Thursday, 22 October 2009 20:42

Save the planet: eat a dog?

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A controversial article has been making the rounds today about the environmental effects of owning a pet. And of course I have an opinion.

"Save the planet: eat a dog?" highlights points from a new book called Time to Eat the Dog: The real guide to sustainable living, and states that pets, such as cats and dogs, have a large impact on our planet. They say, "the eco-pawprint of a pet dog is twice that of a 4.6-litre Land Cruiser driven 10,000 kilometres a year". But that is based on the way the average person raises their dog, and the ingredients in the food they feed them. If you've been reading this blog you've noticed that I aim to raise my dog as a vegan and under the most eco-friendly circumstances. Feeding a dog a vegetarian diet has the same advantage of feeding yourself a vegetarian diet - a significantly less effect on the environment. Meat production wastes a lot of water and grain, and pollutes the air. The article states, "In a study published in New Scientist, they calculated a medium dog eats 164 kilograms (361 lbs) of meat and 95kg (209 lbs) of cereals every year. It takes 43.3 square metres (141 feet) of land to produce 1kg of chicken a year" So if your dog is a vegetarian, there goes a huge chunk of that problem.
And of course, taking eco-conscious measures with your pet, such as using biodegradable waste bags and buying products made from recycled materials, will also lessen the impact.

As a vegan, I was also alarmed by one of the first sentences in the article: "pet owners should swap cats and dogs for creatures they can eat, such as chickens or rabbits". Without reading the book I have a hard time judging this, but it seems like the authors are suggesting we raise animals as pets and then eat them. While small farmers do this on a daily basis with cows and chickens, I'm not sure that they consider these animals as pets. Our society is accustomed to having pets for many years, solely for the love we receive and give to them, so I highly doubt we could transition from loving then killing a pet so easily. Plus, as a vegan, I don't believe in killing animals period, and therefore don't think this is a great solution. I would rather not have a pet at all.

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