US cats and dogs cause 25-30% of the environmental impact of meat consumption in their country. This is concluded from researchers at the University of California (UCLA).
Sciencedaily reports that the study, led by UCLA geography professor Gregory Okin looked into how much feeding pets contributes to issues like climate change.
Compared to a plant-based diet, meat requires more energy, land and water to produce, and has greater environmental consequences in terms of erosion, pesticides and waste, Okin noted. Previous studies have found that the American diet produces the equivalent of 260 million tons of carbon dioxide from livestock production. By calculating and comparing how much meat 163 million cats and dogs eat compared to 321 million Americans, Okin determined how many tons of greenhouse gases are tied to pet food.
The found that the meat consumed by cats and dogs in the US corresponds to 25 to 30% of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the United States. But are vegetarian diets an option? According to Professor Okin the global trend is that people start to eat more meat in places like China, Brazil and other emerging countries. And as the population becomes more affluent, they are also getting more pets. And mostly the people that are concerned about eating meat, also might consider giving their pets a vegetarian diet.
The pet food industry, Okin noted, is also beginning to take steps toward sustainability, and could work to reduce overfeeding and consider alternative sources of protein. But it’s a complicated issue.