Vegan dog food is emblematic of our unhealthy canine obsession

One of my closest friends acquired a puppy, now a dog, a year ago. He’s cute but very needy: he can’t be left alone and was instantly made king of the house, just as important and absorbing as a human baby. Every time we go out with him, like most male dogs, he lifts his paw at as many objects as he can come across.

The other week, when yet another mailbox was pissed on, I began to feel a sense of disgust. London has become little more than a domestic dog toilet. As pooches have become inescapable – and increasingly deified – accessories, the urban pedestrian must not only compete for sidewalk space with ever-growing armies of Fidos, he must breathe in the nauseating aromas of the number twos of this massive cast and the obscene stupidity of its relentless, acrid number ones. A friend of mine told me in a low voice that she felt a particular sense of revulsion at the sight of dogs staring at their owners bending down to scoop their steaming excrement into bags. I knew exactly what she meant, but in 2022 doggie comes first.

I love dogs, but their lordly rise and total integration into human society is insane, the latest proof of which is the enormity of the vegan pet food industry, which amounted to 7.8 billion in 2020 and is expected to generate $16.3 billion a year by 2030. Humans who provide vegan treats to their doggies through companies like Omni and Noochy Poochy are presumably driven by an ethic enjoyed only by, well, humans: carbon emissions, cruelty, etc. After all, pets consume one-fifth of the world’s meat and fish, a revolting thought for anyone even remotely concerned about planetary catastrophe and disgusted by the amount of excrement that consumption produces. Some vegan pet food evangelists probably think that Flopsy also wants to be ethical, but as other outraged animal lovers have pointed out, Pooch is a born meat eater!

There are more serious signs that humans have begun to lose sight of what animals really are – that is, sometimes lovable and cute; sensitive, but not at the end of the day, whatever their personality, real people. A recent dispatch from Polish refugee centers hosting fleeing Ukrainians shocked me: there were volunteers whose energy was spent driving carts of pet food (one was looking for the right seed for the parrot of a single woman) and transporting the pets of refugees from Eastern Europe. I read of a volunteer driving a refugee’s three cats across Poland to safety, only to have the refugee yell at him for not letting them take enough pee breaks. You wouldn’t think a war was going on.

I understand that loving a pet, but there is love and there is love, and it’s terrifying how much we’ve lost the ability to tell them apart. The key to saving the planet is having fewer dogs, not feeding an ever-increasing number of them gourmet plant pellets.

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