner party or out to a restaurant, get ready to eat some dinner rolls and spaghetti! There’s nothing wrong with eating bread or pasta, it’s just that they’re high in calories. A dinner roll will run you over 200 calories, and although one cup of cooked pasta is a little over 200 calories, plates tend to be two or three times larger than an appropriate serving size. If bread and pasta are staples in your vegan diet, it’s no wonder your pants are fitting a little snug.
  • But that cupcake is vegan!: Made with butter, milk, and eggs, most cookies and cakes are off-limits. But missing out can be a little depressing. When you stumble upon a vegan carrot cupcake with Tofutti cream cheese frosting, you indulge. Go ahead and enjoy vegan treats once in a while, but eat your sweets in moderation. Like junk food, animal-free foods do not equal calorie-free treats.
  • Nuts for protein: Snacking on handfuls of nuts, smearing peanut butter on your banana, and wondering why the scale numbers are increasing? Yes, nuts are a great source of protein for vegans, but they’re also high in calories — a two-tablespoon serving of peanut butter will run you 210 calories! Do check out these protein-rich, low-calorie vegan meals.
  • Overdoing it on the dairy-free products: It’s amazing how much Daiya cheese and Soy Delicious nondairy frozen desserts taste just like the real thing. It can be really exciting to discover these foods after living without them for so long, but a vegan can’t live on dairy-free ice cream alone.

Article excerpted from www.fitsugar.com

Why Vegan Over Vegetarian?

A lot of people wonder why a vegan diet is a better option than a vegetarian lifestyle. The words are actually often used interchangeably. What’s vegan is already vegetarian, but what is vegetarian isn’t always vegan. More simply put, a vegetarian diet excludes meat, poultry or fish. Vegetarians do, however, consume dairy and eggs. Vegans, on the other hands, abstain from eating any animal by-products. They don’t eat meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs or even honey. The term vegan also refers to a lifestyle free of animal by-products. Vegans do not buy leather, fur, wool or any other by-product from an animal.

Health Concerns

A vegan diet is better for your overall health. Vegans don’t usually have problems with cholesterol. The reason for this is simple–there’s no dietary cholesterol in vegan foods. However, vegetarian foods, like cheese and eggs, still contain dietary cholesterol. A vegan diet is heart friendly.

Vegans need to be sure to get enough vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. Supplements and foods such as flax seed can make sure that a vegan gets all needed nutrients. On average, the vegan diet is much healthier than the average American diet.

Body odor is often eliminated or greatly reduced by a vegan diet. Observers from health experts to Oprah have stated that, when you don’t eat meat or dairy, you naturally smell better. Going vegan eliminates a lot of body odor concerns.

Although studies are still being conducted, a vegan diet has shown to reduce the risks of certain types of cancers, including colon cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer. In countries where very few animal by-products are consumed, there is also a lower rate of breast cancer diagnosis. A vegan diet that is also organic and not filled with processed foods is ideal to contribute to optimal health.

Weight Issues

A vegan diet, as long as its not filled with vegan junk food, can lead to easy weight loss. As a result, going vegan can also lead to a lower BMI level, the now popular index that attempts to correlate weight and health risks. It’s debatable if BMI levels themselves actually mean anything, but a lower weight can be a great relief for those battling the bulge.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has produced a food group chart that reflects what vegetarians, vegans and others should be eating for optimal health. Don’t look for animal by-products there. It’s a healthy food group chart without the need for dairy, eggs or meats at all.

Ethical Concerns

A lot of people choose vegan over simply being vegetarian because of ethical concerns. The dairy and egg industries have repeatedly been exposed for animal abuse in the same way that the meat industries have. In order to make a stand against violence against animals of any kind, many people take it a step further and commit to the vegan lifestyle.

For those who are concerned about the environment, going vegan is also something seen as inevitable. Plant-based foods take up fewer resources than animal-based foods.


Picture from www.justvegan.co.uk

Article excerpted from www.3fatchicks.com

Now I know the difference between vegan and vegetarian. It is not easy to go on a vegan diet because you will need to feel comfortable with the foods that didn’t contain any meats, eggs or even honey! However, vegan diet does give many benefits such as reduce the risks of sickness and weight loss. Why don’t we start to have vegan diet by doing it one or two times per week?

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