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Cruelty-Free Diets for Companion Animals

Of my three dogs, Galileo is most ostensibly a viable candidate for a completely cruelty-free diet. Whether it’s arugula or romaine, chopped baby carrots or baby bok choy, Galileo insists on getting his fair share of anything I whip up in the kitchen. Pushkin, at the opposite end of the spectrum, wanted nothing to do with fruits and vegetables. I would add diced carrots and baby peas into a mix of brown rice and baked (free-range, organic) chicken. He would eat the rice and chicken with gusto… and spit out every single speck of vegetable. Galileo, without fail, would be there to clean up after his big brother. Otis, my middle child, treads the middle path: he’ll eat some vegetables and some fruit; broccoli is OK, but only if it’s been sauteed in something yummy like garlic or soy sauce and has lots of other spices to make it interesting. So how do we create a home that’s completely cruelty-free when our animals aren’t as taken with the idea of embracing a vegetarian/vegan diet? I know some people  would suggest that my pups would eat all-vegetarian if that’s all they were offered.  When Pushkin was sick, however, and my main goal was to keep his weight up, I made a choice to be as cruelty-free as possible while still taking care of Priority #1 — my beloved beagle. The parameters I set up in the kitchen based on my pups’ preferences are good to keep in mind for humans and non-humans alike, especially if you have family members who just aren’t ready or as willing to embrace a complete diet overhaul.  I encourage everyone, whether it’s about food for their animal companions or their human family members, to take some time to find out where their food is coming from and how the animals are treated before they get to our tables. For starters, think organic, local, cage-free, free-range, grass-fed… and try to stick with these words as often as possible while you do your grocery shopping. Human-grade is another good thing to look for when shopping for the animals in your home. Over time, you likely will find, as I have, that human and nonhuman family members alike become more open to trying cruelty-free options.  For example, on Sunday mornings, a breakfast of scrambled cage-free egg whites and Morningstar’s “bacon” was, for a long time, a tradition in my home.  First, my husband Seth and I decided to take the next step and eliminate the few dairy items we were still using.  Cage-free eggs went the wayside, and Morningstar Bacon, which contains egg-whites, was replaced with Smart Bacon. ...

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