Monday, March 1, 2010

Uh oh... Jack's meaty pet food may have to go...

The inevitable has happened: Slate's Green Lantern has looked into the enviromental impact of puppy chow causing we pet owners concern about the enviromental impact of what they intake on top of what they output (click here to learn about the greenest doggie doodoo disposal methods).

It turns out that most of the food our pets eat (that includes meat) is made from the parts of livestock that we humans do not eat such as organs, scraps, and rendered bones and tissues. So on one hand, considering the fact that we raise livestock for human consumption and only the leftovers (about 15%) are purposed to pet food, little of the carbon footprint should really be assigned to the pet food. However, if you ask the pair of sustainable architecture experts from New Zealand, Robert and Brenda Vale (authors of Time To Eat the Dog?) "a medium-size dog has roughly twice the ecological footprint of a Toyota Land Cruiser."

Thankfully, the Lantern is a lover of animals and suggests the following:

"...The way the Lantern sees it, there are two options worth exploring. The first is a variation on one of our cardinal rules for humans: Eat less meat. Some vegans and vegetarians put their cats and dogs on equally abstemious diets. The Lantern doesn't believe humans should be required to give up all meat, so she's not going to suggest that your pet should, either. But according to Marion Nestle—a public-health and nutrition expert who's recently been focusing her attention on pet food—the research clearly shows that dogs and cats can get all the nutrients they need from complete-and-balanced, all-veggie commercial foods. (No one has done any long-term clinical trials comparing various diet options, however.) Even if you don't want to take meat out of the equation entirely, you might be able to cut back, by replacing some of your pet's fleshy fare with grain-and-vegetable-based meals.... The other option is to enlist your pet in your own food recycling efforts. As we've noted before, one of the most straightforward ways to make your diet more eco-friendly is to consume everything you buy, whatever it is. We Americans waste a lot of food—around 30 percent to 40 percent, according to recent estimates—which means we also waste all the resources that went into producing that food. Now, the Lantern isn't advocating you treat your pet like a dumpster, filling its bowl with ossifying Oreos and rotting Chinese takeout. But if you have more meat or vegetables in your fridge than you know what to do with, consider turning that excess food into some pet chow. There are plenty of books on the market to show you how. Just make sure that any changes to your pet's diet are made gradually, and keep your vet apprised of your experimentation."

Read the full article here.

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