18 November 2004

From the Mailbag

Dear Keith,

On the subject of vegetarian dogs [see here], a few questions and a couple of facts.
1. Do my obligations towards the animals (or humans) in my care entitle me to
harm the animals (or humans) who are not in my care? Specifically, does my
obligation to give my dog Louie a good life entitle me to cause suffering and
death to Michele's cow, Sherman?

2. Why is it wrong to impose my moral standards on Louie but acceptable to impose my moral standards on Sherman (whose flesh Louie would like to eat)? Can I disregard the life and death concerns of a stranger if that means enriching the life of a friend?

3. If having dogs and cats forces me to impose misery on other animals, shouldn't I refrain from having dogs and cats in the first place?

4. What does Louie lose if I stop feeding him meat? What does Sherman lose if I feed him to Louie?

5. Can dogs be healthy on a vegan diet? Can they be happy?
The vegan dogs I've met are in perfect health. I'm sure they would choose meat over plant based protein if they had a choice but, since they are not given that choice, they enthusiastically eat their nutritionally complete, vet-approved vegetarian kibble.

I believe they are as happy as they act. They get companionship, respect, gentleness, inclusion in the pack, walks, hikes, runs in the park, ample opportunities to play, explore, and socialize. They are well cared for, well fed. They are loved.

If indeed eating becomes less exciting for vegetarian dogs, what they lose is negligible compared to what cows, pigs, lambs, chickens, and horses stand to lose if we grind them up into dog food.

Best regards,
Joanna Lucas

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