Today’s Solutions: October 22, 2021

Most of the food that we feed or pet cats and dogs is meat-based which, as you can imagine, has its negative impacts on the environment. In fact, producing meat for our cats and dogs has a footprint of about 64 million tons of carbon emissions — that’s more than a quarter of the environmental impact of animal agriculture.

In recent years, lab-grown meat has been increasingly gaining momentum for its potential to reduce the impact of industrial livestock production on the environment, as well as to provide us with cleaner, drug-free, and more ethical meat. Why then not try to also make the food we feed our pets out of cultured meat, which is both cruelty-free and has a minimal impact on the environment?

That’s the question that the founders of biotech startup Because, Animals have asked themselves, before venturing to create the first pet food made out of cultured meat. The company now hopes to launch its first products — including a “mouse cookie” snack for cats — by 2022.

“The ultimate goal of most cultured meat companies is to create a product that will allow animals to be taken out of the food supply chain,” says Shannon Falconer, CEO and co-founder of Because, Animals. “And, given that humans are the largest consumers of traditional meat, it makes sense to focus on humans when making a cultured meat product. However, something that most people are unaware of is that, in addition to humans, there is another hugely significant population driving the animal agriculture industry forward: our pets.”

While some pet food is plant-based, it’s arguably healthier to feed meat to dogs and cats, which need certain proteins that can only be found in meat. With that said, when the startup started making its first cat food, it decided to begin not with beef and chicken, but the mouse.

“Cats evolved as predatory animals, with their food sources being mice, rats, rabbits, lizards, and insects,” says Falconer. “Although chicken, beef, and fish are the main sources of meat in pet foods, studies have shown that these proteins are also among the leading food allergens in cats and dogs.” The only reason why they’re still used in cat food is that they’re already being produced for humans.

Called Cultured Mouse Cookies for Cats, the company’s first snack product has been tested by cats and is ready for production. Just like cultured meat under development for human diets, the process starts by harvesting cells from an animal — in this case, a mouse (which is not harmed) — and then feeding those cells nutrients in a bioreactor, where they grow and turn into real meat that is animal-free. Next, the company plans to make cultured rabbit for dogs.

Image source: Because, Animals

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