Laura Simonson, Plant Powered Dogs
Laura Simonson is a woman on a Mission From Dog. Cherishing all-things dogs so much, she was given the handle, ‘The Doggess’.
Professionally, Laura has been described as the “intersection where business meets soul”. For over 27 years, her diverse experience includes successful careers in natural health and plant-based diet coaching, fitness training specialist, keynote speaking, personal development course development, event planning, marketing, sales (real estate and corporate), design and brand consulting, network marketing, real estate management, and small business networking.
Today, Laura is a social entrepreneur and founder of Indogo Plant-Powered Dogs, Modern Vegan Family, Don’t Forget Fido (Blog and Online Community) and most recently a Co-organizer of the new VEGAN Vancouver. She also champions and supports vegan businesses and organizations whose bottom lines are steeped in social or spiritual evolution, and is on a peace-filled mission to disrupt the ordinary, average, status quo through plant-powered living and inspiration for all.
Caryn Hartglass: Hello Everybody, I’m Caryn Hartglass and we’re back with the second part of today’s It’s All About Food ..just for you. Thanks for listening, thanks for joining me, thanks for caring. Please, thank you so much. It just inspires me so much that there are other people out on this planet, even though we may be small in number, that care about the planet, people, other living beings that we share this earth with. Thank you, for that.
I just wanted to quickly tell you that if you are in the New York area, I found that address where Victoria Moran will be speaking tomorrow night, about her new book The Good Karma Diet. It will be at 2289 Broadway at 82nd street in Manhattan and that’s at 7 pm tomorrow. I think it’s at a Barnes and Noble. See you there!
The other thing I wanted to mention, is tonight at 8:30pm EST, we are hosting a Plant-Powered and Thriving 6-week online course. By we, I mean myself and John and Ocean Robbins. This is the second time we’re giving a 6 week online course, the first time was earlier, towards the end of last year. I just enjoyed this event so much I know that I was part of the teaching portion of it, but I got so much out of it and I learned so much from it. We all learned from each other. There’s a great back and forth between all of the participants. It’s a lovely, lovely experience. So it starts this evening if you’re interested in checking it out go to healthy.foodrevolution.org/join. If you can’t make it tonight but you’re still interested I would still check it out because all of the courses will be archived so you can listen to them at your convenience and there’s so much more in terms of resources that you get when you join. I can’t wait. So that’s tonight.
Let’s talk about nutrition for some of our favorite friends. I’ve got Laura Simonson, and she’s a woman on a mission from dog. Cherishing all things ‘dog’ so much. She was given the handle @thedoggest. Professionally, Laura has been described as ‘the intersection where business meets soul’. For over 27 years, her diverse experience including successful careers in natural health and plant-based diet coaching, fitness training specialist, key note speaking personal development course development, event planning, marketing, sales (in real estate and corporate), all kinds of things. Today, she’s a social entrepreneur and founder of “Indogo: Plant Powered Dogs,” “Modern vegan family,” “Don’t forget fido” (blog and online community). Most recently, co-organizer of the new “Vegan Vancouver.” She also champions and supports vegan businesses and organizations whose bottom lines are steeped in social or spiritual evolution and is on a peace filled mission to disrupt the ordinary average status-quo through plant powered living and inspiration for all. Wow that’s one big lovely mouthful. Laura, welcome to it’s all about food!
Laura Simonson: Caryn, that’s fun, thank you.
Caryn Hartglass: It sounds like you’re having fun and I really appreciate that because you have to have a sense of humor if you’re going to survive in this world.
Laura Simonson: You really do, you really do. And it’s not hard with having dogs as part of it, right?
Caryn Hartglass: Well, that is an interesting point. I am not a person who lives with companion animals. Number one, I’m in a building that doesn’t allow it, even though there are some people that have them here and they’re not supposed to. But people are like that, they don’t like following the rules. I do respect all living beings, and dogs are wonderful and there are many wonderful stories about them and we can learn so much from dogs. We can learn so much from so many other non-human animal species.
Laura Simonson: Yes, absolutely and dogs have been actually my best teachers. Any animal in my entire life, that’s always been, I’ve learned so many valuable lessons from living and watching with them. And experiencing life through their eyes as much as I possibly can, which really brought me to this. As you’re talking about John and Ocean Robbins, John Robbins’ book was the reason I did the major change in the late 80’s to a plant based diet and he’s also one of the reasons why I chose to start looking at a plant based diet for my dog when I got her. It really is about plant based, plant powered food for dogs. It’s a huge, huge problem in our world where we’re feeding these animals other animals. Just like us humans, they don’t need other animals to survive.
Caryn Hartglass: I know a lot of people get upset by this. People get upset by a lot of things that they don’t understand. There’s still a large amount of people that still believe that humans need to eat other animals. Then there are people that believe that dogs need to eat some sort of animal protein and get certain other nutrients from animals. But what I like to say is that we do not live in a natural world. Things are very different then they used to be. And dogs were not made to be living in our homes.
Laura Simonson: Right, and they certainly have walked with us. If we look at the evolution of man, dog has evolved with us. They have been our closest companion. There’s theories and even a study that was done a couple of years ago that dogs have evolved in there digestion somewhat and their ability to digest and use starch. Should they be in our homes? That’s a big philosophical question isn’t it? If they have been living with us for all of these centuries, will people stop now? Not likely. What can we do, as we cohabitate together and make a difference together, what can we do? How can we live a peace-filled life together? That’s definitely our mission. That’s something that I hold near and dear as being the reason why when I use the word ‘disrupt’ and I mean it, the only way we can make changes to disrupt what has been accepted as ordinary. It’s no longer acceptable to say a little bijon can take down a cow, they don’t. They’re not interested in that. Dogs are absolutely omnivores. They are considered non-obligate omnivores. As we know, plant foods contain all of the nutrients and the proteins that we require for nutrition, and that is the same for dogs. That’s why we’re setting up to prove it though. Caryn, we talk about with regards to dogs, we don’t have the studies. We have all of the great plant based studies for humans but we don’t have them for dogs yet. That’s our mission. Is to prove it scientifically. So that way people can make these beautiful choices for their animals as they do for themselves.
Caryn Hartglass: I want to talk more about that but I’m just thinking about how classic of a scenario this is. My understanding is that we have done all kinds of tests on animals when it comes to drugs and how their physical body moves, and it’s supposedly helped treat humans. I understand veterinarians understand how to treat animals because so many tests have been done on them. But we haven’t done any tests on nutrition. And why should we?
Laura Simonson: Yeah, the good news is veterinarians, their schooling and education is more steeped in nutrition than our doctors’ education. So this is the interesting part. As we started this, Caryn, we didn’t know the response that we’d have from veterinarians that were pro-vegan and we’re just getting daily responses now. I’ve been researching this for years and they weren’t necessarily online. So now, the movement that started because of the plant based world growing at such a great rate, that the pro vegan and vegan veterinarians, there’s many of them that we didn’t know about. Now they’re contacting us and they’re saying ‘I want to be involved. What can I do? How can I be a part of this movement?’ We’ve never seen this research before.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow, that’s great. So tell me, what are you doing? What is this plant powered dogs Indogo project?
Laura Simonson: Thank you and I wanted to say that the term we’re looking at how do we get the ‘Indigogo’ concept. The name is called Indogo so there’s a ‘dog’ in it, it’s a neat name and yet sometimes we do have that mispronunciation of it. But Indogo.. is..we started this, Caryn, like I said I started researching in the late 80’s. About 4 or 5 years ago I was in Whole Foods here in Vancouver, and I was walking down the pet food aisle and I had it’s almost like a lightning bolt through me of energy and said ‘Oh my goodness!’. Because I had been feeding my dog Shanti most since of course when I picked her, she was a vegan pup and I knew that for the 13 years that I had her that we would continue that. And this was about when she was about 6 years old or so, and I’m standing in the Whole Foods aisle going ‘My goodness, it’s missing. There’s something missing here.’ That’s when it really did start. We began to have conversations with vegan vet professionals and other people that felt that there was a void in the market. For plant based and also science based foods, because then again nothing had been proven. What we made a choice to do- rather than just say we’re going to come out with a product and we’re going to say ‘Hey we’ve got this great product, can everybody please come and join?’ –which many would, what we felt was most important to do is similar to what I would say Tesla is doing and other companies where we started as a social initiative. Which gives everybody the access to what the feeding trails will produce, the formulations, the supplements that are going to be used in the trial, and let everybody use them. So we will offer them to everybody. The veterinarians are going to be giving all of their recommendations even up and above the original protocols that were developed about 3 years ago with Cal Poly in California. They developed a small trial where they proved Whole Foods-it was a meat-based trial- made a tremendous difference with at-home feeding trials. So we decided that we’re going to take those protocols, to another level. And prove that dogs do thrive on plant based foods. So that’s the nutshell, the summary in-short of how we got here.
Caryn Hartglass: Great wow, so if people want to know more about it they can go to www.indogolife.com. I’m just going to jump to the finish. We know we’re going to find out dogs that are going to be healthier, eating a well-balanced, plant diet.
Laura Simonson: I fully believe that Caryn, I’m with you.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s also better for the environment.
Laura Simonson: Absolutely, without question.
Caryn Hartglass: And it’ll give people one less excuse to support their animal habit of eating animals.
Laura Simonson: Absolutely. That’s what we felt, for us, it’s not around necessarily just the dog’s health. It’s also around that say that Melanie Joy, and her regards to carnism, when we actually prove scientifically- a few times, this is only going to be the first trial- that a carnivore, or considered to be a carnivore, doesn’t require animal products, I really believe we ask ourselves then, that deep philosophical question. Do I need animals? So we feel this is really going to the heart of it. All of us can feel that ‘Wow, if I can feed my dog this, and my dog is thriving, why wouldn’t I?”. This is much more than just a dog food idea. This really is a whole movement towards, how can we look at carnism straight in the eye and say, “we can overcome that.”
Caryn Hartglass: I think it’s important, as we mentioned before, the dog has evolved with the human and has become domesticated. We’re not talking about animals in the wild. We’re talking about dogs we are taking care of, we are protecting to some degree, we are encouraging them to reproduce. There’s nothing really ‘natural’ going on here. They wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for humans. Not in this form. So there’s nothing wrong with wanting them to eat foods that we have discovered are the healthiest for them and also the best for the planet, that happen to be different than what they were eating sometime before.
Laura Simonson: Yes, and they have evolved. If you’re going to think about it Caryn, decades ago we didn’t hear of our relatives-like I had farming relatives- they didn’t feed their dogs meat. Wealthy people, maybe. But for most people, in the civilized worlds, where we have our animal companions, or ‘pets’, then, they didn’t get fed the best meat in the house. They didn’t get fed a raw meat diet. They would’ve gotten the leftovers. They would’ve gotten the soup bone after it was used in the soup. So when we really think about it the dog food industry is what has perpetuated our belief that a dog food was needed.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh of course!
Laura Simonson: ..(the idea that) it is need based. It was Doctor Ballard’s (dog food), really. It would have been years ago in those days, when the industry went ‘Whoa, we’ve got some leftover body parts here that we can put in dog foods’
Caryn Hartglass: This is just one small piece of this crazy economic platform that we are in today, which is capitalism, and everybody believes that we have to continue to grow in order to keep the economy alive..and we have to figure out ways to profit from things. That means recreating something from something else. It’s totally contaminated our food system for humans and for animals.
Laura Simonson: Absolutely. It’s similar to the Story of Stuff, if we were to think through that, right? So if we were to go through the Story of Stuff with regards to dog food, really, it started for an economic reason. It didn’t start for the need. We could’ve continued to feed our dogs the beautiful scraps, if you will, the great food that was from the table. And for the most part that was potatoes and carrots, things that were the cheaper root vegetables. Things like that. That’s what they’ve shown, they are showing that they can digest starch more that what we ever thought.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m smiling to myself right now, like I said before you have to have a sense of humor if you’re going to survive in this crazy world. So you were mentioning that somebody decided to take the garbage that humans weren’t eating and feed those unwanted parts to dogs. They don’t only do that to non-human animals. They do that to humans too. I’m thinking of whey protein for example. We pull the whey out of milk for certain kinds of products and they’re left with all of these whey solids. So they came up with all of these high protein powders.
Laura Simonson: The other thing that has been a real impact when I really started to research and realized, is that we’re busy rescuing animals. We’re rescuing dogs for instance. What we do is we then have that beautiful animal. We bring them to our home. Then we feed them dog food that perhaps- because this is truth in the regular dog food industry- the rendering plants are filled with dead rescued animals or dead shelter animals or any other roadkill-has been rendered and turned into dog food. It’s a profound thought when we think ‘My goodness. I’m feeding my rescued dog, a dead dog.. that’s been euthanized.” And when we really go deep into the story of this, there’s a lot behind it. If we really think about, ‘What are we rescuing? Why are we rescuing this way?’ If we really stop to think, we could rescue ourselves and our world, by simply stopping the crazies of eating animal based foods.
Caryn Hartglass: I’m thinking about when people will tease each other, kids for example, in saying ‘Here’s some dog food, here will you eat this?’ And the reaction is “Ew it’s dog food!” And we should say
‘Ew it’s dog food’ because of all of the crap that’s in it. But if your research discovers that dogs do well on plants then we can pretty much eat the same food, right?
Laura Simonson: Absolutely. We’re looking forward to doing school tours in our production facility. We can have children and dogs as part of the process. That’s never been done before.
Caryn Hartglass: Do your dogs..I don’t know how many you have, do you have one or more?
Laura Simonson: You know Caryn, we unfortunately lost ours last year. So we don’t have one right now.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, okay. Well the dogs that you have had, have they had some favorite plant based recipes?
Laura Simonson: Oh my goodness. The easiest one, the one ingredient my dog was a freak about was broccoli stalks. She could not eat enough broccoli stalks. And we certainly didn’t OD her on broccoli stalks, but that was her favorite and it’s such a great food for dogs.
Caryn Hartglass: Did she like it raw or cooked?
Laura Simonson: Oh, raw, they love it raw. It’s like a bone. They call it broccoli bone.
Caryn Hartglass. That is genius. So often most of us don’t want to do anything with the broccoli stalk so you throw it to your dog, I love that.
Laura Simonson: We’ve been researching Caryn, and the broccoli stalk actually has more vitamin C than the florets do.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow
Laura Simonson: And here we are, giving away the stalk. They love that. They certainly are great. Most vegetables are really great for dogs. Greens and… The only thing they are to avoid certainly are things like onions and garlic in large, large amounts. There’s a lot of misinformation with some of the foods for dogs. Chocolate they can’t have, grapes they can’t have. There’s certain foods that obviously dogs can’t have. But they thrive beautifully and they love plant foods. Certainly when you put them together with beautiful beans or lentils and hemp foods, and zucchinis, and spinach and carrots, and you put it together for dogs they absolutely love it.
Caryn Hartglass: So do you think people should be making their own food for dogs or after all this research comes out… do you think there will be bagged plant based dog foods that you’ll recommend?
Laura Simonson: Absolutely, the thing is right now we’re not able to. Consistently people ask me “what do you recommend, what do you recommend?” Until we prove it, it’s out of integrity to recommend anything aside from cooking foods from home. And using the best balanced supplement that you can find for that food. There certainly are some good vegan books that are sharing good ideas and supplementations. So I would recommend if anybody has a question, please send it out to me, and I will send it out to our panel and ask them for different ideas. Until we do prove it out… at that point we will definitely be recommending- cook this at home! Get the stuff and cook it at home. Then from there, our intention is to have dehydrated foods so that people anywhere can get these foods and just add water to them and have their dogs enjoy beautiful food.
Caryn Hartglass: Wow, thank you. I love hearing about this. And please, keep in touch. Let’s find out what you learn.
Laura Simonson: Thank you. I look forward to sharing the good news with you for sure. Good luck with your new program with Ocean and John Robbins. That’s very exciting.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you, thank you very much! Ok Laura thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food, Plant-Powered Dogs and Indogo!
Here we are. It’s the end of another hour and now I have to go back to work. Thanks for listening, thanks for caring, like I said before it really means so much to me. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have something to share or say, I would love to hear from you and remember, have a delicious week.
Transcription by AG, 8/4/2015