The Kind Life is a community around Alicia Silverstone and The Kind Diet where friends, doctors, experts in green living, and members share vegan tips.

Animal Love

what to feed my dogs?

Kind Lifer Kristen Magno sent me a message a while ago asking me if my dogs are vegan too, and if they are what I feed them. Well, I feed my three dogs, Sweety, Lacy, and Butterfly (we also call Butterfly, (The Pig) a 100% plant-based diet. They are all between 13 and 15 years old and weigh around 70 lbs (they are big guys!). I feed them Dr. Harvey’s brand dog food, their Canine Health line, and always give them all of our leftovers so there is no waste of food or money. Dr. Harvey’s is a mix of oats, grains, dried veggies and seaweed. It’s a little bit of a process to make the food for them, but it’s sooooo worth it. And if you set a timer and walk away it’s not difficult at all.

You cook it on your stovetop. You combine the Dr. Harvey’s with a protein source (we use lentils, mung beans, split peas, kidney beans, pinto beans, tofu, tempeh, etc.) and oil. It’s super important to rotate the type of beans so your dogs get different sources of vitamins and minerals. When we use beans, we soak them overnight in water with a piece of kombu (use a 1-inch by 1-inch square of kombu per cup of beans) and use the soaking water to water plants in the morning. Do not cook the beans in the same water that they soaked in. This will make for gassy dogs. Cook the beans along with the kombu. If you forget to soak the beans with the kombu, add it when you start cooking. This helps the beans cook more quickly and helps dogs (and you!) with gas issues.


We cook the beans until they are soft and mash them with a potato masher. If we don’t mash them, they come out of the dogs whole in their poo. After mashing, we add the Dr. Harvey’s mix along with any leftovers we have, when that is done, we plate up the food, wait for it to cool and add oil. We make a big batch once a day and that’s enough for 2 meals for all 3 dogs. If you want, you can make a big batch and keep it in the fridge for a couple days at a time. We just do it daily since we have 3 big dogs and have to make a big pot of food for them.

We also add the supplements, L-Carnatine and Taurine. These are 2 amino acids that are essential to some dogs. They might be added to some commercial dog foods, but in this case with Dr. Harvey’s they are not. When dogs are deficient in these nutrients, it can cause diomyopathy, a serious illness where the heart becomes large and flabby and can no longer function properly. This usually happens to middle-aged dogs that have an L-Carnatine or Taurine deficiency due to their breed, size, genetics, or diet. You can buy these supplements at your local health food store, places like Whole Foods or online. Look for supplements with veg-friendly capsules and not the ones that have gelatin in them! And make sure you always check with your dog’s vet before starting them on any sort of supplement regimen.

Since our dogs have been eating this way, they have stopped getting fleas, hot spots, and their coats look so nice. They are all super healthy with perfect blood work. People always think they are younger than they really are. Feed your animals grains, beans, and veggies like you would eat and you will absolutely see a difference in their health. Sometimes when we are in between Dr. Harvey’s orders, I’ll just give them rice, beans, and whatever leftover veggies we have around, and they love it!

And I have to say, their poo is amazing. I’m so proud of them! I see other dogs’ poo and it just doesn’t compare. It’s super healthy, easy to pick-up, and they don’t struggle to get it out.

You can order Dr. Harvey’s dog food from their website, or you can ask your local store to carry it. Sometimes, if we are in a hurry, we give the dogs Evolution brand, Vegan Kibble. You can get it from, or again, ask your local stores to carry it or order it for you. I try to always give them Dr. Harvey’s though because it just feels more pure to me and I’d rather them not have dry food, as I feel like it dries them out. But this dry food is great when the Dr. Harvey’s can’t happen. Natural Balance makes a dry vegetarian dog food too.

Remember that conventional pet food is pretty much junk food for your animals. It’s full of animal byproducts (intestines, bones, brains, etc.), preservatives, chemicals, and fillers. Personally I can’t justify killing one animal to save or feed another. If you feed meat to your dogs, that’s what we are doing…deciding that one life is more worthy than the other. They don’t need it and they do better without it, as long as you feed them a healthy, balanced food source like Dr. Harvey’s.


A vegan diet works really well because our dogs don’t live in the wild. They take a walk every day, maybe follow their humans around a little, and not a lot more, so a plant-based diet is just fine for most dogs’ energy requirements.

And for doggie treats, here are a few we love:

Boston Baked Bonz

– their cookies look amazing. My assistant actually ate half of one of their ginger snap cookies and said it was really good…

Sweet Potate’r Chews from Dr. Harvey’s

Mr. Barky’s Vegetarian Dog Biscuits

– we grab these from Whole Foods – these are our staple treats

What are your thoughts on a veggie diet for your pets? Do you have brands of food that you love? Or treats?



  • Lucy Saw

    A plant based diet is not a species appropriate diet and harmful to dogs long term health. Dogs are not biologically built to eat a plant based diet as they are omnivores. Its one thing to allow a philosophy to guide your life its another to inflict that on your dogs. Dogs have evolved with humans for some 30,000 years eating a mostly meat diet and its wrong to change that because of some newfangled dietary notion. I thought vegans were supposed to actually care for nature and an animals natural nature, instead you’re trying to change their nature.

    • Jaesheeka

      If you had clicked the link to Oracle you would know that its ingredients do contain meat. V-dog is also a really great brand. I suggest you should do more research regarding this topic.

      • Lucy Saw

        If the food contains meat then its not a vegan diet. The article states “Dr. Harvey’s is a mix of oats, grains, dried veggies and seaweed.” She doesn’t say anything about it containing meat. I came here to read an article, not to go investigating Dr. Harvey’s mix. I make homemade dog food so I don’t need to look for store brand foods. Do I also feed vegetables to my dog? Yes. No grains however. They love carrots as a treat and they enjoy sweet potato and green beans but the protein in their diet is meat and what they mostly eat is a meat based diet. By the way giving a dog grains and oats leads to allergy problems so I would never ever buy this product for my dogs because its substandard food for a canine.

    • Beth

      What you fail to understand Lucy is that biologically they get the same nutrients from a vegan diet as a meat based diet, simply in a more pure and healthy way. While they may be inclined as carnivores/omnivores, they can thrive on a healthy vegan diet just like we can, and like us are often more healthy as a result. Do your research.

      • Lucy Saw

        No you are wrong. The gastrointestinal tract is simple and does not have the capacity to digest large amounts of plant products which is why it always leads to health problems in a dogs life. High quality animal-source proteins contain all the essential amino acids dogs need, whereas some plant-based proteins may be deficient in some essential amino acids. Dogs are scavenging carnivores. In general terms this means they are primarily meat-eaters, but can survive on plant material alone if necessary. The key word here is ‘survive.’ To survive is not to thrive. To thrive is grow vigorously … to flourish. To survive means simply to stay alive.

        To feed a dog a vegan diet is completely selfish and in no way in the best interest of the dog.

        • Vegan Animal Lover

          I find this really upsetting the way that you have put it is selfish to food dogs a healthy plant based diet ‘Lucy Shaw’. Whilst everyone has their own opinions you have been brainwashed to believe that dogs are carnivores, which they are not. selfish is to feed dogs other dogs which is basically what is in a lot of commercial foods, so thus them being cannibals. Feeding dogs meat that has been pumped full of hormones and chemicals is just wrong however you look at it. Dogs thrive on a vegan based lifestyle and many health and behaviour issues vanish along the way, seeing less visits to the vets. Funny that you responded to this thread on a vegan site as you are clearly not one…

  • Natalie

    As someone who works in the veterinary profession, I have never seen a healthy vegan dog. Maybe your dogs started out eating a species-appropriate diet, but those that I have seen who have been forced to eat a vegan diet their whole lives do not live very long. Maybe your older dogs have eaten a vegan diet their whole lives, I don’t know, but it doesn’t make it right. Some humans can smoke every day for 60 years and not get lung cancer but it doesn’t make it healthy. If you see whole beans in their feces, it means they are not digesting them and therefore not utilizing them. Just because you mash them up doesn’t make that problem go away, you just can’t see those particles in their feces. If you have to artificially add carnitine and taurine, you are not feeding them a species-approrpriate diet. Those amino acids can only be found in meat, therefore dogs must eat meat. They may be relatively more adapted to eat vegetable matter than cats (who are obligate carnivores), but meat must be in their diet for optimal health. You ask why you would kill one life to save another. Would you go out into the wild and prevent a lion from taking down an impala? A hawk from swooping down on a chicken? A house cat from catching a mouse? If yes, then I would fear to see the world in your hands.

    • Britt

      Wow Natalie, you clearly don’t care much about animals considering your “pro consume animals attitude”. We are looking at the big picture and for the betterment of all. A dog is not a lion and a human is not a lion. These comparisons are so outdated and so irrelevant. A lion does not have a choice in the matter and a lion is not a sick sadistic human. I have been vegan since I was 17 years old (for the last 17 years) and my dog is 5.5 and thriving on an organic, homemade vegan diet.

      Your comment about beans Natalie, is ridiculous. Have you ever swallowed a bean whole?? It would come out of you whole if you didn’t chew it yet we know beans are really good for us. Depriving your dog and good fiber and protein from beans is cruel. Commercial dog food is disgusting and about nothing but money, not to mention not regulated. Even what Health Canada regulates is absurd by approving propylene glycol in food, not to mention Monsanto and hydrogenated oils and pesticides that are killing bees and birds… and humans wonder why all the cancer in the world? Instead of prevention, let’s pop pills for cancer and continue polluting this earth. THIS IS ABOUT THE BIGGER PICTURE not this instant gratification, money grubbing awful society that the Western world is. My cat and dog receive homeopathic medicine when required (and it’s extremely rare, my dog received it twice in his life and my cat is 10 years old and it was homeopathics that saved her life as a baby when I was adopting her). THE BIGGER PICTURE. You speak as though you cared so much about dogs and their health, but considering your lack of compassion for the animal you claim should be fed to the dog, you are in no position to claim what’s best for any animal. Until people are so narrow minded and believing everything that has been fed to us through TV since the 50s, this world will never become a loving place. All people care about is behaving according to what their society dictates is right, how about thinking for yourself? Westerners love to judge China for eating dogs. How about stop judging animals based on the body they are born into (how is that different from racism) and respect ALL animals, be it a cow, pig, bunny, cat or chicken. THE BIGGER PICTURE that your tiny brain cannot seem to grasp… in which case, people not only need to grow a brain, but a heart in this uncompassionate cruel world that will never change if people refuse to grow.

      • Andrea Yoga


      • Smart girl

        THANK YOU!!!! SO Well Stated
        thank you for taking the time to write such an articulate response.
        Much love from a fellow Vegan 28 years now

  • Nicky Loyal

    I feel so conflicted on this one not trying to eat meat myself but then going to the butchers for my dogs. If I could get organic free range stuff for them that would make me feel better but it works out quite costly for me.I wouldnt feel veg only for them is right just because it goes against nature and that always leads to problems.

    • Tess Nielson

      I can’t cook any meat so I buy frozen organic green beans and peas for cheap, at Costco. I’m careful to warm and not cook out the nutrients. I add the veggies and water for extra vitamins and moisture to kibbles. Sometimes I make a big pot of lentiles, quinoa or basmati rice. They refuse to eat unless they have their veggies. They especially love olive oil, herbs, or spices for the flavor and I like the health benefits. Check with your butcher for scraps to add with other ingredients to stretch it out. Our health food store sells organic grassfed meat for dogs for $2.00 lb.

      • Nicky Loyal

        Thank you Tess – I always do feel better cooking from scratch for the dog as well :)

  • Tess Nielson

    I was disturbed to see the terrible ingredients used in vegan dog food. If it’s not organic then any corn or soybean products will contain GMO’s. Any chicken products will be loaded with antibiotics and hormones. Wheat is now so hybridized and should be avoided by everyone. Costco’s Kirtland contains lamb, rice and ingredients I can pronounce so that’s what I buy. Being vegan I’m not co comfortable with it for my dogs. I give them quinoa, rice, lentiles and vegetable to their kibbles.

  • Heather Hall-Ingalsbe

    Both of my dogs (pitbull & a chihuahua mix) are vegan. I make their homemade food every day and rotate the different protein, carb, and veggies sources. I add fresh fruit, either hemp or coconut oil, and nuts/seeds, such as pumpkin and chia. They LOVE their food! With their premium, non-vegan kibble (Dr. Tim’s) their food would sit in their bowls for days without them touching it. Now, their coats are shinier, they have no more diarrhea, and they’re actually eating. My cats are also vegan and have been eating Evolution cat food for a couple months now. They were getting sick when we bought the last bag of their Diamond cat food (though it was the same type of cat food). Puking and diarrhea everywhere (TMI, I know). Now, my little kittehs are doing a whole lot better and can’t wait until their feeding time everyday! With the crap that goes into pet food nowadays (euthanized dogs & cats, diseased livestock, etc.) I feel it is a million times better and safer to just make the food at home. And to whoever said that adding supplements shows that their diet is unhealthy: ALL dog food and cat food companies need to readd synthetic supplements back into the food because the cooking process destroys the natural vitamins and minerals. And Natalie, the oldest livings dogs were/are vegan, so the “vegan” dogs you must be seeing are dogs that are not being fed the correct vegan diet. Meat doesn’t need to be in their diet for optimal health. And I highly doubt that you can call the meat that does get put into most dog foods actual meat. Another dog or cat that has been pumped with euthanization fluid is not “meat.” The poisons designed to kill your beloved pet are also the same ones being fed to them indirectly. I feel much safer with plant protein. Thanks for all of your advice, Alicia! =)

  • Les Cunningham

    If you read the comments, Alicia, it would add a lot to the vegan dog conversation if you posted such things as blood panels for your dogs, ideally before and after becoming vegan, and any other studies from your vet that helps prove they are eating a healthful and nutritionally sound diet. I have a friend who won’t believe anecdotal evidence about healthy vegan dogs, she wants to have all the details.

  • Christina Borland


    I would really like to talk with you further on this topic, I had a 7 year old Husky dog who stopped eating her organic chicken dried dog food about 2 years ago as she had tapeworms and I guess it hurt her tummy to eat it. So I started giving her different things to get her to eat again, and also treated her for the tapeworms, and eventually started cooking more and more of her food from scratch. With more research, I eventually transitioned her to a low meat, organic home cooked diet with lots of eggs and cooked legumes and grain-free carbs. I also sometimes gave her organic canned chicken / dog food / raw organic chicken patties / organic vegetarian dry dog food mixed into her food, depending on her bowel health at the time. I was trying different foods to help her gain weight and also heal from the tapeworms that had really devastated her intestinal tract.

    She had some health issues this past year (heartworms, UTI, erlichiosis) which we just found out about a few months ago, and was getting treated for the UTI from the vet, and we were getting ready to start heartworm treatment next. However, I could not get her to put weight on and suspect it was more than the food I was giving her that was causing her to not be able to gain weight (perhaps cancer, the issues mentioned above, or other issues I am overlooking). I have cats also who have been on a similar diet the past 18 months (using some organic canned cat food to supplement the protein but other ingredients the same as above). My cats are very healthy, shiny coats, lots of energy, bright eyes, etc. One of my cats even had kittens last summer and her babies are now 10 months old and growing just great! So they seem to be thriving on this diet and love their eggs and other yummy foods I cook for them!

    I would really appreciate being able to discuss this with you directly and get your veterinarian advice! If you can please email me at [email protected] that would be most appreciated! If you can also tell me the name of your vet practice, I would really like to learn more about holistic vet options. Thanks so much for your help!

  • Butterflies Katz

    The ingredients I read on Dr.Harvey’s site – none were vegan!!! I thought you fed your dogs vegan – but I guess not.

    • Claudia M

      As of Sep 2016 the ingredients I read for Dr. Harvey’s are as follows:

      Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Barley, Organic Triticale, Organic Spelt, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Kamut, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Potatoes, Zucchini, Peas, Green Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Parsley, Dried Yeast, Lecithin, Alfalfa, Dried Kelp, Ground Flaxseed, Calcium Citrate, Dried Ground Fenugreek, Dried Ground Fennel, Dried Ground Ginger, Dried Ground Peppermint, Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Manganese Proteinate, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid

      Sounds vegan to me…depending on the source of Vit D.

  • Butterflies Katz

    I could not find any vegan dog food on Dr, Harvey’s site – could you please help me locate this vegan dog food you are talking about? When I went to the site – none were vegan. My email is [email protected] – .com

  • Butterflies Katz

    Dr. Harvey’s Grain-free vegetable mix has nonvegan Vitamin A and D – I think.

  • Gyvania Jovic-Storey

    Well if we humans are killing these animals for our dogs then
    1. isn’t there something wrong in that ?
    2. all parts of the animal (that the dog may not eat otherwise) is mashed up, you can’t compare life in the wild and life dependant on humans…
    We just need to do the best we can given the circumstances…

  • Natalie

    The two board certified nutritionists I work with would disagree with you. Not all protein is created equal (which is true for all the macronutrients). Plant protein is harder to digest, not just for humans but also for our more carnivorous dogs.

    • Patrick

      Natalie – the way you are using ‘protein’ and ‘micronutrients’ is a misnomer. ‘Protein’ is a combination of about 20 amino acids, about half of which humans and dogs do not create naturally and need to consume. When we consume these micronutrients, our bodies create protein. For dogs there are ten of these essential amino acids.

      It is true that animal flesh will contains all ten in well balanced proportions. But so will the sort of food that Silverstone mentions, and generally, aafco approved commercial foods. So the comment ‘not all protein is created equal’ does not really make sense.

      On digestion: Dogs and humans are both highly adaptable. Palates and digestive systems will tend to adapt to the food that they consume. Digestion requires stomach acid and pancreatic function. If these are ok, omnivores will digest the food that they eat.

      Again, I can tell you from experience that I know many dogs functioning fine and consuming enough protein on veg diets. I also know unwell and underweight dogs on meat based diets (as I am sure would you). My point is not that a meat based diet is unhealthy for a dog, just that it is not as vital as many people assume. Vegan dogs can be, and many are, perfectly happy and healthy.

    • Claudia M

      My first vegan dog, Suzie, a German Shepherd, was adopted from a shelter at age 2. My friend adopted a 2 year old female Shepherd, Trixie, at about the same time. The dogs were not related and were adopted at different shelters. Suzie was fed vegan, Trixie was not. Both of them passed away at the age of 12 within a month of each other. None of my daughter’s 2 non-vegan Boxers survived past 7. I have a 10 year old GSD now who has been vegan for 6 years. Another friend’s non vegan 10 year old Boston Terrier just passed from cancer. Granted there are many variables that need to be factored in when talking about life spans of dogs, but I haven’t had personal experience with a vegan diet being detrimental.

  • josie

    I give my pincher meaty dog food with raw veggy blend in and i seen enormous result in her and she’s 12 yrs old and have lots of energy n no worms at all….

  • Diane Love

    My son and I are vegan. We have a 4 month old pit named Eli. When is it safe to transition him to a vegan diet as well?!

  • Victoria Carter

    My beautiful puddy tat (age 5, rescue w/some Russian Blue) recently started on vegan kibble. is where I ordered a pound of cheezburger flavor. Since babycakes has been a carnivor so long, I mix the vegan kibble (1:1 ratio) with her Orijen Regional Red kibble. My plan is to transition her off the Orijen completely as time passes. Since doing this, her feline acne (she has a fish/mercury allergy) has cleared & she 100% likes the taste. I’m a vegan momma so my hope is my cat baby can become totally vegan too. With all these vets saying cat vegans are impossible, I’d love another cat mom (or dad) out there to share with me how you went about going fully veggie and how your cat is profiting by it. Thanks & meow!