Tuesday, February 23, 2010
My very first blog post here was about Dogs being worse than SUVs for the environment.
One of the arguments for vegetarianism is that it lightens our carbon footprint, and since dogs (and cats) are carnivores, they have a heavier carbon footprint than a vegetarian pet like a parrot.
So it stands to reason that there are really three options that we have with our carnivorous pets:
1. Continue keeping them, and ignore or try to rationalize the environmental impact of our pets.
2. Don't keep carnivorous pets.
3. Continue to keep carnivorous pets, and change their diet to a vegetarian one.
There might be a few more options I'm missing, but I think these are the most obvious choices for most people. So what should we do? In my original post, I suggested that I might have to move towards 2, out of concern for the environment. But rarely are things so cut and dry. Many pets would exist regardless of people taking them in or not, and in my case, both of my cats were kidnapped from litters that were given birth to by stray cats. However, my taking them in has guaranteed a particular impact on the environment, whereas, if I left them, they may have died to a car accident or starvation, or animal control.
So now we're balancing animal welfare against carbon emission. To say that one is more important than the other is odd, since one of the reasons for concern about carbon emission is the welfare of the animals that would be affected by global warming.
I don't think option 1 is a terribly rational position, so I'm not going to defend it much, or give it much analysis. But I do want to point out that when I first posted the original entry, this is what most people seemed to opt. Either the carbon footprint is negligible or there are other benefits that we get from keeping animals that outweigh the harm done to the environment. But arguably, I could make the same arguments about SUVs.
Now the third option is a questionable one as well, because if we turn our carnivorous pets vegetarians, they may not be very happy. So we'd be trading a portion of their happiness for a large portion of carbon emissions (I say a portion because I'm assuming that the vegetarian pet food out there undergoes significant processing which would make it less carbon friendly). And lets not forget that some pets have special dietary restrictions/formulas that they need.
None of the obvious options seem like a very good solution, and well probably be getting another cat when one of my two die eventually. So in actuality, I'm in camp 1, but I don't like being there.