If you are living a vegan lifestyle, then you’ve already made an important step in the right direction when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organization, event, product, or person. So you’ve cut animal products completely out of your diet and you’ve switched to eco-friendly cleaning supplies, started biking to work, and lowered the thermostat a few degrees. These are all great steps in the right direction, but what about the other members of your family? Did you know that there are also ways to help reduce your companion animal’s carbon pawprint? Here are a few steps to help get you started.
1. Serve More Vegan Meals
Switching to a vegan diet is the single most effective thing we can do to help fight climate change and cruelty to animals. Despite what many may think, including your pet in this process is perfectly healthy. In fact, many pets thrive on a vegan diet. Even if you aren’t comfortable with switching your dog or cat to a completely vegan diet, just reducing the amount of animal products in their diet and including healthier choices is a small step in the right direction. Our dog Gizmo has been on a completely vegan diet for a little over a year now and he is a perfectly healthy little guy. He is free fed a vegan dog kibble by the name of V-Dog everyday, and in addition we make him vegan dog stews, dog treats, and feed him lots of veggies. Three of his favorite treats include bananas, peanut butter, and tofu. When he is a good boy he gets dehydrated sweet potato fries and V-Dog bones, sweet potato bones, and Fruitables vegan dog treats (they also offer non-vegan treats; be sure to check ingredients). Gizmo is a happy vegan, and there’s no reason your furry friend can’t be too! For more information about switching your pet to a vegan diet please visit Peta.org or talk to your veterinarian.
2. Switch To An Eco-Friendly Cat Litter
Traditional clumping, clay-based litters are not only messy, they are loaded with harmful carcinogens and dust that your feline friend can inhale and can clog their intestines when they groom themselves. Clumping litter is also worse for the environment. Fortunately, there are plenty of environment-friendly alternatives such as Feline Pine, or Yesterday’s News. These non-toxic cat litters are made from pine and recycled newspapers. Other environment-friendly litters you might consider include litters made out of corn fiber or wheat. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different types until your kitty finds the one he or she likes best. You will both enjoy the change. Now breathe easy.
3. Switch To Bio-Degradable Poop Bags
When it comes to taking your dog out to use the bathroom, switch to bio-degradable bags that will decompose rather than just sit for an eternity in a plastic bag. There are also plenty of washable and/or reusable bags and training pads available on the market today. If you’re really feeling green, you might even consider dog waste composting. Yeah, that’s a thing.
4. Adopt, Don’t Shop!
Adopting animals from a rescue shelter instead of buying them from a breeder or getting them for free from your neighbor, or your local pet store is a selfless and amazing thing to do. By adopting you will be giving some homeless dog or cat a second chance at life and a stable and loving environment to come home to. In addition to adopting, and not shopping, it is crucial for pet owners to act responsibly when it comes to caring for their pet. Keeping your pets indoors keeps them from roaming around and terrorizing or killing birds, rabbits, or other wildlife and will also keep them from reproducing and leading to even more overpopulation of homeless dogs and cats. Last but not least, (and I can’t stress this enough) Always spay and neuter your pets! Allowing your pet to bring another litter of kittens or puppies into an already overpopulated world is irresponsible and tragic. Do you really want to be responsible for breeding another litter of strays? Getting your pet fixed is the single most effective thing you can do to avoid animal homelessness.
5. Avoid By-Products
Whether you decide to switch your pet to an all-vegan diet or just decide to cut back, it is important to invest in high-quality pet foods that list protein such as chicken, lamb, venison, duck, or fish as the first ingredient, rather than by-products. This simple change can have a huge impact on your feline or canine companion’s health and a positive impact on the environment as well.
6. Opt For Minimal Packaging
Keeping it simple is key when it comes to reducing your pet’s carbon pawprint. This can be done by avoiding heavily packaged and processed foods and treats. All those cans and plastic bags will just end up in a landfill somewhere. You can make a huge difference by opting instead for products with minimal packaging. Don’t forget to recycle afterwards to keep paying it forward.