Should Pets Be Fed Insect-Based Foods?
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) recently sparked controversy with a recommendation that pet parents feed their dogs and cats an insect-based diet. The organization suggested that this type of diet would be both a healthier and more environmentally friendly alternative to meat-based pet foods.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity - looking at insects to provide alternative sources of some of the nutrient ingredients we use in pet food diets,” said Simon Doherty, BVA president, in an interview with BBC News.
Doherty added that there is a lower environmental cost to using insects in pet food and that it will not add to climate change. He believes that meat should be prioritized for human consumption.
Insect diets are already used on fish and poultry farms. Insects can also be harvested in a sustainable way--they are often raised on a diet of human food waste. Vegetarian cat owners may also be more interested in using insect diets since insects contain taurine, an amino acid that is essential for felines and cannot be found in plant-based foods.
“You’d still be killing insects but some vegetarians might find that more palatable than killing cows or chickens,” Doherty said.
There are some pet food companies that offer insect-based diets, such as Yora, but often these products are more expensive than current high-end pet diets. There are also few options to choose from, particularly in the United States. Pet parents may also have serious qualms about giving their pet insects to eat, thinking it’s less healthy or even disgusting. While insect-based snacks or foods are common in other parts of the world, this is not the case in the U.S. Keeping these factors in mind, it’s unlikely that insect-based pet diets will catch on stateside.