MGU 237 Lindsay Rubin | Responsible Pet Ownership

 

*Since we recorded this podcast back in February, Lindsay started a new chapter and no longer works at V-Dog. We’re happy to share her insight and experience with you, nonetheless! 

Animals aren’t simple commodities, luxury items, or accessories. Our companion animals have rich lives and distinct individual personalities – and a big part of responsible pet guardianship is looking after our furry companions to ensure they live long, full, vibrant lives. Jason Wrobel & Whitney Lauritsen get into a lively and soulful conversation with the former Vice President of V-Dog, animal rights advocate Lindsay RubinLindsay shares her insights on feeding your dog a vegan diet and why she thinks you should strongly consider it. We also delve into a deep discussion on the commodification of animals and the emotional dynamics of ethical guardianship.  

Listen to the podcast here:

Treating Our Animal Companions Right: Responsible Pet Parenthood With Lindsay Rubin 

Examining Our Relationship With Pets And Other Animal Ethics 

Over the hundreds of episodes that we have here on this show, we tend to focus on human health, emotional wellness, mental health, relationships, purpose, meaning, the entire roller coaster of life. One thing that I want to bring up in this episode is something that we may have tickled you, dear reader, a little bit but we have never fully dived into. I want to preface this episode by saying that, as content creators over the years, Whitney and I have talked about getting the same core questions over and over again from people we know, random fans, new followers and readers. 

For me, as a dog guardian, there is one question that has come up a lot over the years. It keeps coming up in fact. Anytime that I post anything about my French Bulldog, Bella, there is a paraphrased question that continues to come up. I was going to frame it as my top ten list of most annoying questions as a content creator, but the question is something akin to, “You don’t feed your dog meat? Your dog is vegan? You know that is not healthy. That is not good. Your dog is going to be malnourished. Your dog is going to die.” I have gotten so many fascinating comments over the years. 

Each dog is different. They have different taste buds just like humans and are going to have preferences. Click To Tweet

I know Whitney has her wonderful dog, Evie, her Jack Russell Terrier who is a doghter to me. I feel he is also my dog. I love her so much. It’s interesting over the years, as plant-based content creators, as vegan impactors, that we’ve gotten so much pushback from how we care for and feed our dogs. In this episode, we have Lindsay Rubin talk about this interesting subject. For me, since I adopted my dog, Bella, it’s been a few years that she has been in my life. It’s been fascinating to see how many people continue to razz me, haze me and question me about how I’m caring for my dog. It’s fascinating. 

It is fascinating and it’s also interesting because I don’t receive that as much, but I don’t post nearly as much about what Evie eats as you do, Jason. For some history, Lindsay, you probably didn’t know this about me. I got Evie in 2009. The reason I’m feeling confused is I did a video interview with David Middlesworth. We did a video together which might have been his first video interview. I’m almost positive that it was 2009. It was at World Fest, which is now called VegFest. I don’t even know if that event will happen again thanks to COVID. 

I knew David for many years before sadly he passed away. V-dog has been a huge part of my experience as a vegan. I’m not going to say, “Dog owner.” I prefer the terms companion versus anything related to pets or ownership. Evie is truly a companion and that’s something I want to get into beyond the actual food but how we treat animals and how so many of us think of them as something that we own and something that is a pet of ours. I try to look at my relationship with my dog as more of an organic equal. Equal is a good term. That was something fascinating to explore. My point is that V-dog has been a big part of my life and I’ve loved seeing the brand evolve over time and the amazing family that it started with back then.  

I was planning on bringing that up because as a vegan for many years, I’ve followed many various vegan influencers and people on social media. I remember first discovering you and your following, and everything you were up to through Dave because he spoke so highly of you. That was where I was first introduced to the work you were doing and Evie so I love that you brought him up. 

It’s making me emotional thinking about him because he was such a sweet man. It’s making me cry. 

He was such an incredibly unique, funny and smart individual. He had such a huge impact on the world by starting this. Not only did he start this company along with the passion from his wife, Linda, who’s also an animal rights activist in Sacramento. It’s a family affair. He has had such a huge impact by not just starting this company, but he started it as an online company. It’s an eCommerce first business and it’s been that way even since when Dave started this back when Amazon wasn’t anywhere near such a central driving force for eCommerce as it is now. I love that you knew Dave and you got to work with him and meet him back then. It’s so wonderful. 

That interview was embarrassing for a silly reason, simply because I was just getting into YouTube. I was so passionate about it back then. I went to this festival and did all these interviews with people. I interviewed someone at Coconut Bliss, which is a company that’s grown over the years. These were all these brands that were starting to get into this media world and now so many of them, including V-dog, have expanded and done great work on social media. It’s nice to look back but it’s embarrassing. When you look back at old photos of yourself, you’re like, “Why did I wear that? How did I do those things?” Shaun Monson also was at that same time. I spent the entire day interviewing all these people. Shaun at the time was well known for his movie Earthlings, but he’s gone on to do even greater things. 

The other reason that the video embarrasses me is because the audio quality was so bad. It’s interesting now that I’m a podcaster and I work so hard to get audio sounding good. I wish that video had better audio but I didn’t know what I was doing and I was using this brand-new microphone. I hope that anyone who watches it can still hear it well because it’s one of those special memories that I have. Looking back on how V-dog and Dave had impacted my life. He was such a beautiful person. 

I’m so glad you brought up Dave. 

Looping back to the original question that I wanted to dig into, which is maybe a bigger conversation before we get into some of the language and ethical frameworks that Whitney brought up and how we treat animals, how we regard them, the language that we use around them. I’m curious, over the years, what are some of the big hurdles and roadblocks that you have had to continue to overcome in terms of misinformation or ignorance? People may be making assumptions about feeding their canine companions a plant-based or vegan diet. It’s still something that I deal with frequently anytime I post about Bella’s. I get many questions about her food, pushback or negative comments about what I’m doing with her. I’m curious how that has framed your mission and your message and how you guys deal with that if it does come up? 

Yes, it does come up. It’s a central topic and driving force of the feedback that we get and return to people as they understand, question and condemn these types of things. In short, it’s the hottest topic that we work with and we’ve been doing this for so long. The number one way that we react is always with kindness and facts because this type of thing can get polarizing and heated. People love their dogs. They want the best for their dogs so when something comes up that is potentially harming their dog or someone else’s dog people get passionate. They stand up and say, “I don’t like this. This is wrong based on my information.” The information that they’ve seen out in the world, on TV and advertising. A lot of what it comes down to is that we’ve all been misinformed. Dogs are not wolves. They’re physiologically omnivorous which means they can digest and make excellent use of starchy foods or plant-based foods.  

MGU 237 Lindsay Rubin | Responsible Pet Ownership

Responsible Pet Ownership: People love their dogs. They want the best for their dogs so when something comes up that is potentially harming their dog or someone else’s dog, people get passionate.

 

They require a complete and balanced diet and that nutrition can come from plant-based sources just fine. They do well on it and on top of it, they love the taste. Those are some of the things that we bring up as far as combating these notions. It’s rooted in misinformation. I always like to joke about those commercials that maybe some of you have seen on TV where it’s a dog running and they jump over a log, and all of a sudden, they’re a wolf in the wilderness and they’re running around. I don’t know what they’re doing. It paints this picture of dogs being wolves. In reality, they’ve been evolving alongside humans for thousands of years. Mine sleeps in my bed and I open up a package of food to feed him. He’s not going out hunting. He can’t even catch a squirrel, nonetheless a large bison type of animal to eat for dinner that night. It’s grounding it in the sense of the facts of dogs being omnivorous, and always responding to these questions and these debates with as much kindness and understanding as possible. 

That’s well said and it is such an interesting conversation. We can certainly attest to how much our dogs V-dog products, especially the Breathbones, which are one of the best vegan dog options out there because both of our dogs go nuts over them and they can’t get enough. The formulation has always been so great, the wiggle biscuits. The branding of it is so sweet. It’s interesting because when I first got my dog, I made a conscious decision and I did a ton of research.  

In my heart, I was hoping that she could be vegan and she has been. That’s why I was confused because looking back, I realized I had done that video with Dave before I got her. In my head all these years, I thought I had already had my dog at that point but it was many months before she came into my life. I was looking into this option to think not only how but is it helpful for my dog? Jason had a similar experience because before he got his dog, he got cats. I remember, Jason, was that at the same festival but a few years later that you had that conversation with the man that had that show about cats. 

 Jackson Galaxy. 

That was also at what became VegFest but I’m thinking about WorldFest. That festival made a big impact on both of our lives. Jason, this is an interesting thing to discuss reflecting on this decision for our personal lives. As human beings, it’s easy for us to consider our options. We can experiment when it comes to the food that we consume. The reason it triggers people when it comes to animals is that they don’t have the same voice that we do. We can’t ask them, “Are you okay with eating a vegan diet?” That’s why people feel so offended. 

To your point, Lindsay, these dogs are dependent on us to make the decisions for them no matter what. Whatever dog food we give them is our choice, not theirs unless they refuse to eat it, which Jason has had some experience with his dog and mine too at times. They can be picky eaters, but sometimes they want something added to it or sometimes they want a little variety or something. I don’t think that they don’t want vegan plant-based food. They want a different taste, first of all. Second of all, to your point, Lindsay when it comes to the nutrition side of it, people are so concerned because they’ve been brainwashed through the media and misinformed about what is healthy for dogs to eat. 

We have the responsibility to research and choose the best option for our dogs. Click To Tweet

You brought up a good point, Whitney, when you talk about choice and I love this example because it speaks to many of these different elements. The example is about how dogs do in the transition of V-dog. What we see consistently and it always warms my heart and makes me laugh a little bit is we get this on a weekly basis, if not more, depending on what customers sent to us. It’s a video of a dog transitioning from its old food to the new food. You mix in the V-dog about 1/3 with 2/3 of their old food. Say it’s a meat-based kibble with the V-dog kibble. Often, the dogs will eat the V-dog kibble and spit out and leave the old kibble behind.  

I’m telling you, we hear this so often. Each dog is different. They have different taste buds just like humans are going to have preferences. You can’t create a blanket statement that all dogs are going to do this but we absolutely love to see that because it’s so adorable and sweet. It’s like they’re choosing to be vegan and it’s similar to a human child where we’re responsible for them. We have the responsibility to research and choose the best option for them. I love that example of picturing them spitting out those little meat-based kibbles and gobbling up the V-dog ones, and looking at their dog mom or dad and being like, “Where’s more of this vegan kibble stuff? This is good.” 

Jason, knowing more of your story would be interesting as well because I know that you’ve taken a lot of consideration with your cats, for example. As vegan human beings, we know so much about the impacts of animal products on the environment, on our health and on animals. It’s a conflict for many of us when we get an animal that is not suitable for a plant-based diet. A cat and some people choose to have their cats be vegan. It can be done. I also don’t see it as torturous to them. If their health is okay and you are feeding them nutritious foods and they are getting what they need, that can be done. I know for you, Jason, you chose not to feed your cats a vegan diet, but you did choose to feed your dog a vegan diet. I would love to know more about that mental choice for you and how it feels as a vegan. 

First of all, I have made many jokes with Angela who’s your social media director, Lindsay, and maybe with you on the occasion of pushing you guys to come out with a niche line called V-cat. I have four cats. Two of them, Julius and Lynx, who I call The Terrible Tubbies. They love the V-dog products as much as Bella does. I’ve seen them sneak a little piece of the Breathbone or a little bit of the Kinder Kibble. It’s funny to me how my cats love it as much as Bella does. 

In terms of this conversation, Whitney, that you brought up personal ethics versus what is biologically appropriate and healthy for our companion animals. It was a difficult thing because to preface this, I had a dog previous to Bella. His name was Gordon Pete. I had him for a couple of years in a previous relationship. He was a vegan dog and he did well on a vegan diet. After that relationship ended and I was off on my own about 2 or 3 years later, I decided to adopt some cats. Whitney mentioned I spoke with Jackson Galaxy. I also consulted with a vegan veterinarian, a mutual friend of ours called Armaiti May. 

I talked to three different people asking them, “If I adopt some cats, can feed them a vegan diet.” All three of them had a similar notion which was, “Technically you can, although the food will be so alkaline. You will need to introduce some acidic element into their diet because their digestive tracts metabolize acidic food.” Cats are out. They’re obligate carnivores. In the wild, they require flesh and meat to survive. It’s an acidic protein. They all said, “You technically could do it, but you’ll have to add some acidic supplement to their food. About every 2 to 3 months, go and get their kidney function and their uric acid levels checked.” They had all remarked that long-term they’ve seen some cats have some severe kidney and urinary tract problems. 

I thought, “This doesn’t sound natural to me to feed them a vegan diet.” They’re obligate carnivores. They needed to thrive. It was a difficult choice because you have been vegan for 23 years in 2021. It’s something I feel aligned with in terms of ethics, environment, human health, animal welfare but I do feed my cats animals. I feed them primarily fish. I do at times a tiny little bit of organic turkey for my one cat Julius because he digests that better. It’s been a conflict for me because everything that I do on a personal level and a professional level is to try and reduce the suffering and increase the welfare and the protection of animals on this planet. 

To know that I’m feeding my cats fish and on occasion, turkey, I’ve had some people be like, “You’re not a real vegan. You’re a traitor to the cause.” I’m like, “I’ve been doing this for years. It’s a compromise that I chose to make. It’s not something that necessarily I feel great about. I also know that to rescue animals and to try and let them have the healthiest, longest life possible is something that is part of my mission on the planet.” Do my cats eat vegan sometimes? They eat greens, eat vegetables, and they will steal some of Bella’s food from time to time, but they do have to, in my personal opinion, eat some acidic protein to be able to thrive. That has been an ethical compromise that I’ve been living with since I adopted cats. It’s been interesting to get feedback from people on that too. 

Jason, you bring something up that I would love to further discuss. People coming at each other with these accusations that are so heavy and negative especially towards someone like you who is essentially an activist and doing so much in this space, both of you, Jason and Whitney. It’s so interesting to understand why people do that. It’s one aspect to ask and say, “Why do you feed your cats meat?” It’s another thing to make an accusation and to create this mean heaviness around it. That gives me such a hard time, especially to people who are trying their best, which I like to think is most people. 

I don’t know if those are our vegan people that are saying things like that to you. That gives vegans a bad name. I don’t like the sense of attacking each other. In my opinion, there’s always space to ask, “Jason, why do you feed your cats meat?” Versus something like, “You’re a terrible person. I can’t believe it.” I wanted to highlight that, Jason, because I have a real issue with that. It’s in our nature to be argumentative for some people but I don’t like it. I wanted to mention that and I’m sorry you have to deal with that. It wears you down. 

I appreciate you saying that Lindsay because it’s something that Whitney and I have discussed in our personal life and also on the podcast. We talked a lot about this with Toni Okamoto from Plant-Based on a Budget. We had her on twice, along with her business partner and our mutual friend, Michelle Cehn. The infighting and the perfectionism and puritanism in the vegan movement is something that we still get confronted with in many forms of, “You are not doing it right. You should do it better. You should do it differently.” The analogy I use is some people think there is some proverbial gold medal at the end of the road of choosing this lifestyle, but we don’t look at it that way. 

To your point, people hopefully are doing their best. It’s about incremental improvement. It’s about self-awareness and maybe using that self-awareness to create positive and substantive change in the world. I can understand why some people would get angry that I feed my cats meat and feed them fish. I can absolutely understand it. To me, it’s a compromise I’m willing to make to save and care for the lives of these animals. I often joke that the only thing holding me back is a space issue that once I get a little more land and a little more space, I’m going to rescue even more. 

It’s important to realize that life is not a black and white experience. There’s a lot of gray areas in the middle. There is a lot of compromises and considerations that often need to be made. After doing it for so long, I’m comfortable with it now but it’s something that Whitney and I face on a greater level of being in the vegan movement, of being activists and having people stick their noses in our butts a little too much, which is funny because that’s also a double entendre for how dogs greet each other. Maybe if humans greeted each other by sniffing each other’s butts, we would have a kinder world. 

We might. 

MGU 237 Lindsay Rubin | Responsible Pet Ownership

Responsible Pet Ownership: Dogs are physiologically omnivorous which means they can digest and make excellent use of starchy foods or plant-based foods.

 

I have to share a crazy moment that happened as we are talking. I don’t even know what to make of this but here we are having this discussion about the decisions we’ve made about our animals. A huge part of what guided my decision was consulting with a vet. The person that I was so thrilled to have at the beginning of my vegan dog journey was Dr. Armaiti May. She’s based in Los Angeles and she does house calls that are personally vegan. 

She was a big part of my journey with my dog, Evie, because I wanted to make sure that I was making a good decision. I wanted to make sure that I was raising a healthy dog and I was nervous about that. I kept second-guessing myself. I was second-guessing myself throughout the entire process of raising a puppy because it was the first time I did it on my own. This is nuts. Out of nowhere, she thanked me for a Yelp review that I left on her page back in 2013. 

The thank you came through as we were recording this episode. It popped up on my phone and my brain is a little blown because I don’t know if there is something going on in the universe, but I was thinking of her because she was right there alongside me. She might be even there at WorldFest on that day that I spoke with Dave Middlesworth. It is worth bringing up because there are some incredible vegan vets out there. For anyone who wants to have someone there to consult with, I’m curious, Lindsay, if there are others that you could recommend. Is there a database of vets who maybe are not personally vegan, but are supportive of the vegan lifestyle for dogs? 

It’s going to depend on which area you are in. There are more veg-friendly vets in cities and different areas. I don’t know off the top of my head about a specific database but on the V-dog website, they have a veterinarians’ page where they list a bunch of quotes from veterinarians that are vegan themselves or support this type of diet for dogs. They have some resources on that page as well. They did a video interview with Dr. Lorelei Wakefield who is another wonderful vegan veterinarian. She’s so sweet and helpful. That’s available on their social media, if not on their website as well. 

We know these things are important resources for people so we are trying to grow them and especially hearing from both of you, Jason and Whitney, how much a vegan vet impacted your decision. It emphasizes the importance of these professionals in the space. We look to doctors for comfort, for guidance and understanding. Another interesting topic to discuss is when your vet doesn’t support this diet. What do you do? We have resources on our veterinarians’ page for that as well and on our blog. There’s a post called, My Vet Doesn’t Support a Vegan Diet for My Dog. What Do I Do? That’s a whole additional area of things that I’m happy to chat more about. We look to these professionals for this advice and to confirm that we are making these correct decisions. We try to provide those resources for our customers as well who are new to the whole world of vegan dogs and understanding everything that comes with it. 

There is a fear of not only making the wrong decisions for our animals, but I have also had moments of feeling I would be judged by a vet because after I worked with Dr. Armaiti May, I moved to a different part of Los Angeles and it was harder to connect with her on a regular basis even though she does house calls. I started going to vets that were local in my area. I was nervous to let them know that I was feeding my dog a plant-based diet. I will say that as far as I can recall, all of the vets that I have spoken to including one of my friends who is a phenomenal vet, none of them have judged me, at least not verbally to my knowledge. None of them has said, “You have to take your dog off this diet. It’s going to kill them.”  

My dog had a vet visit. She has fantastic blood work. She has been vegan almost her entire life. I did transition her off of what she was fed before she came into my life, but she was under a year old when I brought her into my life. I did do the whole transition that you’re describing, Lindsay. I’m curious on that note, back in 2009 when I got Evie, it was hard to figure out what to feed a puppy. I’m curious now about any of the developments that have happened. Is V-dog suitable for puppies? What do you recommend for dogs that are under a year old? 

This is one of our top questions. Jason mentions the top questions he gets in a different way. Those are more maybe disgruntled questions, but this is a reasonable question in our top set of questions that we get. Can puppies be vegan? Is V-dog suitable for puppies? V-dog is an AAFCO formulation, which is the organization that sets the guidelines for nutrition for dogs. V-dog is formulated with AAFCO standards for adult dogs twelve months and up.  

What we tell people is first and foremost, we can officially recommend it for puppies. That being said, we have some information on our site if you type in puppies where it recommends how you can adjust the food to make it suitable for puppies. This is going to depend on the puppy’s lifestyle, growth pattern and caloric intake. It’s a little bit less than straightforward. It’s perfect and suitable for dogs twelve months and up. For younger puppies, there isn’t a pre-formulated food out there for vegan dog food. That’s something definitely on the table here at V-dog and something that we are investigating and looking into. You can reach out to us for more information on puppies as we have lots of details on that. 

We want what's best for our dogs. We want them to be healthy. Click To Tweet

I’m curious because I’m sure anything I shared back in 2009 is quite outdated. I used a product. I have to look up what it’s called. It was a powdered formula that I had to add in and make my own recipe by hand. There are videos of me doing this. I baked my own puppy kibble for Evie because there weren’t any products out there and it sounds like it’s still either not in existence or hard to find. That’s interesting to me because the plant-based diet for dogs has grown in popularity. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of changes. There are other brands out there that you can buy in stores and online.  

Back in 2009, V-dog was one of the only accessible ones in the US that I recall but now we have some more options. That’s wonderful because the more that we can get into this industry and make it less of an odd choice, the better. Going back to what I had said about feeling judged by vets. That wasn’t quite an experience I’ve had. I’ve had an experience of going into stores where they sell dog food and being judged by the employees. In fact, it happened. The person at the front desk made a little joke about vegan dogs not realizing that my dog was vegan. I felt uncomfortable buying something from the store. 

I’m sure that was this employee’s personal opinion and somebody would make fun of vegans at a deli or something like that. I’ve been through that a lot personally but it can certainly feel uncomfortable. That’s why it’s great that there are more brands out there to show that it’s not some outlier. It’s something that more and more people are trying. I’m curious, Lindsay, on that note, how many of your customers if you have any data around this. Is it only vegans that are supporting V-dog or do you find that even non-vegan customers are coming in and choosing to feed their dogs a plant-based diet? 

In the majority, the customers are vegan for sure. The vast majority of them are. There are smaller segments of people who choose this food for other reasons and out of that small slice of the vegan pie chart if you envision it that way. They are usually people whose dogs are suffering from allergies. There was a study that came out a few years ago that showed the top allergens in dog food are beef, chicken, dairy and eggs.These animal products make dogs so itchy. They have tummy troubles, their hair falls out, and they get lots of issues if they’re allergic to these animal products.  

Out of that smaller slice of the pie in addition to people being vegan, they choose this product because they’ve looked elsewhere and they cannot find anything that their dogs like and that works. We have a miracle stories tab on our testimonials page. Some of these stories are so amazing. The dogs are not doing well at all. They are suffering. There is one story where the dogs’ aunt happened to be vegan and she advised her brother and say, “You should try this food.” 

The guy was in no way vegan like probably a big meat you who would never have thought of this food for their dog. She was doing terribly. They switched her over and she started recovering. It was a miraculous recovery and she did so well. There are a lot of stories like that. I would say the allergies component is something that is a growing piece of the puzzle because these dogs tend to be allergic to animal products. It’s interesting too because the pet food industry has pinned the allergies on grains. There is a lot of information circulating now about grains and it’s a whole other topic. Traditionally, grains have become the scapegoat for allergies so there is this big move in the past several years towards grain-free diets.  

V-dog has always had a variety of healthy grains in our formula. We have essentially had the same formula for many years now. It works. The dogs love it and it performs so well so we don’t make any drastic changes to it. We have always had grains in our food. From what we see the dogs, especially allergy-prone dogs do fantastically on it when they switch over. It’s an easy transition. It’s something interesting to note, as far as people thinking about why their dogs are itching, grains and crossover to the vegan side of things too. 

It shows that in the human diet, there is so much fear around ingredients. As Jason was saying, there is so much judgment about what we eat as human beings, what we feed our animals. Part of this bigger desire to survive and to control things is like, “If only I can find the perfect diet for myself, I can live longer. If I can find the perfect diet for my animals in my life, maybe they will live a long life.” I can relate to that. Both of those things are big considerations. 

We think about the mental health side of it. The emotional toll of constantly being in fear. This does come up so much and you have to bypass a lot of marketing because unfortunately a lot of brands for both humans and animals capitalize on this fear. They use their marketing to say, “We are grain-free. We are this-free or that-free.” Suddenly, it’s got somebody buying something when they don’t even know if it’s the right decision for their animal and that is why I’m passionate about consulting with doctors for humans and vets for animals. We can’t assume because of something we saw in a package or we saw in a media, video, article or something, that is the truth and that is the right situation for us. I’m sure you face that all the time, as a company. People coming in questioning everything that you are doing. It’s got to be stressful. 

We are used to it at this point. We want what’s best for the dogs. The priority is their health. We want them to be healthy. It’s interesting because, on top of that, you can’t put out a healthy product. The dogs have to like it even more so than humans. As humans, we can chug a protein smoothie, where maybe it’s gritty or it’s not our favorite protein powder, but we are like, “This is good for us. We can eat this. We know the ingredients are clean and healthy,” but it doesn’t swing that way with dogs. They have to love it. It’s interesting to think about how the formula has to be spot on with taste. I’m thinking about something Jason said about cats. Can I circle back to that? 

We can always circle back to cats. 

I do love cats too but I’m a dog person. We might have to debate that at some point. They’re both wonderful but one thing you said, Jason, stuck out to me. It’s not so much pushback but bring it up because you mentioned the phrase, “In the wild,” when speaking about cats. That could be tricky when we mentioned that for either cats or dogs. It’s a little bit different with cats because outdoor cats exist and they are outside. They are hunting, but not all cats are. I don’t know if your cats are indoor or outdoor. With dogs, they are rarely outdoor dogs. Some people have hunting dogs and things like that which of course is a different category. That phrase, “In the wild, they would do X, Y and Z,” gets us a little bit in trouble when discussing things. What I like to bring up is discussing the topic of a plant-based diet for our companions now, based on the reality of what we are doing and that’s more often in our home, either cooking or opening a package for them. That was something I wanted to touch on there. 

I’m glad you did, Lindsay, because to your point, that framework influences the conversation of human nutrition as well in terms of people talking about the caveman diet, the carnivore diet or the Paleo diet is, “Let’s look at what we think our Paleolithic ancestors ate.” For a lot of reasons, they push a grain-free high meat diet. It’s interesting because I feel like with anything, this is part of a larger conversation of people wanting to eat as natural or as close to the earth as possible. This idea of eating our ancestors did or our companion animals eating as their ancestors did hundreds or even thousands of years ago. 

To your point, I’m glad you brought this up and did push back a little bit, Lindsay, because in 2021, looking at not only what is the healthiest diet for humanity and the planet but also with our animals being inside the house. My cats and my dogs are not outdoor hunters. I don’t let them go out, roam and find, kill and eat things. Because they are indoors and they are part of this more modernized lifestyle, we need to think about what is relevant for now and I agree with that. 

MGU 237 Lindsay Rubin | Responsible Pet Ownership

Responsible Pet Ownership: Traditionally, grains have become the scapegoat for allergies so there is this big move in the past several years towards grain-free diets.

 

It colors an interesting mentality, which is something I wanted to bring up before. It’s almost like there’s an interesting link between people’s sense of self, their identity and the companion animal they choose. We hear these things, the cliché or the colloquial phrase that owners or guardians will sometimes pick dogs that either looks like them or reflect part of their personality. I wonder if the reticence and the pushback to move dogs toward a plant-based diet is part of a mentality of, “No, they need to eat meat because they are savage and they’re wolves. If I have a tough and aggressive dog, and my dog is eating meat, that means by proxy, because that’s my companion and that is what I’ve chosen. That dog is a reflection of me. I’m tough. I’m savage. I’m wild too.” It’s almost like there’s a mentality of a person having their dog live a certain way because it’s a reflection on them is what I’m saying. 

Our dogs and our children, in a way, are mirrors of ourselves and our choices so that reflects. The fact that most of our customers are vegan themselves, it’s almost the stepping stone. That is a big step for people to skip over for them to not be vegan or make a connection, whether it’s for whichever reason. It’s for animal ethics, environment or health, to skip over that and feed it to their dog is a big jump. The majority of people that feed V-dog are vegan. It takes a big situation for their dog to be sick or them not finding anything else. These types of choices are reflective of a bigger conversation and how humans interact with these decisions that are in a way ego-based and reflect our choices on how to live as humans. 

I want to loop back, Lindsay, at the beginning when you were saying how as a company, you choose to respond to these inquiries we’ve been discussing with a level of compassion, patients and facts. You said facts and I’m curious, not only from an anecdotal but perhaps actual research-backed study perspective. The one that I’m aware of was the Border Collie that lived a super long time. What was the dog’s name? 

That was Bramble. 

Thank you. Bramble lived for 25 years and was on a vegan diet. I know that’s somewhat anecdotal. It’s not a research study but I’m curious when you say you respond to people with facts. Are there any more anecdotes other than Bramble of extreme longevity for vegan dogs? Are there any studies or links that you point people to so they can go down the research rabbit hole a little bit more? Where do you usually send people in terms of those factual supportive elements? 

Dogs are omnivores. They don't need meat to thrive. Click To Tweet

A lot of the information surrounding this diet is anecdotal and there needs to be more scientific research-backed evidence for sure. We don’t doubt that and we’re trying to work towards that. A scientific study that was done was at Ross Veterinary University and there was an abstract that was published on this study so far. What they did is they transitioned a volunteer group of dogs from meat-based diets over to vegan food and they used V-dog in this study. All of the dogs, blood tests, echocardiograms and panels were perfectly normal and above normal in a good way. That is the most recent science that was done 

When I speak about our customer support, our social media, community management and how we respond with kindness, patience and facts. The facts come down to these simple facts, dogs are omnivores and they don’t need meat to thrive. Factual things that are so far from what we’ve been taught traditionally by whether it’s commercials with these big mega-corporations and the meat-based, wolf-based food. It’s those simple facts and the bigger picture of facts of scientific data and longevity are in addition to those. As far as longevity goes, there is Bramble, the Collie who is fed a plant-based diet and live until over twenty years old. She was over in the UK. 

We did an interview with her mom several years ago on our blog, which is fun to speak with her. We see seniors thrive on this food all the time. There are also a lot of stories on our website about senior dogs. We love hearing from people who have been customers for the full fifteen-plus years that we have been in business. They’re like, “My dog is this age.” There is a lot of anecdotal evidence around that as well and there needs to be more scientific data but the dogs tend to live well into their golden years on these types of foods, which we are fortunate to understand. 

One thing that Whitney and I are huge here on the show is the idea of conscious languaging and how the words we use and the language that we wield in the world creates a framework of how we perceive things. I don’t want to be so cliché as to say it creates our own reality, but how we perceive things and our belief systems and the language we use do create an experience of reality for ourselves. To loop back to some of the language that we use in regard to the animals in our lives, Whitney, you alluded to having some people refer to themselves as pet owners. We prefer guardians or caretakers. I’m trying to use that word a little bit more.  

Also, I have noticed that I get some interesting pushback sometimes, not a crazy amount. The movement that I’ve seen the past few years, this is for both of you a question and observation of people calling themselves pet parents. It’s like, “This is my daughter. This is my cat. They are like family to me. They are sons and daughters.” Honestly, the love and the care that I have for my animals resonates. They feel like family. They feel the care and the love that I had for them is the depth and the breadth, I don’t have any human children, but in a framework that I would feel for a human child. Some people are like, “You’re not a parent. They are not your son and daughter. This is crazy talk.” People push back on that language. I’m curious, Lindsay, for you in your life, what kind of language you use in regard to your dogs and how language affects our relationship with our companions? 

Speaking for me, I’ve always been an animal-obsessed, dog-obsessed person. That being said, I like to point out you don’t even need animals to be vegan. That is important because they have the basic right to live and to have basic rights. Whether you are an animal crazy person like me or not, but I am that person. I’m obsessed with my dog. He is totally like a son to me. Sometimes I look at him and I’m like, “How do I love you so much?” I don’t know how. I feel what I could gather the same way as you, Jason. I like to say, dog mom and dog dad. 

It resonates with people. I personally don’t like the term owner. It doesn’t feel right to me but going back to the earlier part of our conversation, I wouldn’t chastise someone for using it. There are other more important things to discuss as much as if I disagree with it or I don’t like it. I would rather talk about something more productive. As much as we use dog parents, dog mom, and dog dad in my personal life. There are plenty of other terms that are totally fine, companions and guardians. There are plenty to use. I would say that owner is my least favorite. I feel that people have been shifting away from it a little bit. When I hear it, I am like, “I don’t like that.” I usually don’t make a huge debate over it at least. 

MGU 237 Lindsay Rubin | Responsible Pet Ownership

Responsible Pet Ownership: Our dogs and our children, in a way, are mirrors of ourselves and our choices so that reflects. The fact that most of our customers are vegan themselves, it’s almost the stepping stone.

 

It’s not worth getting into a debate because maybe somebody is used to saying those terms. I slip into it myself. I’m certainly not perfect with my language and it’s something that I tried to be aware of and might make a mistake in, but to your point, Lindsay, it’s usually not something I want to debate somebody on. People use language for all sorts of different reasons. It does remind me of this article in ironically, a publication called The Guardian that I have been wanting to bring upon this show for some time. This is a good one to bring back to you. You might have seen this, Lindsay, because it came out in 2017. 

The title of the article is, Should We Stop Keeping Pets. There are a couple of points to bring up in it. One phrase in it that resonated with me is, “Ultimately, we bring animals into our lives because we want them, then we dictate what they eat, where they live, how they behave, how they look, even whether they get to keep their sex organs. We are treating animals in some ways as commodities.” It’s interesting because as the article points out, this is at odds with how we feel about them because of the pet industry, and that is another term. I would love to know how we can shift because we think of pet stores and the pet industry. What do we call that instead, is one question.  

Regardless, we spend so much money on them. There are studies that have found that we might even love them more than our human romantic partners. We consider them to the point that they’ve been brought up as our children or our friends. We think of them as members of our family and yet, in a lot of ways, we do treat them as commodities. It’s fascinating. I’m curious, have you read this article or similar articles, Lindsay? How do you feel about this idea overall of, “Should they be pets?” Is there something that we can transition into to make them truly feel like a member of a family? 

Yes, I have read that article. A couple of things, for the term pet, pet industry and pet food, I feel that the word pet isn’t innately negative. It’s an endearing term. This is my personal take on it and people will have different versions of this, but I don’t see it as that bad. Ownership is an issue, but a pet can be an endearing term. I do see that in a bit of a different category. I’m happy to talk more about what each of you thinks about that part of it as well. 

For the other aspect of, should we even have pets, I probably have a bit of an unpopular opinion here, but I’m going to go ahead and talk about my personal feelings on this. It breaks my heart because I’m so obsessed with my dog and I can’t imagine not having dogs. If you look at it from a rational and ethical standpoint, we shouldn’t have pets. That being said, there are millions of animals that need to be adopted. I don’t feel we could talk about the conversation of not having pets until we fully grasp and resolve this situation with homeless pets. Will that ever be fully resolved? If not, having companion animals should and can still exist because these are animals without a home. Taking them in and giving them loving homes is ideal to being euthanized or being out on the streets and of the sort. That’s probably an unpopular opinion because it’s hard for us to see our lives without pets and some people might be shocked to hear me say that because I have always been a huge dog lover. I can’t see them but it’s in the context that I can’t see my life without dogs. 

Having it in the context of tomorrow there should be no more pets. That is not what I mean. It’s in the scale and the spectrum of first understanding and resolving the situation of homeless pets and taking the next step. We are in this evolved universe where the situation has been handled, which is a whole other topic. It’s at that point where we can reassess and discuss, “Do we bring more pets into this world for our enjoyment?” It almost feels like the conversation of, if you stop breeding cows for meat or dairy, then there won’t be any more cows, and it makes you think, “Is bringing them into this world for a few short years of suffering and this type of life?” Pets, most of them are luckily spoiled, at least our animals. They are not living this life of suffering, but these are the things that make me think of and bring up as far as bringing more animals into the world. 

The last thing I will say is the importance of adopting, over buying from breeders whether they’re a respectable breeder or not. When there is money involved and animals are commoditized as a business, often their best interest isn’t kept in mind. Being able to adopt, there are so many amazing resources now. Even if there is a dog or a cat that you love that is a state over and you have the accessibility to reach them, find that perfect animal and do a bit of that due diligence versus seeking out one that is for sale. That is so important, adopting and not shopping. 

I’m glad that you brought that up because that was going to be my next question if that is part of V-dog’s activism campaign. Whether or not the company publicly espouses that philosophy of Adopt, Don’t Shop. Is that something that as a corporation, you actively promote in terms of activism? 

Yes. We are proponents of Adopt Don’t Shop. We post about it often on social media. We have done campaigns around it. We work with a lot of rescues and sanctuaries all around the US where we either donate products, whether it’s a slightly damaged product that we can’t sell or we work in various collaborations with these rescues but absolutely, it’s a huge part of what we do. Everyone at V-dog has rescue dogs. For those of us that have dogs, it’s important to do something that motivates us. 

You don't need animals to be vegan. That is important because they have the basic right to live and to have basic rights. Click To Tweet

I have a bit of a funny/silly question, but it’s something that I need to know. Do you ever get emails or correspondence from people wanting to feed your products to companion animals that are not dogs or cats? Do you ever get an email of, “I’ve been feeding Kinder Kibble to my chinchilla. The chinchilla loves it.” Do you ever get horses or llamas? I’m curious. From the most unusual type of correspondence you have received, what kind of animals, if any, have people said they’ve been feeding your products to and what are the results? 

Jason, yes. I love this question and we get this all the time. We’d love to know it too. I would say the most popular is pigs. We even had a customer in Hawaii where her vet has approved for her pig to eat V-dog. I don’t know if it was her complete diet or if it was in addition to something else but her pig loves the Breathbones too, which is so cute and adorable. We have heard from so many people that their cats steal the V-dog. We have this funny video of a cat. There was a dog food bowl and the cat stealth mode sneaks out from under this amour behind the bowl and the paw comes out and scooping the kibble and sneaking away with it. It’s so cute and funny. We get a lot of cats. 

There is a veterinarian that we work with who did some research with I believe it was hyenas. He fed V-dog to the hyenas and they enjoyed it, which they are carnivorous so that’s interesting. We hear all the time, “When are you guys going to start V-horse, V-pig or V-cat?” We haven’t gotten the request for V-hyena yet. That was one little side story but we hear all sorts of adorable things like that. What it comes down to is that it’s formulated for adult dogs but for these other animals, it’s safe for them to snack on. They can have it as little treats. It’s safe for the cats to snack on, little piggies and probably horses. Make sure you email us before you start anything like that so we can get you more specific information, but we hear that often. 

That would make for an amazing April Fool’s campaign as you announced that you have finally formulated V-hyena. I’m putting it out there. It would be good for social media. Coming back to that article I had mentioned since you brought up rescuing, one of the things that I loved in that article from The Guardian is some people that were featured in it. One of them refers to their rescue dogs as refugees, which I thought was an interesting term to use. One other point about that article to explore is how it’s hard for us to tell if our animals are happy being our pets or companions. 

The article says, “Is it true that pets have more voice or is it that we’re putting words into their mouths? Are we using them on social media?” One trend that has been big on platforms like TikTok and I don’t know if you have seen this, Lindsay, but now they have these buttons that dogs can press to alert their parents, their companions when they want to go outside and want to eat certain foods. It sounds cool because it’s like, “My dog can communicate with me better.” That is smart. I certainly have developed a language of sorts with my dog as far as I’m aware so she can alert me when she needs certain things. 

There are plenty of times where I have no idea what she is saying and as humans, we have this fascination with giving our animals a voice. There is that movie Up with the dogs that have collars so they can speak. We yearn for that but in those cases, we are literally putting words into their mouths. We have no idea how they are feeling. We are interpreting them. We are interpreting their behavior. It’s interesting, in that sense. 

Clearly, if we opened up the door and said, “You’re free to leave.” They are probably not going to leave because we were giving them water, food, shelter and it’s in their best interest to stick around. That is also because we’ve conditioned them to have that situation. Going back to what you are saying, Lindsay. Sometimes I think about that with my dog. I brought her back from the vet where she hates going. My heart was breaking because I’m sitting here thinking, “I’m trying to take care of you and get you some treatment.” I don’t know if she understands that. What if she thinks I’m taking her someplace to torture her for the day? I don’t know. That part of having an animal is challenging. 

I think about that a lot, especially with my little dog. He is a little Chihuahua rescue. He is fearful. He is attached to me, but he is afraid of everyone else until he knows them for years. It’s similar to the vet. He has no idea what’s happening, “Trust me, it’s going to be okay.” Especially with COVID, you can’t even go in with them. I don’t know if this was your experience, Whitney. When I took him in, you had to hand him off to the vet tech. I was like, “Oh no.” He was totally fine. I was worried, but it’s the same thing. It depends on the dog too. 

For example, thinking of the communication we have with them and understanding what they want. This little guy is so happy as long as he’s near me. He can sleep on a soft surface. He likes to play with his toys, eat his food and have a snack. It appears that he is happy and I feel we can communicate and he tells me when you want something. There is probably more he’s thinking and I feel that they are conscious beings that have wants, needs and desires so it’s impossible for us to fully understand those.  

To juxtapose that, a previous dog I had when I was a bit younger was very needy. I love him. Rest in peace but he was totally different. He was always trying to tell me something he wanted. He was the type of dog where I was like, “He would be so happy running around in fields right now.” He didn’t seem nearly as at ease as my dog so it’s poignant to bring up different dog personalities. They are different just like us humans. It’s convoluted. It’s layered because my little Chihuahua might be happy here but that’s him. That is his personality. 

MGU 237 Lindsay Rubin | Responsible Pet Ownership

Responsible Pet Ownership: There are plenty of other terms that are totally fine, companions and guardians. There are plenty to use.

 

Unfortunately, we have bred them to be so specific so he was energetic. If a dog is bred to run or to hunt, unfortunately, it is so in their brain and in their motivations and put them in a house all day. Based on the human’s lifestyle, that is what dictates what they do. It brings to mind breeding and how that has played into it as well. We want a dog that looks a certain way. Unfortunately, sometimes maybe they are not suited as well for being in a house most of the day or maybe they don’t want to sleep all day like my Chihuahua. That comes to mind when thinking about a dog’s wants and needs as related to their personality. 

This is an ongoing thing to try and figure out. One of the reasons that I so much want to move out of this city a bit and get a little bit more land is part of it is like, “Yes. Would I like land?” If I’m honest about my motivations to get acreage and be more in nature is for them. The idea of not being so close to a freeway or the possibility of them getting run over by a car, per se and having more natural space for not only my dog but for my cats to go outside. My reticence to letting them out is cars, freeway, people and city-life. 

To your point, Lindsay, one of my big motivations to upgrade my living situation is for them. I’m not ashamed to say that. I would like to do it for me, but I also want to do it for my animals, because they would be happier having access to more nature and less city life and less of the dangers of city life. I don’t know. Is that what they want or to Whitney’s point is that me transposing my hopes and dreams onto them. 

It’s difficult and I wish we would put more technology into decoding animal language. We have those digital devices that travelers take around. They put it in front of people’s faces and it will translate in real-time. I’m like, “Why aren’t the linguists and the veterinarians working on translating dog and cat? Why have we not figured that out yet?” We are talking about AI, uploading consciousness and colonizing Mars in 30 years. I want to be able to talk to my dog. 

We could say bring it on but what if it’s not what we expect? I don’t know. Like both of you are saying. We like to think we know that they want to run free and all these beautiful fields of flowers, but who knows? I would like to think that it would be great but we don’t know. 

We don’t know either. It could be like, “Feed me, jerk.” What? Do you think I’m a jerk? I didn’t know you thought I was a jerk. That’s news to me. 

There is an episode of a cartoon that I’m totally going to forget the name of when the dog is able to talk. He punishes the humans for neutering him and he is pissed off that they took his balls away. I wish I could remember the name of the cartoon, but this is a relevant example. We don’t know what they are going to say. 

I feel like I need to Google that immediately after this episode because now I need to see it. If someone took my balls against my will, I would probably be angry too, to be honest. 

That is another thing. It’s a double-edged sword because I also feel that if it’s not a good thing, but we also need to spay and neuter so there aren’t more dogs joining the population needing homes. Ethically, that is a hard one. 

The other thing that is hard for me too, and this is a side note, is trying to contend with people who treat their animals differently. I live in a neighborhood in Los Angeles. This has happened in several neighborhoods in Los Angeles. It is not the one I’m in now, that I will often see dogs roaming the street with no collar and no identification. Whitney and I have gone on missions like this. Whitney, there might be one that comes to mind. There have been many moments over the years where we would see a dog roaming the street. We would stop the car. We would pull over and we would literally run after this dog, “It’s okay. You are lost. We don’t want you to run into traffic.” Only to find that a couple of houses away, we meet a person. 

They are like, “That’s my dog. It’s okay.” Your dog was running in the street. They could have gotten hit by a car and they are so nonchalant about it. They are like, “That’s what we do.” I find that in my neighborhood too. I have chased down dogs on foot only to find, “You live over there and you’re playing in the middle of the street and this car almost hits you. What the hell is going on?” It’s difficult because certain people see that as okay.  

There are so many different ways that you can be a guardian or a parent to a dog. Click To Tweet

They are going to let their dogs out to run in the middle of the street. If they get hit, they get hit. I’m not anywhere near that level of nonchalance but I observed that so many people are and it’s been a source of frustration because part of me wants to yell at someone and cuss them out for doing it. If they see it as normal and they were raised in a family situation or generations of that’s how you treat your animals, it’s almost like nothing is going to change that if that’s how they view their animals. It’s a tricky thing. 

That is important to bring up, Jason because we are in this echo chamber of animal-loving vegans. The three of us are probably totally on the same page about running after dogs and rescuing them. I would totally rather be that weirdo of walking up to a dog. It’s happened before, where a dog rounds the corner and I’m like, “This dog needs me to save them.” I’m walking over to the dog and I’m like, “Are you okay?” Their human rounds the corner after them and they look at me like I’m this incredibly weird person. I’m like, “I’d rather risk it if I could help the dog.” If they were wandering alone, this also happened where the dog did need to be brought. Scan their microchip and bring them back home.  

I hate to say it but would you say that the majority of people don’t feel the way we do? Are you hopeful that more people are moving over? It seems like more people are warming up to these ideas of treating pets right. Jason, based on where you are and what you’ve seen, does it feel like the majority of people treat their pets and companions that way? How do you feel about that? That is something I needed to reflect on more. 

It’s tough because outside of this cloistered bubble of our community, and I suppose our general industry that we are all in. I do observe a lot of people in Los Angeles, in particular, I walk by and I will see their dogs chained up or I will see their dogs sleeping outside. It doesn’t get that cold in LA, it’s not like we have flurries of snow here, but it’s not how I would treat my dog. My observation is it seems like a lot of people keep dogs as guard dogs. Guarding the yard, cars and the house. They are filthy and not clean. It seems that you talk about the commodification of animals. 

I don’t see many guardian cats. I don’t see many attack cats. That is rare and niche. Dogs in particular, in LA, I live near downtown. There’s a lot that I walk by and see that seemed to be kept as guardians or attack dogs. They don’t look visually like they’re being treated that well. I’m not saying that they are being neglected or beaten or abused, but it’s not how I would treat a dog. I’m not going to personally get an animal for the sole purpose of them being a commodity to protect my property. 

I don’t personally agree with that. Having a dog is a component of it. I can understand why people depending on their situation, their status, and where they live would want something like a German Shepherd, a Doberman, a Rottweiler, etc., this category of dogs would be guard dogs. To have possession of an animal for the sole purpose of that doesn’t resonate with me. I’m trying not to be judgmental whereas I’m trying to have my beliefs and my ethics transposed and tell other people how they should treat them. If I perceive that a dog is being mistreated or being abused. There’s a situation with some rabbits down the street that my girlfriend and I are working on adopting them out and taking them to a sanctuary because if I get any hint of neglect or abuse, I’m going to try and step in and do whatever I can. 

It’s interesting too because going back to what we discussed. It can be similar to human beings. We judge people for what they eat or live all the time. We see somebody’s body and make all these assumptions about, “You are not getting enough exercise. You are not eating the right foods.” As humans, we tend to think that the way that we are doing something is the right way to do it. Also going back to what you are saying, Lindsay, about languaging. We don’t know until we ask somebody and there are instances of abuse. 

There is also the fact as you brought up, Jason, it’s so much about somebody’s lifestyle, perspective and outlook on the world. Even my mom is so relaxed about her dogs. Granted in a nice way, she lives on a farm, and her dogs get to run around outside. Some might say that is a much better life than I give my dog who lives in an apartment unit or a small home. Maybe I don’t walk her as much as some other people do. There are many judgments that could come to me. 

I look at my mom and think, “She lets the dogs outside. They do whatever they want. She doesn’t know what they are doing.” Whenever I’m visiting my family, I feel so uncomfortable letting my dog run around outside and I will stop and think about it. She probably wants to do that. I’m nervous because I’m afraid she’s going to get hurt. My parents live next to the land where there are coyotes. In my head, I’m super paranoid but sometimes I reflect and think, “Am I too paranoid?” I could perceive my mom as being too lenient. She takes her dogs to the vet far less than I do. For instance, when I went to the vet, it was because I was told that my dog had some teeth issues. She got all these X-rays. I spent all this money, taking care of my dog to get her teeth cleaned and teeth extracted. 

The amount of money I have spent on vet visits is probably insane to my mom and maybe some other people, but I could look at her and think, “You don’t take your dog to the vet often enough. Don’t their teeth need to be better taken care of?” I can’t control how she operates. She can come right back at me with the exact opposite perspective. Maybe she thinks I’m being too paranoid and I’m spending too much money or doing things that are unnecessary. It’s so similar to how we treat ourselves as human beings. Everybody has different perspectives and ways of care. 

As human beings, we are prone to categorizing things and comparing ourselves to others as well so that is natural and where a lot of our mindset goes. For this, it’s interesting. By the way, Jason, my Chihuahua is offended that you didn’t include him on a list of guard dogs. I wanted to say that he is ferocious. We could compare all day. There are so many different ways that you can be a guardian or a parent to a dog. Clearly, there are some strong lines. 

If you have your dog chained outside, they never come inside and it gets freezing cold, you see those sad advertisements that various animal rights organizations do to try and get dog houses for dogs that are outside. There do appear to be these wide options of how to have a dog but there are plenty of little different areas in between you and your mom. Comparing is natural and it’s good for us to have these discussions to understand exactly what the connotations are and how that plays into the overall picture of the original question of, “Should we have pets, dogs and cats as pets?” We can bring all of these points together to relate back to that original question and reflect on it in that way. 

MGU 237 Lindsay Rubin | Responsible Pet Ownership

Responsible Pet Ownership: It seems like more people are warming up to the idea of treating pets right.

 

I feel like there is so much nuance. To me, sometimes it’s not a black or white issue but more about the grays and our beliefs, how we are raised, our culture, our ethics. The human experience is such a diverse, myriad complicated thing. One thing we always say Lindsay here is our philosophy with our brand Wellevatr and here on this show. We are trying to make as many experiments as possible and we are fumbling our way through life. It’s okay to be uncertain and try new things. It’s okay to make mistakes, pick yourself back up and dust yourself off and keep trying again as Aaliyah said. RIP Aaliyah. With that, I had to give a shout-out to Aaliyah. Lindsay, we appreciate you being so wonderful, open, fun and for answering the questions because now I have in my mind’s eye V-hyena. I can’t get it out of my head and that is not a bad thing. It’s a hilarious image. To your point, if you guys have the resources, that would crush for April Fool’s Day to Whitney’s point. 

I would love that. Yes. 

Thank you for being here. It’s been a long time coming, as Jason said, based on my history. This conversation has been an important one that we have never addressed before. Thank you. For the reader, if you want to continue the discussion, we have the comments section on our website at Wellevatr.com. We have our social media. We have our email as well. If you have any comments, questions, further observations, please send them over. Maybe one day we will do something with you on video too Lindsay because you are so lovely and we appreciate getting to know you more. 

Thank you, both of you. It’s been so nice speaking with you here!

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About Lindsay Rubin 

MGU 237 Lindsay Rubin | Responsible Pet OwnershipLindsay Rubin was the Vice President of Operations at V-Dog, a San Francisco-based vegan dog food company. Forever obsessed with animals, she ran her own dog sitting business in high school and went on to college where she became a vegetarian. After learning about the dairy and egg industries, she went vegan and became an animal rights activist. In 2013, she met Dave, the late founder of V-Dog, and started working with the company as the first full-time employee. Lindsay was proud to help lead V-Dog – the current largest ethical, vegan business in the pet food space.

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