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The rise of flexitarianism and veganism appears to be having a tangible side effect, other than improved personal and planetary health. According to recent vegan pet food sales figures, pet owners are increasingly switching their animals to meat-free diets.
Researchers have drawn an irrefutable link between meat-eating and cancer risk. Similarly, vets have confirmed that dogs, in particular, can thrive without meat and are less prone to certain conditions in lieu of it. Longer life expectancy, better digestion, and improved joints have all been cited as upsides of a meat-free pet diet.
Omni sales soar in the UK
UK-founded vegan dog food brand Omni has revealed that its sales are up by 600 percent. The figure relates to purchases made between September 2021 and February this year. Veganuary could well have played a part in the dramatic uptick, though no detailed breakdown has been published. Omni also reported that the vegan dog food market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12 percent through 2028. This could represent $15 billion in value. Being founded by a registered veterinarian, Omni is well-positioned to take advantage of an industry boom.
“We have no doubt that a growing group of pet owners eating a plant-based diet themselves will make the shift to feed their pets a plant-based diet as well,” Anna Ottosson, co-founder of Omni investor Trellis Road, said in a statement. “However, pet health is obviously key for this transition and that was one of the things we really liked with Omni, being founded by a vet and with a very strong focus on never compromising with the dogs’ nutritional needs.”
Trellis Road was one of a number of investors who backed the startup to the tune of $1.5 million, with the funds earmarked for the development of new treats and other Omni product lines, in January this year.
2022 saw Veganuary’s biggest event to date, with a reported 629,000 participants signing-up, across 228 countries. Of this number, at least 50 percent are looking to make a permanent change, whether reducing meat intake or eliminating it completely. As attitudes towards diet change, they are being extended to non-human members of the house. This is being bolstered by the newly widespread availability of vegan alternatives for pets, alongside clear information that meat-free nutrition is safe and healthy for furry friends.
Lending credibility to the trend
The Vegan Society has released a new report that suggests people in the U.K. would consider choosing vegan food for their companions. Current feed was included, leading to would vegan alternatives be considered and if so, what would influence a definitive switch. The survey was conducted in light of more companies seeking to offer vegan animal food options.
Findings revealed that an estimated 59 percent of U.K. households have an animal companion. Dogs and cats account for 60 percent of all pets. Forty-nine percent of survey participants would consider vegan cat food, with 32 percent being willing to buy, if it was shown to be healthy and suitable for their companion; 17 percent were cost-led, saying they would purchase if it was priced favourably. Dog lovers revealed similar results with 45 percent showing interest in plant-based food for their hounds with 32 percent being happy to buy it, if it is nutritious. Thirteen percent said it would need to be priced similarly to conventional food to consider making a switch.
“What this report shows is that both vegans and non-vegans understand that vegan cat and dog food can actually be a healthy option for their four-legged friends with a large number of respondents stating they are focused on the nutritional benefits compared to meat-based foods,” Andrew Knight, veterinary professor of animal welfare and ethics at the University of Winchester said in a statement.
The vegan pet food market uptick
Omni isn’t alone in offering plant-based food for pets. London-based The Pack closed an undisclosed amount in pre-seed funding round in January last year and has gone from strength to strength since. Most recently, the company engaged in the first U.K. vegan dog food advertising campaign, aimed at educating pet lovers and tempting dogs to try a vegan diet.
In December last year, Clif, known for its nutrition bars for humans, revealed a pivot into vegan dog treats with plant-based jerky. The idea came from company team members going on hikes with their dogs, taking Clif bars for themselves, but not having anything suitably healthy or protein-based for their companions. Three flavours were initially announced, each featuring a fibrous vegetable and fragrant fruit combination.
Over in the U.S. the vegan dog food explosion is in full force. Ryan Bethencourt’s Wild Earth brand just announced it is available through Walmart, the world’s largest retailer. The move represents a shift towards plant-based pet food becoming mainstream.
Lead photo by Marián Šicko from Pexels.