Sustainable pet food – are insects the answer?

| 10th January 2019
Dog eating insect-based pet food

Feeding pets food based on insects would lower their environmental impact.

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A dog food based on insects instead of meat is being launched in over 150 pet stores and online - aiming to reduce the carbon pawprint of man’s best friend.

Animals and humans have been eating insects since the dawn of time.

Dog food containing grubs mixed with oats and potato has been launched today, in the latest development in the trend to lower the environmental impact of food.

The insects in the pet food by Yora are reared in the Netherlands, and contain protein, fats, minerals and amino acids. They live on vegetable matter that would otherwise go uneaten, reaching full size in 14 days, removing the need for growth hormones or antibiotics often found in meat, according to Yora.

Dog and cat food contributes around 25-30% of the environmental impacts from animal production, in terms of the use of land, water, fossil fuel, phosphate and biocides, and releases significant amounts of the greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide, according to a study by professor Gregory Okin from the University of California.

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When compared to beef farming, insect-based pet food needs just two percent of the land and four percent of the water to produce each kilogramme of protein, which means they generate 96 percent fewer greenhouse emissions, according to a study carried out by Protix, which supplies the insects used in Yora’s dog food. 

The Food and Agriculture Organisation, part of the UN, has also produced a study highlighting the environmental benefits of insect food. Tom Neish, founder of Yora, said: “Animals and humans have been eating insects since the dawn of time and we believe Yora is the future of pet food.”

The idea of eating insects in Western diets has been gaining traction recently. In November, Sainsburys began stocking roasted crickets for human consumption by Eat Grubs citing its own research which found that 42 per cent of people would be willing to try eating insects, with seven per cent willing to add them to their weekly shop if they were easily available.

This Author

Catherine Early is a freelance environmental journalist and chief reporter for the Ecologist. She can be found tweeting at @Cat_Early76.

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