Studies & Numbers

Switching Cats and Dogs to Vegan Diets Could Free Up Larger Land Areas Than Mexico & Germany Combined

A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE has found that feeding cats and dogs a meatless diet has huge potential benefits for the environment.

The research concluded that if all cats and dogs worldwide were exclusively fed vegan food, almost seven billion land-based livestock animals could be spared annually, along with billions of aquatic animals. Furthermore, feeding dogs a vegan diet could save an area of land larger than Mexico, while cats could save an area larger than Germany.

The study also suggests that vegan diets for pets could lead to very large reductions in water use, greenhouse gas emissions, biocide use, and pollutants. The figures in the study are believed to be conservative, with the true impact likely to be even higher than estimated.

While feeding pets a meatless diet has huge potential benefits, the impact of vegan diets for humans is even larger. The study found that an area of land larger than Russia and India combined could be spared if everyone adopted a plant-based diet, while enough food could be saved to feed every nation on Earth.

infographic on pet food sustainability
Infographic courtesy of Dr Andrew Knight

Health and food security

The new research follows another recent study which found that despite being carnivores, cats have better health outcomes on a vegan diet. Dogs are omnivores, meaning they can easily eat plant-based food.

Meatless diets for pets could also have other benefits; biotech startup BioCraft Pet Nutrition recently told vegconomist that pet food companies are desperate for more stable alternatives to meat because the supply chain is becoming increasingly precarious.

“This study shows environmental benefits when vegan diets are used to feed not just people, but dogs and cats as well. However, to safeguard health, it’s important that people feed only vegan pet food labeled as nutritionally complete, produced by reputable companies with good standards,” said Andrew Knight of Australia’s Griffith University, the author of the new study.

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