As a society, we will soon stop feeding animals to other animals. For the first time, Bond Pet Foods grew real chicken protein in a biotech facility without harming any chickens.
The chicken protein — grown from a one time draw of stem cells from a chicken — looks the same as chicken, tastes the same as chicken, and is molecularly identical to chicken because it is chicken. But no chickens suffered and no chickens died.
It expects to market the first truly humane pet food made of chicken in about two years; an achievement with enormous implications for the future of dogs and cats and for the future of the animals slaughtered to feed dogs and cats.
Driving this is not only a desire to provide animal companions with high quality, nutritionally complete “clean” meat that isn’t subject to periodic recalls, but eliminating the ethical compromises. “I’m an animal lover in the broadest sense and struggle with the tension around harming one animal (cows, pigs, chickens) to help another,” says Bond Pet Foods CEO Rich Kelleman. “Rethinking how animal protein is harvested — leveraging new technologies — can take this tension off the table. Other potential benefits of foods made from cultured or fermented proteins — potentially requiring fewer resources, smaller environmental footprints, reduced pathogen risk — make pet foods made using cell[ular] ag[riculture] very attractive.”
For those who love all animals, as for the animals themselves, that day cannot come soon enough. Animal agriculture is the single, greatest source of suffering on the planet. From the moment they are born to the moment their necks are slit, the vast majority of chickens raised and killed for food will experience lives of unremitting torment. They will not know contentment, respite, safety, happiness, or kindness. Instead, they will live a short life characterized by inescapable discomfort, social deprivation, the thwarting of every natural instinct and constant stress, all punctuated by moments of agonizing pain, terror, and the deliberate infliction upon them of harm, cruelty and eventually, a brutal and untimely death.
While some may balk about pet food produced this way, such protests miss the mark. Not only is such food cleaner, but as long as they are receiving all the nutrients they need and their food tastes delicious, dogs and cats do not suffer because of it. Because dogs and cats do not know that the food they eat is made from a chicken (most do not know what a chicken is and even if they did, would be unable to connect them to the kibble in their bowl), it is no imposition for them not to eat them. By contrast, the animals raised to be killed to feed dogs and cats do suffer and die prematurely.
Indeed, that is what has allowed Bond Pet Foods to be successful, compared to the race to product such meat for human consumption. “Instead of trying to fully recreate meat — growing tissues and muscles from animal cells — the company is focused on just the protein. The companies making food for humans ‘are trying to recapitulate the meat-eating experience: It’s about the taste, the texture, the mouthfeel, the smell, everything that they have to get perfect for the public to embrace it.’ Dogs don’t have the same requirements: As long as the food tastes good, they’re happy to eat it.” And all indications are that they are happy to eat it. The company notes it has no shortage of willing taste testers. Volunteer dogs, they say, “enthusiastically” ate in early testing.
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