There Is No Such Thing As Sustainable Pet Food...Yet
Why? Because there is no such thing as sustainably-produced meat...And, unless you’re feeding your pet a vegan diet, meat is one of the main ingredients in your pet’s bowl.
Intensive animal agriculture, as an industry, is well documented as a leading cause of climate change, taking up nearly half of the inhabitable land in the United States. And, of course, it’s inhumanely cruel to animals.
So why do so many people think pet food is a sustainable, even an environmentally-beneficial product? Because it’s made almost exclusively from leftover animal byproducts not fit for human consumption. The thinking follows that using up those leftovers, instead of tossing them, is an environmentally-responsible way to feed our cats and dogs.
Selling those “leftovers” to the pet food industry comes at a heavy price of animal suffering, greenhouse gas emissions and, importantly, this action is weighted by the fact that the rendering (byproducts/leftovers) industry both enables and supports the unsustainable factory farming industry.
And this is only the land animals in pet food – the aquatic animals fed to our cats and dogs is a whole other issue.
The “Leftovers” Industry
Most of us don’t know much, if anything, about the rendering industry. This is the gory business that takes care of the byproducts from animal agriculture such as bone, skin, fur and blood as well as “fallen” animal carcasses. This produces 25 million tons of byproducts every year, which is primarily sold to the pet food industry.
That massive amount of otherwise unusable meat generates a huge profit for factory farms—so much profit that in its absence traditional animal agriculture as we know it simply couldn't exist.
Also noteworthy—if those farms couldn’t sell those byproducts, they would have to pay to dispose of them as biohazardous waste.
One last fact about the rendering industry: All that rendered meat, all 25 million tonnes of it, needs to be transported from the slaughterhouse to the rendering facility. This is another very real, secondary contributor to the impact that factory farming has on the environment via greenhouse gas emissions.
Have you heard this sad term before? “Fallen” refers to those farmed animals that get sick and die from disease, dehydration, suffocation or from injuries and never make it to the slaughterhouse. Instead they go directly to a rendering plant and then into pet food.
The fact is, the welfare standards on factory farms are so low, and the profits from these dead animals so high, that there is no incentive to ensure the animals are treated well. If the animals get sick and die, these immense corporate farms still make money selling them to pet food.
Alternatively, if there was a scenario where fallen animals could not generate income for the factory farms, that industry would be forced to treat them much better before they went to slaughter.
The Human-Grade Trend
Understandably, with all of the above coming to light, there is a growing desire for human-grade meat for pet food. But what this means is more demand to raise animals for meat, with pet food going into direct competition with meat for human consumption. Ultimately, this increases the carbon footprint of pet food, which is already shockingly huge!
The U.S. yearly carbon footprint of pet food = driving 13 million cars
Did you know that it’s estimated that the 160 million domestic cats and dogs in the US are responsible for between 25-30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumed in the country. That's 64 million tonnes of CO2 from factory farms, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of 13 million petrol or diesel cars!
The Cultured Meat Solution
At Because, Animals we understand the desire to feed pets meat and this is why we are growing cultured meat, which is meat grown without the animal, to feed your cats and dogs. Watch this video to see how we are doing this!
In the meantime, remember that metabolically-speaking, dogs are omnivores who can thrive on a well-balanced plant and cultured-based diet—dogs don’t require meat to live long, healthy lives! For this reason, Because, Animals will be releasing a nutritionally-complete plant and culture-based dog food by the end of the year.
Cats are trickier as they are true carnivores. This is why we are prioritizing cultured meat for cats, who will be the consumers of our first cultured meat products. We are pushing to release our cultured mouse cat treat (with mouse being the ancestral diet of the cat!) in early 2022.