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01 October 2008


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Gina Spadafori

During the pet-food recall, I got a fervent e-mail from folks at the Animal Protection Institute United Animal Nations. "This is a GREAT TIME to promote switching dogs and cats to a vegan diet!" they said.

Morons! Where the EFF do you think all that adulterated protein substitute comes from? Hint: China. And what the EFF do you think is in it? Hint: melamine.

As Dr. Paul Pion (who just happens to know how cats die when you don't feed them properly) wrote in our "Cats For Dummies": For the perfect feline diet, take one vole, freshly killed. Put in blender. Hit 'frappe.'

Feeding a cat a vegan diet is animal abuse.

You want to ignore the fact that you evolved with incisors for eating meat, fine. But every tooth in a dog's mouth or cat's mouth is designed for predation. Want to avoid what might be in a commercial diet -- or might not be? -- then source ingredients carefully and prepare dog and cat meals at home. With meat.

Dr Patty Khuly

Oooh, Gina, tellin' it like it is...ouch!

I find that some vegans (whom I respect tremendously for their efforts, especially when integrated into an entire lifestyle devoted to animal product freedom) get awfully cagey when it comes to feeding their pets. It's got to be a tough position. I want a cat but...

The roadkill approach is interesting, but in my neighborhood all you'd need to do is set the Have-A-Heart trap and you'd soon have enough opossum meat to feed an army of cats. The vegans I mentioned this to weren't having any of my recommendation, much as I tried to explain that I was being serious...really I was...

Gina Spadafori

Zibby, I stand corrected. The letter was from United Animal Nations, another Sacramento group that was founded by the same person as the Animal Protection Institute. And I believe that founder served on both boards at one point, and that both groups shared office space for several years, over the supermarket at Florin and I-5?

But technically, you are correct. The e-mail was not from your group.


There are several canned all meat/fish, no additives brands out there - Weruva, and Tiki come to mind. There are also frozen raw diets available.

So why would I want to feed my cats a synthetic diet?

And I bet it costs more than the food listed above.


Wonderful post, Christie.

This highlights something I've attempted to bring to light regarding the inadequacy of AAFCO labeling - judging a food merely by percent of protein/fat/etc. does NOT make it nutritionally complete, and it absolutely incorrect that the AAFCO certifies pet food "nutritionally complete" based solely on this information! Judging merely on a few macro and micronutrients does not in any way address the bioavailability of the ingredients.


Cats *are* obligate carnivores, and also need moisture in their diet as their ancestors evolved in the desert with low thirst drives. They need a meat-based MOIST diet with little-to-no grains, vegetables, fruit, etc.


Gina Spadafori

Zibby ... again, a little disingenuous. We're not talking a transitory board member. We're talking the same FOUNDER.

However, it's true there's no shared space now, so fine.


The Animal Protection Institute (before its merger with Born Free USA in 2007) has been in operation for over 40 years. As no one in the organization has currently been there for all 40 of those years, I can not say who served on whose boards or who may have shared office space, when, and where.

What I can say is that API is not affiliated with United Animal Nations nor do they share office space in Sacramento.

The "What's Really in Pet Food?" report, originally created by the Animal Protection Institute at the request of the public almost 10 years ago, has been an important tool for the public and obviously remains so. I hope people continue to make use of it and that it provides them with the information they need to feel they are doing the best for their treasured companions.

Anne T

I do not believe we have any moral or ethical right to impose our dietary choices on another animal as in forcing an obligate carnivore such as a domestic cat to be vegetarian. That is so wrong on so many levels, starting with the biology of the animal imposed upon! What hubris! If you can't "stomach" the idea that a carnivore eats flesh, bone, fat and blood, then for the dog's & cat's sake, don't own one! Talk about cruelty!!!!!


Cats and Dogs were meant to rip, tear and shred meat and crunch bones. How hard would it be for this guy to throw his poor kitty some *real* kitty food, meaning some nice raw chicken, fish, beef etc. etc. Much easier for him, much healthier for kitty.



I am the spokesperson on this topic for the Animal Protection Institute (now Born Free USA) and I just want to point out that our organization has never sent fervent emails to anyone telling them to put their animals on a vegan diet.

The only thing we have ever recommended is that people read our "What's Really in Pet Food?" report, written by Veterinarian Dr. Jean Hofve, to familiarize themselves with pet food ingredients and labelling so that they can make informed decisions about what they are feeding their pets.

Zibby Wilder

Director of Public Relations

Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute

H. Houlahan

You know, I have heard of vegans who scavenge road kill for their carnivorous pets.

That is dedication -- to their personal ethics, and to the needs of their pets. I just hope they have the sense to Just Say No to week-old possum. (A cat will enforce this herself. Dogs, notsomuch.)

Keeping in mind that here in PA, when you hit a deer and a bunch of pickups immediately stop where you are examining your wrecked front-end, you are less likely to hear "Need any help, ma'am?" than you are "You gonna eat that?"

Took some getting used to, but I finally came around to the truth that it's a sin to waste meat.

My old training officer in NH feeds her dogs road-killed moose. The police have a processor that comes and gets the moose right away. The local food pantry gets the good meat. The dogs get the mooshy, blood-shot stuff that has "KCAM" imprinted in it. Good New England thrift.

Gina Spadafori

I do yearn for the day when meat is produced without chemicals and humanely. I would think people would be happy to pay a bit more to get better quality with a bit less quantity.

Comment by Erich Riesenberg — October 2, 2008 @ 4:40 am

Erich, that day is here. While humane, sustainably raised meat is not commonly available in supermarkets -- it is indeed available if you seek it out, most notably in food co-ops, natural-food stores and chains like Whole Foods.

You can also buy through farmer's markets and direct from farmers.


Christie --

The PDF is way cool! Lindsey and Pepper definately want me to make it part of my evening reading -- visions of whole voles are dancing in their heads!

Erich Riesenberg

I don't eat meat except seafood, but my dogs are lucky to get meat and eggs from a local farm which is allegedly all wholesome goodness. Some day we will have to do a surprise inspection.

I still wonder about the meat in their kibble, though it is supposed to be "human quality."

I do yearn for the day when meat is produced without chemicals and humanely. I would think people would be happy to pay a bit more to get better quality with a bit less quantity.

I think about homemade diet but haven't done it yet.


What the heck makes this guy qualified to make and sell a vegan dry matter cat food?

Yeah, I'm sure my cats are just craving some dry matter that I can turn into a vegan roast, lol!~ MMMMMMMMM! just the thought of synthetic taurine and I'm sure will make my cats give up their much loved chicken hearts . . . let's see, vegan dry matter or ground meat, bones, organs and whole body parts? I have a feeling my cats know best . . . . I'll stick with Mother Nature's wisdom.


I had this argument with my wonderful, yet slightly dippy, ex Dead Head friend, who insisted cats would do fine on nut butters, legumes and tofu. Seriously.

She finally gave in and agreed that fine, maybe they need some fish.

Three years on, she feeds a meat based home diet. Even she admits that cats can't be vegan, and it wasn't for lack of her trying.

As Gina said above, you want a vegan, get a bunny.

Hey, I'm a carnivore. Maybe I'll get a bunny and try to make it eat steak.

H. Houlahan

Ummm ... this guy refers to his dead cat as his "son."

Bringing to mind the South Park episode with the PeTA colony ...

And since he and his "son" founded the vegan cat institute three years ago, and he has five years of experience feeding cats a vegan diet ... well, it seems that he doesn't take too long to kill a cat on a vegan diet.

OTOH, my moggies who have been fed plenty of "poison" have lived 17 years, and in the case of the senile-and-still-with-us ill-natured Dave, may live forever.

BTW, the barn kittens prefer their voles unblended, thanks.

Gina Spadafori

UAN has no connection to Born Free, and you should stop putting them together.

Comment by David Middlesworth — October 3, 2008

Already noted. Thanks.

David Middlesworth

Ms. Spadafori,

I would like to clarify that the note posted 4/25/07 by me should not have been signed, using the United Animal Nations (UAN)in the signature block, since I was expressing my personal views, which obviously differ 180 degrees from yours. Also, UAN has no connection to Born Free, and you should stop putting them together. They both represent different areas of animal advocacy.

David Middlesworth

Anne T

Hamlet, act III, scene 4, lines 206 and 207: "For 'tis sport to have the engineer/ Hoist with his own petar...."

Alexis Raymond

I work for United Animal Nations (UAN) and I am confident that we have not encouraged people to switch dogs and cats to a vegan diet during the recent pet-food recall or at any other time in recent memory. If you still have this e-mail I would love to receive a copy at [email protected].

UAN focuses on bringing animals out of crisis and into care through a variety of programs, including emergency sheltering, disaster relief, financial assistance grants for urgent veterinary care, and humane education. Promoting vegetarianism or veganism, whether among people or animals, is not part of our mission.

Alexis Raymond

United Animal Nations

Gina Spadafori

Hate to lessen your confidence, but ... here you go, dated 4/25/07, sent to [email protected]:


Greetings! I would like to request that you give consideration to an article on the advantages of feeding a dog a balanced vegan dog food. This has relevance for two major reasons: First the huge dog food scare that seems to expand to new lines everyday. Secondly, a holistic vet proclaimed on the Oprah show today April 25th that dogs should eat primarily meat, with a bare minimum of grains. As a vegan, I almost fell off the chair listening to this nonsense. In any event, it might make for an interesting article to rebut this position that dogs need meat to thrive, since we have ample evidence to the contrary. I would be happy to discuss this in further detail at your convenience.

Best regards,

David Middlesworth,Ph.D

Chairman of the Board

United Animal Nations


Here's a link to the UAN's listing of "Our People," with Mr. Middlesworth on it:


It also would appear Mr. Middlesworth sells vegan dog food, although that wasn't mentioned in his e-mail:


Now ...

I have corrected the source of the e-mail as not being API.

I have posted the e-mail UAN was confident was not sent.

This particular aspect of the discussion is now closed. Thanks.

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