This Veganuary, all over the country hoomans are buying or cooking healthy, tasty meat-free meals. But why on earth would anybody want to make dog food without meat? And why would any pawrent want to feed it?
We could bark all day about why meat needs to be sent packing, but let’s start with three pretty huge reasons why you should make Veganuary a family affair...
It’s better for the planet
Ask somebody to name a big threat to the future of our planet and they’re probably not going to answer, ‘pet food’. But given that animal products are responsible for about half of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, modern pet foods are now a major player in climate change. If dogs and cats had their own country, it would rank fifth in terms of global animal meat consumption!
We explore this in detail on our blog but the takeaway is that unless we take the meat out of pet food, we’re not going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to slow climate change. Yet despite the growing numbers of dogs sharing our homes since the pandemic, we’re still not paying enough attention to the impact of their diets on the planet. What if we had to choose: feed our dogs fewer animal meats or say goodbye to hairy housemates altogether? Luckily, new vegan pet food like THE PACK are making that choice easier than ever. Why not give one a try this Veganuary?
It’s better for your dog
On our blog we yap on about the health benefits of feeding vegan dog food, including fighting weight gain and allergies, preventing cancer and making sure your hound lives to a long, healthy old age. But what it all boils down to is this: by taking the meat out of pet food, you’re also taking out a lot of downright nasty stuff.
The dog food industry has a bark side, commercial meaty food often made with the gross bits of animal that humans can’t or don’t want to eat, like bones, fat, blood and feathers. These by-products are rendered: melted down into a meaty gruel before being dehydrated and made into kibble or mushed up with cereal and grains in cans. Unlike with The Pack food, where each tin is packed with lumps of colourful veg and visible fresh seeds and beans, with rendered meaty food you can’t see what you’re getting. Unsurprisingly, all sorts of unnatural nasties sneak in. Just Google ‘pet food recalls’ for a scary number of examples.
What’s more, when dogs eat other animals, they also chow down the chemical toxins that those cows, pigs, fish or chickens have absorbed or eaten. We can avoid this by going to the bottom of the food chain and feeding our pups fresh, natural plant-based foods: no fishy, no moo, no cluck!
It’s better for other animals
Rather than asking what we’re feeding our pets, shouldn’t we be asking ‘Who are we feeding our pets?’ With over 90% of the world’s ‘food’ animals confined to cruel factory farms, the lives of the cows, pigs and chickens found in pet food are very different to those enjoyed by our happy hounds. In these intensive farms, animals are housed in small spaces (often permanently indoors) where they’re unable to express their normal behaviours, fed environmentally harmful, unhealthy diets of grains, subjected to painful surgical procedures, and then killed for food at a fraction of their natural lifespans.
Most pawrents care about all our furry or feathery friends, not just dogs. So, if we could feed our lucky pups in a way that doesn’t harm another animal, why the cluck wouldn’t we? New meat-free options like THE PACK help us to expand our circles of compassion to give all animals a better life, not just pets. Because in the end, the purchase of each can of dog food represents a choice about how a cow, chicken, pig, or fish lives and dies - and finally we have the means to make better choices!
With all this in mind, perhaps the real question is ‘Why aren’t you taking the meat out of dog food this January?’
Don’t take our word for it. Here’s the research:
- Gregory Okin’s game-changing paper on the environmental impacts of food consumption by dogs and cats in PLOS ONE (2017)
- The results of a study of 300 veggie dogs (PETA, 1994) here
- Knight & Light’s article in ‘Revista Electronica De Veterinaria’ on The Nutritional Soundness of Meat-based and Plant-based Pet Foods here (2021)
- A summary of the evidence supporting vegetarian over meat-based diets for pets in Animals (2016)
- A list of articles showing the problems with meat-based pet food on website sustainablepetfood.info
- A ton of research-backed info on nasties in meat-based pet food, environmental problems and the impact on other animals in The Clean Pet Food Revolution book here (2020)
- On the rise of factory farming in the UK, discussed in 2017 and in 2021, and in the US (2020).