Wild Earth Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Ernie Ward along with Wild Earth CEO, Ryan Bethencourt and animal welfare author Alice Oven wrote 'The Clean Pet Food Revolution: How Better Pet Food Will Change the World'. The book is now available on Amazon. Below, Dr. Ward describes why he felt compelled to write this book.
I’m often asked why I helped co-found a plant-based pet food company and wrote: “The Clean Pet Food Revolution: How Better Pet Food Will Change the World” (2019 Lantern Books)? As a veterinarian, I took an oath “to promote animal health and welfare, relieve animal suffering, protect the health of the public and environment, and advance comparative medical knowledge.” To me, revolutionizing pet food was part of my professional responsibility to both pets and people. And my duty was growing greater.
The Reality We Face
In the United States, about 300 manufacturers produce more than 7 million tons of pet food each year. The vast majority is made from animal meat: beef, poultry, pork, or fish. Alarmingly, 30 percent of intensively farmed animals are bred and slaughtered to feed our dogs and cats, who consume more than a quarter of all animal-derived calories in the U.S. Much of this is a byproduct from animals killed for human food—but not all. A rapidly growing market for ‘human-grade meat’ and ‘ancestral’ diets high in animal protein for dogs and cats means that the pet food industry now plays a significant role in supporting factory farming.
Pet food is also a major cause of climate change. A 2017 UCLA study concluded that feeding U.S. dogs and cats each year creates the equivalent of about 64 million tons of carbon dioxide, equaling the same climate impact as driving 13.6 million cars. If U.S. pets were a country, they’d be fifth largest in terms of global meat consumption. I could no longer deny that even though I had believed I was part of the solution living as a vegetarian and vegan for over 30 years, the pets I served were a considerable part of the problem.
How We Can Win
Based on these facts, I set out to change pet food to reduce our pets’ ‘carbon pawprint’ and eliminate inhumane factory farms. I started writing “The Clean Pet Food Revolution” to dispel the “dog-is-wolf” marketing fantasy and reveal the exciting plant-based research and pet food solutions available today.
The result was the world’s first high-protein plant-based dog food and this book. The book is divided into three main topics:
- The problems of current pet food production,
- The latest research of plant-based pet food diets, and
- The pet food solutions available and the future of human and pet food.
The “pet food problems” section begins by exposing the hidden health dangers in meat-based pet foods and how bad current pet food production is for the planet. We also unveil how animal proteins for pet foods are made and processed, and why every pet owner should be concerned.
The “plant-based research” portion highlights the nutritional science behind animal-free pet foods and why these diets may prove healthier for most pets. Finally, we interview many of the scientists and founders of future food companies to share the chow coming to pet retailers, grocery stores, and restaurants over the next few years. The book ends outlining the “clean pet food revolution” and how we’re trying to change the way pet food testing and approvals are made in the U.S.
I’m excited to share 'The Clean Pet Food Revolution' with you. I know how much you love your pets and only want the best, healthiest, and most sustainable food for them. That’s why Wild Earth dog food exists and why we’re committed to creating cruelty-free, environmentally-friendly, and healthy pet foods. I hope you’ll read this important book and “join the pet food revolution!”
- Dr. Ernie Ward