Murphy: Outfoxing a Veganista

March 15, 2018 02:16 PM
An animal activist in Spain has ignited a social media controversy over whether it’s ‘healthy and humane’ to keep a fennec fox as a pet — and then feed it nothing but vegan food.

Some people like to grow gardens; others go fishing or play golf.

Me, my hobby is exposing the hypocrisy of vegetarian extremists who demand nothing less than the entire world going veggie. And to the most radical members of that sect, that lifestyle should include not just the seven-plus billion members of Homo sapiens, but all animals, as well.

Sometimes, dissecting the inconsistencies in a veggie believer’s philosophical positioning requires serious thought and effort. Other times, the argument refuting the plausibility of Planet Vegan practically makes itself.

This story is an example of the latter.

According to a report by BBC News, a controversy has arisen in Europe over one Sonia Sae, a self-described “anti-speciesist,” someone who believes animals and people are moral and legal equals. Sae has been promoting on social media that she’s raising a male fennec fox on a totally plant-based diet.

Sae posted photos of Jumanji the fox that make the animal appear to be malnourished (see photo). “The accompanying pictures of Jumanji have prompted heated conversations across a variety of social media platforms,” BBC reported, “and even other vegans have criticized Sae for imposing her ideas on the animal.”

According to National Geographic, fennec foxes are omnivores, who are “opportunistic eaters in the wild, who forage for plants but also eat rodents, eggs, reptiles and insects.”

In other words, decidedly not a vegan, or more properly, an herbivore.

A Deeper Question to Ask
Sae, a vegan campaigner from Barcelona, has posted videos on her YouTube channel making the case for vegan pet foods. But her critics noted that the fox looked “extremely malnourished.” One commenter even posted a video urging viewers to use the hashtag #FightForTheFox and report Sae to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Yeah, like they’ll take sides against a vegan fox.

Of course, animal activists came to Sae’s defense, posting such comments on Facebook as, “[Pets] thrive on a vegan diet supplemented with taurine,” and “The only ones I see attacking her are you carnists.”

The BBC article also quoted Damian Eadie, who runs a vegan pet food business in the UK. “A reasonable thing to say to Sonia would be: Does she know the nutritional requirements of the fox, and can she formulate a suitable diet?” Eadie told BBC. “Any animal can be fed a vegan diet if you can source the nutrients appropriately.”

That doesn’t answer the other question involved in this fox fight, and that’s the issue of whether it’s appropriate at all to keep a fox as a lap dog pet — regardless of whether he’s eating real meat or meat analogs.

How about, No! It’s not appropriate to keep as a pet a wild animal that’s a nocturnal hunter and would studiously avoid human contact if it were living in the forest. Cats and dogs have had eons of domestication to acclimate them to human households, but even Fluffy or Fido will quickly revert to feral behaviors just one generation removed from sleeping on the couch and eating out of a can.

Here’s a simple solution to this controversy over the appropriateness of vegan pet food. Since anti-speciesists like Sae always claim that, in the ridiculous phrasing of PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk, “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy,” then it follows that animals are capable of making their own intelligent choices.

So — just place two bowls of food in front of Jumanji, or any other pet clearly not an herbivore, like bunnies. One would be filled with vegan fox chow (if such a product even exists); the other, with meat or meat-based food.

Then stand back and let the animal eat what it wants.

End of controversy.

End of vegan diet.

Editor’s Note: The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and commentator.

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