In late September, Kimberly Richardson produced a story that ran on CNN regarding pets and their carbon footprint.
For what it is worth, when I see pieces like this, I try to keep an open mind and see if there is any substance.
Referring to them as their “carbon pawprint,” Richardson first cites pets’ meat-heavy diet, “which requires an abundance of energy, land and water to produce.” She goes on to say producing pet food produces “huge amounts of greenhouse gases.”
Pets do have a meat-heavy diet, especially cats. Cats are one of the animal world’s few obligate carnivores. Their diet must be meat heavy by design.
As for dogs, you won’t get much argument out of me that dogs are both overfed and fed diets that are usually far higher in protein than most pooches need.
It’s agreed that producing meat animals does indeed produce a significant amount of greenhouse gases, not an unquantifiable amount.
The percentage of greenhouse gases from animal ag is about 14.5%.
“Animal agriculture contributes significantly to global warming through ongoing emissions of the potent greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide, and displacement of biomass carbon on the land used to support livestock.” This quote is from the Febraury published work of Michael Eisen and Patrick Brown which appeared in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Online. The 14.5% is cited by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
As for the source of the ag-based “meat” that ends up in pet food, let’s just note that they are not prime cuts. Yes, some rations include identifiable cuts that appeal to the hungry consumer who purchases it for their pet. Most of the ag-animal protein that ends up in pet foods is not something today’s people would consume.
Offal is the unwanted but valuable byproduct of animal production and subsequent slaughter and processing. If not strictly offal, an awful lot of it is in pet foods, like it or not. It’s also important to note that if offal does not find its way into various important and valuable product streams, it would have to be disposed of somehow creating another headache.
What people don’t understand is the amount of offal produced in the U.S. It is so large that we can’t even use it all and we export 300 thousand metric tons or more of offal annually. From pet food to cosmetics to paints, the offal industry is vital in both economical and …….