There are few issues more contentious amongst vegans than what to feed companion animals. So, this week, we are going there! Veterinarian, researcher, and animal welfare specialist Andrew Knight knows more about this topic than pretty much anyone, and we are thrilled that he is joining us for a discussion about his recent peer-reviewed study exploring the health impacts of vegan and meat-based diets and how he’s helping companion animals lead their best lives on plant-based food. Andrew not only counters some of the stigmas attached to plant-based diets for companion animals but explains the potential benefits, including fewer gastrointestinal problems and healthier skin. He also offers listeners his advice on transitioning animals from a meat-based diet to a vegan diet and tips on finding nutritionally balanced vegan food for companion animals.
Please note: Since we recorded this episode, there have been dramatic developments in the ongoing story we discussed regarding the dispute over two rescued cattle involving Asha’s Farm Sanctuary in Newfane, New York, including the arrest for grand larceny of the sanctuary’s founder, Tracy Murphy.
*We are thrilled to expand the accessibility of our podcast by offering written transcripts of the interviews! Click here to read Jasmin’s interview with Andrew Knight.*
Andrew Knight is a European, American, New Zealand, and RCVS-recognized Veterinary Specialist in animal welfare. He worked in UK small animal practice for nearly a decade before teaching for two years at Ross Uni School of Veterinary Medicine in the Caribbean. In 2015, he established the Centre for Animal Welfare at the University of Winchester, where he is a Professor of Animal Welfare and Ethics. He leads a distance learning MSc in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics, and Law. He has numerous academic and popular publications and a series of YouTube videos on animal welfare issues. Andrew has delivered around 200 external presentations on such issues; these include an extensive series examining scientific and educational animal use and alternatives, which formed the basis for his Ph.D. and subsequent book, The Costs and Benefits of Animal Experiments. His recent research focuses on the contributions of the livestock sector to climate change and on plant-based diets for companion animals.
“It is impossible for us to address the changes that are needed within our societies without addressing the food system, and that also includes the food system for companion animals.” – Andrew Knight
Highlights for Episode 656:
- The outcome of Andrew’s survey over 4,000 cat and dog guardians, which asked questions about the health and behavioral outcomes of animals on different diets
- The link between nutritionally sound vegan diets for companion animals and slowing climate change
- Why there is so little research on the impact of companion animal diets on human-generated greenhouse gasses
- How to ensure you are feeding your dog or cat good quality food
- The hazards of commercial meat-based foods for companion animals, including pesticides, allergens, and antibiotic residues
- Why so many people are offended by the idea of feeding animals a vegan diet, and why people focus on the concept of what is “natural” when it comes to feeding their companion animals
- What surveys have found about the health of vegan cats
- Why there’s no reason to imagine that animals wouldn’t thrive so long as you are feeding them sufficiently bioavailable, digestible food
- Why there is currently such phenomenal demand for vegan companion animal food
- How veterinary students can maximize their chances of success when asking for humane teaching methods
- Help Stop Cruel Cub Petting and the Big Cat Pet Trade
- Asha’s Farm Sanctuary
- Actor Joaquin Phoenix weighs in on Asha Sanctuary cattle controversy
- Animal sanctuary owner faces felony after refusing to return stray cows from beef farm
- Rescuing or rustling at ASHA animal sanctuary?
- Beefing in NY! Animal sanctuary won’t return 2 stray cows to farm
- Vegan versus meat-based dog food: Guardian-reported indicators of health
- Miyoko’s Creamery
Connect with Andrew Knight:
- Sustainable Pet Food Website
- Andrew Knight’s Website
- Andrew Knight on Facebook
- Plant based companion animal diets – Youtube
Connect with Our Hen House:
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This episode is brought to you in part by Miyoko’s Creamery. From their humble beginnings with 4 employees in Miyoko’s home kitchen, to a 30,000 sq ft. state-of-the-art facility in Sonoma, Miyoko’s Creamery is leading the way in transforming the future of the creamery. Miyoko’s Creamery is changing perceptions of vegan food, to inspire people from all walks of life to enjoy a phenomenally vegan lifestyle and right now our listeners can get 15% off by visiting their website and checking out with code HENHOUSE15.
This episode is brought to you in part through the generosity of A Well-Fed World. A Well-Fed World provides the means for change by empowering individuals, social justice organizations, and political decision makers to embrace the benefits of plant-based foods and farming. Learn more at awfw.org.