Freegan Cats and Dogs

Within the vegan community there is much hand-wringing about what to feed cats and dogs. These animals are meat eaters by design. While dogs, naturally omnivores, seem to thrive on a meatless diet, the same cannot be said for cats.

Some vegans refuse to support the exploitation of animals for their animal companions’ food, and instead feed a vegan diet to their dogs and cats. Others feel they have an obligation to provide a healthy diet to their dogs and cats and feed them meat.

Particularly in the case of cats, neither option seems ideal. Thankfully, neither is necessary, thanks to freeganism. As the online encyclopedia Wikepedia explains, “Freeganism is the practice of minimising one’s impact on the environment by means of consuming food that has been thrown away by someone else (e.g. supermarkets).

Acting this way, a freegan has no responsibility for the material and energy resources used in the production process, since the goods have already exited the production-consumption cycle where money is used in exchange for goods.”

Every day restaurants, butcher shops, and supermarkets discard large quantities of both prepared and unprepared meat. We tend to assume that an item that is being discarded is no longer suitable to consume, but this is very often not the case.

Wilkepedia, once again: “In most developed countries, the quality demands and hygiene standards of consumers are so high that many foods stay perfectly edible for long periods of time after their expiry or “best before” dates.”

Considering that most of these are “sell by” and not “use by” dates, this is necessarily the case. if a product is sold at 11 PM on the night of its expiration date, are we to assume that it is inedible an hour later? Expiration dates are intended to build in a wide window for usage after purchase. This is something we assume without really thinking about it – after all, we don’t throw away products in our refrigerator on the day they expire.

Often an item is thrown away long before expiration for a number of reasons:

  • The store is phasing out a product line and wants to create shelf-space.
  • A newer shipment of the same product has arrived and there is not enough space to stock both the old and new product. Since people tend to be more likely to buy a product with a later date when give the choice, the older product, which would be outsold is prematurely tossed.
  • An item is prepared and sold “fresh”– rotisserie chickens for example. No one wants to buy yesterday’s rotisserie chicken, so, at the end of the day the whole chickens are removed from the rotisserie and tossed– a colossal and pointless waste of life. This common practice at short order restaurants, fast food sellers, deli counters, fish markets, hot buffet bars, etc.

    These items will ultimately end up decomposing in a landfill, a tragic waste of the lives of the animals slaughtered for them.

    Thankfully, there are ways that we can both provide for our animals needs and at least ensure that the deaths of these slaughtered animals aren’t completely in vain.

    The simplest way to do this is to approach retailers and ask them if they would be willing to give you leftover met free of charge at the end of the day that they would otherwise toss so that you can feed your dogs and cats. This approach may be particularly effective for people involved in shelter or rescue activities, because, in our culture of denial, meat sellers don’t think of themselves as anti-animal and may be all too happy to help the good cause of animal rescue. they may even talk about how they are animal lovers!

    Another approach is to get to know the disposal habits of stores. In many cases its east to find the trash bag or dumpster where they’ve tossed they day’s meat. In colder months, spoilage is a non-issue, but in warmer months, of course, it is important to try to collect this meat shortly after it is discarded. Even though it is probably in fine shape at the time it is discarded, we needn’t give it the opportunity to rot thereafter. Of course, common sense applies here. We should apply the same discrimination with our senses when recovering meat from trash as we would when buying a food item from a store. Ideally, the foods we are recover are in their own bag or in a bag solely with other food, but if other items are also in the bag, we should look for anything that could be potentially hazardous and air on the side of caution. And needless to say we should adequately cook and clean all items obtained.

    Ironically, this mean is probably much SAFER than the meat in the wet and dry dog and cat foods we buy at stores. While good packaging makes us think of these products as safe and sanitary, they often contain the lowest quality by-products– flesh that would never be approved for human consumption. For more on this read the Animal Protection Institute’s report, What’s Really in Pet Food.

    By contrast, freegans consistently report from experience that the fears surrounding the foods they obtain are unwarranted.

    Meat is not the only thing we can find for animal friends through these methods. Dogs also thrive of the full range of plant foods – legumes, grains, fruit, and vegetables. Retailers dispose of large quantities of these in much that same way that they do meat. Even pet supply stores frequently throw away usable items for reasons like passed expiration dates and torn or dented packaging. This is very advantageous for filling more obscure food needs — birdseed, for example.

    Thanks to freeganism, a no-win situation thus becomes win-win-win, as we support our animals needs, reduce waste, and withhold financial support for animal exploitation. To learn more about provide for EVERYONE’s needs through freeganism, visit

    Free the trash!