There’s been increasing conversation in the food world about non-animal-sourced meat products. People are beginning to use alternative proteins for various applications, from hamburger substitutes to high-class cuisine. But that’s not all that non-animal-based meat is capable of. There are still more brilliant applications of precision fermentation to discover.
One of them is the animal food market.
For years, environmental groups have discussed the impact of feeding animal protein to our pets. While so many of us have been concerned about lowering the result of our meat consumption, we’ve often failed to recognize the impact of our pets.
This is partially because our dogs and cats love meat. Dogs and cats are omnivores by nature and are incredibly active creatures. For most dogs and cats in the wild and their close relatives, meat is their primary source of nutrients and protein. While it is theoretically possible to feed your dog a fully vegetarian diet, many veterinarians do not recommend it, as it’s easy to end up starving your beloved pet of the essential nutrients they need.
Growing and harvesting the meat we serve our pets harms the environment. Here in the U.S., we have approximately 163 million dogs and cats as our pets. Almost all of them eat animal meat-based diets. According to a recent study, this translates to 25-30% of “the environmental impacts from animal production in terms of the use of land, water, fossil fuel, phosphate, and biocides.” While everyone is busy talking about the impact of humans eating meat, our pets make up almost a third of that total environmental impact.
The same study recommends that we consider having fewer dogs and cats. But now, with advancements in non-animal meat, that grim prediction may not have to become a reality.
Fermentation-Based Pet Food
Protein fermentation is quickly sweeping the world of non-animal protein synthesis. While precision fermentation has been around for about half a century, progress in the field is accelerating at a new rate. This is largely because we are becoming so adept at genetically designing the microbes needed to drive the process and ensuring that we will get precisely the desired molecule.
Leading non-meat-based pet food producer Bond Pet Foods, part of the iSelect portfolio, has developed a new precision fermentation technique. Bond’s technology allows them to quickly and efficiently make environmentally friendly meat substitutes for pet food recipes. Using a sample of chicken DNA (harvested cruelty-free), Bond’s fermentation experts grow fully-formed simulacrum animal proteins without harming a single chicken. The DNA is combined with a form of baker’s yeast and then fed natural sugars, along with vitamins and minerals. After harvesting the protein from the fermentation tank, the protein is dried into a powder and used in raw pet food recipes.
The innovative part about Bond’s pet food breakthrough is that the proteins are “naturally identical to those conventionally harvested on farms and fields.” They even have a complete essential amino acid profile for proper growth in dogs and cats. This new meat substitute is as good for dogs and cats as traditional meat and is much better for the environment.
The Future of Precision Fermentation
Although Bond has been focussing on bringing awareness to their chicken DNA-based protein, they’re also looking further. Protein based on chicken is currently the product they are bringing to market, but other types of protein are in the works. Bond believes this new type of pet food will revolutionize how we look at the possibilities for feeding our furry friends.
It’s also important to note that Bond is looking carefully at strategies to bring the public to see non-animal-based pet food as a welcome change. Some people will naturally be confused or worried about feeding their pets meat that doesn’t come directly from animals. Bond is meticulously designing ways to address this challenge, hoping to demystify the process of precision meat fermentation at the same time. Bond plan to “operate under full transparency to provide comfort and build trust” with their new customers worldwide when they go to market.
Precision fermentation for pet food is a brilliantly simple way to reduce our environmental impact on our planet while keeping our pets healthy and well-fed. After Bond Pet Foods goes to market, we don’t predict anyone asking us to consider cutting down on our cats and dogs soon.