As we race toward a future full of high-tech, lab-grown meats in place of the environmentally unsound animal protein industry, a new startup wants to extend this offering to our furry friends, too.
Bond Pet Foods was founded by former advertising executive Rich Kelleman after he struggled to find a healthy pet food brand with a transparent ingredients list. Kelleman decided to the create the most sustainable brand possible, which meant using the most sustainable meat possible: the kind grown in a petri dish from animal cells; free of the environmental and ethical dilemmas caused by animal farming.
“Pet food has always been quick follower to the human food trends,” pet-food industry consultant Ryan Yamka, who is working with Bond Pets, told Quartz. “So it’s not surprising that you see… what I would call the sustainable-food movement getting into the pet-food side.”
Cheap kibble is often chock full of poor quality and potentially dangerous additives as well as unhealthy fillers like corn and soy—much like the low-quality, high-processed foods that humans eat. But kibble meat is also often composed of unethically sourced meat.
Even without all these issues—and there are a lot of organic, high-quality pet food options out there—meat-based kibble still contributes the same to environmental degradation that human-grade meat does. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the production and distribution of meat requires a huge amount of pesticides, fertilizer, fuel, feed and water that release greenhouse gases and other toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. On top of that, red meats like beef and lamb—which comprise most of the dog foods on the market—are responsible for 10 to 40 times as many greenhouse gas emissions as vegetables and grains.
Additionally, a 2009 study found that the majority of the deforestation in the Amazon rainforest could be linked to cattle ranching, and the water pollution from factory farms produce as much sewage waste as a small city, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). And then there's the ethics; not everyone feels good about killing animals in order to feed ourselves and our pets.
Lab-grown meat takes care of the vast majority of these issues by cutting land use by 99 percent, and producing 90 percent less greenhouse gas emissions. Eventually, it will also be a more economically viable way to feed the growing, global population.
Bond Pet Foods is still in the development stage, so it may be a while before it's on shelves while lab-grown meat companies work on scaling up production and lowering costs. But we are headed that way. Hampton Creek plans to introduce its first cell-cultured meat product to market in 2018, with Memphis Meats and Mosa Meats close behind. It's only a matter of time before pet food gets brought into the mix.
“It wouldn’t be unheard of to see [Bond Pets] in the market in a couple years,” Yamka told Quartz. “If you walked down the aisles this year at the trade shows, you already see people talking about humanely raised and sustainable [pet food].”