What to feed our pets is a problem. Producing meat takes 10 times as much land per unit of protein than growing beans and vegetables, placing a bigger burden on the planet’s resources, so some people think that feeding their dogs and cats on a vegetarian diet is the answer.
Vegetarian dog foods are available, including Yarrah organic, Wackidog, Happidog and Wafcol – more information from the Vegetarian Society Dogs: a vegetarian diet?. The Vegan Society also gives information on feeding dogs a vegan diet, containing no animal products whatsoever.
Cats are more of a problem, as they are true carnivores – meat products are the only natural source of some of their dietary needs (according to the Vegetarian Society). You can try feeding them on a home-cooked vegan diet but they must be given artificial supplements as well (source: the Vegan Society). Many animal lovers would argue that trying to restrict cats to a vegan diet is simply wrong. It is certainly very unnatural, and can cause them great harm.
Another option is organic pet food – better than factory farmed ‘meat products’ in terms of environmental impact and animal rights, and perhaps for pet health as well (source: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Brands include Yarrah organic and Pascoe’s organic.
Many people feel that concern for animal welfare is part of being green – so it is worth pointing out that some pet food brands are clinically tested on animals – these animals are in effect lab animals, bred for use in tests and killed once they have served that purpose. Brands which have not been tested in this way are easily available from high street outlets – more information from the ‘uncaged’ campaign.
If you have trouble finding organic or vegetarian pet foods locally, try ordering from Blue Buffalo or Veggiepets. For other ethical pet related products try ethical pets. More suppliers may be found through the links on the online shops page.