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25 July, 2024
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World's dogs considering vegan diet for a greener planet

Pets consume 9% of land animals

Source: The Guardian

If all the world’s dogs went vegan it would save more greenhouse gas emissions than those produced by the UK, according to research advocating the environmental benefits of plant-based pets.

The study estimated cats and dogs consume about 9% of all land animals killed for food – about 7 billion animals annually – as well as billions of fish and aquatic animals. Plant-based diets lower greenhouse gas emissions and require less land and water.

The research at the University of Winchester calculated that if all the world’s dogs went vegan, it would free up a larger land mass than Mexico and more freshwater than all the renewable freshwater in Denmark, and would feed about 450 million additional people – more than the entire EU population.

If all the world’s cats went vegan, it would save more emissions than those produced by New Zealand, land larger than Germany, freshwater exceeding all renewable freshwater in Jordan, and would feed about 70 million additional people – more than the entire UK population, according to the study published in the Plos One scientific journal.

Prof Andrew Knight, the veterinary academic who led the study, said that many pet owners were unaware of the “profound environmental impacts” caused by their animals’ food.

“Pet owners who care about the environment or their animals’ health should consider nutritionally sound vegan pet food,” he said.

He noted that large scale studies had already shown that dogs and cats can be just as healthy, or even more, on a vegan diet, so long as they eat pet food that is specially formulated with additional vitamins, amino acids and minerals to ensure it is nutritionally sound.

“Studies of feeding behaviour have demonstrated that average dogs and cats enjoy vegan pet foods as much as those made from meat,” he added.

Until recently it was difficult for cats and dogs to follow a plant-based diet, however vegan pet food has developed in recent years, with the vegan dog food market valued at £11.5bn in 2023, and projected to reach £21bn by 2033.

Knight’s calculations also demonstrated that if all the world’s people went vegan, it would save more greenhouse gases than all those emitted by the entire EU, land larger than Russia and India combined, renewable freshwater exceeding all that of Cuba, and would feed about 5.3 billion additional people – almost two-thirds of the world’s current population.

The British Veterinary Association and Blue Cross have previously advised against feeding animals a vegan diet as it can be difficult to get the balance of nutrients right, leading to a risk of dietary deficiencies and associated disease. They recommend that anyone considering a vegan diet for their pet should consult their vet first.

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