Happy Herbivore Blog

Vegan Dogs (and homemade dog food!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Misc

Anytime someone meets my dogs (and they're aware I'm vegan) they ask if my dogs are vegan too. I would have thought the answer would be an obvious "yes" but most often, people seem surprised when I tell them, "yup, the whole family is veg!"

I get the question via email too, so I thought I'd put it out there that yes, my dogs are vegan and they are thriving.

If you're wondering if dogs can be vegan, the answer is yes. Dogs, like humans, don't need meat to survive. The pugs' vets in Boston, Los Angeles and New York City have all been supportive of their vegan diet and one even said she would recommend a vegan diet over an omnivorous one if she thought more dog owners would be open to the idea.

Although there are several brands of vegan kibble on the market (Nature's Balance, V-dog, Wenaewe, Pet Guard, Avo Derm, Natural Life, Evolution Diet and Wysong) I prefer to make vegan dog food myself.

It all started a month ago when we ran out of vegan kibble at home, and to make matters worse, the store was sold out, too. Obviously the pugs couldn't go hungry so I made them a plate of rice and beans. The next morning I made them a plate of peas and apples and that night, peas and beans. It continued on for days and by the time the store had called to say they had our kibble, I didn't bother to go buy it.

Of course, Scott was skeptical. He wondered how long I'd last at making fresh meals for our dogs every day, twice a day -- but a month later I'm still doing it!

I've noticed a dramatic shift in the pugs since we started on home cooked meals. Although they liked their vegan kibble, they were never excited about meal time. Really, they could take it or leave it. Now they bark and do circles -- they couldn't be more thrilled to eat their supper.

I've also noticed a change in their...bodily functions. The pugs were never constipated or anything, but we always had to walk them around the block a few times before they were ready to do their business. Now, they poop much quicker and with more ease. I'm convinced it's all the added fiber. There is little to no fiber in kibble, so it's not surprising they're going much more easily now.

I've also noticed a change in their urine. Quaid and LilyBean used to have deep yellow pee, which always made me worry they could be dehydrated. Now their urine is much, much lighter in color. I'm convinced its because they're getting water from their food now. Water is in the rice they eat and the beans I cook for them-- vs. kibble which is dehydrated.

By now you're probably thinking "This sounds great, but I don't have the time to cook two meals for myself, let alone my dog!" But I promise, you do -- and it will save you money! I'm spending a fraction of what I used to on kibble!

Here's how I do it: I cook an entire bag of brown rice once a week, storing leftovers in my fridge. I do the same with a bag of beans and I'll steam or bake sweet potatoes while I'm add it. Every day I'll put brown rice, beans and either a sweet potato or thawed frozen peas into their bowl. It takes seconds. 

I've also recently started added chopped fresh apples and zucchini from my garden. I also keep a bag of puffed brown rice on hand, and a few cans of beans, just in case I run out.

When I started making my own dog food, I was skeptical I'd have the time or energy to keep up with it -- but it hasn't been a problem at all and now it's a habit. I'll put rice and beans on the stove when I'm watching a movie, cleaning the apartment or doing something else. An hour later I have all their food done for the week and I've been known to swipe some for myself, too. 

I've also realized that I can thaw frozen peas under hot water in less than 20 seconds when I'm really desperate. (They really love peas!)

I can't recommend making homemade vegan dog food enough. The pugs seem to like every bean, vegetable and fruit I throw at them, but they're particularly fond of: corn, peas, sweet potatoes, black beans, kidney beans, black soy beans, tempeh, apples, bananas, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, asparagus, brown rice (they actually won't eat white rice), collard greens, kale, spinach, whole grain cereal and oatmeal.

Just be sure to avoid giving your dogs raisins, grapes, garlic, onions or mushrooms.

Perhaps my pugs are the luckiest dogs in the world, at least in terms of their food (they're still envious of dogs with big backyards!) but hopefully with this post I'll convince a few more dog owners to nurture their pets with natural, plant-based foods!

Update: we now live abroad where I have no choice but to feed the dogs home cooked meals. I start with a protein base -- beans or lentils, and then mix in leftover raw vegetables (chopped well), pumpkin (for Lily Bean's eyes) and any leftovers or leftover grains I have, like brown rice. We joke that the dogs are our compost bin. I always make sure to give them a mix and variety -- right now their food is a base of lentils, with bell pepper, cucumber, yellow squash, cabbage, lettuce and cauliflower, plus some leftover rice. 

Supplemant: I use veg-e-dog supplement as a proactive measure. The company sends great dog food recipes with their vitamins which I love!

Fat-Free Vegan Baked Oatmeal

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

The amazing lady behind "We Want Happy Herbivore on the Ellen Show" e-mailed me earlier this week asking if I had a low-fat baked oatmeal recipe. I'd never heard of "baked" oatmeal before, but damn! It sounded divine!

I got busy searching for baked oatmeal recipes and was surprised at how oil and egg-heavy most recipes were. Eggs in oatmeal? Still, I was optimistic I could make it work fat-free vegan-style, and I did!

This oatmeal is outstanding and so easy to make it's ridiculous. You mix all the ingredients together, put it into the oven, take a shower and then voila! A delicious baked oatmeal breakfast before work.

I also managed to make it a single serving (though it's filling -- I can barely finish it!) because I figured most of us eat breakfast alone and I'm planning to make "single servings" the theme of my next cookbook.

Anyway, I know it's been a hella long time since I shared a recipe (the longest I've ever been away from this blog) but hopefully this recipe will make it up to you!

Recipe:Single-Serving Baked Oatmeal

Description

Just like at the B&B, only healthier and easy to make! For a lower calorie baked oatmeal, use water instead of the non-dairy milk (but nondairy is best).

Ingredients

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Transfer to an oven safe-dish and bake about 30 minutes, until thoroughly warm, a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and its a little crusty on top. (The oatmeal will also puff up a bit). 

Top 10: Spices

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

Spices are any home cook's secret weapon. The right spice can make any meal go from ordinary to extraordinary... and spices can tie any meal together. Increasing your spices is also a great way to intensify flavor in low fat cooking. A lot of recipes rely on oils and other fats for flavor and removing them can make a recipe fall flat. The next time that happens, try double - or tripling the spices called for in the recipe.

Here are the spices I'm always running out of so presumably I use the most!

  1. onion powder (the granulated kind, not floury kind)
  2. garlic powder (same)
  3. cumin
  4. cinnamon
  5. chili powder
  6. garam masala (I find it oddly addicting)
  7. turmeric
  8. paprika
  9. poultry seasoning (granulated, not powdery)
  10. nutritional yeast (that counts...right?)

Check out last week's Top 10: Old (but still awesome!) Recipes