It is now a well-established fact that there is a link between human meat consumption and climate change, thanks to the CO2 and methane emissions that come from raising and transporting cattle and pigs. Since pets are responsible for 20 percent of global meat consumption, some pet food manufacturers are turning to insects instead of beef to make their products.
According to the BBC, one pet food manufacturer says that 40 percent of its new product is made from black soldier flies, which are an excellent source of sustainable protein. The food comes from UK startup Yora, but does it meet your dog’s nutritional needs?
Pet diet expert at the Royal Veterinary College, Aarti Kathrani, says that the flies can be a useful part of your pet’s diet, but more research is needed.
“Insects can be a very useful source of protein,” Kathrani said. “More studies are needed to show how much of these nutrients can actually be absorbed by a dog’s body— but some studies suggest that insects can provide nutrients for dogs.”
Since they use a smaller percentage of water and land, flies do produce protein more efficiently than cows. However, the environmental effects of feeding your dog flies instead of meaty food go much deeper.
Analysis results showed that when societies become wealthier, people opt to indulge muscle meat rather than meat from internal organs. Those organs, also known as offal, are just as nutritious, so it gets made into pet food. Which concludes that dog food is just as sustainable (or unsustainable) as human meat consumption.
And, if we wean dogs off of meat and switch them to insects, what would we do with the offal?
Insects in cat food can be a different story as cats tends to be more picky with their food because they can’t make taurine, an essential amino acid. They do get their taurine from meat and fish, but Dr. Kathrani says that there are insects that also contain taurine and could be useful for a feline diet.
In addition to Yora, other competitors have popped up in the pet food market that are incorporating fly protein, including Insectdog, Entomapetfood, EnviroFlight, Chippin and Wilderharrier.