Earlier this week, the first day of October marked World Vegetarian Day, an annual celebration to promote the wag-inducing, life-enhancing possibilities of vegetarianism. Something we’ve been barking on about at THE PACK for dog years! So, what better time to help your dog break up with beef, chuck the chicken, fling out the fish, pie the pork and lose the lamb?
Let’s start by clarifying exactly what a vegetarian is. Vegetarians choose to exclude all animal meat from their diet: that means beef from cows, sausages, bacon and other pork from pigs, meat from chickens, turkeys and other birds, and mutton or lamb from sheep. In fact, all animal flesh is off the menu, including fish (those who choose to eat fish but not land animals are called ‘pescatarians’). Although vegetarians don’t eat the animals themselves, they do eat products produced by those animals: cheese, milk and yoghurt from cows and goats, eggs from chickens, Omega 3 oil from fish or honey from bees.
The big question is, can your dog be vegetarian too? You bet they can! We’ve barked on about how it’s scientifically possible for our dogs to thrive on a meat-free diet and how this gives them a wealth of health benefits, from reduced risk of cancer and obesity, to easing arthritis, skin problems and eye issues. What’s more, taking the meat out of the dog bowl has a significant environmental impact, the pet food industry producing almost 3% of the total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from farming: the same amount of CO2 produced by a sixth of global flights! That’s because a significant percentage of the ingredients in modern pet food are animal meat, and farming animals is extremely bad for the planet in terms of CO2 emissions, land use, resource use and transportation.
Scarily, according to industry experts, the average animal protein content in pet food has been increasing over time. The demand for ‘human-grade’ meaty dog food, such as raw meat diets, means cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals are being bred and killed specifically for dog food, rather than our pups using up our leftovers. In fact, new research shows current meat production can’t keep up with demand for meat-based pet food. Is the solution to breed and slaughter more animals for our dogs’ dinners, causing more factory farming, more CO2 emissions, more land use? Or instead, could we reject meaty dog diets like raw food and ‘premium’ chicken chunks and feed a delicious, healthy, meat-free meal like THE PACK? Seems like a no-brainer to us…
Some pawrents prefer to take meat out of their pet’s bowl but keep animal products like dairy and eggs, allowing them to treat their vegetarian dogs with cubes of cheese, a dish of scrambled egg, the end of a yoghurt pot or the last bite of ice cream at the beach. You can even buy special doggy ice cream now (although we can guarantee your pup will still want a lick of yours!) These vegetarian hounds are still making a huge difference and we guarantee their vegan fur pals aren’t casting judgment! THE PACK is a community of pawrents and pooches who are all doing their best for the planet, other animals, and – most importantly – canine health and happiness. We welcome you all, whether vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian or flexidogian! Every pawrent taking steps to reduce their pup’s pawprint deserves loud ap-paws.
So, try out a Vegetarian Day (or two) this week, satisfy your dog’s appetite with a No-Cluck Casserole instead of chicken kibble, a No-Moo Ragu rather than a beefy bone, or a No-Fishy Dishy instead of salmon chunks. Because meat is so last dog year!