Eureka! Vegan pet food saves planet Earth

This is a remarkable study but one that was due to happen as it is now possible to make nutritionally complete and balanced vegan pet food both for dogs and cats. Yes, put aside the notion that cats have to eat processed, sterilized, diseased meat from livestock and road kill and think vegan diet. The same for dogs. It is feasible and possible today and the study looks at the overall benefits of transitioning cats and dogs to vegan diets.

Plant-based diet for dogs and cats would be transformative for the world
Plant-based diet for dogs and cats would be transformative for the world
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

The result is transformative. It would radically change the entire world and arguably ‘save the world’. It would free up food for humans and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and therefore probably solve the global warming issues so relentlessly reported in the news media and which frightens a lot of people.

Note from me: I question the study’s findings, remarkable though they are, as pet food is sometimes made from livestock meats that are deemed inappropriate for human consumption (I would argue) or animal derivatives or by-products which include parts of animals such as liver, kidney, and lung that are surplus to human food requirements. This fact would seem to undermine the benefits stated concerning vegan cat and dog food. Thoughts?

A considerable body of recent evidence indicates that provided such diets are formulated to be nutritionally-sound, as modern commercial vegan diets usually are, dogs and cats maintained on vegan diets can have longevity and health at least equivalent, and in some respects superior, to those maintained on conventional meat-based diets

Andrew Knight

Below is a summary of the study

In the study titled “The Relative Benefits for Environmental Sustainability of Vegan Diets for Dogs, Cats, and People,” Andrew Knight investigated the environmental impacts of different diets for dogs, cats, and humans. Here are the key findings:

  1. Relative Consumption:
    • In the United States, the relative consumption of livestock animals within diets was as follows:
      • Dogs: 17.7%
      • Cats: 2.3%
      • Humans: 80.0%
    • Globally, the relative consumption was:
      • Dogs: 7.7%
      • Cats: 1.2%
      • Humans: 91.1%.
  2. Transition to Vegan Diets:
    • A full transition to nutritionally-sound vegan diets would spare the following numbers of terrestrial livestock animals annually (in billions):
      • US: Dogs – 1.7, Cats – 0.2, Humans – 7.8
      • Globally: Dogs – 6.0, Cats – 0.9, Humans – 71.3
      • Additionally, it would spare billions of aquatic animals across all dietary groups.
  3. Environmental Impact Reductions:
    • Very large impact reductions were associated with land and water use, greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), acidifying and eutrophying gases, and biocide use in all dietary groups.
    • Implementing nutritionally-sound vegan diets globally would:
      • Free up land larger than Saudi Arabia or Mexico (for dogs), Japan or Germany (for cats), and Russia (combined with India) for humans.
      • Save freshwater volumes exceeding all renewable freshwater in Denmark (for dogs), Jordan (for cats), and Cuba for humans.
      • Reduce GHGs more than emissions from South Africa or the UK (for dogs), Israel or New Zealand (for cats), and India or the entire EU for humans.
  4. Feeding Additional People:
    • The food energy savings associated with vegan diets could feed more people than the 2018 human populations of entire nations or regions.

These estimates highlight the potential benefits of transitioning to vegan diets for environmental sustainability, both for companion animals and humans. Keep in mind that these figures are conservative and represent a significant positive impact on our planet. 🌱🌎

Picking out some more findings and restating them as they are remarkable

Professor Andrew Knight, the lead author of the study, worked out that the world’s pet dogs and cats eat around 9% of all land animals killed for food. This is about 7 billion animals every year to which we have to add billions of fish and aquatic animals.

If implemented globally, nutritionally-sound vegan diets would free up land larger than the following nations: dogs–Saudi Arabia or Mexico, cats–Japan or Germany, humans–Russia–the world’s largest country–combined with India.

Let’s think of a world where all the pet dogs ate nutritionally balanced and complete dog food in which the protein has been taken from plants and the food formulated by the addition of other ingredients. Under these circumstances there would be a reduction in greenhouse gases equivalent to those emitted by a land area larger than Mexico. It would free up enough livestock food to feed around 450 million additional people which is more than the entire population of the European Union.

Looking at cats: if all the cats went vegan – and it is possible as there is a vegan cat food available today – there would be a reduction in greenhouse gases as if New Zealand had stopped producing greenhouse gases and the world would be able to feed 70 million more people from livestock which is more than the entire UK population. You will note that cats consume far less livestock meat than dogs.

If people became vegan the result would be massive. Greenhouse gas production would be reduced by an amount as if the entire EU stop producing greenhouse gases plus India. An additional 5.3 billion people would be fed from livestock.

Weakness in the study?

It seems to me that this study is making a presumption that cats and dogs eat standard livestock meat, the kind of meat eaten by people but is this correct? To my knowledge, cat and dog food is made from the kind of livestock meat that is not consumed by people because it’s either diseased or by-products. It is deemed inappropriate for human consumption.

Overconsumption

Forgetting for a minute the above findings, there would be great improvement to the environment and food resources by simply reducing pet food consumption to improve pet health by eradicating pet obesity. Here is a quote from the study:

It is also important to minimise overconsumption and wastage of food. Due to excessive consumption, over 50% of pet dogs in various geographical areas are now obese. Some studies have demonstrated similar results for cats. Overfeeding and food wastage further increases livestock consumption and associated environmental impacts.

Making of cat food

Animal byproducts are commonly used in cat food, and there’s a persistent myth that they are unhealthy ingredients. Let’s clarify this:

  1. What Are Byproducts in Cat Food?
    • Animal byproducts are parts of food animals (such as cattle or pigs) that are not typically used in the human food chain.
    • These byproducts include organ meats like liver, kidneys, lungs, and spleen.
    • In canned cat food, these organs are highly nutritious and mimic what a cat would consume when it hunts prey in the wild.
    • In kibble, the most common byproduct is a meal made from muscles, organs, and bone, which is cooked to eliminate bacterial contamination and then separated into protein and fat.
    • Byproducts are added to pet food to provide balanced nutritional profiles.
  2. Are Byproducts Safe for Cats?
    • Yes, animal byproducts used in cat food are safe.
    • They are inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and must meet strict standards.
    • Diseased or disabled animals are not used, and there is no dangerous bacterial contamination.
  3. The “Fillers” Myth:
    • Some people mistakenly believe that byproducts are fillers.
    • In reality, byproducts are nutritious and provide protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals.
    • Feeding a human-grade meat product is not nutritionally superior to a byproduct.
  4. Can Humans Eat Cat Food?
    • From a physiological perspective, sampling cat food is generally harmless.
    • High-quality cat food made from ingredients like Uruguay beef can be more nutritionally beneficial than inexpensive kibble for humans.
    • However, it’s not a valid option for vegans or vegetarians.

In summary, animal byproducts in cat food are safe and nutritious for cats, but they are not unhealthy. As for humans, while it’s not recommended as a regular diet, it won’t cause harm if sampled occasionally.

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