The Impossible Burger, Beyond Meat, Morningstar, and Boca are just a few of the vegetarian meat offerings on the market. They've made a big splash recently, even ending up in fast food joints like Burger King and White Castle.
While these veggie meats are good for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores trying to cut back on their meat intake or enjoy Meatless Monday, are they good for dogs? Should you feed them to your dogs, or will there be health repercussions?
What does vegetarian meat come from?
There are a number of different ways companies are making vegetarian meat. Some of it is vegan, while some of it contains eggs. Usually, they start with a soy or textured vegetable protein in a powder form, or they use wheat gluten. Some "bacons" are made with coconut flakes, while other vegetarian meat is made from mushrooms. Beyond Meat uses soy, mustard seeds, yellow peas, yeast, and camelina for its products. The Impossible Burger's top ingredients are soy protein concentrate, sunflower oil, coconut oil, and natural flavors.
Can dogs eat vegetarian meat substitutes?
No, dogs should not eat vegetarian meat substitutes. Though vegetarian meat may in some ways be healthier than real meat for humans—depending on the brand and the ingredients that are used—it is not recommended to feed these products to dogs. These foods are highly processed, and may contain ingredients that do not agree with your dog's stomach, like high amounts of sodium or certain spices, such as garlic powder or onion powder, which are toxic to dogs.
When a Twitter user asked Impossible Foods if dogs can eat the burgers, the company responded, "the Impossible Burger was created for human consumption, with human nutritional needs in mind. Animals are often sensitive to foods commonly consumed by humans, and these sensitivities vary between species and breeds. As a result, we do not recommend that it be served to pets."
What are the concerns with feeding vegetarian meat to dogs?
Vegetarian meats contain soy, and there have been some health risks linked to soy. For instance, it could increase estrogen production in your dog, and it's not good for dogs with hypothyroidism. Also, they may have onion in them, which can be toxic for dogs if consumed. You don't necessarily know what goes into the "natural flavors" in a veggie burger, so it's best to avoid feeding your dog these vegetarian meats altogether.
If you want to give your dog some "people food" as a treat, look to sources other than meat substitutes. If you eat meat, you can feel free to give your dog some boiled chicken (without the bones) or cooked hamburger meat without any spices, salt, or onions. You can cook it with carrots, zucchini, and parsley, and serve white rice, couscous, eggs, or cheese on the side. Your dog will be one happy pup with that meal!
If you don't eat meat, there are plenty of vegetables you can give your dog that they will love. Try giving your dog some cooked sweet potato, green beans, or peas.
Another alternative is to make your own veggie burgers using only vegetables your dog can eat and eggs to hold together the burger while you cook it, and avoiding any garlic or onion ingredients.
Though you can't feed your dog vegetarian meat, you can make his diet more vegetarian-friendly by incorporating vegetables that dogs can eat. Some options include lettuce, okra, potatoes, parsnips, spinach, and turnips, for example. If you need more ideas on what you can feed your pup, check out our list of everything dogs can and cannot eat here.