Arte searches the line between cruelty to animals and environmental ethics

With My dog ​​is vegan, ARTE’s “Respect” program takes a hit by tackling an inescapably controversial topic: vegan dog food. Animal cruelty or a moral commitment to the planet? The program asks questions without giving a definite answer. Because although initiatives are blossoming, scientific studies do not confirm that a 100% vegan diet is beneficial for the health of dogs. However, some people don’t wait for this proof but rush in. Avant-garde or enlightenment? The debate has begun.

Photo: Shutterstock

Like Yvonne, the owner of Sky. Being a vegetarian for more than a decade, this German has been a vegetarian for a few months. She wants to eliminate meat from her dog’s diet. So the mother of one family turned to a veterinarian, who advised her on a six-week program: mix her dog meatloaf with veggie bread and gradually reduce the dosage. meat, until it disappears completely. All this while carefully monitoring Sky’s health, stool and mood.

“I don’t understand people who say they love animals, people who pamper their dog (…) and who buy him the cheapest meat. Except she comes from another animal that is as intelligent, sociable and affectionate as their dog.”justifies Yvonne in front of the camera of ARTE, thus alluding to the pig. “Pigs can respond to their name when called. They are curious animals willing to examine a new object introduced into their environment.”recalls the L214 association on its website.

In addition to the ethical question, Yvonne also makes a key argument regarding her desire to ban meat eating in her home, even in her four-legged companion’s bowl: the impact of livestock on with the environment.

180 kg of meat consumed per year

According to figures reported by ARTE, the number of dogs in Germany has increased significantly between 2000 and 2020, from 5 to 10.7 million. In France, there are 7.5 million dogs in 2020. A small dog consumes an average of 180 kg of meat per year… compared to an average of 55 kg per person. Are dogs responsible for climate change, or at least what role do they play in the fight to preserve the environment and biodiversity?

For Frank, the owner of two puppies, the answer is clear: he will continue to feed his pets. “The dog is a carnivore, it is its nature”he asserted in the report before presenting the parts he gave to his dogs: belly and lungs or deer ears. “Of course I think about climate change but I don’t mind feeding my dogs meat, because the portions I give them are by-products that no one eats. I don’t understand why I don’t give it to my dogs, or it will be thrown away or incinerated.”

This view, Frank even defends it professionally: formerly a pet shop owner, he opened a butcher shop for dogs and cats. There, people can buy whatever they don’t want to eat and feed the pets. For example, is this business a response to food waste caused by slaughtering animals or culling male chicks (according to Frank)?

Dogs victims of cruelty?

Tessa (former architect) and Valérie (veterinarian) disagree. The co-founders of the German start-up Vegdog, which makes and sells vegan dog food, are making it their own for owners who are also vegans or dogs with digestive issues from eating them. meat. They work on their recipes with experts and take the use of organic and good quality products very seriously. In the menu of their pâté? Soybeans, flaxseeds, zucchini, cabbage or even chia seeds… A mixture adapted to the metabolism of descendants of wolves, whose domestication has affected tolerance its for certain foods. But not 100% according to one final vet, interviewed by ARTE.

For her, the ideal is a mixture of plants and animals. For cats, it’s better to adopt a rabbit because for her, completely not feeding them meat is simply “animal cruelty”. This argument appears throughout the report or in the comments on the ARTE YouTube channel. Is it cruel to strip your pet of meat, even if it’s still healthy? And what about animals raised to eat, in living conditions that humans can’t stand? A fact that is set aside, nevertheless worthy of attention in this reflection, is equally complex and fascinating.

View the ARTE report:

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