Every day we are faced with challenging decisions that will ultimately impact the environment, humans, and non-human animals. Adopting a vegan and cruelty-free lifestyle reflects personal choices made in regard to what we eat, what we wear, the products we use, boycotting companies that profit from animal cruelty, and how we care for and treat all living beings.
For Morgan Tangren, a vegan, the nutrition of her companion animals conflicts with her ethical dietary preferences and choices. Morgan shares her home with two cats, Angel and Freedom, two dogs, Bellah and Trevor, fish, and ferrets, Gwendolyn, Evelyn, and Penelope.
Seven days a week, two times a day, raw meat is on the ferret menu: chicken wings, rabbit, duck, quail, Cornish game hen, beef or pork chunks, turkey, and organ meats.
Fully aware of the atrocity of factory farming and the health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle for herself, Morgan chose to share her home with ferrets, obligate carnivores. “Feeding a natural diet is important to my ferrets’ longevity, health, and happiness.”
“The issue is not simply black and white,” says Morgan who continues to grapple with the dilemma. However, carnivores need the lives of other animals in order to survive and thrive.
“It can seem hypocritical to tout a vegan lifestyle while pouring a bowl of meat-based kibble for our dog or cat or feeding a species-appropriate raw diet to our beloved fur-children.”
Morgan, who mostly feeds her ferrets organic and free-range products and avoids brands, such as Tyson and Perdue, to keep her dollars out of the pockets of factory farmers, says, “It wouldn’t be right to force my ideology on an animal that it is my responsibility to care for.”
After becoming involved with the ferret community, Morgan was intrigued by raw feeding and its benefits such as healthier teeth and gums, a shining soft coat, increased energy, and a stronger immune system.
In 2011, after her ferret Daemeon died from insulinoma, a very common form of pancreatic cancer in ferrets, Morgan decided to switch her ferrets to a raw diet.
“A connection has been made between feeding kibble containing carbohydrates and grains with insulinoma in ferrets,” Morgan states. As obligate carnivores, ferrets need foods low in fiber and carbohydrates and high in protein and fat.
“Diet is not necessarily a cure-all,” Morgan admits considering all the aspects like genetics that determine health and longevity, “but until more is learned about disease prevention and curing common illnesses in ferrets, it is important to provide a species-appropriate diet like a raw diet to aid them the best we can against such diseases.”
It took approximately six months to switch her ferrets completely to a raw diet. “It was worth the amount of effort and time,” Morgan says. “My ferrets are healthy, happy, and have the cleanest teeth you’ve ever seen, and they really enjoy the mental stimulation that comes from tearing up a piece of meat and crunching on bones.”
“All animals deserve a good life. Just because carnivores are born carnivores does not mean that they are not deserving of a good life too.”
Morgan feels that feeding her ferrets a raw diet is a much better alternative than feeding heavily processed foods full of cheap fillers, chemical preservatives, dyes, by-products, and other questionable ingredients. “It is plain to see why anyone might seek an alternative like a raw diet.”
“It is up to us to do what we can to extend their lives and improve our ferrets’ health in any way we can.” Morgan adds, “I want to keep my ferrets healthy and around for as long as possible.”
For more information on feeding your ferret a raw diet, visit the Mustelamania website and Mustelamania facebook page, operated by Ferret Nutritionist Erinn Whitmore, a vegan, who is a professional member of the International Association of Carnivore Nutrition Consultants.
This article is dedicated to Morgan’s ferret, Bomber, who passed in May 2013 from cardiomyopathy. Click here to read Bomber’s story on Mustelamania.