Want to fight climate change? Feed your pet some bugs

Insect-based pet foods are on the horizon, and they taste... remarkably nutty.

Close-up of dog sniffing grass
Looking for bugs
Photo: Paul Zinken/picture alliance (Getty Images)

Man, bugs are hot right now. We got Europeans eating worms. We got a designated cicada cookbook. We got about a million cultural, environmental, and nutritional reasons to use insects as a protein source. And so do our pets, per a recent CNBC article about the coming wave of insect-based pet foods.


The article cites a few different insect-based pet food brands, including British start-up Yora Pet Foods that claims its black soldier fly kibble tastes like Stilton and cheese biscuits. “We expect that as consumers become more conscious of their own carbon footprints—and the carbon ‘pawprints’ of their pets—insect protein will be embraced by more and more pet owners as a viable and marketable alternative to traditional meat,” Yora managing director Glenn Rankin told CNBC.

Rankin’s not wrong: CNBC cites a 2021 report by RaboResearch, a Dutch food and agribusiness research group, which predicts that demand for insect protein in pet food and animal feed could hit half a million metric tons in 2030. That’s a huge leap from the current demand, about 10,000 metric tons. As a response, plenty of businesses are lining up to peddle their buggy wares. CNBC cites a few, including Mars Petcare, part of confectionery giant Mars, which is piloting a dry cat food made from black soldier fly larvae. Smaller operations like Toronto-based HOPE Pet Foods are also on deck, with HOPE planning to release treats and food that feature algae and black soldier fly larvae and a signature “nutty taste.”

As demand grows, U.S. pet food regulations may also bend a bit to accommodate more insects in pet food. Honestly, my dog ate a raisin off of the sidewalk yesterday, so I feel like he’d be cool with fly larvae in his kibble. If you’re intrigued by the idea of insect-based pet foods, check out the full article here.


Lord of the Ducks

If you really want to do your part, stop owning any non-working animals. Cats and dogs are a huge waste of resources and contribute to a lot of ecological damage. Not just their feed is a problem. You have the excess water usage, all the crap people buy for them, medical waste in treating them, and their feces that pollutes water ways and contributes to algae blooms and the spread of disease. Plus cats are notorious for wrecking havoc on local small animal populations.

The feel good idea of switching to bug based pet feed isn’t going to help the overall environmental impact unless you raise less livestock in general. Most, but not all, pet food is made from what would otherwise be waste (including in some cases dead cats and dogs). The stuff that ends up in pet food is material that can’t be sold as food for humans and tends not have any other use (like making lipstick).

The carbon emissions will still be there from raising the animals (and crops), only now you will have more emissions from raising, processing, packaging, and transporting this new protein source.