Insect-based pet foods are becoming more and more fashionable as owners worry about the climatic costs of traditional pet foods. In an attempt to reduce the large carbon emissions produced by raising cattle for traditional meat-based diets, environmentally conscious pet owners are starting to feed their animals cricket-based meals, black soldier flies or mealworms as more sustainable alternatives.
According to nutrition experts, farmed insect species are rich in proteins, oils, minerals, vitamins and high fats. In addition, when the insects are cultivated commercially, the levels of emissions, water and land use are kept lower than in the case of traditional farming.
“When processed into nutritionally complete pet foods, insect protein can contribute to nutritious and palatable products that can also be environmentally friendly. Insect-based products offer an alternative for owners who prefer to feed their pets a diet based on ingredients other than traditional farm animals, ”said Nicole Paley, deputy general manager of the Pet Food Manufacturers. Association (PFMA).
According to the PFMA, there are currently seven insect species approved by the EU for use as ingredients in pet food, which are cultivated on more than 100 farms across Europe. Rabobank, a Dutch multinational, estimates that the insect-based pet food industry could grow 50-fold by 2030, when half a million tonnes are expected to be manufactured.
Experts say that a significant obstacle to the harmonious development of this industry will be the owners’ reluctance to eat insect diets. Yet, as Solitaire Townsend, co-founder of Futerra (which works with Mars Petcare to produce Lovebug, its first insect-based cat food) argues, owners should keep in mind that their pets are not. not so disgusted.
“Cats aren’t reluctant to eat insects, but some people can. Of course, millions of people around the world eat insects as usual in their diets. Maybe in the UK it might sound a little unusual, but I’m old enough to remember when sushi, and even pasta, was the same way, ”she said.
While this transition from traditional insect-based pet foods may have significant benefits, scientists warn that it is not yet clear to what extent such a diet meets the needs of animals.
“At the moment, there is not enough evidence to support that insect-based protein completely replaces current complete pet diets, but it is another option that could be considered at the future, ”said Justine Shotton, President of the British Veterinary Association. “Owners should always ensure that any change in an animal’s diet is supervised by a veterinarian with in-depth nutritional knowledge. ”
Through Andrei Ionescu, Terre.com Editor-in-chief