Vegetarian food for cats and dogs: healthy pet, healthy planet
Yes, cats and dogs are carnivores, but they can thrive on vegetarian food, as found in October 2021 by veterinary professor Dr. Andrew Knight of the University of Winchester. When given optimal quality vegan or vegetarian food with additions of essential nutrients, your pet can have a happy, healthy life. The claim that all veggie diets make pets ill, are based on ignorance. And the more people buy veggie pet food, the cheaper it will get.
There are about 0,9 billion dogs and 0,4 billion cats on our planet, a number much greater than natural mammal populations. The climate impact of pet food is hence gigantic and poses a great dilemma to pet lovers, owners, vets and policy makers. Climate scientists and environmentalists point out that meat consumption, by pets, is even worse than all the meat already consumed by humans. According to professor Gregory Okin of the University of California (UCLA) "meat-eating by dogs and cats has a climate impact equivalent to one year's worth of driving from 13.6 million cars", (64 million tonnes of carbon dioxide). Cat and dog meat-based food is responsible for 25% of meat-related carbon dioxide emissions globally. Our climate can only be kept in check if meat production by humans and pets alike, is greatly reduced.
But domestic animal lovers have a point too. Cats and dogs, our favorite animals, give us company, joy, safety, friendship. They (and all animals) deserve being taken care with dignity. Many vets have defended that cats and dogs, being carnivores, must eat animal protein because that is the only suitable diet. The 2006 Animal Welfare Act in Britain stipulates:
"All domestic animals have the legal right to: live in a suitable environment; eat a suitable diet; exhibit normal behaviour patterns; be housed with, or apart from, other animals; and be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease."
In Britain, people have risked prosecuting when not taking good care of their pets, and giving them an "unsuitable veggie diet". Low-quality veggie with a lack of specific proteins can lead to amino acid imbalance and vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
But the claim that "all veggie diets are bad for cats and dogs" has now been refuted by new scientific research. A veggie diet is not necessarily bad.
The new results have shown that veggie diets, with the necessary supplements, is perfectly suitable. Cats and dogs need a specific set of nutrients, not just meat or any other ingredient. If these nutrients are added to the veggie diet, and if it is tasty and palatable, then it is suitable, as investigation results are indicating. Furthermore, most 'normal' meat-based pet food is low quality, highly processed, and protein-poor. It also contains pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. And many diseases in pets are caused by bad food in general. The animal proteins in it are degraded, and must be added synthetically.
Then why not add those proteins synthetically to veggie food? Quality veggie food often contains more protein than classical meat-based food. For example, Omni veg pet food claims to contain 30% more protein than meat-based food.
We therefore invite dog and cat owners to do research and find veggie alternatives for canine and feline diets, or to at least reduce the meat proportion in the food of their beloved pets.
The Guardian, Vegan pet food as healthy for cats and dogs as meat, says veterinary professor. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/oct/20/vegan-pet-food-as-healthy-for-cats-and-dogs-as-meat-says-veterinary-professor
Knight & Satchell, 2021, Vegan versus meat-based pet foods: Owner-reported palatability behaviours and implications for canine and feline welfare: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0253292
UCLA Newsroom, The truth about cats' and dogs' environmental impact: https://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/the-truth-about-cats-and-dogs-environmental-impact
The Scottish Sun, 19 Oct 2021, Dog owners face jail and £20,000 fines for putting pets on VEGGIE diet: https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/7869000/dog-owners-jail-fines-putting-pets-veggie-diet/
How Many Dogs Are There In The World? on Worldatlas.com: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/how-many-dogs-are-there-in-the-world.html
Ljubica Cvetkovska on Petpedia.co: 61 Wild Cat Statistics That Are the Cat's Meow! (2021 UPDATE): https://petpedia.co/cat-statistics/
Photo dog: APG Graphics on Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-tri-color-shetland-sheepdog-1604820/
Article by Kathelijne Bonne, geologist and soil scientist.
Good Climate News is an initiative by the Bonne sisters from Belgium, Elisabeth, Helena and Kathelijne. "We believe in the power of good news".
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