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Do you know the #1 food allergen for dogs and cats? The answer may surprise most animal lovers.
It’s beef. And allergens #2, #3, and #4? Chicken, eggs and milk – yes, we feed our pets animal proteins to which they are allergic because the animal husbandry industry bets on keeping us in the dark.
But by investing in pet food biotechnology, we can actually force the industry to change. Investors are already reaping the rewards of the same biotechnology that Impossible Foods and Beyond meat for the production of plant and cell-based proteins for humans. It’s time to do the same with the vegan pet food industry.
See also: The Future of Food: How Biotechnology Will Save Us All
The pet food industry is rotten
And hardly anyone talks about it.
A quarter of the meat we produce in this country goes to domestic animals, and when you look at the amount of pollution that factory farming creates, the amount of land use, the destruction of the Amazon rainforest – all just to grow crops, to feed these animals – it’s a net negative.
Purifying our food and protein production begins with reducing animal husbandry and replacing it with more efficient plant-based and cell-based protein products, whether it’s for land use, water use, energy use or CO2 production.
Almost five years ago I looked at what companies like Perfect day and the Any company dealt with plant and cell-based products for human nutrition. People were really starting to get excited about it – but I haven’t seen anyone really push the envelope in terms of new, healthier products for our pets.
I asked myself, “Who would disrupt the pet food industry by transforming it with biotechnology?”
By using biotechnology to create plant-based and cell-based pet foods, we can not only make pet foods healthier, more sustainable and cruelty-free, we can also force the industry to change itself. This is my personal mission and I hope other business leaders will join me.
Related: Biotech startups are turning to cultured animal feed
But aren’t dogs carnivores?
To get straight to the point: dogs are omnivores. Dogs evolved with humans to eat bread and high-carb foods. dogs actually produce more amylase enzymes (which support carbohydrate metabolism) than their wolf ancestors. And funnily enough, at the bottom of a dog’s list of allergens are carbohydrates like wheat and corn.
Is Plant-Based Dog Food Really Healthier?
In short, yes. When you put science first when it comes to your dog’s biology, considering allergies and overall health, it’s overwhelming.
A recently to learn of more than 2,500 dogs showed that dogs fed a balanced, plant-based diet showed fewer signs of ill health than dogs fed a standard meat-based diet. It was the largest study of its kind and the results are groundbreaking for the pet food industry.
For business leaders, this means a tremendous opportunity, backed by science, to force change on a rotten industry. Biotech is experiencing a moment of potential right now, but somehow investors are only focused on harnessing it for human nutrition — not the potential to transform the entire pet food industry with biotechnology.
Related: The pet food industry is experiencing a gradual development with changing trends
All in all, the use of biotechnology to produce sustainable pet food must be done with care. It must be nutritionally complete, with the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and especially amino acids, in order for dogs to survive and thrive on a vegan diet throughout their lives.
Investors should know that making nutritionally complete dog food at home is extremely difficult — meaning homemade vegan dog food is out and vegan pet food that’s carefully crafted using biotechnology is in.
Not all dog foods are the same. Do you see what I’m getting at with this?
We can create an interface where scientists and entrepreneurs can work together (like I have worked with veterinarians, scientists and nutritionists to develop plant-based proteins for a diet that meets AAFCO requirements) to bring the pet food industry to vegan Changing diets that are nutritionally complete.
A balanced, plant-based diet is not only healthy, it can also help with your dog’s allergies and gastrointestinal problems. Have you ever seen dogs with horrible skin allergies that make their skin red and sore itchy?
Related: The future is… mushrooms?: This biotech company turns mushrooms into luxury materials used by Hermès
I’ve known vets who have switched dogs with these symptoms to a plant-based diet as a last test to see if they can actually help these animals. And based on my experience in the industry with pet owners and vets, it works a lot.
So the learning, first and foremost, is that disrupting the pet food industry with plant and cell-based proteins will help save our environment. Not only that, but we know there is a market that needs plant-based pet food for dogs with allergies. And for pet owners who want the healthiest food for their dog, it’s a plant-based diet.
The market potential for biotechnologically driven pet food is enormous. I believe the more that join this mission, the better. I hope other entrepreneurs can take a look at this space and decide if they want to join. So who’s with me?