One of our frustrations about the way veganism has historically been promoted is that ready-made meat and dairy alternatives have often been downplayed in favor of vegetables. While the recent boom in vegan cookbooks that teach vegan substitution demonstrates that this is finally beginning to change, traditionally, taste and convenience have been sacrificed on the altar of health, and a version of veganism which appeals to the slimmest demographic of Americans has been the one that has historically been promoted. Tragically, while most people who attempt veganism do so for ethical reasons, when they fall off the wagon as two out of three of them eventually do, they often explain that they missed the foods they use to eat. When our movement urges aspiring vegans to reject rather than embrace vegan analogs of the foods with which they are familiar, we sabotage their good intentions and, by extension, we fail the animals.
At the time we were writing All American Vegan, we read a magazine article which discussed an ongoing effort to create a new, soy-based chicken analog. The author of the article, an avowed meat eater, noted that the texture of the fake meat was a near perfect reproduction of chicken, but when pondering the future of the chicken substitute, wondered whether the vegetarian and vegan community would embrace a food that was “processed.” We became curious as to whether the meat and dairy analogs that are currently available are in fact meeting their potential for authenticity or whether our movement’s obsession with “health” meant that we were unwittingly hindering the production of such foods. Unfortunately, as we explain in “Let Them Eat Cake,” the last chapter of All American Vegan, the answer to that question is yes. The vegan community’s obsessive focus on health means companies marketing to vegans focus on minimal processing, with no artificial ingredients. As a result, they are not as “authentic” tasting as they could be.
That’s a tragedy and a paradox. With billions of animals suffering and dying, how is it that the very same people who are supposed to be championing the animals subscribe to dogmas that hinder rather than promote the creation of foods which would replace the use of animals and thereby hasten an end to the killing? But as frustrating as that realization may be, it doesn’t change the good news that the potential to do so already exists. And that means if the will existed, not only could a company create hamburgers and steaks and cheeses that are identical in taste and texture to the originals, but they could even make a vegan canned cat food that could fool the most discerning palate of all: those belonging to our finicky feline friends.
Cats are carnivores by nature, requiring the important amino acid taurine in order to remain healthy. Cats who are deprived this essential nutrient can go blind and even die. But there are vegan sources for taurine, and when added to a fake meat substitute that appealed to a cat’s very particular sense of taste, there is no reason to assume that a palatable vegan canned cat food isn’t possible. It most certainly is. It just hasn’t been made yet.
Of course, we are lucky to have Ami brand cat food, a vegan kibble that our cat, The Amazing Kenny, is currently transitioning to and so far seems to enjoy. But not so our so our little old lady cat, Popoki. Popoki is ancient, suffers from malabsorption issues and has a bum set of teeth that make it difficult for her to eat kibble. She prefers, and given her delicate health needs, wet food. Nonetheless, the constant frustration and guilt of having to feeding her meat recently culminated in our determination to try to make her vegan, yet again. Once more as we have done every so often over the past 15 years, we scour the internet and order canned vegan cat foods and even the ingredients to make our own, hopeful that this time we will stumble upon a recipe that our cat will love. No luck.
What about you? Have any of you had luck with a canned or homemade vegan cat food your kitties will actually eat? If so, we’d love to know! And for the rest of you who are fortunate enough to share your life with a kitty, try Ami. The Amazing Kenny gives it two paws up.
To purchase Ami, click here.
Update: We found this on one of the pages which sells Ami: “It is recommended to moisten the kibble before serving, especially to male cats. Also, please avoid feeding Ami Cat to cats if they are susceptible to urinary blockage and/or urinary crystals.”