The title of this article might seem misleading. What the heck does feeding our pets have to do with our planet? Well, just like us and anything in the environment, pets have their own carbon footprints. Or rather pawprint. According to the RSPCA, the demand for pets has increased over 5-6 times during this year’s lockdowns, and it may be hurting the environment.
How, you ask? Well, more pets mean a bigger carbon footprint. Pet ownership was at a steady increase in the UK even before the pandemic, but now it’s truly taken off. In 2017, the global pet food market was at $94 billion. Its value is growing annually and is expected to hit highs this year and in 2021.
Cats and dogs are carnivorous pets. They need a protein-rich diet to stay healthy. This means more meat production which has a strong environmental impact. Some environmentally-friendly owners have switched their pets to a vegan diet to the dismay of pet experts. While dogs can survive on a vegan or vegetarian diet, cats can’t. However, in order to meet the increased demand for vegan cat food, producers need a lot of land, which eventually results in higher gas production.
Reducing the carbon pawprint is a massive challenge for the UK for both owners and pet food companies. Vegans are not likely to get a cat since they know they’ll have to feed them meat which they oppose. What can we do to help? Well, supporting pet food companies that produce food in a sustainable way is a start. It’s the only solution we currently have to keep our pets well fed and avoid bringing the planet on the edge of destruction.