EXCEL LONDON 
14-15 NOVEMBER 2024

Portfolio Events

What a year 2022 has been for vegan dog food!

It’s been 10 months since I last wrote for the LVS newsletter and out of all the people who stopped at the consumer and trade shows that we have exhibited at this year, only one has asked me if it is really possible to maintain a healthy dog on a plant-based diet. Instead of looking at me perplexed, show-visitors listen in earnest to the undeniable case for plant-based diets in the dog food market, silently analysing the arguments for it and then nodding their heads in agreement. No doubt the results of two large scale studies published this year (University of Winchester and the University of Guelph, Canada) showing that dogs maintained on vegan diets lived up to 18 months longer and less likely to suffer from health disorders than those on conventional diets, has served to open serious consideration of the credibility of the plant-based sector.

If you are still trying to get your head around it, here are some of the different facets of the argument in bullet point form from yours truly. To find out more feel free to email me at lucy@plantlabs.co.uk.

 

Did you know?

  • The ‘meat’ in most processed dry food is not meat as we know it. The tissue and bones from a Category 3 carcass (one that has been passed for human consumption and then stripped of everything that is wanted for the human food chain and also the brain and spinal cord) is subject to a process called ‘rendering’. 

This process (intense and intensified further because of the BSE crisis) denatures prion proteins responsible for TSEs that might be skulking around in there.What comes out the other side of the TSE-focused rendering process is Processed Animal Protein (PAP) and extracted fat. PAP and fat are bought and added into the dog food mix as per the recipe …and cooked again. It is reasonable to ask whether re-cooked ‘PAP’ is actually good for man’s best friend.

  • Rendering or not, presumably this is a sustainable process - after all, we are utilising the tissue and bones unwanted by the human food chain, by feeding them to Molly?

Well it’s the darndest thing. Data from 2017 show the global dry pet food industry alone was responsible for annual GHG emissions equal to those of the 60th highest emitting country in the world. For those reading this whose pub quiz knowledge is as destitute as mine, there are 195 countries in the world.

This is dry food only i.e. this figure does not take into account wet food, raw food, treats and tit-bits. An industry long considered sustainable because it utilises human food chain by-products…. really isn’t! But what would happen to the rest of the carcass if we didn’t render it into PAP for our bestest friends, you may ask? Well, as it turns out, there are lots of uses.

  • Although there has no published paper yet that has calculated precisely the the reduction in the global pet food pawprint that would be attained by feeding our companion animals a plant-based diet, I have it from two good authorities (who may or may not be working on such a paper right now) that the figure is likely between 66% and 75%. This is huge.
  • No point even talking about the sustainability of feeding ‘premium’ meats to our ever growing number of dogs - that’s essentially killing livestock to feed our growing population of Cockapoos. 

Interestingly enough Pet Food Industry magazine recently reported that in the US significant bottlenecks in the rendering process may mean the continued pet food demand increases will likely soon outstrip supply of meat protein… so the market may have no choice but to open its arms and minds to plant-based through plain old necessity.

Thankfully, we CAN fulfil all FEDIAF guidelines for all life stages (including growing puppies and nursing bitches) with nutritionally balanced plant-based diets - while still using only recognisable and sustainably sourced ingredients you would be happy reading on the back of a pack of something you might pick up for yourself.

A Better Way To Feed: www.noochypoochy.com

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