I was recently asked to comment on an advertising card for Evolution Diet. There are a number of claims made, and because they are vague and wildly inflammatory, it is difficult to address them in an evidence-based manner, but I’ll do my best.
1. “Up to 30% Longer Life Expectancy”. This is in large, colored type adjacent to the name of the diet and a picture of a puppy and kitten. No evidence is presented on the card or the various websites associated with the company or the CEO Eric Weisman. Much is made of a couple of studies linking calorie restriction to some increase in life expectancy in various experimental animal studies. This is an interesting area of research, but it has no connection to the implied benefits of feeding this diet.
2. According to this advertisement, the pet food industry “provides a convenient way for the disposal of slaughterhouse toxic wastes unfit for human consumption” “hard to digest, nutrient deficient toxic ingredients include: intestines, udders, stomachs, lungs, heads…drugs and pharmaceuticals (antibiotics, hormones)…euthanized pets.”
A wild string of fallacies, nonsense, and outright lies. It is true that some parts of animals that people think of as icky are used to make pet food. But if lungs, intestines, stomachs, eyeballs and so on are all toxic, then why aren’t they poisoning all those cats who hunt rodents and birds, or for that matter every other carnivore that eats them routinely in the wild? Of course, Mr. Weisman would say they are, but the logic behind claiming that an obligate carnivore like a cat or ferret is healthiest if fed a vegan diet is bizarre and indefensible.
Antibiotics and drugs used in agricultural animals (which are then used to make pet food) are regulated very tightly because we eat the meat from these animals, and there isn’t any more of these things in the pet food that isn’t also in the steak we eat, which is to say little to none under normal circumstances. There are some real and serious issues about what we feed to animals intended for consumption, but these have little to do with the claims Evolution Diets makes.
The pentobarbital thing I addressed in my previous discussion of nutritional myths, and you can find the details on the FDA web site. In short, miniscule amounts were found in some (not “all”) foods tested, but no traces of dog or cat DNA were found in these foods, and there are separate companies and facilities involved in rendering companion animals and agricultural animals used to make pet food, so it’s pretty darned unlikely there are regularly pets in pet food. No one is sure where the pentobarbital comes from, but it’s possible a euthanized horse occasionally makes it into a rendering plant that provides ingredients for pet food. This is obviously not desirable, but it has also not been shown to represent a real health risk.
Is the amount of pentobarbital in some pet foods toxic? Pretty unlikely. The FDA calculated the maximum exposure and determined it was far too low to represent a danger. And contrary to what purveyors of the naturalistic fallacy generally think, dose matters in toxicology. Enough oxygen or water can kill you, though these are essential for life, and we all get tiny amounts of “natural” and synthetic substances in eating, drinking, and breathing all the time and always have. Common herbs and spices used in cooking have been linked to cancer, as long as they are fed in obscene amounts to rats. Does that mean we’re all going to die of oregano poisoning? It’s a big leap from saying tiny amounts of possibly toxic things are present to showing that there are health consequences to this, and this hasn’t been shown here.
3. “…millions of Dogs and Cats suffer and die each year from cancers, kidney/liver failure, heart disease, etc” and “scientific studies demonstrate that there are nutrient deficiencies for immune system, cardio-vascular and urinary tract precursor proteins in all basic meat, poultry, and fish-based pet foods.” I’d love to take a look at these studies, as I’m sure would all the veterinary nutritionists who don’t seem to be aware of them. AAFCO sets standards which all major manufacturers follow for nutrient content in foods, and I’m not aware of any evidence that every dog food made except this company’s is nutrient deficient and causes disease. The advertisement states the food is “complete and balanced for all life stages,” which at least claims compliance with AAFCO guidelines, just like every other commercial pet food.
As for the implication that cancer, kidney failure, liver failure, and heart disease in pets are somehow due to toxic ingredients or nutritional deficiencies in foods, well they just made that up. It is the most egregious kind of unfounded fear mongering with no evidence provided to support it.
4. “Literally, all major commercial pet food brands and suppliers, including most brand names, have been involved in major pet food recalls that have sickened and killed millions of Dogs and Cats in the U.S.” “Never a Recall!”
I’m not sure it’s possible to check the accuracy of these claims. Certainly, many pet foods have been recalled at one time or another, but I think it would be hard to show that all foods except this one have been. And the implication that this implies the foods are killing dogs and cats is nonsense. Most recalls are precautionary and no actual harm is ever found. And in those cases where some contaminate is actually present, a recall is an example of a responsible action that saves lives. The melamine incident, which I suspect is being referred to, involved a non-animal ingredient (what was supposed to be wheat protein but got adulterated with the melamine). Wheat and corn gluten meal are the first two ingredients on several of the Evolution Diets, and while I don’t know where they get these, the issue of contamination is just as likely to come up for this company as any other.
Interestingly, in 2003 a recall of Go! Natural pet food was conducted due to a number of cases of acute liver failure associated with the food. The underlying cause was never found, but the company manufacturing the food continues to tout it as healthier based on claims about “good” and “bad” ingredients very similar to those made on the Evolution Diet site. Simply claiming something is healthy and natural provides no assurance that it is safe or healthy.
Finally, if you check out the web site for the company producing this diet, you might get a hint of the ideology behind this product from the CEO’s diatribe on the evils of mainstream medicine, and the reason why we could all stop getting sick and dying if we just followed the messianic vision of the CEO of this company, Eris Weisman. Here’s a sample:
“One of the most important reasons why many veterinarians do not like Evolution Diet Pet Foods is because people using them have much healthier pets. When pets become healthier, they become much less dependent on veterinary services and vets make much less money. Sadly, most medical doctors and veterinarians are more concerned about their income then your health or the health of your pet(s) respectively.”
What do you think? Sound like the vets you know? So, once again, it’s the small visionary against the evil establishment, who are all crooked and deluded. He talks at length about how his vision would save humans as well as pets from our toxic environment, and the increase in health and longevity brought about by science and medicine in the last 150 years appears to have escaped him. A messianic version of the David and Goliath complex.
Mr. Weisman is an interesting character. He claims a number of academic credentials, including “2 Diplomats[sic] and a Doctorate in post-graduate Health Sciences at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minnesota…[and] a National Board Diplomat[sic] for his Post Graduate Work in Health Sciences.” The university he refers to is a college of chiropractic, acupuncture, and oriental medicine, and while I can find no reference to the graduate programs Mr. Weisman claim to have completed, it is possible they are offered there. Likewise, I can find no sign of a National Board of Health Sciences for him to be a diplomate of, but I suppose it might exist. He also claims to have been “a physician in private practice using Vitamin, Botanical, Nutraceutical & Nutrition Therapy for Humans” and makes references to time in medical school, but he doesn’t use M.D. and he recommends Naturopathy, so it is impossible to tell whether he was a true physician or a Naturopath.
In any case, despite offering these credentials, Mr. Weisman disdains formal academic training and the medical profession generally. He says:
“I was not a great student until my later years in post graduate school. Part of the problem I faced in the schools I attended was my constant need to question why things were being taught and if they were true in the first place.
It took me decades to realize that many of the courses taught in schools are based on misinformation and half truths much like television and newspapaer[sic] news. It wasn’t because the teaching staff suddenly decided to inform me, it was because I studied alternate books with different information that opposed what I was being taught in various schools, colleges and universities.”
He clearly likes to portray himself as a misunderstood visionary, as is so often the case for people selling quackery. He begins his essay on the “VETERINARY & HUMAN MEDICINE IN CRISIS and How I Have Extended and Improved Quality Of Life in Cats, Ferrets, Dogs and Humans with Supplements & Nutrition” with a dedication to a number of famous vegetarians, including Max Gerson, originator of the infamous Gerson cancer therapy which, along with its offspring the Gonzalez Protocol, is a shining example of abusing the desperation of cancer patients and torturing them with uncomfortable and irrational diet, coffee enemas, and other nonsense that only magnifies their suffering without treating their disease. He frequently reminds us that most doctors are either simple greedy liars or brainwashed by the media, since we all know “Television and Radio are very powerful influences that easily manipulate most human minds: Except for people like myself.”
Mr. Weisman is clearly driven by the quasi-religious belief that he has a unique insight into the conspiracy of government and industry that exists to keep people and animals ill for profit and to keep them under control. He refers to painful experiences in his own past, including his mother’s mental illness, which he attributes to electroconvulsive therapy experiments performed on her by the CIA and the Canadian Psyschiatric Association*, and the death of his father from heart disease which he attributes to eating meat, fish, and poultry and to the deliberate refusal of doctors to properly resuscitate him from the last of his many heart attacks.* *
Like all of us, he has suffered painful losses of loved ones and had to watch suffering and disease that could not be prevented or cured. But his reaction to this is to reject science, to blame his pain on the deliberate evil and lack of vision of the rest of the world, and then to invent his own reality in which he has simple answers that will make the pain go away. That may be understandable for him as a human being, but it is not justification for selling that private, and false vision to others through hysterical scare tactics and fear mongering, as well as defamation of the medical profession and outright lies. The diets he sells may or may not be perfectly adequate, acceptable pet foods, but they are not the key to preventing or curing death and disease that he claims. And the rest of the pet food industry, of which he is a part despite his protestations, may not be any better than any other collection of people or companies, but it is not the sinister conspiracy deliberately marketing death and disease that he portrays.
I would like to think the Evolution Diet marketing strategy sufficiently absurd on the face of it that it would fail, but clearly this isn’t the case. Smart, well-intentioned pet owners can be fooled and frightened by the unfounded claims and accusations Mr. Weisman makes. Hopefully, demonstrating the lack of evidence, and the bizarre agenda and worldview behind his statements will help people make their own, sound decisions about how to best care for their animal companions.
*”When a child, I dreamt that I could one day free my mother from her long term illness that was caused by an experimental “medical” study procedure (she was made a subject without her permission). I hoped that the knowledge I would accrue from different colleges and universities would help me achieve this goal.
I only found out that my mother was a forced participant in a series of electro-convulsive shock experiments at a Canadian Hospital after I saw an extensive film documentary on CIA studies that resulted in litigation. The litigation was a result of unsuspecting hospital patients being used as subjects for various forms of torture and abuse at three Canadian Hospitals. I went back into my mother’s medical file to find out that she was at the same hospital at the same time refered to in the documentary. In the files were references to a series of electro convulsive shock treatments she recieved at that Hospital over a two month period.
According to the documentary, the CIA and Canadian Psychiatric Association conducted interogation and brain washing experiments on unwitting patients at the same Canadian Hospital my mother went to for a mild case of post partum depression. After my father brought her to that hospital, she was treated with high doses of electro-convulsive shock for her simple problem of unhappy mood linked to increased responsibility with my sister’s birth. During her two months of treatment, she developed a permanent form of advancing dementia from which she never recovered and increased as she aged.
From the bright, intelligent, pretty and generous woman she was, I remember how sick and dull her personality seemed after she came back from her long stay at that hospital. I remember that she was never the same bright person she was before she went in, but I had no complete understanding of why until the summer of 1993 after watching that televison CIA law suit documentary and delving into my mother’s medical records. As I watched the documentery in awe, I did not know then that my mother was going to die from some of the related injuries she sustained in that study just three years later (1996).”
**”It was a cool, wet and dark October Morning in Toronto at about 1:00 AM in 2004. I pulled my father’s car into the Sunnybrook Hospital Parking lot ramp near the front Emergency Entrance and stopped next to a concrete parking wall. I turned off the engine and looked at my pretty twenty-three year old neice Angela and said, “I don’t think he made it.” I was preparing myself for the worst.
Angela was crying “They’re doing all they can to resusitate him, aren’t they?”
Tears had welled up in my eyes. “It looks like a Dog and Pony Show to me. The doctors told me that they did not think he was a good candidate for resusitation. The On Call Doctor told me he did not want to resusitate him. He said that Dad would not make it, but I promised Dad I would have it done. It was the last thing he asked me to do. The doctor told me that Dad has so many forms of organ failure…his heart especially: He has little chance of making it. Just the way they put him on that table in the resusitation room tells me it’s over. That had him lying in a fully recombant position even though he has pneumonia. With all that fluid in his lungs, how can he even breath or be resusitated in a fully recumbant position. I don’t think they were really giving him a chance to make it.”
Angela jutted her head forward and cocked it to the left, looking straight into my eyes, “You think that they would just let him die and make it look like they were going to help him?”
“I think they do this kind of thing every day in hospitals throughout the US and Canada…
I said, “I hope you are going to change your diet. This might be your last chance Dad. I really mean it Dad. I don’t think you are going to make it next time. You’ve got to change your diet for real this time. I can tell by the way you have been forgetting things that you are in trouble…and you haven’t been answering my pahone calls. You just got out of the hospital for heart failure. Don’t you know that everytime you eat meat, poultry, fish or dairy products that you progressively block all of your arteries. It’s very serious because the most important arteries that are being blocked are in your heart and brain. Dad you’ve got to stop eating that stuff…you’ve had five heart attacks and it’s animal fat and animal cholesterol that have caused each one. I don’t want you to die. That’s why we came to visit you. Lynn and I want you to change your diet now. You’ve got to stop blocking your arteries with animal fat and cholesterol…
Flash forward to that cool, wet, dark October Morning. My niece and I entered the special resusitation room and looked at my Dad’s still warm, but lifeless body. He still had a large ortho-pharyngeal tube poking out of his motionless mouth. He looked so still. It was so unlike him. He was a man that lived life to the fullest. If he would have only taken meat, poultry and fish out of his diet when I had spoken to him six months earlier. I knew that he would still be here. Animal fat and cholesterol are what progressively killed his organs by blocking his arteries.”
Oh, good grief! What a farrago.
Excellent, I’ve learned a new word! 🙂
I wish I had two Diplomats. I wonder where he keeps them?
I looked at the web page –
“Americans for the most part are not very intelligent when it comes to food”………….
what happened to “the customer is always right”? Nothing like insulting the clients to get one off to a good commercial start!
Ugh, not only did the website make me want to hurl, but reading just a hint of this guy’s history leaves me wondering how psychotic he must be. I can’t tell just from the website or your post, but if his mom had some form of mental illness, maybe someone should tell Weisman that’s a common hereditary trait. Or maybe he’s just paranoid dilusional by his own doing.
Pingback: The 118 Skeptics’ Circle: Looking Closely Edition | the evolving mind
I realize that the website is a bit painful on the brain and the last post was over a year ago, but I think some things need to be cleared up for other people who stumble across this. The reason that pet food derived from the leftover slaughter house bits and pieces is “toxic” is because of the way that the animals being slaughtered are treated. For starters allot of them are force fed foods that are not in their diet. For example corn fed beef. I hear commercials on the radio stating that a certain store is now carrying corn fed beef as if it is a good thing. Cows are normally supposed to eat grass. They are a grassing animal and have no use for corn. The reason that they are given it is because of the high starch and protein content which allows them to gain weight faster. As a result this is incredibly hard on their systems and causes lots of different diseases. One of the most prominent problems with this diet is it causes their stomaches to expand until they tear out their side and have to be sewn back together (no trip to the vet here, every farmer is a seamstress).
The reason that these leftover parts are being labeled “toxic” is because of all of the medication and antibiotics being fed to the cows to keep them alive on this corn diet. If you had to eat someone because of a plane crash and you where stranded, would you choose the alcoholic drug addict, or the fit lean muscular person (if you could catch them, and this is not an issue of who’s life is worth more)? Think of all of those antibiotics and medicines being filtered out by the liver, passing through the intestines/stomach, and forming deposits in the fat and soft tissues(eyes, mucus membranes).
As for our pets, we have one stray cat that has joined us. His name is Drake and he suffers from Struvite crystals (blocked urinary tract) which could kill him in under 30 hours if we don’t catch it in time. So, Mr. Drake had an incident while we where away and had to be rushed to the vet for some special treatment. Everything went well and he was fine to return home again (after our $1000 bill of course ). As we where leaving the vet suggested switching him to this scientifically formulated cat food that was designed to prevent this from happening again. “Sure we’ll take the biggest bag you have” we said.
Some time had passed and Drake was enjoying his new food a little..well lets say indulgently. He was so incredibly skinny when we found him that he only weighed 1.7 pounds, so he now has a food addiction. I started to feel a bit concerned as he was beginning to roll himself from room to room, so I looked at the ingredients…WOW. There was not a thing missing from that ingredient list, it was like the construction plans for a nuclear reactor! Do you know what chicken meal is? Well my frinds take one chicken, lightly stew whole and simply add to your food processor on high for 5 minutes…..we started looking for alternatives and tried Evolution pet food. Drake LOVES it. I do mean love, and he is so energetic and fit now. Have you ever picked up a cat and it feels sort of like a water balloon? Well we have 4 cats in total and it is like picking up panthers. They are strong, well proportioned and active (not sleeping more than half the time). They also seem really happy greeting us at the door when we come home, purring and wanting to cuddle all the time.
I have no connection to Evolution pet foods, and it costs us a small fortune to get it in Canada ($100 shipping, thanks USPS), but I would never go back. Sorry this is so long winded, but it is something that is important to me and I hate to see a good product that can bring so much good to pets be poorly represented like this. Sure the website is a bit of a laugh, but the owner is a very caring man who is extremely knowledgeable and has a profound love for animals. I have to phone to order, because i’m in Canada and their website is not designed to do it yet, and have spoke to him in person. He has given me great council in regards to Drake, and has even given me a discount to accommodate some of the shipping.
Thanks for reading this, even if you skimmed 🙂
I appreciate the detailed response. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions in there.
First, what is a “toxin?” This is a word freely and sloppily used. Of course, nothing is toxic in small enough quantities (which is why you can get away with making homeopathic remedies out of poisons), and everything is toxic, including water and oxygen, if you take in enough of it. The word is most reasonably used of substances that cause ill effects at quantities one might reasonably be expected to be exposed to under normal circumstances. So, is beef from cows fed grain a toxin? No, of course not. Grain is a natural food for ruminant, and they eat it readily (no one is force feeding it to beef cattle, apart from the veal issue). Too much, however, can cause health problems, such as rumen acidosis. What domestic cattle might eat in the wild is, of course, a pointless question since selective breding over thousands of years have altered their physiology so far from wild ancestors that the notion of what is “natural” for a domestic cow is meaningless.
Finding the balance between maximizing growth and avoiding such problems is a big part of the job of modern cattle ranchers and dairy farmers. Now, I happen to be a vegetarian, and I don’t care for the practices of industrial agriculture on a number of levels, but the argument that beef from grain-fed cattle is toxic because this is an “unnatural” food for them is simply not true. Research on the putative health benefits of organically produced foods doesn’t support the claim that these are healthier, though there can be environmental benefits to such production methods.
As for antibiotics, growth hormones, and other medications given to beef cattle, there are definately some potential problems there, though I think most people who comment as you have on the health of these practices don’t know much about the details, or the extreme lengths to which regulators and most ranchers go to avoid contaminating the human food chain. The question of which parts of the cow are used for pet food manufacture is one I have dealt with in several posts, particularly Pet Food Nutrition Myths. The idea that some parts of the cow are toxic and others aren’t is irrational. Some may have more nutritional value than others for dogs, but even these arguments are usually a mischaracterization since the nutritional value of commercial foods as a whole are well-understood and documented, and the sources of particular nutrients doesn’t have the mystical “good” and “bad” value people such as the marketers of Evolution Diet like to claim.
As for your comments about your cat, there is too much nonsense in there to even deal with. Your cat gained weight because he was fed too much, not because there was chicken meal in the food. Chicken meal is just a description of the very parts of a bird that a cat east when they can catch one, so where you get this hysterical stuff about a “nuclear reactor” I have no idea. Food addiction?! Give me a break! We all have a food addiction. Ever try to go without food for an extende time. I see many, many lean healthy cats fed commercial diets of appropriate nutritional value and in appropriate quantity. The blame for the obeisity epidemic goes strictly on we pet owners and how much we feed our pets, not on the ingredients in the diets we use. And do you really mean to suggest you think people’s cats wouldn’t be interested in cuddling or happy to see their owners if they aren’t feeding this diet?!
As for interstitial cystitis and urinary tract obstruction, this is a poorly understood syndrome with lost of risk factors but no discretely identifiable cause, so unfortunately people are free to make up all sorts of things about it. Most of the commercial diets for treatment of this problem have pretty limited data supporting the contention that they prevent recurrence, but there is even less information to suggest alternative diets are beneficial, so you are essentially suggesting going from something that probably helps a little to something that might help, might do nothing, or might even make the problem worse.
Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. And the facts are not on the side of most of your opinions here. Still, I appreciate the detailed and civil disagreement, and I think it’s important for people to be able to see the strengths and weaknesses of argumetns on both sides.
Cats are at least more resilient than ferrets. What gets me is their ferret food is basically made from grain – which is like feeding death in a bag to a ferret. They cannot digest it or gain any nutrients from grains or vegetables because their digestive tracts are so short and vegetables and grains are too hard to break down in the 3-4 hours that food passes through them. Cats are also obligate carnivores and I’d never feed them this crap either, but at they can at least some nutrients over the course of digestion. Any kibble I buy must be grain free, with high fat and protein content, and for ferrets it must be animal protein and fat, as they can’t absorb it from any other sources. I can’t believe it’s actually legal for them to sell this, and I hope no ferrets are forced to eat this.
I have switched my cats’ (all four of them) to Evolution Diet about 5 months ago. Cats are more fit and agile now. One cat’s poop used to smell pretty bad, now it doesn’t have that quality. I also let them digest food thoroughly so I don’t feed them every 2 hours and they don’t have a full bowl all the time. I give feed them 2 times a day and it results in proper digestion. I wish more stores would carry these products so I wouldn’t have to pay shipping.
I’m glad your cats are doing well, but for reasons that are at the heart of what this blog is about, that isn’t a reliable guide to whether or not this product is truly beneficial or the marketing points behind it are true. There is not a single medical or nutritional intervention, no matter how preposterous or how demonstrably ineffective or harmful, that has not had positive testimonials to support it. So either everything works, or testimonials aren’t reliable.
Hey- I got an idea. Put this Mr Wise-man on a tea party republican ticket with our beloved Michelle Bachman. She is another one who never lets the truth get in the way of a good lie. They could make beautiful music together or at least a —load of money which is really the main goal behind all their blabber. But, as they say, there is a sucker born every millesecond, and I’m afraid this blog is reaching very few of them. Sorry I can’t be more “Minnesota Nice”.
I am currently considering Evolution Diet for my cat. Meat produced in factory farms is not fit for man or beast. I have been down the pet food road for a while and I felt this post was biased. There have been quite a few recalls on cat food; I know Authority nearly killed my cat. Lack of quality in people food is pandemic of course it’s only going to be far worse for pets. Is it any wonder vets make a fortune on sick animals.
I’m a vegetarian myself, so I don’t care much for industrial meat production. That said, this food is marketed by fraud and misinformation from an individual who has made his career out of defaming others and violating the law (as you can see here and here). Why on earth one could imagine it is somehow a healthier alternative to other commercial foods is hard to imagine.
As for the implication that veterinarians might not be genuinely committed to pet health because they “make a fortune on sick animals,” this is offensive nonsense, pure and simple.
As a vegetarian myself, I’ve been torn about feeding my pets (German shepherd and shorthaired cat) meat. I know cats are carnivores, and I currently use Merrick’s food for them because of the ingredient list. I’d been thinking of switching to the Evolution diet on the advice of a friend, but had not seen their website, and am glad I found this article! But I wonder–are there any vegetarian pet foods out there that can give pets, especially cats, the nutrition they need? (I ask this for ethical reasons, not because I think eating meat in organic products is “dangerous” for my animals.)
I appreciate your dilemma as I don’t eat meat myself. Unfortunately, no one has ever successfully demonstrated than a diet with no animal protein can be safely fed to a cat long-term. A number that have appeared to be nutritionally balanced on paper led to heart disease when actually fed to cats. They are obligate carnivores and a number of essential nutrients simply don’t occur in a useable form in plants. It might be theoretically possible using synthetic taurine and other such nutrients, but periodically I check with the nutrition specialists about this, and so far no one has succeeded. Some of the diets out there claim to be acceptable for cats, but then cases of cardiomyopathy and other deficiency diseases start showing up.
For dogs, it is probably possible to feed a vegan diet, though sometimes these diets are still supplemented with amino acids or D vitamins from animal sources, so depending on how strict you wish to be you may have to check with the company. I would suggest contacting a veterinary nutritionist, such as the Clinical Nutrition Service at the UC Davis vet school or pediets.com for advice (or depending on where you are the nearest veterinary school will likely have a board-certified nutritionist).
Also, you might want to check out this site: http://skepticalvegan.wordpress.com/
Thanks so much for your thoughtful input!
There is much speculation but really no concrete data that skeptvet has regarding the feeding of Evolution Diet to Dogs, Cats and Ferrets. We have successfully fed all three types of animals Evolution Diet Gourmet Kibble Foods and Moist Canned Foods for 20 plus years. When I say “successfully” I mean that we have Dogs, Cats and Ferrets living at least as long and as healthfully as they do on the best Organic Meat Based and Human Grade Meat Based Dog, Cat and Ferret Foods. I can tell you this with absolute certainty because we have medical records and sworn statements from a number of our thousands of clients that have used and use our foods for as much as 10 – 20 years. All Evolution Diet Pet Foods will provide a life and health expectancy that meets y as the national averages. I would like to tell this your audience at this blog our actual findings, but the government does not allow us to do so until we publish in a national journal which will be coming up in a short period of time. We have found that Dgs, Cats and Ferrets do very well on both the Goumet Dry Kibble and Gormet Moist Canned Evolution Diet Foods. We add in the missing protiens Methionine, Lysine, Taurine, Carnitine, Choline in both the Dry and Moist Foods we manufacture. Regarding our scare tacticts about what how diseased animals really go into all Pet Foods not labeled “Vegan”, “Vegetarian” and “Human Grade” , I urge people including “sceptvet” to look at website citations on the front page of petfoodshop.com. This will bring you to the Evolution Diet Front Page. There are a lot of organizations and journaisits that will tell you the facts about what really goes into pet foods. Sceptvet is entitled to his or her opinion and it is obvious that that this person wants to keep their identity concealed.
The fact that virtually all meat based pet food companies use diseased animal ingredients can not be disputed. It is easy to verify this fact by asking any meat, poultry and/or fish based pet food company to send updated and previous USDA Grading Certiciates. If they do not have them, it means that the flesh in their foods has not been inspected and the only reason for non inspection of meat, poultry and fish is that it is too diseased to get the USDA Grading. Period…Non Lies, No dispute. Something happens to the billions of animals in the U.S. and Canada that are too sick for human consumption. Haven’t you ever wordered why pet food is usally so much cheaper then human food? The cost of using diseased animals as pet food ingredients is only the cost of transportation and processing. The poor animals cost nothing . They are the most brutally treated of all animals that go to slaughter in the industry.
All I see here are the same old claims without evidence. You claim that your foods are healthful, but surely you can understand why it isn’t reasonable to expect anyone to take your word for it. Considering your documented and repeated failure to abide by reasonable laws and regulations governing medicine, and you complete lack of regard for science and evidence in the past, your credibility is low. And testimonials are not useful as evidence for health claims since there is nothing, no matter how absurd or useless, that one cannot find somebody to provide a testimonia for.
You claim the government is preventing you from providing real scientific research data, but after decades of making this food you have never done so. Why is it that other companies can generate and publish scientific studies of their food and yet you cannot?
Mr. Skeptvet: If you are so credible, please tell your audience your real name, who pays you to run this website and what your real credentials are.
Please tell me what tests you have done with Evolution Diet Pet Foods so our food so that you can up with these bizarre myths about the plant based ingredients Evolution Diet uses.
Please tell your audience why the “good” diseased animal ingredients that are used by all pet grade meat, poultry and fish based pet foods made in the U.S. can be better then the plant based products Evolution Diet uses.
I would like to
1. My name is both irrelevant and easy to find, as are my credentials. This is just your way of trying to distract people from the substance of my critique and your own unethical behavior.
2. This site, unlike yours, is a non-profit educational endeavor.
3. If you have any evidence that contradicts anything I have said, feel free to present it. Innuendo and rhetorical questions are not a convincing argument.
Since you are the one profiting from making claims about your diet, the burden of proof is on you to provide evidence those claims are true. And since you are the one repeatedly in trouble with the law for unethical and unscrupulous behavior, it seems like you are the one who needs to be defending your position.
On food addiction and your treatment of animal cognition:
Please do not discount the severity of binge-eating disorder, nor the capacity of feline or canine cognition.
Binge-eating disorder is a well-documented disorder in the psychological community and the proposed criteria for it in the DSM-V is available here: http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=372
Which very much discounts your grossly ignorant statement of: ” Food addiction?! Give me a break! We all have a food addiction.”
Also, your flippant attitude towards the psychology of animals, such as relaying that animals are not capable of addiction nor, consequently, the complex psychological structure it would require, is insulting to animals. I agree with you the obesity in pets in heavily influenced by the owner, but your comments relegating animals to a subhuman psychological level (below – not different from – human psychology) are alarming to me, especially given you are a professional who works with animals.
A great resource on this subject is the work of Alexandra Horowitz, Ph. D., UC San Diego. Take a look at her work in the field of canine cognition: http://insideofadog.com/
For a little more
It’s funny how people always attribute disagreement to ignorance. You show a great deal of arrogance in assuming that because I don’t believe what you believe about food addiction as a clinical entity in dogs and cats, I must not know anything about canine cognition. Apart from my training and many years of experience as a veterinarian and as a pet owner, I also have a Master’s in Animal Behavior, so I suspect I know a fair bit about the science of animal cognition. That knowledge does not suggest that food addiction as a psychological disorder occurs in dogs and cats. Insofar as it has genetic and neural substrates underlying it in humans, it is certainly possible similar substrates could exist in companion animals. Addiction as a physiological phenomenon with behavioral manifestations can undoubtedly occur in dogs and cats, and one could certainly design a study to show that inducing a food addiction specifically is or is not possible. But to the extent it is a disorder defined by self-reflective mental states (self-disgust, guilt, embarrassment, etc) as defined in the DSM, I think there is no evidence that dogs or cats feel these things in the way humans do. But there is no research evidence to suggest that dogs develop a psychological addiction to commercial dog food or, the whole point of this post, that Evolution Diet has any legitimate claim to be better for pets in this regard.
As usual, you have provided nothing other than your own belief as evidence that food addicition is a real clinical entity in dogs and cats. Wouldn’t it be more productive to identify and present a comprehensive evidence base to support your claim rather than just being offended that someone might not agree with you?
All our animals–3 cats and 3 dogs in total–eat Evolution. One senior dog (9-year-old chow-lab mix) who came to us with an arthritic hip so bad he would refuse to use his hind leg and was taking copious amounts of Rimadyl is now running–dare I say, skipping and jumping–like a puppy! I haven’t given him Rimadyl in well over a year. I do supplement my dogs’ food with nutritional yeast, digestive enzymes, a little flax oil, and fresh/raw carrots, peas, zucchini and occasionally blueberries. They love it! Even our “Big Guy” (an American Bulldog, or pix mix, depending on your preference). I don’t think every cat does well on Evolution, but we have two kittens who absolutely inhale the stuff, and the vet says they’re healthy. I will not feed our cats the slime (just read the ingredient list) that our vet, much as I love him, sells as nutritious food. Cats eat mice, mice eat grains. In my mind, you’re taking out the middleperson. 😉 I think both human nutrition and animal nutrition education are sorely lacking in medical training–some doctors become “doctors”–human doctors!–with less than 8 course hours of it, preferring to prescribe, on the whole, rather than address root causes. My opinion is that a lot of the “going after” a maker of an alternative food that has helped many sounds more like an entrenched, dominant industry protecting itself.
Mr. Skeptavet: I am sure that you are profiting from this website. The fact that you will not tell people what your credentials are and what your name is indicates that you have no credentials. The fact that you will not tell your readers what line of work you are in or who contributes money to this website makes your attack position against Evolution Diet very biased. All the above issues limit your credibility.
This so called Skeptavet Non-Profit Website is being paid for with “donations” from the deceptive Meat, Poultry and Fish Based Pet Food Industry I am sure. You have the indecency to perpetuate the lies of the Meat Pet Food Industry. There is no question in my mind that you are an employee of that industry or you are receiving donations from. I am sure the Meat Pet Food is paying for this website either indirectly or directly.
With regard to your position on Vegetarianism, it is obvious you are not an ethical Vegetarian. If you were a person that really cared about Animals, you would not be attacking Vegan Products like Evolution Diet and you would not be standing up for the Sick, Torturing, Killing Meat, Poultry and Fish Pet Food Industry.
I would be glad to send you sworn copies of reports directly from patients and clients who have used my very effective procedures for internal diseases. Give me an address. The case reports I will send you are sworn statements and you can authenticate them by contacting the actual clients and patients that have authored and signed them.
I applaud the fact that you accept opposing perpctives, but I am sure that is because you do not want to be sued.
Mr. Weisman, your response illustrates more clearly than anything I could say how utterly uninterested in little inconveniences like the truth you are. It is full of inaccurate statements that show you have no interest in knowing the truth, and it contains no facts or evidence concerning any of the substantive criticisms made about your products or your actions.
Though you clearly do not care, for the record
1. Nothing is sold through this site and I have never received or requested a dime to support it. It is supported and produced by me alone because I feel having an independant, skeptical perspective available for vets and pet owners to consider is important, and the internet is dominated by commercial sites like yours.
2. My credentials are not only easy to discover, they are irrelevant. Whether I am a janitor or a Nobel laureate in medicine has little to do with whether what I say is true or not. I do not believe for a moment, however, that you would take anything I have to say seriously no matter what my credentials are.
3. Regardless of your opinions on vegetarianism, you are clearly not promoting animal welfare by selling a load of nonsense with lies and distortions. And the testimony contained in the legal comlaint against you doesn’t speak well of your own treatment of animals. For example, according to a veterinarian at th University of Minnesota, quoted in the media,
You subsequently pled guilty to violating the court’s injunction against practicing veterinary medicine and making unsubstantiated claims about the products you sell and recommend, so I think it is fairly clear to anyone who takes the time to look that you are not a source to be trusted.
For the record, Mr, Weisman, skeptvet’s name, credentials, line of work etc can easily be found with just a simple search.
“sworn reports”? You mean anecdotes, those which do not lend an ounce to scientific credibility, right?
And, let’s talk about Sick, Torturing … you, sir, have quite the audicity …
Interesting that Mr. Weisman doesn’t prsent evidence, address issues or answer simple questions; mostly he just hurls accusations. And we should believe his attacks against the Skeptvet why? Because “I know,” or “I am sure.” No evidence. Sad, but typical.
Thank you for this article. As another commenter above, I (as an ethical vegan) also struggle with the dilemma of whether to feed meat to my dog. I would dearly like to read more science based studies that deal with meat-free diets for dogs, or related. So far I have found ‘An experimental meat-free diet maintained haematological characteristics in sprint-racing sled dogs’ and ‘Evaluation of selected high-starch flours as ingredients in canine diets’.
If you know of any other studies I would be very grateful to hear of them. Thank you!
Ok… another testimonial… haha! Anyway, I do have a vegan cat (6 years old, and vegan since we found him in the ditch at the side of the road). I was glad to find Evolution Cat Food, as it meant that I could keep this cat. As a vegan myself, I would NOT have been able to keep him if it meant that I would have to support the meat industry.
Taking my cat to the vet recently, the vet commented on how healthy he was. I have friends who feed their cats the cheap brands of ‘meat’ foods (Alley Cat etc…), and their animals are so grossly obese! I’m sure this isn’t particularly healthy either.
So anyway, my cat seems happy and healthy. I do wish that I could purchase Evolution in Canada more easily… it would also be nice not to feel nervous about telling people or vets that my cat is vegan… some people feel that I must be pretty EVIL to do such a thing! But again, I’m happy that I’m a vegan and can keep a cat, and my cat seems happy on the vegan food, so it works for us very well!
Certainly I would never say “evil!” However, I am concerned because nutritional deficiences often show no obvious symptoms until significant damage has been done, so unfortunately the fact that your cat seems well is not a sign that the food is actually healty for him. It’s your choice to take that risk, of course, but while I am a vegetarian myself with ethical concerns about the meat industry, I think we have an ethical duty to take the best care we can of our animal companions. So while it’s not up to me, I’m not convinced that taking a chance on a food like this is the best choice for your cat.
Of course, everyone with a vegan or vegetarian cat has a vet who proclaims the cat is in excellent health. Either the vet is fictitious, a shruggy who doesn’t want to inform the client, or the cat is only healthy, for that moment. Later on, the cat is found to have deficiencies, or excesses in supplementation, neither of which form a complete and balanced diet for a true carnivore. Let’s not forget the potential for early disease, muscle loss, health problems that are irreversible because too much damage has already been done. Supplementation (a whole other matter) that is overly deficient or overly excessive, inability to utilize vegetable matter, completely lacking in meat proteins. People who force vegan on their cat are anthropomorphizing a personal belief system, it is completely unethical and detrimental to the cat’s health, denying their natural instincts to be hunters, predators, and to gnash and gnaw with their powerful teeth (to tear that tasty meat). I suppose if you let kitty outside, he’s not allowed to catch mice or birds, right?
The arguments for vegan cats is simply ludicrous, and to my knowledge there is no evidence to suggest it is as good as or superior to, a well-formulated commercial (or even homemade) meat-based diet. Want to live your lifestyle, fine, but if you want a vegan pet, get a rabbit.
I was wondering if you might address the science behind the Evolution Diet.
It sounds to me like E.W. might have some personality or mental illness issues that you object to, but what about the quality of the actual product? Many people who have personality or other mental health issues produce very high quality work.
I’m particularly interested in the quality of the dog kibble myself, not the weaknesses of its designer. As a vegan who would love to see other vegans and vegetarians work to promote the well being of ALL animals on our planet, I don’t really see the value in attacking the personality of an entrepreneur or presentation of a product that might otherwise help free many, many animals from unnecessary harm, pain and distress in the long run.
SkeptVet, have you done any studies that show that Evolution Diet for Dogs is a bad product? Have you read any studies proving it is? Isn’t that what really matters? I am truly interested to know, as I use Evolution Diet as well as Natural Balance Vegan formula in addition to a careful mix of other vegan foods to support the health of my 3 loved dog companions.
Also, could you address how the new info about dogs having more starch digesting genes might modify the way people react to the idea of vegan dog food without doing any studies or presenting any evidence against well formulated vegan dog food themselves? My understanding is that it is the combination and amount of amino acids, among other things, that are important, rather than their source, particularly if dogs are biologically able to digest plant sources of food. But I am merely a lay person with a strong interest and a strong mind. I’m interested in your medically trained opinion. Thank you for your time. KT
The point of my post is that there is no science behind it. The reason I talk about his philosophy is not because I object to it, but because it illustrates the fact that the ideas behind the product are not about science, and the fyellow has absolutely no scientific training or qualifications to invent a dog food.
As for studies in it, they don’t exist because the inventor doesnt have any have any interest in investigating his theory or product empirically. The responsibility for conducting such research properly belongs to the person claiming his product is better than existing diets and profiting from selling it with such claims. My only concern is that it seems dangerous for someone to be able to simply make up any pseudoscientific theory they like about pet nutrition and then cLiam you should blindly trust what they say regardless of the lack of evidence or the opinions of trained veterinary nutritionists. That seem both dangerous and unethical.
Whether Mr Weisman is of mental stability or not, the fact remains that he has no evidence (beyond testimonials) to support his claims. I find it quite interesting (appalling actually), that pet owners are willing to overlook the lack of evidence and instead fall for the trap of conspiracy theories (outright lies), fear-mongering, profession-attacking, and other nasty tactics for their profit driven agendas.
That Weisman caused the slow and painful death of at least one known pet, and tried to cover it up, is unconscionable (makes me wonder how many others were harmed). That he lacks conscience and refuses to abide by the laws imposed upon him is despicable. These actions do not seem to me, those of someone with much integrity. Sometimes the background, the agenda, and even the character of the person do matter.
I think that Vegans, Vegetarians and Animal Rights people have wrongly been catagorized as “weird”, “different”, “nuts”, “crackpots”, “health food freaks”, “animal lovers”, “wackos” and much worse names by people who lack compassion and kindness for other animals.
Vegetarians and Animal Rights People have many people that are violent enemies of our movement to free animals of bondage, torture and death.
I became a Vegetarian when I was 18 after walking through a slaughterhouse that I entered accidently. That was at the turn of last century: About 1900.
I have been rescuing homeless dogs and cats for about 22 years starting with my ex-girlfriend and up until now with my wife. Since then I have paid for many neuters and spays in unfixed rescues and paid for many conventional veterinary treatments. I have also placed many homeless dogs and cats in adopted homes.
My Dad used to verbally assault me because I wasn’t getting enough protein from my Vegetarian Meat Substitutes like Veggie Burgers and Veggie Dogs that I used to purchase in cans. My Aunt Ruth always said, “That boy is nuts”.
For the record, I never was convicted of Animal Cruelty. I did have 3 charges of Animal Cruelty brought against me, but they were dropped because of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The charges were fraudulent in the first place and the sherrif’s department new it. They also charged me with many counts of practicing human and veterinary medicine and all those charges were also dismissed because of overwhelming evidence from people all over country that said I always represented myself as a scientist and not a veterinarian or an m.d.. Many of the sworn statements regarding my nutrient – metabolite procedures for sick animals indicated their animals had dramatically improved with the use of my procedures even though they were near death when I started working on them. Many of the people told the court that I hadn’t charged them any money (when they could not pay) and how I had saved their pets’ lives.
For anyone that is interested, I have many copies of sworn statments (affidavits) and veterinary records that I recieve from my clients emphasising the effectiveness of my nutrient – metabolite procedures for near death dogs and cats. I also have many statements attesting to the quality of Evolution Diet Pet Foods and the long and healthy lives so many pets on it have had.
I started making Evolution Vegan Pet Foods because many of the dogs and cats that I was rescuing over the years were dying from diseases that my vets could not help me with. If you look on the front page of our http://www.petfoodshop.com website, you will find links to other websites that describe what really goes into all meat, poultry and fish based Pet Grade Pet Foods. I did not develop those websites. Othe people did. See what they say and see what they saw regarding the meat, poultry and fish that go into all pet grade pet foods.
As for me, I will continue to rescue homeless dogs, cats and other animals. I will continue to manufacture and sell high protein, highly fortified, cruelty free pet foods in the U.S., Canada and Asia. I will also continue to offer nutrient – metabolite procedures to shelter operators, low income and destitute people and their pets at “no charge” and charge others the lowest possible fees I can to stay in business.
Call me crazy. I never will give up helping those that need it most.
Please excuse the typos and spelling mistakes in the article above. I had a bad day at the office. Thanks: Eric Weisman
Where’s the evidence to back up your claims, Eric?
The fact that some charges against you were dismissed, does not mean there was extraordinary evidence to suggest you were innocent of all charges. Charges are dismissed, deferred, suspended, plea-bargained all the time on any given day for any number of people, it doesn’t mean such people are not accountable for their actions.
You’re 131 years old, then?
Mr. Weisman is plying his trade through LinkedIn on the ‘Dog Group’. I’m sorry to say that quite a few people are swallowing this tripe & receiving ‘free’ advice from the ‘Doctor’. If anyone has more information to stop him spreading this rubbish, please report him to the appropriate authorities before more harm is done.
This is all rather frustrating. I’m about to get my first cat, something which I have given many years of thought to. I really wanted to believe that I could feed my new friend a vegan diet, but I’m starting to wonder. It’s a very tricky situation to not want to support the meat industry but at the same time wanting to help abandoned animals. I like to think of myself as a pragmatic vegan (OK, and occasional cheesatarian). taking things as far as is reasonable. Do you think perhaps that using something like Evolution or another kind of vegan pet food could be supplemented with the occasional bit of chicken or fish? If such a thing would be considered useful, what sort of frequency?
I’d also like to add that I’m always saddened when I see threads like this, only because I sometimes feel like all the wrong people are proselytizing veganism and making the rest of us look like crazy people 🙁 There’s no way in hell I’m going to keep a cat on a vegan diet if I believe it could be unhealthy for them, but it would be nice to think that I could at least *reduce* the amount of money I have to spend on meat-based products for it’s little furry tummy.
I think it isn’t clear yet whether a vegan food can be made for cats that is nutritionally adequate. It may be possible, but there are reasons to doubt it and there is no evidence that cats can be healthy for long periods of time on such a diet. It amounts to deciding which of your conflicting ethical principles take precedence. Do you do more harm supporting the meat industry or taking a chance with an animal companion’s health? I don’t think there is a clear rigth answer.
It seems to me the most ethically straightforard option for vegans is to choose herbivorous or omnivorous pets. Dogs can be maintained on vegan diets if they are appropriately designed, and of course rabbits, guinea pigs, goats, and many other good companion animals require no animal protein in their diet. If you do want to have a cat, and if you want to minimize the amount of animal protein you feed, consider a consultation with a veterinary nutritionist. They might be able to recommend a diet with minimal animal protein and you could then look for a local source that might be more ethically acceptable than a commercial meat producer.
Given all the information in the various articles I’ve written about Evolution Diet, I personally would not trust the welfare of a pet of mine to this guy’s product.
Cats require meat in their diets, sufficient protein. If you have ethical objections to meat, don’t own a cat, it’s that simple! Please don’t use emotion and personal ethics to deny your cat proper nutrition. I’m not saying your choice to be vegan is a bad thing, just don’t apply it to your cat.
“Please don’t use emotion and personal ethics to deny your cat proper nutrition”
If you read my post carefully, I think you’ll find I said “There’s no way in hell I’m going to keep a cat on a vegan diet if I believe it could be unhealthy for them” I’m simply trying to discuss the issue to see if there a sort of halfway house to be reached. And for the record, my cat is currently eating a raw meat diet until I can
….figure out what to do.
@skeptvet I guess I’ll just stick with the raw meat stuff for now. After doing a bit more research, I think I’d like to start making his food myself, that way I can at least have control over what’s going into it, choose my sources and try and reduce that enormous companion animal carbon footprint.
I agree that the simplest option is to choose an omnivorous/herbivorous pet, so I suppose I shall have to mediate some of my ethical values in order to keep him. I’m studying a very long way from home at the moment so his company is more than worth it. I think a dog would require too much attention from me at this time in my life.
Thanks for your input 🙂
I have several simple questions and one request. Where are Evolution pet foods manufactured ? Do they ow thier own plant? Do they have any Veterinary Boarded Nutritionalists on staff ?
Also, can someone please research how much the average lifespan of both dogs and cats in North America has increased over the past 20 -30 years. If “commercial” pet foods are so bad how can animals be living so much longer? Finally, what does “commercial” mean ? To make and sell a product for profit ? Is not Evolution a “commercial” diet ?
I am in the industry so please don’t attack me for working for a major maker of Premium Pet Foods. Cat are indeed obligate canivores – no more needs to be said !
What do people not understand by obligate carnivore? Carnivore means no plant matter at all. If you can’t handle being around meat then don’t get a carnivore as a pet. I understand we all have our own beliefs bit just because you’re vegan/vegetarian does not mean you have the right to force the same diet onto a carnivore. You’re trying to stop animal cruelty? We’ll feeding a carnivore plant matter is animal cruelty. I have nothing against vegetarians or vegans. Honestly I look up to them for having so much will power to not eat meat/ animal products. A dog you have a bit of leeway with when it comes to plant matter. Also any kibble puts strain on an animal’s body by leaving it in a dehydrated state constantly. I have six ferrets. All Fed a balanced raw diet of meat, organs and bone. If I fed them this crap kibble that Eric has made they would die in a few short years from insulinoma (tumors on the pancreas). Since feeding raw my ferrets have gained a luscious coat, the tartar on their teeth from kibble has gone due to crunching bones, their poo is less smelly and they are happier. I am not hating on vegans/vegetarians for what they chose to do with their own life. But I will say it is animal cruelty to deny an obligate carnivore meat. Thank you Skeptvet for trying to educate some people and trying to show that you don’t need to force your beliefs onto an innocent animal. As I said. Can’t handle feeding meat to a carnivore then get a herbivore. At least the pet won’t suffer.
While I agree with you that it is not appropriate to put an obligate carnivore on a plant-based diet, I cannot agree with this statement. While there is certainly more moisture in fresh food than in kibble, hydration status is tightly regulated by the body, and the amount of water an animal on a dry diet needs to consume to maintain hydration is easily managed. The regulatory system will not allow an animal to become dehydrated if water is available, and there is not any good evidence that kibble diets are associated with dehydration despite the millions of animals consuming them.
As for raw, there is not yet any real evidence to suggest that is preferable to cooked meat sources either, so this idea has yet to be substantiated.
Thank you Jordan! Im transitioning my cats to Evolution and have had a few concerns. I’m glad you’re cats are thriving on it. Your comments were very helpful and comforting.
Are there any people who have any evidence that cats can’t be incredibly healthy and happy on Evolution Cat Food? I would like to see this evidence.