Odd magne harstad
Emeritus Professor, NMBU
Should Passopp and Pus become vegetarians to help save the world?
This is a discussion post. Opinions in the text are the responsibility of the writer.
The smell of morning coffee and the sound of slippers warn Pus and Passopp that food will soon be available. They stand expectantly and watch as the bowls of wet food and pellets finally end up on the kitchen floor.
They eat with enthusiasm, happily unaware that their existence is not sustainable. The same probably also applies to him in sneakers. Because the contribution of pets to greenhouse gas emissions is not included in the climate debate.
Large climate footprint
It is not the pets themselves that produce greenhouse gases, but the production of the food they eat. Dry feed makes up most of the feed and the climate footprint is roughly global. seven times all greenhouse gas emissions in Norway. Also, there is wet food and food scraps.
And it doesn’t stop there, because today’s pet owners demand a lot more than keeping their animals full. The cat and dog team brings with it many activities with a climate footprint, such as the purchase of care products, equipment and transport.
Pets have avoided critical attention in the climate debate, while more and more people acquire dogs or cats. In Norway there are 600,000 dogs and 800,000 cats. In the world approx. 470 million dogs and 370 million cats.
The discussion about pets and the environment goes beyond the weather. Pets and humans eat part of the same plate and compete for the same agricultural land. Worldwide, pets occupy a field area 50 times larger than the field area in Norway.
Given that food production must double by 2050 to meet the needs of the world’s growing population, it is a paradox that more and more agricultural land is being used to feed pets.
Having pets can be made more sustainable. Both the size of the animal and the composition of the feed are important. Cats are better than dogs and small dogs are better than big ones.
Should Pus become a vegetarian?
Should Passopp and Pus become vegetarians to help save the world? No, it only makes the situation worse. One third of today’s food consists of waste products from the slaughterhouse and the meat industry. These have a few other uses.
Dogs and cats are carnivores and therefore make good use of these waste products. If meat ingredients in food are replaced by food plants, this will be in direct competition with human food. Pets, especially cats, can also be malnourished on a vegetarian diet.
The waste products of meat production based on non-human food resources are the most sustainable in the long term, such as cattle, sheep and goats, which eat grass. But, paradoxically, it is precisely red meat that is most critical in the climate debate.
Dagros is likely to continue to be the center of attention, and now Passopp and Pus must join the cow in the debate on climate, environment and food safety.