Startups, Accelerators & Incubators

Omni: “Some of the Longest-Living Dogs on Record Were Fed Entirely Plant-Based Diets”

Omni is a plant-based pet food company from the UK focused on the development of healthy and sustainable food for dogs. Dr Guy Sandelowsky and Shiv Sivakumar founded Omni during the COVID-19 pandemic and are now preparing to launch their first line of products.

Dr. Guy points out that “some of the longest living dogs on record were fed entirely plant-based diets” and that this is “hardly surprising” considering that these diets are often made up of “clean protein, healthy fats, and are rich in vitamins and minerals”.

Omni is part of the current cohort at the ProVeg Incubator. As part of our series on this cohort, we spoke to Guy and Shiv about Omni’s journey and their plans for the future.

Omni founders
Omni founders, Image courtesy of ProVeg

Introduce yourself and your mission
I started omni, named after the fact that dogs are omnivores and can derive their nutrition from a variety of plant-based sources, with former investment banker and dog lover Shiv Sivakumar. Shiv grew up in Sri Lanka, where dogs have been thriving on plant-based diets for generations.

The sad truth is that one in four dogs in the UK will get cancer and one in two suffer from obesity. Humans started giving up various kinds of processed meats decades ago because of the proven links to cancer and obesity, yet these meats are still the main component of most dog foods.

What’s more, the world’s 500 million dogs and cats are estimated to eat 20% of the world’s meat. That’s the equivalent environmental impact of 13.6 million cars. Dogs are increasingly treated as members of the family and as humans try to cut back on their meat consumption for health and environmental reasons, it’s now possible to do the same for dogs.

In my clinic, I see dogs that are getting cancer so much younger than they should be, while others are so obese that they struggle with their breathing and mobility. It’s a real shame.

Omni plant-based dog food
Image courtesy of ProVeg

Tell us about your product
After a year of research, and over 20 recipe iterations, we have developed a delicious, high protein plant-based food for dogs. Omni products were formulated by some of the world’s leading veterinary nutritionists and they are approved by FEDIAF (the European regulatory body). The result is that omni’s dog food is 100% nutritionally complete and balanced.”

Guy and Shiv have both tried the food themselves and comment on the fact that it’s “all good stuff that you or I would want to eat too”. The ingredients include peas, lentils, brown rice, and pumpkin. “What’s not to love?”, says Guy. “At 30% protein content, there is also more protein in omni food than most other meat-based dog food diets”.

One point that is vital is that omni food should not just be healthy and sustainable, but also absolutely delicious. Just because a dog is not eating meat, doesn’t mean that they should miss out on flavour. Omni’s taste-test trial with over 500 dog parents was phenomenal; it showed that 91% of dogs love omni and that half of the dogs actually preferred it to meat-based food!

In addition, omni produces 85% less greenhouse gas emissions, consumes 61% less water, and uses 92% less land, compared to the production of conventional meat-based dog food.

Omni customers
Image courtesy of ProVeg

At what stage is your company currently?
Having conducted early taste trials, which received glowing reviews from dog owners and dogs (lots of tail wagging, bowl licking, and drooling), we are now preparing to launch our dog food for sale in the next couple of months.

Products will be available for purchase through our website and people can sign up now to get early access and exclusive discounts. We’ve also started to establish relationships with vet practices in the UK and they will start to stock omni from next month (July 2021).

What are your plans for the next five years?
We hope that all dog parents will feel empowered to feed their dogs omni, even if it forms part of a diet that also includes some meat or fish-based products. As we grow, we plan to expand our range and offer wet food, treats, and supplements. We will start by selling throughout Europe and then look towards Asia — where there is already a growing demand for alternative protein dog food products. However big we get though, we will always stay true to our values of science-backed nutrition, rooted in our love for dogs.

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