Following in the footsteps of Sainsbury’s edible insect range, a pet food start-up has launched what it claims to be the world’s “most sustainable” dog food, made from oats, potatoes, natural botanicals and... insects.
Yora pet food says the food is packed with essential protein, fats and minerals, and is also hypoallergenic and free from antibiotics and growth hormones. But, seeing as 40% of the food is now made from bugs, it begs the question – would you feed your dog insects to protect the planet?
Traditional meat farming is a leading cause of global warming and a major report from last year suggested reducing meat-eating is essential to avoiding dangerous climate change. Pets are estimated to eat 20% of the world’s meat and fish – so bug-based food seems like a no brainer.
But is it actually good for your pet?
Vets mostly agree that more research is needed before we can fully confirm that pets would benefit from this type of diet.
Daniella Dos Santos, junior vice president for the British Veterinary Association (BVA), told HuffPost UK that within the veterinary profession, they are aware of the interest in alternative protein sources and understand that insects can be a useful source.
However, she said more evidence is needed on how beneficial this source is to animals, how well it can be absorbed, and ensuring that it contains appropriate levels of taurine, for example, which is an essential part of a cat’s diet.
“We would advise anyone considering a major change in their pet’s diet, to seek the advice of a vet first,” she added.
Pet diet expert at the Royal Veterinary College, Aarti Kathrani, said (rather cautiously) it would be fine to feed your pet this type of food – “Insects can be a very useful source of protein,” she told the BBC, before adding more research would be needed.
Yora pet food is supported by TV vet Dr Rory Cowlam, who said it “provides a healthy, high protein alternative to conventional kibble”.
“As a keen conservationist and dog lover, I am incredibly excited by the enormous potential for this dog food to reduce our pets’ collective carbon paw-print,” he said.
Dr Huw Stacey, vet and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, told HuffPost UK: “Dogs are versatile omnivores, so as long as the diet meets their nutritional requirements there’s no reason why they can’t eat an insect protein-based diet.”
It seems the jury’s out – for now.