It’s a good thing that my dog, Carly, is so good-natured; otherwise she might bite the researchers responsible for the recent report claiming that dogs and cats are bad for the environment.
After all, the problem isn’t the dogs and cats; it’s what many humans choose to feed them: meat. The meat industry largely contributes to climate change, so the researchers point out that “carnivorous dogs and cats” have a huge carbon footprint. They’re right that meat production is bad for the environment, of course, but I think we need to focus on how many hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, and pepperoni pizzas people eat before we blame dogs and cats for climate change. Especially considering that we’re the ones who dole out their food (and we’re the ones who domesticated dogs and cats in the first place).
Dogs and cats can thrive on a balanced vegan diet, just like people can, yet many guardians still slop out meaty globs of commercial pet foods. Many of these foods can cause health problems in our animal companions. (It’s not like dogs and cats would have eaten canned beef or dried chicken kibble had we not domesticated them and bred them uncontrollably.)
Most supermarket pet food contains ground-up parts of animals that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has deemed unfit for human consumption. It’s basically made from the flesh of animals who fall into one of the USDA’s “four D” categories—dead, dying, diseased, or disabled.
I feed Carly vegan food, not just because it’s environmentally friendly and ethically consistent with my beliefs, but because I wouldn’t dream of giving her such unhealthy crap. She loves several different kinds of vegetarian dog food as well as homemade meals. She snacks on carrots, berries, melon, banana, and vegan cookies too.
I think her healthy diet is part of the reason why she’s still playing like a puppy at 14 years old. If you’re thinking about feeding your dog or cat a vegetarian diet, too, be sure to research the issue thoroughly first. Of course, before you go changing your animal companion’s diet for ecological reasons, take a look at your own diet. If you’re concerned about climate change and other environmental problems, yet you’re still eating meat, eggs, or dairy products, it’s time to eat your way to a smaller ecological footprint. Then, both you and your best buddy can be “green” and healthy!