Vegan Doctors / Vegan Health

Vegan veterinarian Randall Cannon shares his knowledge about how to truly care for animals.

Randall Cannon

Randall Cannon is a veterinarian from Orlando, Florida. We caught up with Randall to find out his perspective on animals.

1. What inspired you to become a vegan?

My inspiration for becoming vegan was, without a doubt, the animals.  Any health and environmental benefits are a bonus.  I was raised in a family that hunted and hunted myself until I was 20.   Like most people, I looked at animals as a source of personal enjoyment whether it be for taste or sport. When I entered veterinary school, I cared for animals, but in a very selfish way looking at them more as a possession than a soul-I loved animals more for what joy they brought ME.

I was trained in the livestock industry and had full knowledge of the horrors involved in bringing animal products to the dinner table.  I was able to keep my blinders on and continued to eat meat and dairy for about 10-12 years into my career.  Somewhere along the way, my patients showed me time and time again that they were as special, if not more special, than humans.  They certainly have purer souls.  I began to look at animals as true beings deserving of all the dignity and rights afforded to humans.  I enjoyed steak immensely—filet mignon was my favorite.  After a good meal, I would be haunted by the vision of a cow’s eye, a beautiful trusting innocent cow’s eye.  The hypocrisy of working all day to save a dog or cat and crying when I couldn’t, but then coming home and eating a steak began to gnaw at me.  I gave up meats about 8-9 years ago, but continued to eat dairy and fish until about a year ago when I finally admitted to the horrors of those industries as well.  I now realize that I have no right to use animals for taste, fashion, convenience, and entertainment, nor can I sit idly by while animals are abused by us humans.

2. In your opinion, as a doctor, do you regard the vegan diet as healthy?

As someone with a medical education, albeit veterinary, I whole heartedly believe that a vegan diet is the healthiest choice for humans.  I did not make the switch to being vegan for health, but rather for ethical reasons.  The bonus for me has been much improved health.  I am 46 years old and I no longer require any cholesterol medications, am at my college weight and am in good shape.  When I consumed animal products, I suffered from severe indigestion and frequently would wake in the middle of the night to take an antacid, but since being vegan, that problem has resolved as well.  I encourage people to read The China Study to get an understanding of how bad animal products are for us.  I look at my vegan friends and I am always amazed at how young they look compared to the general population.

3. I find it very strange that there are not more vegan veterinarians around. Is my assumption incorrect that vets love animals and would therefore not want to see them suffer through the animals agriculture process?

I find this strange too.  As with most people, veterinarians are able to wear blinders and ignore what they know goes on in the livestock industry.  I have a continuing education meeting every month which is held at a steak restaurant.  I am the only veterinarian who orders a vegan meal.  I sit at the table with rapidly aging, overweight veterinarians who ask for their steaks rare…one even said that he wanted it mooing when it hit his plate.  I don’t mince words when I am at the table.  I don’t accuse them of being bad people, but I do point out the hypocrisy of specieism…that we work all day to treat dogs and cats, but could care less about the livestock, whales and dolphins in Sea World, circus animals, etc.  I almost always get asked the same stupid questions of protein, plant feelings, etc., but I bite my tongue and try to appeal to their hearts.  I hope there will be a day when veterinarians take the lead on animal rights instead of defending the very institutions that indoctrinated us into the notion that is our right to use animals.

4. Can animals such as our pet cats and dogs be vegan? What is the best diet for our pets?

As for vegan veterinary diets, I think it is safe to feed dogs a good vegan diet.  For cats, being true carnivores who require animal proteins, it is a different story.  I have no personal experience with vegan cat foods, but I will be looking into it.

5. In addition to your vet work, you are also involved in the animal right’s movement. Can you tell us a bit about what kinds of projects you get involved with and what you are doing currently.

Once I was able to remove the blinders and acknowledge the horrors of the livestock industry, eating a vegan diet just wasn’t enough.  I can not sit idly by while animals are born into a life of hell and then slaughtered for our tastes, convenience, fashion and entertainment.  I actively try to show people the reality of their choices and show them the hypocrisy of loving a pet while participating in cruel industries.  I am sure I offend many, but I always think to myself that I would rather offend them than to not stand up for the animals who have no voice.  I really do not care if I offend someone who really doesn’t care if he/she offends helpless innocent animals in the worst of ways.  Get over it and face reality.

I am also actively involved with the local animal rights group ARFF and frequently participate in protests at puppy stores, circuses, Sea World and the greyhound track.  I actively adopt out animals from my clinic and hand out vegan literature.  I believe that it is just not enough to care, you have to act!

6. Do you have any tips for us about how we can better protect our pet’s health?

Seek out a vegan veterinarian…they will always have the animal’s best interest at heart.  Give your pet plenty of love, exercise and fresh foods.  Learn about their diseases and problems.  Well-educated pet owners have healthier pets.

7. If you had a message for the world on behalf of animals, what would it be?

That is hard because I have so many messages.  I think the animals would want us to know that they are much more intelligent and aware than we give them credit for…that they feel emotional pain at the same guttural level as we do.  Stripping a calf away from her mother hurts her as deeply as it would for a baby to be stripped from a human.  Herding cattle down the slaughter chute evokes the same trembling and fear as humans felt in concentration camps being led to the ‘showers.’  It is not about superiority and who is more intelligent; it is about a sentient being experiencing suffering and pain.  I have witnessed first hand the suffering that goes on in the livestock industry…it is real and it is horrific.  Any veterinarian who tells you otherwise is either a liar or has a distorted view of suffering and killing.

8. Anything else you would like to add?

I have not met a vegan yet who went vegan because he/she did not like the taste of meat and dairy.  It really boils down to if you value your tastes, convenience, fashion and enjoyment more than the suffering and lives of those animals.  It really is that simple.  As hard as I work as a veterinarian to save animals’ lives every day, the truth is that you can save more lives than I ever can by just going vegan….no degree required!  The irony in all of this, humans killing animals, is that ultimately, our consumption of them is what is killing us. Karma.

Thank you so much Randall – you are an inspiration to us! 🙂

45 thoughts on “Vegan veterinarian Randall Cannon shares his knowledge about how to truly care for animals.

  1. What a joy to read of a vegan vet! That’s one thing I’ve found so hard to comprehend over the years when taking my companion animals to the vet. Why do they only care about some animals, not all animals? How can they not eventually make the connection, like Randall has?
    It baffles me to see my vet walking out of a chicken shop with a dead bird for her lunch. Then she’ll be treating and caring for birds at the practice!! Come over to Australia Randall, we need you!!

  2. It gave me a real buzz knowing that there is a vegan vet out there; if only there were more; really, all vets – if they have followed that career for the right reasons – would/should be vegan or, at the very least, veggie.

    Randall, you are right, it is not enought to care, you have to act; your comparison with the concentration camps is spot on. I wonder if you have heard of/read the book, “Eternal Treblinka” by Charles Patterson. Patterson writes about the Holocaust and the slaughterhouse industry – and the chilling links between the two. Many people, including myself, think that it’s a masterpiece and the best, most important and most powerful book ever written about the abuse of power and the Holocaust and equally the best and most powerful book ever written about the slaughterhouse industry.

    Many survivors of the Holocaust, children of survivers of the Holocaust and even children whose parents perished in the Holocaust have said that it took the Holocaust for them to realize that the way the Nazis had viewed and treated them was just like how they had viewed and treated (non-human) animals and Patterson includes some of them in his book.

    Eternal Treblinka is the book (of all those that I have read about animal rights and, in particular, the slaughterhouse industry) most likely to ‘convert’ those who eat animal flesh to a veggie diet. Randall, if you recommend it to the many vets you know, many some of them will read it and change their ways. And don’t just stop at vets. It deserves to be at the top of everyone’s must read list.

    Good luck, Randall. The injured and sick animals who are brought to you for treatment are the lucky ones.

    Vegan wishes,

    Sandra

  3. What a superb article! I wish this could be sent to every school and every university around the world to be read to all kids and students. If we let no opportunity pass us by to teach the next generation to respect and to protect all living creatures then, maybe, we have a chance to one day call ourselves a civilized society. Until then people need to realize that the fight for animals is the fight for social justice. Thank you, Randall, for being one of those who leads the way. Many good wishes and much luck with all future endeavours. Kirsten Dhar

  4. What a heart warming interview.. thankyou so much… I agree, this would be very good for schools!

    I love INTEGRITY.. and Love.. Vegan is an opportunity to truly live in compassion and grace.. and enjoy the size of your waist 🙂

    Thanks for being you Randall

  5. This interview is brilliant! I wonder if there are any vegan or even vegetarian vets in Sydney? If so I’d take my furry friend there for sure!

  6. I know this vet, he took care of my little dog years ago. He’s an awesome vet, never new he was vegan – good to know.

    I gave up meat after I saw an episode of This American Life – the cameraman was so disturbed by what was happening to the pigs at the pig “farm” that he dropped the camera, ran outside and vomited, said he never ate meat after that and neither have I. It’s a crime what is done to the animals at “farms” these days, the farmers should be prosecuted for animal cruelty. We have no right to torture other living beings. It breaks my heart knowing what those poor animals go through. If you eat meat, then you are as guilty as the farmers that abuse them.

  7. SO good to read the comments from another vegan veterinarian!!! Like Dr. Cannon, it sickens me to sit at a table during a veterinary convention as everyone is eating meat!! I second his statement ,”if you want a veterinarian that truly has your animal’s best interests at heart, the FIRST question you should ask is ARE YOU A VEGAN!”

  8. Question 7 is where I began to feel that sad feeling you get before you cry 😦

    It’s so bewildering to me, how the people that I love so much can do this when there are animals or vegans around them. Because for these people ignorance is no longer an excuse.

  9. Following up on the vegan cat question…yes, they are true carnivores, but it is possible to feed a complete, balanced vegan diet to some cats without endangering their health. My 12 year old cat is one of them.

    • Do you supplement with taurine or anything else? Can you share a few vegan options cats would actually eat? Thanks.

      • There are vegan cat food products that have taurine in them. Cats really love them. The product is called VeganPet. http://www.veganpet.com.au. I’m sure other countries, besides Australia, are also producing vegan cat food.

      • Someone else posted this link for vegan cat food with all the tauring and other nutrients they need. There’s one called Natures something at PetSmarts I just read about. Great.

  10. Thanks for this exchange with a vegan vet. One of the phenomenon that bothers me greatly is the seeming dearth of vegan vets. Our cultural indoctrination is astonishingly effective if humans devoted to health care for other animals can continue to blindly use and harm them.

    My thanks to all vets who overcome that blindness. It would be an invaluable service if a national register of vegan vets were accumulated. I’m considering querying each and every vet in my community to see if I can find an enlightened one.

  11. It is heartwarming to read of Vet. Randy Vegan Cannon, as well as the other vegan vets leaving comments. It continually breaks my heart to read about or see the cruelty inflicted on “food animals” and the blinders most people have as they devour animals and talk about how good they taste.

  12. Finding professionals of this caliber “who gets it” is encouraging. When I was at cross roads in grad school, The biggest turn-off was practicing on healthy animals etc….. I went to a school and saw monkeys caged desperately clinging to the bars, crying out “get me out of here please!” I still remembered that day, as clear as today and it is tormenting. Hence, w/much deliberation, and encouragement I was steered to employ my advocacy skills instead because not only do they need medical assistance, but an actual voice within our species.

  13. How inspiring. Our vet is gorgeous and we’ve been going there for 18 years but his favourite food is a cow burger and he sees no anomaly with that and what he does all day, which is saving animals. I loved how this vet says that he doesn’t mind offending people to get his views out there. As someone who is finding it difficult to be unpopular at gatherings for even saying I’m not eating meat, eggs and dairy, it’s encouraging to hear people who can just get over that.

  14. Another eye opening movie to watch “Earthlings”. I believe it is still available online for free. No one who calls themselves an ” animal lover” can possibly continue to use animals for food or clothing, or continue to support companies that use animals in entertainment or research. This should be required viewing for all those “animal lovers” out there!

  15. How wonderful!!! I loved reading this!! I absolutely do find it both hypocritical and disturbing to think that a vet…whose entire livelihood is created BECAUSE of animals….would not at least CONSIDER not eating animals. I recently saw a pic of a vet I used, with his wife wearing a FULL LENGTH FUR COAT. Needless to say, that spoke VOLUMES to me.

  16. Hello friend…Me n my family like vegan food n we all r vegetarian from birth…also would like to say you that there are Jain religion follower Saints in India…If you contact them through me you can get more details n knowledge about non-violence n Veg food for all….because Jainism is based on non-violence…..my mail id- aapkajinesh@yahoo.com…would be pleased if u give me reply…

  17. This wonderful man speaks words directly from my own heart. I wish I could find a vegan vet for my cats because it’s true how vets are in charge of your babies’ health but, if they still eat meat & dairy, wear leather, etc., visit circuses & rodeos, etc., then they don’t really care about animals. How would we feel if our own human doctors had a weekend hobby running a concentration camp, or was a cannibal?? The only difference is legal & peer consequences. Love this excellent animal rights activist & veterinarian who’s not afraid to stand strong in being a voice for the animals<3.

  18. I sure have a lot of faith in Randy and as a vegan I can relate to everything he has said. I am proud to call him friend. The world needs more like him.

  19. Great Article! , I’m not a Vegan but Vegetarian which I feel is good for love of all animals big and small and my Golden Retriever whom we sort of “adopted” when he was 7 months old is now a vegetarian too and going to be 3 years old next week; Unfortunately I don’t know any / or heard of any Veggie Vet in Singapore

  20. Excellent advice to find Vegan vet!

    I can’t even find a vet who doesn’t declaw cats! The #AVMA #NYSVMS fighting tooth and claws to keep the declaw money machine going and legal. Outrageous.

    Declaw, crop, docking, all from the endearing hobby of dog fighting.

    A little mental manipulation of the client, assuring them it is safe, acceptible with the right excuses, ie: for their own good to keep them in homes, for your childs safety we wouldn’t want you to get scratched, oh my god you might get Cat Scratch Fever, it will be killed if we dont declaw… as if it will be f8ne with the cat, they will hardly notice. All the while never ever telling the loving owner that 44 other civilized countries would.arrest they for felony if he tried it anywhere but here in North America.

    I am so very angry and the many vets in my life who never told the truth. Thanks to you I carry they guilt of the many lives I watched suffer. You betrayed my cats, you betrayed my family, and myself.

    Thank you so very much for this article. Namaste Dr!

  21. I have similar story. I too become vegan after joining vet school in my third year. Before joining vet school I never had any connection towards animals I used to eat animals three times a day one day during practical of slaughtering of sheep I realised and stopped eating meat n now I am vegetarian for 4 years and vegan for years.

  22. Yes. The strangeness of vets still eating meat baffles me. There is a famous vet nicknamed The Supervet. He related a story on one of his shows after an operation where he had to use a tool he’d had since med school. He had no choice but to utilize the toll in saving a dog’s life. He then went on to say when he was training as a vet on a farm, he had left an implement inside a cow. Weeks later, the farmer brought back his tool (& I quote) ‘Can you believe that? That cow had continued to live without no discomfort ‘. Jesus. This hypocrite can’t see what he is saying. He found nothing wrong in the cow being slaughtered thus finding his tool. Cannot understand how he weeps with joy/sadness at helping animals or losing them and still has meat.

  23. I loved reading this 🙂 ibwish I could meet him and discuss these issues in the veterinary industry.
    I’m a vegan veterinary nurse and work alone in a clinic of mostly meat eaters and initially constantly questioned about where do I get my.. etc etc..
    It’s not about us. and once we’ve realised that then people are more inclined to accept different sources of nutrition. Unfortunately so many don’t see this way yet. I ate meat for 29 years, worked in the industry 9 years before I realised they are so so much more! How can I cry and feel defeat at work when I fight to save someone’s pet, yet go home and shovel down a burger or something that once too, wanted the very same fight to live.
    Good on this vet! I wish I could work in a vegan veterinary clinic 🙂

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