Vegan dog food grows in popularity among eco-conscious pet owners – News Couple

Vegan dog food grows in popularity among eco-conscious pet owners

Consumer concerns about health and the environment are spurring the emergence of a new meat-free category: pet food.

Amid increasing pet ownership fueled by the pandemic, owners want to apply their eating habits and values ​​to their animals, and are willing to pay more to do so. This has led to the release of products from vegan dog food to insect-based pet treatments, executives and analysts say.

“The modern consumer and pet owner wants to feed their pet companions the same way they feed themselves,” said Michael Lavigne, founder of Germin8 that specializes in animal nutrition and health. “They apply the same principles around food when making decisions about their pets.”

The factors that drive these products–the link between eating meat and environmental damage, and health concerns about processed foods–reflect those that drive increased “flexibility” in humans, as consumers follow a largely vegetarian diet with occasional meats and foods. Dairy products.

Jodi Nadel, co-founder of vegan pet food startup The Pack, predicted the emergence of “Flexi Dougian,” or dogs that eat primarily vegan and vegetarian food with the occasional meat treat. We are going through a climate crisis. She said it would be unacceptable for dogs to eat meat at every meal in the future.

The environmental impact of pet food production is significant, with researchers at the University of Edinburgh estimating that farmland twice the size of the UK is used to produce dry pet food globally for cats and dogs every year.

They found that about half of the dry food was made from crops, including corn and rice, and the rest was made from animal or fish products. Combining the results with data on the environmental impacts of ingredient production, the researchers said, they found annual carbon dioxide emissions from dry foods to reach 106 million tons, which, in terms of countries, would be the world’s 60th highest in terms of emissions.

In terms of animal health, some owners are concerned about processed meat in dog food. said Jay Sandlovsky, veterinarian and co-founder of Omni Vegan Pet Food.

Chef Sivakumar, left, grew up in a vegetarian family and founded the Omni Company with Jay Sandlovsky.

Big brands are also placing their bets on alternative proteins.

Mars, which owns leading brands including Pedigree, Royal Canin and Whiskas, launched Karma’s “first plant” with 60 percent non-GMO botanicals, blended with animal ingredients in the United States this year. In the UK, it introduced Lovebug, a brand based on insect protein for cats.

The company is also among the investors in Wild Earth, a leading American pet food startup, which is also moving into pet foods made from lab-grown meat.

The emerging market is still small, but Tracy Massey, global head of Pet Feeding in March, expects alternative protein pet foods to grow 30 percent by 2025. “It’s a very niche but it’s growing fast,” she said.

Last year, the Nestle brand Purina launched a dog food made with ingredients such as insect protein and beans, as well as meat. In 2020, it bought the natural pet food brand Lily’s Kitchen, and it also offers vegan dog food and dog food with ingredients like millet and lentils as well as zucchini and carrots.

But there is debate about the nutritional benefits of plant-based dog foods. Because cats are carnivores, they should not be fed a vegetarian or vegan diet, according to the British Veterinary Medical Association. The body didn’t recommend feeding your dog a plant-based diet, although it was theoretically possible, according to Justin Shotton, president of the BVA.

“Currently, there is not a lot of evidence-based research for vegan pet foods that meet the nutritional needs of dogs,” said Shotton, adding that pet owners interested in their pets’ vegetarian or vegan diet should speak to their vet first. She said all owners have a duty to care for their pets to ensure they meet their animal welfare needs.

Package: vegan pet food
Start-up The Pack makes dog food using ingredients like pea protein and seaweed

Although insect protein is not vegetarian, it provides a nutritional alternative to meat while avoiding animal welfare concerns. However, it is still an expensive option, and some pet owners are resistant to feeding insects to their pets, according to analysts.

Bartender said The Pack worked with animal nutritionists and scientists to produce dog food using pea protein, papaya, kale and seaweed. “We can get the same nutritional values ​​as meat with plant foods,” she said.

Massey at Mars said that while dogs can survive on a meat-free diet, “you need to make sure you’re supplementing with other things,” adding, “It’s not as simple as saying ‘I’m vegan, I want my pet to be vegan.'” Difficult. We’ve spent years developing these products.”

Sales vertical chart ($1 billion) showing global spending on pet food set to accelerate

Chef Sivakumar, co-founder of Omni, warned consumers not to prepare their own vegan dog food. But his upbringing in a South Asian vegetarian family, with his pet dogs eating mainly what humans eat and living 14-16 years, gave him confidence that dogs could thrive on a non-meat diet.

Bartender is optimistic about vegan dog food and predicts that 50 per cent of all dogs in the UK will follow the trend of human resilience by 2030. She acknowledges that some clients would like to offer their dogs variety and see vegan food as a complementary option.

For well-established pet food companies, it’s all about offering consumers choices.

Massey said the internet allows pet owners to try new products “and see what works,” adding, “Some of these trends will come and go — no one really knows which ones will stay. I would say, watch this space.”

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