A vegan diet has become so popular that every man and his dog are experimenting – literally.
The number of people asking about the controversial diet was enough to warn a veterinarian from Brisbane, who feeds his own mostly vegan dog, to start holding workshops.
Holistic doctor Malina Fielder teaches pet owners how to make vegan meals at monthly workshops that attract groups of 10 to 12 people at a time.
"People tell me that I'm hurting dogs and it's not safe," she said.
"They do not know that I'm offering a complete and balanced diet with all the nutritional values that meat-based foods contain." If anything, it should be more popular.
For protein, Dr. Fielder recommends replacing meat with unmodified tofu, lentils, rice, mushrooms, quinoa and vegetables. For iron, it suggests almonds, tahini, leafy vegetables and non-commercial peanut butter.
"While humans can get everything they need from food, this is not the case with dogs," Fielder said. "If it is not supplemented with minerals and irons, you should not offer it to your dog."
Lisa Thorn, 25, of Burpengary, fed her three border collies on a strict vegetarian diet since they were eight weeks old.
"It is not in the nature of my dogs to hunt and kill a pig for food, so why would I give them something they would not naturally?" she said. "On the other hand, when they come across a vegie garden, they would eat everything."
Animal nutritionist Ruth Hatten has asked owners to be careful about what they feed their pets.
"You can not just feed your dog with noodles and vegetables. That would not be enough," she said. "Some dogs just will not thrive on a vegan diet. It's not a one size fits all."
Both Dr. Fielder and Mrs. Hatten feed their own dogs with a combination of meat and vegan diet.
"If a diet is providing all the nutrients the dog needs, then it is healthy and safe," Hatten said.
The Queensland vet, Dr. Karishma Dahia, said he would not recommend a vegan diet for dogs.
"Proteins derived from animal sources, or a meat diet, are impossible to obtain from a vegan diet," she said.
"Vegan protein is derived from soybeans, which is safe for humans, but can be harmful to animals."