The Vegetarian Raw-Feeder Conundrum

21 May

Of the three Dog Snobs, both BusyBee and Potnoodle are vegetarian.  Both also happen to feed their dogs raw.  In today’s entry, we discuss what it’s like being a vegetarian who is frequently elbow deep in animal carcass.

BusyBee:  As a nearly lifelong vegetarian, if you had told me before Mr. T that I would be feeding my dog a raw diet, I would have laughed in your face….and probably shuddered just thinking about it.   As a kid, I wouldn’t even touch the dinner plates after a meal if meat had been on them (ok fine, maybe it was partially a ploy to get out of doing the dishes), but I seriously was grossed out even thinking about or seeing meat.   When I got Mr. T, we started on a high quality kibble and although he seemingly enjoyed it, it became evident over time that he was having some pretty bad reactions to the food he was eating.  After over a year of constant vet visits for sores, rashes, UTIs, and hair loss (not to mention wicked dog farts), I finally took the plunge and started raw.  I had it in my mind that I would just give him pre-made patties because that wouldn’t require me actually handling the meat.  What I hadn’t planned on was how into meal planning I would actually get, so less than a month after starting raw, I found myself trolling the internet looking for whole animals, joining a local raw feeder co-op, and breaking down his meals in my kitchen sink.  My parents still can’t believe I’m doing this, and quite frankly, neither can I.

 

Potnoodle: Meat is weird. We can all agree on that right? I mean… why is gnawing on connective tissue considered a normal thing to do? Unfortunately, for dogs, it is a normal (species appropriate) thing to do. Because of this, I’ve been chopping up deer bits in my backyard for longer than I care to think of. I bag up kidney and tripe and nothing nice like it is my job. I get really into planning it out and I have the highscore at freezer tetris. I buy goat on the hoof and butcher it myself, all in my backyard (though I let other people handle the actual killing…) All because my first poodle has bad teeth. That’s right… no gastrointestinal issues caused the switch. My dogs had great coat on a high quality grain free diet. It’s all about the teeth for me, though of course there have been secondary improvements. I have no plans of going back, I’ll be covered in various bloody debris for the rest of my days.

 

Things We Never Thought We Would Do

 

1.  Break down whole animals

Seriously.  Gloves on, handling large chunks of raw meat and breaking it down into meal-sized portions.  Who are we?  Why are we doing this?  Tofu never required so much work. Once, Potnoodle made the mistake of answering her door while in the middle of organ bagging day. The good news is, she no longer sees any Jehovah’s Witnesses

 

With the bulk chicken feet orders, she gets way more Voodoo practitioners though.

2.  Devote an entire freezer to raw meat

Prior to dogs, our freezers were full of Morningstar Farms veggie products and ice cream.  Now, they resemble carefully stocked meat lockers.   BusyBee still gets a little weirded out whenever she opens her freezer and sees little bunny foo foo peering back at her.  Potnoodle wasn’t joking about having the high score at freezer tetris, it truly is an art and not one she feels should be taken for granted.

Like this with the added challenge of ziploc.

3.  Casually watch our dogs devour their raw

Watching a dog go to town on a whole rabbit is quite a sight, and frankly one that we never thought we would be ok doing.  However, it really doesn’t even faze us anymore, so much so that the other day BusyBee traumatized a neighbor who came over to say “hi” and caught Mr. T with bunny feet literally dangling from his mouth.  While the neighbor gagged and probably flashed back to Thumper from Bambi, BusyBee wasn’t even disturbed.

 

We call it the Disney Diet

4. Examine our dog’s poop with such interest.

On kibble, it can basically be taken for granted that a dog’s poop should look the same day in and day out.  Not so on raw food. Too loose? More bone. Dog constipated? More meat or add some tripe. Weird color? Back off the bone. It’s like working in a CSI lab, minus the murder.

 

5.Spending more time planning our dog’s menu than our own.

Balance over time, it’s a raw feeding mantra. So often, our dog’s diet is planned weeks ahead. Meanwhile, Potnoodle has been known to eat peanut butter sandwiches for multiple meals a day and BusyBee has failed at every attempt she has made to track her own food intake or plan menus even a few days in advance.

It’s a staple.

Do you feed raw?  Are you a vegetarian?  Share below!

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33 Responses to “The Vegetarian Raw-Feeder Conundrum”

  1. laurakgoodman May 21, 2013 at 4:20 am #

    I’m a 20 year vegetarian, happily. Watching Forks Over Knives tonight made me feel even better about my lifestyle! I could never force a vegetarian diet on my dog, although I know some folks go this route. I’m lucky that my dogs aren’t a) picky about what they eat, b)allergic to much but some grains, so I feed a high-quality, meat-based kibble as their staple. They also love and get bananas, apples, greens, etc. I’m too lazy to go raw, although if it were necessary for their health, I’d step up too! I only touch meat for my dogs. For example, I did make an organic turkey, spinach, carrot, egg meatloaf for my first born’s 10th birthday a few weeks ago.

  2. cynontheworld May 21, 2013 at 4:27 am #

    Laughing my ass of at this. I eat meat and don’t think it’s weird at all, but people with obligate carnivore pets do tend to freak out the nons and the Purina Koolaid drinkers. My cat killing and eating his own rodents is the reason why I don’t have a rodent problem, and my feeding my dogs real food is why they are healthier.

  3. Tracy May 21, 2013 at 4:54 am #

    I’m not vegetarian…I feed prey model raw & would never go back. It makes me love you guys more to know that you aren’t randomly imposing your personal dietary model on your carnivorous pets. Awesome 🙂 !!

  4. pitbull friend May 21, 2013 at 5:01 am #

    So very, very unnecessary. I’m vegan & so are my own dogs and my many rescue dogs. I’ve had literally dozens of dogs on a vegan diet (Nature’s Recipe supplemented with small amounts of grains, vegetables, and fruits depending what I have on hand). My malamute mix lived to be 17 on it, my golden mix 16, my akita mix 14. Currently, my 50 lb pit bull mix is doing exceptionally well at age 11. I very much recommend the book “Obligate Carnivore” by Jed Gillen to those who would like some of the theory on why dogs and cats are actually fine without meat. As for me, since my dogs are exceptionally healthy, I’m delighted to have a win-win situation.

    • Jessica Cargill May 22, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

      I can just feel the extreme smugness from here.

      • pitbull friend May 25, 2013 at 4:07 am #

        I understand that there isn’t a heck of a lot to say about this. If my dogs suffered some detriment, then there would be more to debate. There is an easier way, it’s cheaper, and it’s better for the environment. So, you know, maybe one shouldn’t discount it without trying it.

    • Connie June 2, 2013 at 3:29 am #

      I am glad what you are doing its working for you, but please do not presume that simply because it works for you that it will work for every pet. There is a lot of evidence that there is no one ideal diet, either for pets or people.

      • pitbull friend June 3, 2013 at 4:08 am #

        I agree that nothing seems to work for every member of a species. However, I wouldn’t dismiss this one out of hand because I have fed this diet to several dozen dogs. No one has done poorly on it. So, given the ethical implications, etc., I would encourage people to try it for a month and see what happens. That is what I did at first, because obviously I didn’t want to do something that would be bad for my dogs. If it had turned out that my dogs had done badly on it, I guess I would have fed them animal-based food for the rest of their lives and then switched to herbivorous pets. But why sacrifice the lives of other animals if you don’t absolutely have to?

    • sandramclean1 July 17, 2014 at 11:22 am #

      what supplements were you giving in order to ensure they maintained the calcium and amino acids they require for proper health. Were there veggies and fruits that your dogs did not take to and what proteins did you use? I’m sure after so many years there was a lot of trial and error. How about dental health?

  5. JT May 21, 2013 at 5:10 am #

    I don’t mind hacking up the meat, but kidneys and liver always get me … plus my dog doesn’t seem to care for it raw. That was excuse enough for me to cheat and get dehydrated organ instead.

    I love hearing my dog crunch on a raw meaty bone … I think I might actually give him one right now! Nom nom nom …

  6. Marilyn May 21, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    Yes, my relatives and close friends are stil shaking their heads at my feeding raw. Not the feeding raw itself, but that I am doing it! A lifelong vegetarian, married to a carnivore, I rarely bought meat for my spouse much less ever fix it. I started slowly fixing meat for my dogs, beginning with liver (not the best meat source to begin with) for showring bait. Because of an autoimmune dog, I began fixing all of his meals. After reading the fabulous book, “It’s Like a Miracle” by Richard Soltaro, DVM I decided to go raw with this one guy to see how he would react. React he did! Gained 15 lbs and extended his life several years. We then switched over the others and I have been feeding prey model raw for two years now. I still wear my gloves when handling meat. A dog meat freezer so the Morningstar and vegie foods are kept separate. A raw feeder group is a must, especially for someone starting out having no idea about cuts of meat, etc. I feed about 6 lbs a day between the three dogs (two weigh over 100 lbs and one at 40) and they are in excellent health, great stools and beautiful teeth and breath! Can’t feed the whole heads yet or feet. Handling the dehydrated chicken and duck feet ok and the turkey necks (look like deformed penises). Did my first grind of beef heart (interesting — felt like biology class). Who would have thought I’d be a meat label reading, grinding raw feeder! I still cannot believe it. I still don’t fix or buy meat for my spouse. He’s still on his own in that department and after 40 years of marriage I see no reason to change. LOL.

    • HTPCB May 22, 2013 at 3:04 am #

      LOL! I am so glad you shared 🙂 It made me think of you right away and I just smiled!

  7. Hounded and Happy May 21, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    Break down animals – check, freezer (and a fridge) devoted to dog food – check, moments of hilarity at various parts of chicken feet hanging out of mouths – check …you really are my kind of people!

    On the phone to a friend one day, I heard my husband say ‘Right now the dogs are eating whole raw salmon, we are eating hamburgers..somehow this doesn’t seem right’ Ha..right and wrong are such relative terms 🙂

    • TheDogSnobs May 21, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

      As the only one who doesn’t fully Raw-feed among the dog snobs, that my dogs still manage to eat better quality food than I do is amazing.
      -Fang

    • silverflame819 May 25, 2013 at 6:35 am #

      Wait a minute, what? You’re feeding your dogs raw salmon?? You aren’t concerned about Raw Salmon Poisoning? Eek, this post freaked me out! :S

      • catherineduke May 26, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

        If the salmon are not from the Pacific Northwest…no, I would not be worried about Salmon Poisoning Disease. (I’m a former RVT who has seen SPD in action several times) Atlantic salmon is just fine for dogs.

  8. Laurie May 21, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    I too am a vegetarian. There’s nothing wrong with eating meat. With the exception of the abject cruelty of factory farming that you are contributing too. 😉 When it comes time to making dog food though, I really struggle with the raw carcasses. I simply can’t do it. I have to cook the meat in order to grind it up. Once cooked it looks and feels much less like a dead body. :S And now you can thank me for bringing up your next topic!! Those who feed cooked vs. raw! 🙂 (Lets not even get into the reactions and excuses kibble people use when they hear you’re making your own diet!) I suspect that you are as passionate in your beliefs about dog food as I am and I look forward to the blog!!

    • nuviyamals November 5, 2014 at 3:13 am #

      Don’t assume they are contributing to factory farming cruelty because they feet meat.

  9. Losechosech May 21, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

    Non veggie head here. I eat (ethically raised or hunted) meat and love it! If it were possible, I’d be a meatitarian. But alas, I’m an omnivore, and every now and then I do need some plants for various reasons. Plus, there are a few that I do actually enjoy eating. (Working on an organic farm has it’s advantages there.)
    Anywho, my dogs eat a whole-foods diet. They get mostly raw meat/bones/organs, eggs, and raw dairy, but they do get some occasional fruits, veggies, and a select few grains. They love their diet and are in amazing health. I hope I never have to go back to feeding them kibble, it’s not only a sub-optimal diet, but it’s just plain boring.

  10. julie May 22, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

    Oh ha, just started feeding one dog raw a week ago (others will follow) and just got a glimpse of my future. I’m still at the part where I figure out if I need a hacksaw to break down a turkey…

    • Christine Vezina May 22, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

      A small hatchet should do just fine, and you only need that IF you need to cut through bones to correctly portion meals (or in my case, to make sure there is just a bit of bone in every meal). If you don’t need to cut through bones, the whole thing will disassemble easily at the joints with a sharp steak knife.

      So the next part you have to figure out is how to explain to the neighbors what you’re hacking apart in the yard every other night…

      • Kathy March 6, 2015 at 5:31 am #

        Shiver me timbers, them’s some great inrtamfoion.

    • Jen P May 17, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

      Hey! If you haven’t figured out a good system as yet, this is what you need (I have a small organic poultry/egg farm here at home):
      A good poultry shears – for cutting through breastbones & snapping necks & feet
      A good butcher’s cleaver – for breaking that tendon from the legs- using the cleaver’s blade backside like a hammer
      Non porous cutting board to work on!
      A chef’s or large fillet knife for meat cutting.
      Most poultry butchering can be done with the shears- I start with a live bird and only use my cleaver to bust tendons and on large old toms who are too tough for people consumption.

      For those who are worried about their meat sources- there is no reason nor excuse for not being able to get cheap good quality meat- there’s not a soul in the US who doesn’t live within 100 miles of a farm! Even large-scale farmers are happy to sell a steer (meat cow) or two to the private consumer, knowing they’re selling direct and to someone who gives a shit about what they & their pets are eating!
      I would be vegetarian if my body allowed for it (Id whither away without beef at least 1x/14 days!) but I could never force the same on my opportunistic scavengers (aka dogs) and obligate carnivores (cats)! While vegetarianism may be species appropriate for us as humans, it is NOT for carnivorous species of animals. Everyone knows cats go blind without taurine- dogs have need of amino acids ONLY FOUND IN MEAT to achieve optimum health & performance. (Especially performance! Meat fed dogs have more stamina. Who here knows a vegetarian sport dog? Or agility dog? Or herding dog? Just sayin’…..)
      Even though my reading this topic is belated, I wouldn’t have been able to include this information- new reading y’all for those of you who like educational reading about our pets:
      “The Royal Treatment” by Dr Barbara Royal DVM…. Blah blah blah prez of the American Hollistic Veterinary Ass’n., etc… A compilation of all the latest (and some old too) pet nutritional research. Just for a peek… Who knew that dogs are supposed to eat 30-50% protein and at least 20% fat every day? And cats: 40-60% protein, 30-40% fat? Who reading this is thinking, “fat animals anyone”? Surprisingly, to feed this proper diet, animals lean down! Ask any raw-fed owner- these percentages more closely model raw (species specific/appropriate) diets, or those who feed quality grain-free.
      And, no I don’t feed raw right now-quit when the deep freezer kicked it- also “home cook” for them but always gave raw bone-in meat.

  11. silverflame819 May 25, 2013 at 6:42 am #

    So I’m NOT crazy! 😛 My life goal is to get back into farming. I plan to feed the cull animals from my breeding programs to my dogs. People already think I’m crazy because of the vegetarianism, but when I tell them I plan to kill some critters to feed to my dogs, I just get the blank WTF stare, like I’m speaking another language!

    As a vegetarian, I do NOT want to support the commercial meat industry in any way. But as a dog owner, I recognize that a large part of the canine diet should be meat, and there’s only one way to know for certain how the animals you’re feeding your dogs were raised, fed, cared for, and died, and that’s to do it yourself! Of course, because I’m still a bleeding-heart vegetarian, I plan to have someone else kill the animals. I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point where I’m okay with that part of things. But eventually I will get to the point where the only meat going into the dogs’ dishes is from animals I’ve raised myself.

    It’s really refreshing to find this post. Up ’til now, the only vegetarian I’ve ever met with the goal of feeding my dogs anything other than kibble is myself! 🙂

  12. Dawn Duckett June 2, 2013 at 1:46 am #

    Raw feeding my dogs has resulted in me being a vegetarian. It just grossed me out and I swear Ill never eat another piece of chicken

  13. Karen Luecke Belfi June 3, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    Glad it’s not just me! I’ve been vegetarian for over 20 years, recently became vegan. My dogs eat raw. It does help that we often get ground meat, so it’s easier to handle. I wish I did feel like they could thrive on vegan, but I don’t.

  14. Artessa August 8, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    We are vegans and it shocks people when they find our freezers filled with meat. We got our dogs back when we were still meat eaters. We changed but we are still responsible for their health and happiness. They are super healthy with gorgeous coats that no longer mat the second wet hits them. We would never feed them another way. I love this post because we really felt like we were the only ones who did this. People love to make you feel crap for it….

  15. Yankee Shelties October 22, 2013 at 5:34 am #

    I swear I’m going to get a custom t shirt for when I go to Costco to buy 100lb of chicken thighs at a time. It’s going to read: “No, I’m not having a very large BBQ, I’m feeding my dogs.”

    • doughts October 1, 2014 at 8:00 am #

      I would do the same thing. My baby is a service dog, so she was with me and the woman at the door saw what I had and said, Dog food? I said yes, and she then told me that she was joking.

      Well. I wasn’t.

  16. sandramclean1 July 17, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    great info and found another couple of resources for me to check out, cheers

  17. doughts October 1, 2014 at 7:59 am #

    I also feed raw and buy a SHOCKING amount of meat for a vegetarian.

    I’ve found it’s cheaper than kibble, strangely enough, and it’s so much better for my baby. She’ll eat anything, but she has such a sensitive stomach that most kibble brands just give her the runs.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Don’t feed your dog a vegetarian diet, you damn hippie. | The Dog Snobs - September 23, 2014

    […] For a look back at a previous post on our personal vegetarianism and feeding our dogs, click here. […]

  2. Just Feed Your Dogs Raw Already! | The Evolved Dog Blog - January 5, 2015

    […] If you want to learn more about raw feeding, please visit ReelRAW, Dog Aware, and this article by The Dog Snobs. These are NOT paid affiliate links. These are some resources to get you started on your path to […]

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