Monday, November 02, 2009

What Do People Opposed to Factory Farming Feed Their Pets?

As I'm reading Jonathan Safran Foer's various essays1 which question the practice of factory farming, I'm wondering what he feeds his dog. What do people who oppose Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) feed their pets? Or do they opt out of pet ownership?

Marion Nestle, in her book Pet Food Politics, says:
"Pet foods have always been made from the leftover parts of slaughtered farm animals that are not going to be used for human food—the bones, organs, ears, and other nutritious by-products. The need for an outlet for the leftovers of animal slaughter is one of the reasons commercial pet food exists."
Where do those animals that get made into dog and cat food come from? Foer says:
"Upwards of 99 percent of the animals that are raised for meat in this country come from factory farms."
1 CNN: Food Industry Dictates Nutrition Policy, CNN: Eating Animals Is Making Us Sick, New York Mag: 76 Minutes With Jonathan Safran Foer, Huffington Post: Jonathan Safran Foer's Controversial New Book, Eating Animals, New York Times: Against Meat


Unknown said...

Whatever is left from your plate ( not left over )

for eg: fish bones, bones of chicken, lamb, or whatever kind of meat you eat

Ask your butcher what is the cheapest meat and say you want to feed your dog - you bring it home cook it with salt and give it your dog. the butcher gives it for free.

all the trimmings of your meat.

give your dog water to drink.

And the kid has always left something on the plate - half bitten, half torn -give to your dog what you cannot keep in a left over box.

virginia said...

I'm going to guess they're as careful about their pet's diet, as their own. I have friends who prepare food intended for human consumption, for their dogs.

They started doing this after pet deaths were attributed to melamine poisoning, and problems with gluten contamination in commercially prepared dog food.

Anonymous said...

Wellness core, orijien, blue buffalo are the best.

Anonymous said...

This is an easy question, Bix. They feed their pets meat from CAFOs, rendered animal parts of cows, pigs and chickens raised in overcrowded disease ridden pens, pumped full of antibiotics and slaughtered inhumanely. Only the rich and privileged can afford to feed their pets free range organic beef and wild caught fish. Most people can't afford to feed those foods to themselves let alone their dogs. Having the dog or cat is more important to them than what happens to the environment or to the lives of the animals sacrificed for their food. The whole issue of pet food is hush hush.

Jennywenny said...

Good question. I'm definitely guilty of not doing enough about this.

Incidentally, I was on a trip back home, and it seemed to me that more of the meat/dairy in the UK was free range, which I thought was interesting considering how little space there is in the UK compared to the US.

Even in costco, the choice of eggs was free range, and the only butter was also free range...

Anonymous said...

What Do People Opposed to Factory Farming Feed Their Pets?

For my dog I feed locally grown forms of animal protein. Usually poultry. Eggs are probably the gold standard for protein, plus liver once a week.

The familiar quote you posted is one that stuck with me. In an interview with Kristie Keith, Marion Nestle points out that if dogs were fed people food, the burden would be equivalent to feeding an additional 40 million humans on a calorie basis.

Commercial food is convenient fast food, and makes good use of often nutritious waste products I suppose. It's ok to the extent one trusts manufacturers to produce a quality product. Like Virginia alluded to, that trust has been shaken, and in some cases shattered for many of us pet owners. I'm grateful to have the option of feeding a home diet while food safety continues to mature. For me, any food sourced from rapidly developing countries is especially suspect; regulation typically lags rapid growth.

There's a small learning curve and xtra work involved in feeding a home diet that may not be for everyone. I find it rewarding, and another way to reconnect with food.

Anonymous said...

One more thing for anyone interested- A terrific source for animal home diet info is "The Small Animal Clinical Nutrition" text book, 4th edition. Rather technical in nature, but contains a comprehensive home pet food chapter anyone could understand. The book is available *used* at bargain prices. I think it's the book Marion refers to sometimes, not sure. I got my first recipe from one of the editor's--a veterinary nutritionist. Lots of good evidence-based info tucked away on this website.

Anonymous said...

My 1st comment didn't go through. I previewed and probably failed to submit. Oh well, here's a shorter version.

I usually feed my dog some type of locally raised poultry. Eggs are great, the gold standard for protein. Brown rice and veggies for carbs and fiber, a multivitamin and calcium carbonate. Liver once a week would be a good thing.

That quote you posted is a memorable one. Reminds me of an interview with Marion Nestle and Christi Keith. Marion said if pets were fed human food it would be like feeding an additional 40 million people.

As Virginia alluded to, many pet owners faith in the food system was shaken or shattered. Ingredients sourced from developing countries are especially concerning--regulation lagging rapid growth.

Bea Elliott said...

That is an excellent question. Dogs can live a fine and healthy life on a vegan diet. I prepare my dog a combination of a variety of beans, pastas, whole grains, carrots, potatos, etc. Actually - there's not anything I won't mix in my dog's meal except avocados or onions as some dogs have bad reactions to the two...

My vet is perfectly happy with his health...

There's no reason either why humans can't get the same quality proteins from beans, legumes, pulses, nuts, seeds, etc.

Many vegans also have their cats on a plant based diet supplementing taurine as necessary.

If you're curious to learn more you can google "vegan pet" for the answers.

Thanks for inviting comment.

Anonymous said...

My friend was giving away lab puppies I fell in love with one!! I went to a healthfood store and they were charging like $3.00 for a can of Newman's Own. If I feed it 2 or 3 cans a day that's like $200 a month! I really want a dog but I don't think you should have one if all your going to do is feed it crap food.

Michelle @ Find Your Balance said...

I have tried to feed my cats ground chicken versus canned cat food and they won't eat it. They'll barely eat canned cat food either, they are so darn finnicky. So. I'm guilty. But i do buy the best cat food I can find, with no byproducts. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Vegan diets for dogs is inhumane and selfish.

There are many pets besides dogs and cats that would thrive on a completely vegetarian diet (birds, iguanas, rabbits, horses and goats, to name a few).

Maybe you should consider a turtle. Might be a more suitable pet for you.

Bea Elliott said...

Actually, a longer and healthier life for fido is quite humane! One of the oldest dogs on record was a vegetarian - living to 27 years:

What most people fail to realize is that the need for protein from meat is an absolute myth!

And actually, a turtle is much less suited to a vegetarian diet than a canine... Turtles are aquatic and do eat some vegetation, but the main source of their food is insects and small fishes. Sorry...

Anonymous said...

As long as your protein is carefully calculated to provide the necessary amino acids, the protein source is irrelevant; be it plant, animal, or marine based.

ElDoubleVee said...

Dogs and cats are carnivores. They are so not by choose but by biology. Forcing an animal to be vegetarian because of the owner’s beliefs is cruel and wrong. Dogs and cats don’t care for political or ethical beliefs. If you point out social wrongs to a dog it will just lick your finger.

Bix said...

Those photos of pollution in China are horrifying.

Talking about inhumane, or at least unnatural...

I read that the rendered remains of euthanized cats and dogs are part of commercial cat food and dog food.

Is it OK to force pets to be cannibals?

Anonymous said...

ElVV- We force/train animals to do lots of unnatural stuff. It's the owners beliefs that subordinate dogs to odd commands, making them do a variety of unnatural tasks. Neutering a dog goes against their biology, too. This is why I say the antivegetarian argument is unproductive, and no I'm not a vegetarian. Ultimately what matters is meeting the animal's nutrient requirements. Not doing so would be cruel and wrong--period. Put things in perspective. Under most circumstances, I wouldn't feed a raw meat diet either, but if that's what people want to feed their dogs, so be it. Educate them, and find safe methods to minimize risk-factors. Work with people, not against them.
I will say this, vegetarians need to do a little more homework. Best to seek professional advice from a bonafide veterinary nutritionist--a rare breed. I understand vegetarian commercial foods are now available, but I haven't checked them out.

Bea Elliott said...

Actually, dogs are like humans in the evolutionary system of dietary "choices"... They are - as we were/are - opportunistic omnivores... Basically, scavengers for whatever we could eat.

So, I'll also assume... that since cows are true herbivores, you find it "cruel" to feed them excess amounts of corn/grain, poultry litter & slaughterhouse remnants?

And that it is also "cruel" to feed captive land animals such as pigs, chickens and cows - sea creatures?
More than one-third of all the fish caught in the world's oceans are going into food for livestock and farmed fish.

And as far as one of the most finicky eaters in the world... cats - Do you not find it "cruel" to feed them:
Spoiled meat from the supermarket, Styrofoam wrapping and all.

Road kill.

The "4 D's" of cattle: dead, dying, disease and disabled.

Rancid restaurant grease.

Euthanized companion animals, drugs and all.

My vet has 12 years of eduction... and 20 years experience in her practice. I also have been fortunate with the longevity of my pets... So I think I'll continue to her good advice and my own common sense.

Anonymous said...

I was horrified by those pictures I linked to also, Bix. Lots of growing pains over there.

"Is it OK to force pets to be cannibals?"

Love it! You say much in so few words. That line could've replaced my entire previous comment. I learn a lot here.

Anonymous said...

Quality dog food doesn't have road kill and rotting carcasses of dead baby seals!
You ever read the ingredients of Wellness or Orijien?
No ground up possum in there!

Drama Queens, Geez!

virginia said...

"You say much in so few words. That line could've replaced my entire previous comment."

She does, doesn't she?

Bix, you should take your highlighter and blue pencil to the Hill.

You would hate the lifestyle, though. Maybe a private chef would sweeten the deal.

ElDoubleVee said...

Just found this:

Bix said...

A dog's eco-footprint is equivalent to twice that of a Toyota Land Cruiser? Interesting perspective. Having a pet is a luxury, isn't it.

Bea Elliott said...

I'd say, if nothing else... whether we can agree on what to feed "pets" or not - It is clear that we should discourage "breeding" at all costs. We have enough carbon producing beings as it is. Adopt if you can... but never "buy" an animal.

Bix said...

BTW, Nestle went on to say, about the 2007 discovery of melamine in pet food, and then in livestock meant for humans:

"We now know the fate of salvaged pet food; it gets turned into feed for pigs, poultry, and farmed fish. I cannot resist having this unsettling thought: if federal officials had ordered the destruction of the pigs, chickens, and fish fed salvaged pet food, would their meat have been recycled back into pet food?"

So, pet-food (which is made from dead, dying, diseased, or down animals) can get fed to livestock. And livestock (which is allowed to be fed poultry litter and cow blood) gets fed to us.

This was Nestle's premise for the book, subtitled "The Chihuahua In The Coalmine" - that food for humans, livestock, and pets is linked, and if the Chihuahua gets sick, we're all at risk.

Anonymous said...

That book is a good read for anyone with pets. I can't wait for her latest: Feed Your Pet Right- The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat (coming May 2010)

I'm enjoying all the comments and various perspectives. Another article worth reading. Some eye opening stuff-

Part I

Part II

This one surprised me.
"While dog feces can be safely disposed of in the toilet, used cat litter should never be flushed. Modern waste treatment doesn't kill a pesky organism known as toxoplasma gondii. When water containing this parasite enters the ocean, it sickens and kills sea otter populations. Toxoplasma also causes disease in humans, especially the immune-compromised and pregnant women."

"Disposing of used cat litter is only half the problem. The other half is figuring out what to use as litter in the first place. Clay-based cat litters are not a by-product of the manufacture of something else, but produced by strip mining. The clay, known as bentonite, is found under several layers of soil, which are removed in the mining process. The first few inches of clay are discarded, and the final clay is removed and processed into cat litter. When it comes to "green" products, you don't get much less green than that."

I bought my dog *one* toy (tug) that's lasted 2 years now. I vowed not to buy another considering how excited she gets when plastic bottles are rinsed out for recycling. The swishing water rinse sound means play time for her.

Bix said...

Those articles are great reading. I have to agree with you, the "cat litters ... are produced by strip mining" bit was awful. And litter doesn't degrade in landfills? So litter is perpetually litter?

Speaking of disposal, while I know the pain of getting rid of medications, I hadn't thought of "the waste of animals on certain medications." She goes to town with this topic.

Christie Keith is a good writer. There were a few phrases that I really liked:

"The biggest piece of the pet pollution puzzle is poop." Alliteration never had it so good, except for the content.

"cheap plastic imported crap"

And my absolute favorite: "transporting the dog"