WINCHESTER, ENGLAND / ACCESSWIRE / October 5, 2023 / Studies show plant-based diets lower greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), and use less land and water. Food energy savings mean more people can be fed. This has triggered calls for vegan diets - but not for our pets. Yet a new major study published in leading scientific journal PLOS ONE has demonstrated very large environmental benefits associated with nutritionally-sound vegan diets - for dogs and cats, as well as people.
After analysing pet food ingredients in detail, Veterinary Professor Andrew Knight calculated that the world's dogs and cats consume seven billion land animals annually, as well as billions of fish. If all the world's dogs went vegan, it would save more GHGs than those emitted by the UK, land larger than Mexico, and could feed 450 million additional people - more than the entire EU. If all the world's cats went vegan, it could feed 70 million additional people - more than the entire UK. And if all the world's people went vegan, it would save more GHGs than all those emitted by the entire EU, land larger than Russia - the world's largest country, combined with India, and would feed around 5.3 billion additional people - two thirds of the Earth's current population.
Until recently, vegan diets were not seriously considered for dogs and cats - who are biologically omnivores and carnivores respectively. In the last two years however, many new vegan pet foods have been developed by companies using plant-based ingredients supplemented with vitamins, amino acids and minerals, to ensure all necessary nutrients are included. New studies have shown good health and behavioural outcomes for dogs and cats using such diets. There are now 9 such studies in dogs, and 3 in cats. The most recent very large-scale study showed positive health outcomes in vegan cats, following a similar canine study in 2022. These have driven rapid growth with the vegan dog food market valued at USD 14 billion by 2023, and expected to reach USD 26 billion by 2033.
Said Professor Knight, "This is game-changing. We've long known that plant-based diets are better for the planet, but have not seriously considered pet food. However, pet food clearly has profound environmental impacts. Conversely, very large environmental benefits can be achieved by nutritionally-sound vegan pet food. Large-scale studies have also shown that health outcomes for both dogs and cats are as good or better. And studies of feeding behaviour have demonstrated that average dogs and cats enjoy vegan pet foods as much as those made from meat."
He concluded: "Pet owners who care about the environment or their animals' health should consider nutritionally-sound vegan pet food. However, to safeguard health, it is important that people feed only commercial diets labelled as nutritionally complete, produced by reputable companies with good standards."
Veterinary Professor of Animal Welfare
SOURCE: Prof. Andrew Knight
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