There's no denying the fact that veganism has grown phenomenally in the last few years. It's a lot more likely these days than ever before that you'll know at least one person who has been bitten by the vegan bug.
People are just no longer willing to stand by as animals are killed purely so we can eat their flesh. Such is their conviction that they have no qualms about completely excluding meat and dairy products from their diets.
Vegans are also a lot more likely now than, say, a few years ago, to vocalize their beliefs, even if this means outright condemning those who continue to eat meat and dairy products. For instance, there are hugely popular Instagram pages dedicated to the cause of veganism. And some of them have been accused of being deliberately hostile to non-vegans.
Vegan Sidekick is one of the most popular vegan Instagrammers. He's known for his witty comics where he uses sarcasm and humor to show people that veganism is the only diet that doesn't allow for the abuse of animals.
Here's one of his works:
Okay, so it's pretty clear that passive veganism is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Vegans are out and proud and want everyone to know that their lifestyle is the most ideal when it comes to minimizing harm towards living creatures.
But it all becomes a lot more complicated when we consider the dietary requirements of animals. Yes, wild animals often kill other animals for survival - it's a matter of instinct. But what about our own pets? Ultimately, it's us as owners who are in charge of what they eat.
So if you do happen to follow a vegan lifestyle and have a pet, surely it would be self-contradictory to feed them meat and dairy. Well, that's exactly what one cat owner by the name of Harry Bolman believes, and he is now defending his decision to put his cat on a strictly vegan diet, in spite of what the critics had to say about it.
Yep, 53-year-old Bolman refuses to feed his cat, Uma, anything with a hint of meat or dairy products and instead feeds her vegetables and special vegan cat food. He also claims that plant-based food is the "healthiest diet" for cats.
Bolman, who is from the Gold Coast, adopted his cat last summer. According to the cat lover, she is healthier than ever after switching to a vegan-only diet.
He has actually been adhering to a vegan lifestyle for a very long time indeed - 38 years to be exact. So he's become a pro at ignoring comments from the haters, even those who say he is "abusing" and '"killing" his cat.
The production supervisor added that while he has never owned a cat before, he had, in fact, in the past, kept his two dogs on a vegan diet for the majority of their lives.
"I've been vegan since 1980 and I've always fed my pets vegan diets," Bolman said. "Uma is my first cat but I've raised two dogs who were vegan for most of their lives. The eldest one lived until 18 and they were very happy and healthy."
"I adopted Uma one year ago and I knew straight away she'd be vegan just like me. I've always refused to have animal products in my house and Uma has been a vegan cat ever since I first adopted her," he added. "She absolutely loves her vegan diet. I will boil some pumpkin and mash it up with the dry vegan cat food and she chows it down like there is no tomorrow."
"Uma is very healthy. She's got the whitest coat, a great appetite and is full of vitality. Regular processed cat food is abysmal. It's just bits and pieces of different animals which is absolutely revolting. There is no way I'd feed my cat that. I don't support meat-based pet food, it goes against my ethics altogether."
"Vegan food is far healthier for cats. They wouldn't normally eat those different parts of different animals in the wild either. After posting online that I feed my cat a vegan diet, there was a lot of uproar from people who were telling me that you can't feed cats a vegan diet. Some were saying it was animal abuse and that I'm killing my cat," Harry claimed.
"But that couldn't be further from the truth. My whole lifestyle is devoted to saving animals and the earth. I'd never do anything to hurt my pets."
However, the idea of feeding cats a purely plant-based diet has become extremely contentious recently because the truth is, they actually have a very complex set of nutritional requirements.
According to British animal charity, RSPCA, cats "need a source of animal protein to survive". They are unique to other mammals in that they require taurine and arginine which is only found naturally in meat.
"People always tell me 'but cats are obligate carnivores', to which I always agree with," Bolman said. "This is technically true. I did a lot of research into this and cats don't actually need meat, they need taurine and arginine."
"And commercial vegan pet food is formulated with taurine and arginine added in. It's completely nutritionally safe for cats and is the same as meat-based cat food," he said. "Why would I support the meat industry and the killing of countless animals when there is no need to? This is a cruelty-free version. It's most disappointing when I see other vegans feeding their pet meat."
"There is no excuse in 2018 not to research these things. When they don't look into this, it's the same as meat eaters not looking into the possibility of being plant-based. I know I'm doing the right thing for Uma, myself and the earth. That's all that matters."
However, some vets still insist that a vegan diet is not appropriate for certain pets. Indeed, Dr. Richard Gowan, a feline veterinarian from The Cat Clinic, Brisbane, disagrees with Bolman's claims, saying "We have several vegan staff members and none of them would consider feeding their cats a vegan diet,' Dr. Gowan said.
"This is based on the very limited and/or poor research that is currently available surrounding this diet choice for cats. There are many pet food 'accreditation' standards available in Australia and around the world. Despite this, there is no compulsory standard nor mandatory testing of pet food or true accountability of pet food producers in Australia," he said.
So there we have it: there's definitely no clear-cut answer as to whether or not cats or dogs are suited to a vegan diet. Clearly, much more research needs to be done in this area before anyone can legitimately comment on it.