You bought a KeepCup, cut dairy out of your diet, and refuse to even look at a piece of bacon. You try to cycle everywhere, texting friends “see you in an 1h 40 xx” before setting off in the pouring rain. Every item of clothing you own is either second hand or made out of hemp. And yet, you have forgotten one crucial thing in your quest for carbon neutrality: your pet is crap for the environment. (Sorry, Bubbles).
But there might be hope. According to the Guardian, a British startup today launched a dog food made of insects, in response to concerns over animal meat consumption.
Yora, founded by former website designer and dog owner Tom Neish, uses insects from Dutch farm Protix, combined with British vegetables and oats to create dried dog food pellets. On its website, Yora states that the food is “at least as good as chicken” as well as being “easier to digest” for dogs.
Pets consume 20 percent of meat and fish produced globally, and are estimated to be responsible for a quarter of the environmental impact of meat production in the USA. As insects provide a source of protein without the environmental damage caused by the meat industry, Yora hopes using ground Hermetia Illucens larvae in its pet food will reduce the carbon footprint of pet ownership.
However, many vets believe feeding cats and dogs meat-free diets can be nutritionally damaging.
In a story on lab-grown pet food published last year, the former British Veterinary Association (BVA) senior vice president Gudrun Ravetz told MUNCHIES, “Although we would not recommend it, it is theoretically possible to feed a dog a vegetarian diet, but it is much easier to get it wrong than to get it right, and owners would need to take expert advice to avoid dietary deficiencies and associated disease.”
“Cats are obligate carnivores,” she continued, “and should not be fed a vegetarian or vegan diet as they require animal-sourced ingredients to provide essential nutrients.”
On the subject of insect-based pet foods, the BVA’s junior vice president, Daniella Dos Santos, told us over email that, “more evidence is needed on how beneficial this source is to companion animals, how well it can be absorbed, and that it contains appropriate levels of taurine for example, which is an essential part of a cat’s diet.”
There has, however, been some debate over the benefit of a vegan pet food diet. Commercial pet foods are often made with waste animal products, such as heart, liver, stomach, and intestines, meaning they don’t necessarily increase meat production, but rather use up the leftover bits. According to the BBC, “dog food is just as sustainable—or unsustainable—as humans eating meat.”
Which means that if you’re not vegetarian or vegan, there’s basically no point buying your beloved spaniel a fancy insect dinner, because you’re just creating more waste.