Sustainable Options for your Vegan and Not-yet-vegan Dog

Deciding what to feed your dog as a vegan owner can be a moral challenge. Should you bring meat into the house and compromise your beliefs or face the drudgery of policing everything that goes into your furry friend’s mouth? There might be a middle ground in this battle

Before deciding to get a dog two years ago, there were numerous questions that had to be addressed: why do we want a dog? do we have time to dedicate to its needs? what kind of clothes will it wear? will it be vegan? All vitally important when considering if you are the right person to be a raising an animal.

My partner and I deliberated for a few months, wondering if we were really ready to adopt a puppy, but when it was confirmed he could take the little one to work, all other logic went out the window. Are you ever really ready to get a dog? If you are ready for a big change in your lifestyle, I would say yes. If not, maybe just borrow a friend’s every so often or do some volunteer work to satiate your need for unconditional love.

Can we get a vegan dog, please?

A small amount of research showed that of course it is possible to have a vegan dog. As long as the food is nutritionally balanced to give the dog its full fill of protein and amino acids, it can thirve as a vegan dog. Just as with humans, beans, corn, soy and whole grains are excellent sources of protein. I even had high hopes of making my own plant-based dog food which is also an option for vegan dog-parents but sadly this has yet to come to frutition; The chick peas and carrots I gave him were diffcult to wipe clean from the street the next day (if you know what I mean).

The selction of vegan and non-vegan produce fuelling Forest
The selction of vegan and non-vegan produce fuelling Forest

Amid the excitement and stress of owning a new puppy, we decided to give little Forest (@pinkforest) time to settle into his new home at the bottom of our bed and were just pleased that he was eating anything. After the first few months, we began to introduce a mixture of vegan and non-vegan dog food from Natural Balance, a brand that was recommended to us and easily available in Korea where we lived at the time. Forest would crunch his way through the mixture although did often leave the vegan chunks until the end (save the best for last?). But he was healthy, defecating well and consuming vegan food in some capacity. This would be a long transition, I thought.

Sustainable options for sourcing and packaging

Now at two years old, when people ask if Forest is a vegan dog I tell them he is 80% of the time. The main element of his food continues to be vegan chunks mixed with a meaty element with a splash of hot water to entice the senses. He continues to thirve and the transition continues.

Plastic-free and vegan dog chews are out there for your dog
Plastic-free and vegan dog chews are out there for your dog

For this reason I was overjoyed to saddle up to DM – a dominant chemist chain in Germany packed with plastic and some eco-options – to get a box of recycled tissues for picking up Forest’s poop to also find plastic-free dog food. There were two little bags by Green Petfood: one the vegan VeggieDog and the other InsectDog, both in an FSC recycled paper bag. Obviously, I bought both.

One element that remains a concern – along with the sourcing of the meat used in his meals and the industry this supports – is the plastic packaging used in even the vegan options. In Germany we are fortunate to have many more vegan dog food options including Yarrah and MulitFit which are widely available in pet shops and supermarkets. Yet we were still left with large sack-like constructions made of dense plastics that I could just imagine being buried somewhere or sinking to the bottom of the ocean. Along with the many other changes in the kitchen recently, I wanted to find something more sustainable to my pooch.

Environmental benefits of insect protein

The meaty food we bought before has been replaced by insect food which produces monstorously less CO2 emissions, NH3 gases and requires significantly less water. The environmental benefit of prodcing insect protein vs destroying rainforests to grow feed for animals is stricking: per kilogram of insect protein, ten times more land is required to get the same amount of dead cow flesh. Now. This is still a moral dillemma as I do not wish to end the life of a capterpillar any more than that of a lamb. But. When considering the environmental aspects of the protein source, my dog’s willingness to eat, and the paper bags that can be much more cleanly dispossed of, a valued judgement makes me think this is the more ethical way to feed a dog.

If Forest is not willing to go vegan just yet, then this insect protein is looking like a far more sustainable option. And the packaging is far more likely to be recycled or composted. For now, it’s win-win and the transition for our poodle continues.

For more on ways we vegans can do more for the planet, head this way: 🥜

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