Did you know that there are more pets living in Australia today than people?
Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world – 63% of Australian households contain pets. That’s nearly 5 million of Australia’s 7.6 million households. 39% of households have dogs. 29% of households have cats.
These statistics might reasonably indicate that Australians love animals. Yet, there is an alarming disregard for the animals that we feed to our furry companions.
Now more than ever we have an increased range of meat products that allow the more ethically conscious, health conscious meat, dairy and egg-eating consumers to purchase meat and other animal products that have been derived from animals who experience a higher level of welfare. Yet how many of us are making food choices for our furry companions with the same values in mind?
Those of us privileged to share our lives with furry companions are estimated to spend over $3 billion a year on pet food. Unfortunately, the majority of this food fails from an ethical perspective (as well as a nutritional perspective).
The typical pet owner purchases food for their furry companion from the supermarket. When you walk down the supermarket pet food aisle, what you are faced with is pet-grade, intensively raised meat products. [The problems associated with pet-grade meat is an entirely separate blog topic and won’t be dealt with here. If you want to learn more about the problems associated with pet-grade meat, grab your free copy of ‘The 7 Secret Ingredients In Your Pet’s Food’ here.]
It is not surprising that people purchase pet food without regard for the ethics of the product when the average purchaser doesn’t like to think too much about where their food comes from.
The pet food industry also makes it difficult for people to make ethical purchases due to the limited options available and the misleading labelling and marketing, which easily persuades purchasers that they are buying a sound product.
Why should I be purchasing free range, organic meat products for my furry companion?
There are three main reasons why I recommend the feeding of free range, organic meat products for furry companions –
Ethical Nutritional Environmental
From an ethical perspective, free range organic pet food means that the animals you are feeding to your furry companion have not suffered from things like:
cramped conditions like high stocking densities, cages and sow stalls
painful procedures like tail docking, castration and de-beaking, without pain relief
an inability to engage in natural behaviours like dust-bathing, foraging for food, building a nest and forming social bonds
early separation from mothers
unnatural growth rates
Factory farms are a place of intense suffering for animals. By choosing free range organic food for your furry companion, you will feel comfort in the fact that you are not contributing to this suffering for the sake of feeding your loved ones. As Compassion In World Farming's chief executive, Philip Lymbery, says: "How many pet owners would be shocked to learn that their beautiful sentient creature is being fed on the misery of another?"
Nutritionally, free range organic food is superior to food derived from intensive production systems. It is produced without the use of synthetic chemicals, fertilisers, antibiotics, growth hormones, preservatives or GMOS, all of which can be detrimental to your furry companion’s health.
There are many environmental benefits associated with choosing free range organic meat and pet food over factory farmed.
According to the UN, raising animals for food is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.
The PEW Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production attributes a wide array of problems to factory farms such as:
air quality problems
contamination of rivers, streams and coastal waters with concentrated animal waste
high levels of resource use such as water for irrigation and cleaning
greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide produced by the animals during the digestion process in the gut, and emissions from degradation processes in uncovered waste lagoons and digesters
large inputs of fossil fuels, industrial fertilisers and other synthetic chemicals
Where can I buy free range organic food for my furry companions?
The following are some of the brands I recommend as well as places where you can purchase them.
Complete Pet Company - available at Chew Chomp and Chill.
Suburban Pup - pick up or home delivery.
1. Animal Health Alliance [Australia] Ltd 2013, ‘Pet Ownership in Australia 2013 Summary’, Canberra.
2. Animals Australia ‘What is Factory Farming?’.
3. Compassion in World Farming 2015, 'Pet food: misleading labelling?'.
4. Cowspiracy 2014, ‘The Facts’.
5. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 2006, ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options’.
6. PEW Commission on Industrial Farm Production 2009, ‘Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America, Executive Summary’.
7. Voiceless 2015, ‘Factory Farming’.