From Dogma to Plant-Powered Dogs
Like most, I was raised to accept dogmatic beliefs about dietary needs that were birthed by corporations, not truth or actual facts. In fact, I was a crazed carnivore for the first 25 years of my life.
However, there was a pivotal moment that revolutionized my life because it was the moment where I was shown that, like me, dogs could be vegetarian or vegan.
It was the mid 1980’s when I happened upon a unique store with a highly unusual combination of books and health supplements. I recall it vividly, as if it was two hours ago. I was drawn to bend down to a lower shelf and pick up a book boasting a title that was even more unusual. It was called Vegetarian Dogs and Cats. At the time I was working in a senior housing community in the dietetic department becoming fully aware of the impact of diet on our health and aging. Plus I was pursuing my own transition to a healthier vegetarian diet, which was ‘odd’ enough. So what was a book by this title and subject doing in a small Canadian prairie and agriculturally-based city indoctrinated with ‘diet dogma’?? By all rational standards, this store shouldn’t have been there! (In fact, it closed soon after.) I didn’t realize how much that book foreshadowed my future.
Soon after, another book, Diet for New America by John Robbins tugged at my soul. Imagine the courage it took for him to walk away from the inheritance of an ice cream empire in order to embrace, live and teach about a plant based lifestyle. His courage assisted me to become a vegetarian and establish a successful lifestyle coaching, vegetarian nutrition and fitness business in the mid 1990’s.
Now project yourself back to the events of 9/11. Do you remember where you were on that world altering day? I was standing in front of a full room of new registrants in one of my courses, ready to teach them about caring for their bodies through a vegetarian diet, wellness and living their dreams. Instead, I was the one who received a lesson. It was on that day, while reflecting on how many lives were just cut short, that I realized I wasn’t fully living my own dream of a playful, stress-free life. Something was missing and it was furry.
The next day, I found my perfect companion; a Border collie puppy whose sparkling little eyes melted my heart. I called her Shanti, a Sanskrit word for inner ‘peace’. I had already chosen her name 7 years before, knowing someday I would find her. My thoughts went back to that book on Vegetarian Dogs in the Prairie bookstore and I was absolutely certain that, like me, Shanti could be share my lifestyle and diet choice. I took the courageous action that John Robbins and other pioneers of the plant based movement inspired in my soul. Shanti was a ‘plant-powered’ dog from the moment I cuddled her. Her health was extraordinary for all of her years.
During all of those years, I passionately researched both human and canine veg diets. While awareness of a plant-based diet was on the rise, it was considered a fringe lifestyle. Even a few years ago, the world still had blinders on and was missing the well-documented benefits of vegetarianism and veganism.
Today, indisputable evidence of the massive benefits of plant-based, whole foods diets has appeared in highly regarded research publications such as The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. Experts in the field, such as Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a highly-respected surgeon turned plant-based advocate, are reaching more people than ever through documentaries such as Forks Over Knives. Dr. Neal Barnard and his Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) are at the forefront of plant-based science, medicine and animal rights. Thousands of people participate in the 21 day Vegan Kickstart program offered by PCRM. Dr. Michael Gregor MD, has dedicated his life to bringing unsurpassed research to the world and donates proceeds of his books and DVD’s to NutritionFacts.org, the first science-based, non-commercial website to provide free daily videos and articles on the latest discoveries in nutrition. This is a mere handful of medical experts who are substantiating, through solid research, the health benefits of a plant based diet thereby expanding our human awareness to a level of ‘no return’.
Synchronistic conversations are now occurring around the world. One of those conversations that’s changing the way we look at eating animals is by Melanie Joy, Ph.D., Ed.M. and author of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows. Her brilliant research is displayed in a recent and profound TEDx Talk called, “Beyond Carnism“. She brings into our awareness compelling reasons to move away from animals as food and move toward plants.
In light of all this new research and paradigm shifts to how we view eating animals, it seemed perfectly natural to ask myself:
“What if this type of lifestyle could go beyond my own commitment to Shanti, my family and I?”
“If this lifestyle has been proven, without question, to be beneficial to human health and disease prevention; could it be the same for dog’s health?
It’s been well documented for decades by the authoritative voices of veterinary associations that dogs are classified as non-obligate carnivores.
“What if we could provide equivalent evidence that dogs thrive on a plant-powered, whole foods diet in the same way as humans?”
So today, I am living the foreshadow of that Prairie bookstore!
Myself and an amazing team of people and professionals from all over the world have gathered together to create ground-breaking, unprecedented feeding trials and science-based, plant protein research for dogs.
Our goal? To create a paradigm shift in the way we view our dog’s nutrition.
My heart knows, we can literally use the food on our plate (and in our dog’s bowl) to drive meaningful, sustainable, powerful change for our planet, now and for generations to come.
I am so thankful for that fateful day. I am so grateful for John Robbins. I’m grateful for people like you who are breaking through your own beliefs (and perhaps old dogma!) to live a vegan or veg conscious life.
If you ever have any doubts about your diet choice, remember, if dogs can thrive on the power of plants… we all can.
Do get in touch with me if you have any questions about plant-based diets for your dogs or for yourself! I truly look forward to hearing from you.
Peace, love, dogs,
Indogo Plant-Powered Dogs
Modern Vegan Family, Don’t Forget Fido
Organizer, VEGAN Vancouver
Link to Crowdfund Campaign – http://fnd.us/c/bw0Te
Laura Simonson is a vegan woman on a Mission From Dog. Cherishing all-things dogs so much, she was given the handle, The Doggess. Aside from dogs and animals, her passions are plant-powered living, retro anything, inspiration, holistic living, personal development, running Vancouver beach trails, weight-training, hiking, classic rock and is a bonafide spirit junkie.
Laura is a social entrepreneur and founder of Indogo Plant-Powered Dogs, Modern Vegan Family, Don’t Forget Fido (Blog and Online Community) and most recently a Co-organizer of the new VEGAN Vancouver. She also champions and supports vegan businesses and organizations whose bottom lines are steeped in social or spiritual evolution, and is on a peace-filled mission to disrupt the ordinary, average, status quo through plant-powered living and inspiration for all.
She lives in gorgeous Vancouver (Vangroovy) BC with the love of her life and business life, Gord Espeseth along with the memory of their awe-inspiring furry love, Shanti, the plant-pawered border collie who recently woofed goodbye after a long and truly amazing, healthy life.