Every year on 22nd April the world unites to recognise the beauty of our planet and, most importantly, the increasing need to protect it. First held in 1970, Earth Day now includes 1 billion people in more than 193 countries!
At THE PACK, we know that it’s not only people that can help save the earth, just as it’s not only people who have an environmental footprint. Our four-legged friends have a huge role to play too, given that the pet food industry produces almost 3% of the total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from farming. To put that into the context, this is the same amount of CO2 produced by a sixth of global flights. Staying on the transport theme, feeding dogs and cats in America alone has been calculated to be as environmentally damaging as pumping the exhaust of nearly 14 million cars into the atmosphere for a year.
Why Is Commercial 'Pet' Food Hurting The Earth?
It’s simple: because the majority is meat. Numerous scientific papers, including the most recent IPCC report which summarises reports published over the past five years, have found animal agriculture to be responsible for anything from a third to 87% of annual greenhouse gas emissions as well as the primary driver of biodiversity loss. As more of us choose to feed ‘human grade’ meat to our dogs, animals are being bred and slaughtered specifically for pet food - which means meaty dog foods are now a major player in climate change.
The 2023 IPCC report states that we need to flip our current animal-based food and land use systems to be carbon sinks (absorbing carbon from the atmosphere) instead of carbon emitters, while still meeting global demand for food. How do we make this happen? We switch to plant-based alternatives of course. Plant-sourced food needs far fewer natural resources to produce and creates lower greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, a third of all calories in the crops we grow are fed to animals we farm, with only 12% or less of those calories being reused by humans when we eat meat, eggs and dairy. That’s an enormous waste. If we stopped growing plants to feed farm animals and instead grew pulses, fruits and vegetables for ourselves and our furry families, we could feed an extra 350 million people, and a whole lot of dogs too!
Because this plant-based switch has to include pet food. The environmental pawprint of a 70-pound golden retriever eating a raw meat diet is almost twice that of an average meat-eating human. When you consider that most dogs eat meat at least twice a day, every day, this isn’t such a surprise. But this Earth Day, we need to acknowledge that a) this isn’t sustainable and b) there are better ways to feed our furry friends.
How Are THE PACK Doing Things Differently?
If we want to feed our dogs sustainable pet food, that food needs to be as low as possible on the food chain. Going straight to the calorie source – plants – reduces environmental damage at the same time as improving health. According to the calculations of animal nutritionists, if you’re already vegan and you switch your 70-pound retriever to a plant-based diet, together you could save, every day: 2,200 gallons of water, about 60 square feet of rainforest, about 90 pounds of grain and two farmed animals’ lives.
The official theme for 2023 is Invest In Our Planet. At THE PACK, we’re investing in our planet every day by reducing carbon pawprints through the plant-based food we create and reducing carbon footprints through our sustainable packaging and production methods.
Using secondary data, we conducted extensive life cycle analysis (from farm to dog) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions for all three flavours of our wet food versus beef, chicken and farm-based fish equivalents. Our results were even more dramatic than we expected!
- The analysis showed that for ingredients used, a beef-based dog food produces 17.5 times as much CO2e as No Moo Ragu. This equates to a huge increase in use of water and land: 10 times as much water is used to produce 1kg beef in comparison with plant-based protein, while 80 times as much land is used to produce 1kg of protein from beef in comparison with 1kg of plant-based protein!
- A farmed fish-based dog food produces over six times as much CO2e as No Fishy Dishy (three times as much land is used to produce 1kg of protein from farmed fish in comparison with 1kg of plant-based protein) and a chicken-based dog food produces nearly seven times as much CO2e as No Cluck Casserole. The latter equates to a 5x increase in the use of water and 4.4x increase in use of land.
- Thinking about this in terms of CO2e savings, purchasing one can of No Moo Ragu instead of a can of beefy dog food would save 3.28kg CO2e. Depending on your personal vice, this equates to over 11 cups of espresso, over 10 pints of locally produced cask ale or driving for 16.4 km in a new car!
- No Fishy Dishy production saves 1.06 kg CO2e, the same as more than three pints of ale. As for No Cluck Casserole production – that saves 1.15 kg CO2e, the same as more than four cups of espresso or driving for 5.75 km in a new car.
Remember, all these stats are just for one can. Imagine how much CO2e is being wasted when you buy meaty dog food for a year… and how much can be saved when you switch to plant-based alternatives!
What Are THE PACK Doing Next?
Firstly, we want to redo the analysis above using primary data, which would likely reveal even greater CO2e savings! We’ll also be conducting carbon lifecycle analysis on our new baked kibble compared with meat-based alternatives, plus a full analysis of the environmental impact of our packaging, with a view to improving this even further.
Longer term, we plan to increase usage of ‘green’ electricity in all aspects of the production process, exploring the generation of electricity on-site with green technology. We also want to increase our use of Zero Emissions Transport companies that use electric vehicles, look to source ingredients more locally and avoid, wherever possible, using non-European supplies.
As always, we welcome ideas and input from you on what we could be doing better. So please do drop us a peemail at email@example.com and let us know your thoughts!
If you want to discover more about raising a happy, healthy plant-based dog, download our FREE eBook.
If you are new to THE PACK you can get 20% off your first order using THEPACK20 at checkout. Or 30% off your 1st subscription with code PACKSUB30. Winner, winner, plant-based dinner!