Andrew Knight, a researcher from Griffith University in Australia, has presented an analysis in the open-access journal PLOS ONE that explores the potential environmental benefits of switching pet dogs and cats in the US or worldwide to nutritionally sound vegan diets. While previous studies have focused on the environmental impacts of the livestock industry in relation to human diets, few have considered the role of cat and dog diets.
Knight’s estimates suggest that if all dogs and cats in the US switched to vegan diets, it could spare nearly 2 billion land-based livestock animals from slaughter annually. The number rises to nearly 7 billion if all cats and dogs worldwide made the switch. This transition could also lead to significant reductions in land and water use, greenhouse gas emissions, biocide usage, and other pollutants.
For instance, transitioning all dogs globally to vegan diets could free up land areas larger than Saudi Arabia, while for cats, it could surpass the land area of Germany. In comparison, if all humans became vegan, it would save land equivalent to Russia and India combined. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from switching all dogs’ diets could exceed the total emissions of the UK, and for cats, it could compare to Israel’s emissions.
It’s important to note that Knight acknowledges potential underestimations in pet population and energy requirements data, suggesting that the true environmental benefits might be even greater. However, the analysis does rely on certain assumptions and would benefit from further research to enhance its accuracy. For instance, future studies could consider national differences in diet ingredients and incorporate more recent data for environmental impact calculations. Additionally, a focus on the energy density of specific animal-sourced ingredients could refine these estimates.
Knight emphasizes the importance of using nutritionally complete vegan pet food from reputable companies to ensure the health of pets while reaping the environmental benefits of these dietary changes.
Source: Public Library of Science