Written by YOKO
Released November 2021
Human Food vs Dog Food
As the world is becoming more in tune with a consciousness towards our individual responsibility and impact on this planet, naturally lots of attention has been paid to the impact that owning a dog can make.
Interestingly, an article in the Guardian explored the environmental impact that dog food, in particular, the demand for meat based products have on our ecosystem.
Traditionally, human food recipes used other cheaper parts of the animal, such as heart, liver, etc. There was a sense of using every part of the animal. This is particularly relevant looking back in history towards Native Americans who, as nomadic tribes, used every part of the buffalo, from skin for clothing, or even crushing bones to make glue.
It is fair to say that humans in the western globalised world have lost touch with where things come from. There have been a variety of studies over the past two decades to suggest that even many school children have no comprehension about where eggs come from, or chicken meat. Have we lost touch with the lifecycle of ingredients?
Living as part of a quick demand culture, an even more so, in urban centres, the connection to our wide variety of food production in the UK is often not connected coherently. We live on an island where farms rear animals, fish are caught in our local waters, and fresh fruit and veg are organically grown. If we can reconnect with the processes of food production for ourselves, surely we can start to understand how dog food manufacturing can perhaps become more in tune with the native ecosystem.
And the answer is not in vegan dogs. We firmly believe that a balance of ingredient and a mix of processes which support each other in a larger network, is the very thing that will encourage a reconnection with the environment; in a sustained way. A sudden sway to one type of diet may drastically shift the balance; potentially harming the eco system that we are trying so hard to support.
We all know that when the demand from one trend turns into another, that is not always a healthy balance. For example, a transition from plastic (thank goodness!), into biodegradable packaging is surely fantastic news. But there is an issue. With this big sway in demand becomes a potential problem. There is a potential risk that the fast demand for biodegradable means sacrificing other types of ecosystems - leading to deforestations, or unethical productions. When it comes to food, eating wonderful varieties of seeds or even avocado for instance, can unfortunately lead to huge issues along the production chain. Big demand means that there is an unbalance in the original system. Too much water, or key nutrients being stolen from the soil, replanting huge areas of new crops causing destruction of natural habitats, upsets the fine balance.
Our mission at YOKO is to continually learn and try out hardest to apply this knowledge in a positive way in the brand. For example, last year we made a pledge to be only UK based. We work with UK companies from vegetable suppliers, to packaging, etc. We have a responsibility to decide on the approach moving forward, and we are consciously eliminating certain ingredients, whilst nutritionally very beneficial, they are not sustainably beneficial. The aim in to expand the brand around the world in time, but to establish new networks and recipes in each location, depending of natural ecosystems.
But back to the dog food mission. There are lots of interesting studies about what kind of food is the most sustainable for dogs, but also the most nutritional.
We are certainly not talking about human food for dogs. Quite often you will see the term ‘human grade ingredients’. Whilst there are lots of positive associations with this, mainly being the ingredients are not the unhealthiest bones and fat ground down, there are also some implications with this term. It is often a promotional term used to target the human owner - to make them feel better that the food is of a ‘better’ standard. This may be true in certain cases, but it is worth highlighting as a point to check.
Further to this is the implication that human grade food is the most nutritional for a dog. This is not fully supported by many leading dog bodies.
What is good for a human is not necessarily good for a dog. Surely the most important thing to factor in is nutrition. If there is an ingredient that is highly nutritional for a dog, then that should be a consideration.