Let's assume that someone is not concerned with animal welfare or rights of their pet, and is vegan for purely environmental reasons.

The issue is that buying food for carnivorous animals is inherently not vegan (purchasing animal products). These products have a high environmental impact.

Are there any animals that eat a vegan diet (such as rabbits, mice, etc) and have a low impact on the environment, and would thus be suitable to keep from this perspective?


3 Answers 3


As you point out, Rabbits are vegan. Their diet is primarily grass hay, which may be available locally. The environmental impact of getting the hay depends on how far away you have to go to get it (or how far someone brought it) and how much irrigation it used. But the amount of hay that a typical rabbit uses is quite small. One normal sized bale of hay lasts me about 6 months per rabbit.

Rabbits also enjoy food scraps that may otherwise be thrown out, such as:

  • Banana peels
  • Stems of leafy greens, lettuce, or parsley
  • Carrot tops

Here is fuller list of fruits and veggies they can eat


My bet is on fishes. My arguments come below:

For the same body weight poikilotherms need one-third to one-tenth of the energy of homeotherms. They therefore eat only one-third to one-tenth of the food needed by homeothermic animals.

  • low energy cosumption - for small fish tanks the electricity used to privide light for the plants and fishes is quite small, according to this article:

In 1997, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory issued a report claiming that modestly sized freshwater home aquariums of around 10 gallons use as little as 90 to 120 kilowatt-hours annually which certainly isn’t too egregious.

Small filters can be solar powered.

  • almost entirely vegetarian - there are plenty of fish species that are almost entirely vegetarian, as indicated here, as it seems that it possible to run a vegan fish tank, as indicated in this forum post:

vegan fishes, and there is a way to set up a vegan tank [..] rabbitfishes (eat caulerpa, which almost nothing else will, along with anything else green it can get); combtooth blennies eat almost exclusively green film algae off your glass and rocks; tangs won't turn down shrimp or the occasional worm, but are better off eating nori and other algaes

Other aspects that affect environment friendliness:

  • type of water - fresh water requires less energy consumption for the filters and overall maintenance is easier (it is harder to obtain the proper conditions for the fishes)

  • fish type - opt for captive-raised, not for wild raised:

Another reason to opt for freshwater instead of marine aquariums aside from the fact that they’re less expensive to operate is that 90 percent of freshwater fish are captive-raised. Buying tropical fish, on the other hand, can be trickier. While an increasing number of saltwater species are captive-raised, a majority are captured from the wild, mostly in Southeast Asia, often using “chemical stunning” methods involving cyanide.

I know the question explicitly rules out animal welfare, but this is quite easy to achieve and should be mentioned:

  • avoid overcrowding the tank - using this site, one can estimate the maximum number of fishes to be placed in a tank.
  • avoid incompatible fishes - using these charts, one can avoid placing incompatible fishes in the same tank making some of them really unhappy
  • proper temperature - e.g. tropical fishes like warmer water then other types of fishes
  • social factor - some fishes are social beings, so ensure you have more of the same kind (e.g. neon tetra fishes like to be in large groups, so the bare minimum should be 6)

Conclusion: Having fishes in tanks as pets seems the most environmental friendly way of owning a pet. As a bonus, by obeying a few simple rules, it can also be animal welfare friendly. And it it is also very accessible, as a small fish tank can be placed even in the small apartments.


Vegans who follow an ethical lifestyle, who would however like to share that life with an animal, can have several questions – for instance which pets are vegetarian or vegan so that they can blend seamlessly into an ethical lifestyle. There can be ethical questions such as this one: should vegans have pets at all? As to this, most vegans tend to agree that so long as you treat your pet well, with affection, having pets is fine.

Then there is the other question: Dog and cat lovers may well wonder if it is possible to feed their pet a vegan diet. After all, veganism is about ending the exploitation of other animals, and about letting them live on their own terms. So, one may argue that having a vegan cat or dog is foisting a human agenda on an animal; an animal who is naturally carnivorous. Many vegans choose not to have dogs and pets for this reason.

While the jury may be out on several of these questions we look at the top vegan pets one can have.


While the ethics of limiting a carnivore to a vegan diet may be a matter of argument, many vegan pet owners will testify to their feline thriving on a vegan diet.


Dogs are omnivores by nature, and they are known to thrive very well in vegetarian and vegan households.

Small Birds

Parakeets, lovebirds, finches, canaries and various other small birds make great vegan pets.

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