It is not surprising then, given the nature of that campaign, that ethical pet food (or food for companion animals) is now finding its way to the shelves.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claims that many pet food manufacturers carry out painful and invasive tests on animals and/or confine animals to laboratories.
To help consumers make more informed choices PETA has now compiled a list of approved companies. Companies on the list include the Co-operative Group, whose members voted animal welfare a key concern in the recent ethical food policy consultation, together with a number of smaller, specialist manufacturers.
Alistair Currie of PETA says: "If you love your cat or dog, you’ll want to know if other animals have suffered or died in laboratories for the sake of their food. The companies on this new list realise that there is no need to cut chunks of flesh out of dogs’ legs and other atrocious experiments to see if food is tasty and nutritious.
“Our supporters often ask us about pet-food testing, so we are happy to offer them and all other ethical consumers this new resource.”
One of the retailers to join PETA’s ethical list is the Co-operative Group. A spokeswoman comments: “The Co-operative’s inclusion on PETA’s ethical pet food list demonstrates how seriously we regard animal welfare. We know that this is an area of concern for our members, as confirmed recently by the results of our Food Ethical Policy consultation, in which animal welfare was one of the top three areas that members cited as a priority.”
Another company on the list is OrganiPets which manufactures organic cat and dog food. The company is accredited by the Ethical Company Organisation and prides itself on demanding the highest standards of animal welfare from its farmers.
Says Liz Nuttall of OrganiPets: “Testing on animals is abhorrent and we admire PETA for its stringent assessments to ensure cruelty free foods. OrganiPets was inspired out of a passion for our Jack Russell, Raffy. At 15 she is the chief taster for our organic premium complete dog food.”
Some of the major manufacturers who aren’t on the list include Nestlé, Masterfoods (which includes the Pedigree range) and Iams (part of Procter & Gamble).
Iams have made improvements in animal welfare following a worldwide PETA campaign, but concerns remain about some of their standards of animal care. PETA continues to put pressure on Iams with the hope of adding the company to the list in the future. Companies not included on the list have either admitted to testing on confined animals or did not reply to PETA’s enquiries about their policies.
For many people, the greatest form of animal cruelty is killing animals for food but sourcing vegetarian and vegan pet food is not difficult. VeggiePets.com, based in Chichester, is the largest supplier of vegetarian and vegan pet foods in Europe.
Launched in 2003, it is run by a small team of passionate vegetarians who have researched and sourced each products with care, it guarantees its products are free from animal ingredients and testing.
Prices for organic or vegetarian pet food tend to be only slightly more expensive than alternative products, with prices obviously linked to quantity. Example prices range from £3.99 for 750g organic cat food up to £35 for 15kg of vegan dog food. Owners will say their pets are worth every penny.
Further information: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) www.peta.org.uk ; OrganiPets www.organipets.co.uk ; VeggiePets.com www.veggiepets.com