There has been a trend in trying to convert pets to a vegan or vegetarian diet recently with the common logic being that if a pet is omnivorous then it can be fine on a vegetarian diet.
Although this can work well for some animals, dogs being the primary example we see people referring to time and time again, it does not work for all omnivorous animals.
After seeing a slowly increasing number of people reaching out to ask if bearded dragons can be vegetarian or not, we wanted to publish this dedicated article on the topic.
Can Bearded Dragons Be Vegetarian?
The quick answer is no, bearded dragons cannot be vegetarian.
Bearded dragons are omnivores meaning that they need a diet made up of plant based food and animal based food, usually insects.
Although an adult bearded dragon can sometimes have as much as 80% of their diet coming from plant based food, the remaining 20% should definitely be coming from insects.
The main reason for this is that insects contain a lot of protein and fat which bearded dragons need to help them grow and maintain their health.
They also contain other nutrients like calcium which are important for bearded dragons.
Plants do not have as much protein or fat in them as some insects meaning that two of the three macronutrients would be lacking in a vegan or vegetarian bearded dragons diet.
We have seen some people argue that you are able to specifically feed your bearded dragon plants that are higher in calcium to try and offset any potential issues with metabolic bone disease in your bearded dragons but this still leaves the beardie deficient in fat and protein anyway.
It can be difficult to correctly balance the calcium-phosphorus ratio in a vegetarian diet for a bearded dragon too and you will usually have problems with MBD setting in quickly.
Why Can An Adult Bearded Dragon Eat More Vegetables Than A Baby Bearded Dragon?
As we briefly touched on above, adult bearded dragons can get away with eating more vegetables than baby bearded dragons.
This is because baby bearded dragons are growing at a much faster rate than adults and need more protein and fat to support that growth.
They also have different digestive systems which can make it harder for them to properly digest plant based food.
If you want to feed your baby bearded dragon a diet high in vegetables, you will need to be very careful about what vegetables you feed them and how much of each vegetable you give them.
You should also supplement their diet with vitamins and minerals to make sure they are getting everything they need.
There are a number of different recommended ratios of the vegetable to insect ratio out there with most of them having their own advantages and disadvantages that are unique to that ratio.
A common ratio is to offer 60-80% of the daily calories for a baby bearded dragon from insects and 40-20% from plant based foods but this can and will need to be adjusted as your beardie ages.