My husband and I are vegans. Being a vegan does not equate to automatic magical health. Trust me, there’s a lot of vegan junk food out there, and just like our non-vegan friends, we struggle to balance taste with nutrition….and health. Also, we’re label readers and we are vigilant in our goals to eat local, organic and GMO free. Yes indeedy, we’re living large – we’ll likely live to be 142! No, we won’t – the goal is simple, really: eat nutrient-rich foods loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and healthy fats in order to minimize the effects of aging, free radicals and degenerative diseases. But…what about our dogs? Is my dog’s tummy full of yummy GMOs?
Genetically modified organisms are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding (Non-GMO Project). Think of that Sesame Street game, “one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong.” Unlike the Sesame Street game, where finding the odd object was easy to ferret out, finding a GMO is not. Over 80% of all GMOs grown worldwide are engineered for herbicide tolerance. GMOs equate to a study in chemical agriculture at the hands of the world’s biggest chemical companies – this includes seed management. Makes you think twice about chomping on that apple, don’t it? It likely should – the long-term effects of GMOs is unknown – however, emerging studies point to serious and detrimental maladies.
GMOs For Fido?
When I was a kid, oh let’s say more than a few decades ago, our family dog was served ‘stew-like’ pet food….stinky, stinky ‘stew-like’ pet food. The kind of stink that stunk going in and eventually, again when it came out the other end. That was the early 70’s – the real Mad Men marketing times, where advancements in production, packaging and distribution were king…nutrition, not so much (agriculture policy aborted farmer support for commodity farming). Boy, in just a few short years (wink-wink) have times changed! Thankfully, as humans have become more conscious of our own health (a return to organic, locally sourced, farm-to-table), we’ve also seen pet food companies striving to learn more and provide truly healthy and nutritious meals. Referred to as “the humanizing of pet food” an act that has resulted in more companies serving foods free of genetically modified organisms/ingredients (Pet Food Industry: Report: 95% say pets are part of the family, March 6, 2016). Nearly 50% of pet owners would gladly pay more if needed in order to get non-GMO pet food for their fuzzy loved one.
Where Do I Find GMOs and How To Avoid Them?
Generally speaking the US and Canada do not require GMO labeling, including farm feed – and many (50+) other countries have severe GMO limitations or bans (these include UK, Spain, Italy, France, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Russia, Mexico, etc.). GMOs are prevalently found in maize or corn, soybeans, canola, squash, sugar beet, alfalfa, tomato, zucchini, papaya and cotton/cotton seed oil. Don’t eat those things? Don’t be so sure, soy, corn and sugar beet are in a vast majority of processed foods…and can be in dog food. GMOs are hard to identify, and can be labeled as ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, citric acid, sodium citrate, high fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lactic acid, maltodextrins, molasses, monosodium glutamate, sucrose, textured vegetable protein (TVP), xanthin gum and the like. Now that you know what GMOs are, how do you avoid them for your pet (Non-GMO Project):
- Labeling: non-GMO labeling is taking hold! Read the labels and if your pet’s food is not labeled, call, ask and gently encourage change.
- USDA Organic: use your buying power – organic produce and seed must be free of GMOs to be labeled as such.
- Proteins: know the source of the proteins, understand if the animals are herbicide/pesticide free grass fed, ideally free range and fish are ocean caught.
- Read and Compare: read ingredient labels, today you can find many organic pet foods, as well as a growing number using the non-GMO label.
Live, Learn, Laugh and Feed Well
Life is short. My husband and I have decided that for us a plant-based diet is important, we both have familial histories of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. We’re far from perfect…and sooner or later, I will get the clothes off of my treadmill and go for a run. Since our time here on earth is a gift, we think it’s important to live life to it’s fullest: learn where possible, laugh often, and eat well…and share great finds with friends. That’s where you come in, friend! We’ve done comparison shopping and found that organic and non-GMO pet food doesn’t cost more than premium pet foods. So, why not feed your fuzzy family member using the same nutritionally positive concepts that you have with your human family members? We do! Oh, and no, our dogs are not vegans…in fact, some would argue that they eat better than us!
Life is a journey – and we’re so glad to share ours with you. Thanks for joining our journey as we continually ramp-up our knowledge of dog nutrition (great leaders on the topic: Keep The Tail Wagging, Rodney Habib, Dr. Karen Becker). Do you have some great pet nutrition tips you’d like to share with our readers? If so, we’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading, and until next time – take care and keep on lovin’ your dog!
With lub, MattieDog, a little dog making a big impact in this world!®