Arte seeks the border between animal cruelty and environmental ethics

With My dog ​​is vegan, ARTE’s “Regards” program gives a kick in the anthill by dealing with a so-called controversial subject: plant-based food for dogs. Animal cruelty or ethical commitment for the planet? The show asks the question without giving a definite answer. Because despite the initiatives that are flourishing, scientific studies do not confirm that a 100% vegetable diet is beneficial for the health of dogs. However, some people do not wait for this evidence to take the plunge. Avant-garde or enlightened? The debate has begun.

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Like Yvonne, owner of Sky. Vegetarian for more than a decade, this German has been vegan for a few months. She wants to remove meat from her dog’s diet. For this, this mother of a family calls on a veterinarian who advises her on a six-week program: mix her dog’s meat croquettes with vegetable croquettes and gradually reduce the dose of meat, until it disappears completely. All this while carefully monitoring Sky’s health, stools and mood.

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

Beyond the ethical question, Yvonne also evokes a major argument concerning her desire to ban meat in her home, even in the bowl of her four-legged companion: the impact of breeding on the environment.

180 kilos of meat consumed per year

According to significant figures reported by ARTE, the number of dogs in Germany increased between 2000 and 2020, from 5 to 10.7 million. In France, there were 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 the very least, would they have a role to play in the fight to preserve the environment and biodiversity?

For Frank, owner of two poodles, the answer is clear: give meat to his pets. “The dog is a carnivorous animal, it is his nature”he asserts in the report before presenting the pieces he gives to his doggies: pork sides and lungs or deer ears. “Of course I think about climate change but I have no qualms about feeding my dogs the meat, because the bits I give them are pennies that nobody eats. I don’t see why I don’t do not use it for my dogs, otherwise it will be thrown away or incinerated.

This point of view, Frank even defended it professionally: former owner of a pet store, he opened a butcher’s shop for dogs and cats. There, humans can buy anything they don’t want to eat and feed it to their pets. Isn’t this business a response to the immense waste of food resulting from the slaughter of animals or the elimination of male chicks, for example (which cats seem to love, according to Frank)?

Dogs victims of cruelty?

Tessa (ex-architect) and Valérie (veterinarian) disagree. The co-founders of the German start-up Vegdog, which specializes in the production and sale of vegetable food for dogs, are addressing themselves to owners who are also vegan or whose dogs have digestive problems due to meat. They work on their recipes with professionals and attach great importance to the use of organic and good quality products. On the menu of their pâté? Soy, flax seeds, zucchini, cabbage or even chia seeds… A mixture adapted to the descendants of the wolf, whose domestication by humans has allowed its tolerance to certain foods. But not 100% according to a last veterinarian, interviewed by ARTE.

For her, the ideal is a mixture of vegetable and animal food. As for cats, it is better to adopt a rabbit because, for her, depriving them completely of meat is simply “animal cruelty”. This argument recurs throughout the report or in the comments left on ARTE’s YouTube channel. Is depriving your pet of meat cruelty, even when it remains healthy? And what about animals raised to be eaten, in living conditions that no human could bear? A reality left aside which nevertheless deserves to be taken into account in this reflection as complex as it is fascinating.

Watch the ARTE report:

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