Smart Living Your Pet's Meaty Food Is a Big Contributor to Climate Change, Too

20:24  04 august  2017
20:24  04 august  2017 Source:   Food & Wine

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Do your pets contribute to climate change ? One UCLA professor says yes. Meat production for pet food has the same climate impact as a year' s worth of driving from 13.6 million cars, according to new research from UCLA.

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  Your Pet's Meaty Food Is a Big Contributor to Climate Change, Too © Humonia / Getty Images

Eating beef may be tasty, but it's not exactly good for the environment. After all, producing steaks, roasts, and burger patties leaves a large carbon footprint. Luckily for the environment, we humans are cutting back our beef consumption. But new research shows there is another group of meat-eaters that are increasingly contributing to climate change: our adorable, kibble-noshing pets.

According to research by University of California, Los Angeles geography professor Gregory Okin, our nation's 163 million dogs and cats are responsible for up to a whopping 30 percent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the U.S. Their bags of kibble and cans of wet meat "create the equivalent of 64 million tons of carbon dioxide a year," according to the research, which, for comparison's sake, is about the "same climate impact as a year's worth of driving from 13.6 million cars," it says.

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Food . Social Justice. Generally, people were far less likely to identify livestock production as a significant contributor to global warming than other sources, even as an average 83 percent agreed that human activities contribute to climate change (U. S . respondents were the least likely to agree).

Big Issues. Environment. Wildlife. Food . Social Justice. Culture. Big Issues.

Consider this: Okin says if dogs and cats made their own country—aside from being the most adorable place on the planet—it would rank fifth in meat consumption behind Russia, Brazil, the U.S., and China.

4 holistic vets reveal what they feed their dogs (from Organic Life)

Monchie, a 3-year-old Pomeranian: <p>We feed Monchie a homemade diet consisting of 50% lean protein (like white meat or white fish) and 50% fresh chopped vegetables (like spinach, kale, green beans, <a href=broccoli, cauliflower, or brussels sprouts). Vegetables can be raw or lightly steamed or blanched, depending on your dog's preference. We change up the ingredients depending on what’s in our fridge.

With homemade diets, a comprehensive vitamin mineral supplement is essential. So we add a supplement called PAAWS to balance out the homemade meals.

Feeding dogs a balanced homemade diet is a big step up from commercial food, and it’s fairly straightforward. You want to aim for a mix of ⅓ lean protein, ⅓ long-acting carbs such as rice, and ⅓ vegetables. For dogs who need to lose weight, or if you’re concerned about allergies, cut out the carbs and feed your pooch a mix of ½ lean protein and ½ green veggies. The veggies won’t cause diarrhea or gas.
—Carol Osborne, DVM, founder of Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic

Related: 5 First-Aid Essentials Every Pet Owner Should Know

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4 Holistic Vets Reveal Exactly What They Feed Their Dogs

To come up with his numbers, Okin used previous research that found 321 million Americans' diets produce the equivalent of 260 million tons of carbon dioxide from livestock production. Greenhouse gases are also tied to the production of pet food. And because pet foods typically have more meat in them than the average human eats, Okin determined our pets consume about 25 percent of all the calories derived from animals in the U.S., even though our pets eat a lot fewer calories than we do.

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Manufacturing and construction: 13.3% – Manufacturing and construction are less often discussed than transit, but they contribute nearly as much to climate change : 13.3% of emissions, WRI says. These activities are the third- biggest contributors of heat-trapping emissions.

A new study coming out of NASA' s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that when it comes to the net contribution to climate change on-road transportation, burning biomass for cooking, and raising animals for food

Okin isn't recommending we get rid of our fluffy friends to fight this problem. "I like dogs and cats, and I'm definitely not recommending that people get rid of their pets or put them on a vegetarian diet, which would be unhealthy," Okin said in a release.

Instead, Okin encourages pet food producers to explore kibble compositions that would include protein alternatives in place of meat, while humans should commit to snout-to-tail consumption, eating less appetizing meat cuts that are perfectly edible but often thrown in the trash. If just a quarter of the meat that's used in pet foods was instead consumed by humans, Okin says, we'd have enough meat to feed 26 million Americans—all without having to increase the number of cattle.

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