Cats and dogs are responsible for 25 to 30 per cent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the United States, a new study has found. Pets’ meat-eating creates 64 million tonnes of CO2 annually.
Although many people have opted to eat less meat in recent years, their pets are eating enough to create around 64 million tonnes of CO2 every year.
A new study conducted by the University of California (UCLA) has found that meat-eating cats and dogs have about the same climate impact as a year’s worth of driving from 13.6 million cars.
UCLA geography professor Gregory Okin, who led the study, commented in a statement: “I’m definitely not recommending that people get rid of their pets or put them on a vegetarian diet, which would be unhealthy.
“But I do think we should consider all the impacts that pets have so we can have an honest conversation about them.”
Okin found that cats and dogs are responsible for 25 to 30 per cent of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the United States.
If these 163 million pets comprised a separate country, their fluffy nation would rank fifth in global meat consumption.
Compared to a plant-based diet, meat requires more energy, land and water to produce, and has a greater environmental impact in terms of erosion, pesticides and waste.
Previous studies have found that the American diet produces the equivalent of 260 million tonnes of CO2 from livestock production.
Because dog and cat food tends to have more meat than the average human diet, dogs and cats consume about 25 per cent of the total calories derived from animals.
As eating less meat expands from vegetarian to environmental circles as a way to reduce carbon footprint, considering what to feed pets is a natural next step, according to Okin.
He said: “Eating meat does come at a cost. Those of us in favour of eating or serving meat need to be able to have an informed conversation about our choices, and that includes the choices we make for our pets.”
Photo credit: Matúš Benian/ CC BY-NC 2.0