What really matters when choosing between meat and plant-based foods?

Whether you are a seasoned plant-based pet food advocate or considering this food for your companion animal for the first time, you have asked yourself: Is it a healthy choice?

There are many factors to consider when it comes to animal nutrition.

When you read discussions about pet food, there is talk about protein content (what is too much; what is not enough?), nutrient availability, essential amino acids, digestive enzymes, carbohydrate content, ‘biologically appropriate’ foods, etc. Even the most avid pet parents can be put off by the sheer amount of information.

Adding to the complexity is that pets can have unique individual requirements. Fluffy can suffer from an allergy, food sensitivity, diabetes, or cancer. Pets at different life stages also need different nutrients. We have only started understanding human nutrition, and when it comes to animals, there is even less knowledge available.

In truth, there is no perfect solution, just as with human nutrition, and many paths to healthy, vibrant and energetic life are possible.

To understand some of the issues surrounding animal nutrition, let us return to the beginning and ask:

What is the basic purpose of food?

  1. Food is a source of energy: every single cell in the body is like a factory, and it needs glucose to run its machinery.
  2. Food is also a source of building blocks for the body (cell walls are mostly lipid molecules lined up in neat rows; muscles have bundles of rods made of protein that can slide past each other when we stretch or contract the muscle).
  3. Finally, food is also needed for different parts of the body to send signals to each other (hormones can be made of fats or proteins, neurotransmitters can be made of simple amino acids).

When evaluating any pet food, whether meat or plant based, the most important factor to look at is whether it will provide the necessary energy and sufficient building blocks for the body to function.

We will take a closer look at how pet food made from meat and plant-based sources differs in the next article.