One of the questions we’re asked most often at THE PACK is “Do I have to remove all animal products from my dog’s food?” Of course not! If you feel more comfortable feeding a flexitarian - or as we like to call it, flexidogian - diet, we’re not going to pick a bone with you. We’re not purists at THE PACK because we know that even small reductions in your dog’s meat consumption will make a big difference: for the planet, for other animals and for your dog’s health.
What is flexidogian and why do it?
The word 'flexitarian' was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2014 and is defined as “A person who has a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat or fish". We give you ‘flexidogian’, defined as “A dog who eats a mixture of meat or fish-based, vegetarian and plant-based foods”!
Following a flexitarian diet means eating more plant-based foods without totally eliminating meat. Just like flexitarian humans who reduce their meat consumption in exchange for alternative protein sources, a flexidogian diet can offer a more environmentally sustainable option for your meat-eating hound. Research by Oxford University declared that if every UK family swapped a red meat meal to a plant-based meal just once a week, the environmental impact would equate to taking 16 million cars off the road. What if we got our dogs involved too? Remember that most dogs eat meat-based food for all their meals, plus meaty treats. Imagine if we ate meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and only snacked on jerky and chicken nuggets! Exchanging just some of those animal products for plant-based nosh is going to make a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions, land use and all the environmentally damaging impacts of meat production. Research reports that moving humans to a more plant-based flexitarian diet could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 52%. Imagine how much higher that percentage could be if our dogs became flexitarians too…
What’s more, flexidogian is about adding new foods to your dog’s diet as opposed to excluding any. Foods that have enormous health benefits, like beans, peas, leafy greens, root veg, fruits and seeds, incredible sources of protein, antioxidants and more. Where can you find all these glorious ingredients? In THE PACK food, of course!
Why not go the whole hog?
Even when you’ve read the science and heard the success stories, it can be nerve-wrecking to completely change what your dog eats. We also know that switching to meat-free pet food can cost a little more with plant-based dog food still in its infancy and struggling to price-match cheaper meaty products. What’s more, some pups are addicted to the meaty taste of their usual brand: the ‘secret sauce’ used by most meat-based dog food producers (animal fat sprayed onto the kibble). There are also hounds who have medical conditions that require a specialised diet which contains animal products. Does this mean those dogs can’t join the plant-based pet food revolution? Absolutely not!
Top tips for flexidogian living
Here at THE PACK, we’ve always advocated a gradual transition to a plant-based diet. If you’re not able - or comfortable - to go all the way, there’s no reason why you can’t stop at mixing half vegan with half animal-based dog food. Or keep the main meal meaty but reward your dog with plant-based treats instead of beefy bites. You can buy delicious vegan dog treats from independent companies and increasingly from the large pet food brands, or you can simply feed veggies like carrot sticks or cubes of sweet potato. Keeping the chicken kibble but swapping out pig-ear chews for raw carrots, or beef biscuits for butternut squash, means your dog associates treat time with plant-based food. You could even freeze spoonfuls of THE PACK to feed as treats or spread some on a lick mat to keep your pup mentally stimulated.
Equally, you can flip things and feed plant-based meals as your dog’s main diet but still toss them the occasional meaty treat. Another way to reduce your dog’s environmental pawprint is to do Meat Free Muttday together, using that as an opportunity to tickle their taste buds with something new – and maybe try some new vegetable-based dinner options yourself too. If your dog’s anything like ours, they’re start begging for courgette as soon as you get out the chopping board!
In a nutshell, we welcome flexidogians into our community with open paws. Just make sure that your dog’s main meal is nutritionally complete & balanced, providing all the nutrients they need, whether it be meat or plant-based.
We all know that modern meaty dog food is a problem, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, loss of biodiversity and resource use. But so much of today’s pet food is meat when it doesn’t have to be, meaning there are a plethora of options when it comes to swapping in plant-based substitutes. Because when we rethink what goes into our dog’s bowl, even just a few days a week, pet food can become part of the solution. We want to help you get there, one meal or one treat at a time, and we recognise that the journey is different for every dog. THE PACK is for all pups, whether vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or flexidogian!