Fancy earning £7,500 (€9,015) while saving the planet? Well, this might just be the opportunity for you.
A pet food company is looking to pay a dog owner a £30,000 salary (pro-rata) for three months. All they have to do is go vegan…along with their dog.
OMNI, a plant-based dog food company, is looking for a human and canine pair to ditch all animal-based products for three months.
The (human) candidate will have to keep a thorough record of their experience, both owner and pet, monitoring their health, energy levels and behaviour.
In exchange, the successful applicant will receive £2,500 (€3,005) a month, along with a three-month supply of vegan dog food.
The company is looking for detailed information about the participants’ journey. The job description explains that “a weekly questionnaire will be provided to give feedback on factors such as health, energy levels, behaviour, bowel movements, sleep pattern, and physical attributes such as weight, skin, and hair/fur condition.”
For the selected dog, there is also the promise of sustainable dog toys and vegan treats in recognition of their hard work and contribution to the project.
Currently, this opportunity is only open to UK-based dog owners, with applications closing on 31 January.
Is a vegan diet safe for dogs?
OMNI says the unusual job vacancy has been motivated by a lack of awareness around vegan dog food.
“In a society with a lack of education around diets for dogs we understand there is a pre-existing and negative misconception about feeding your dog a plant-based diet,” says Shiv Sivakumar, the co-founder of OMNI.
“We hope that by hiring someone to change both their dog’s and their own diet, we can communicate the benefits it can have on both dogs and humans.”
In 2020, Lewis Hamilton announced that his dog Rocco was now “fully vegan,” and previous health issues were now under control thanks to his diet.
At the time, we spoke with a vet to find out exactly how healthy a plant-based diet can be for dogs.
“Anecdotally, I have seen some dogs do well on vegan diets,” explained Michaela Craggs, a veterinarian at Joii Pet Care. “I have seen some improvement with dogs with skin allergies. This is likely due to the change of protein.”
“This is only anecdotally though, and there isn’t the evidence to back this up at present.”
However, Craggs still feels that it can be a good and safe option. “It is possible to feed dogs a vegan diet, so long as it is adequately balanced.”
Daniella Dos Santos, president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) says the situation is a little more tricky – especially when owners are creating their dogs’ meals from scratch.
“It is theoretically possible to feed a dog a vegetarian diet, but it’s much easier to get it wrong than to get it right,” she told the BBC.
“You would have to do it under the supervision of a veterinary-trained nutritionist.”
What other types of food are healthy for dogs and the planet?
Dog food, like anything else with a big market, has gone through several fads and trends over the years. Most recently, raw food has surged in popularity, with owners swapping dry kibble for raw meat mixtures.
While owners anecdotally comment on their dogs’ improved coats, stools and overall health – there is a darker side to raw food diets. Last year, scientists warned that multidrug-resistant bacteria was lurking on raw dog food, potentially driving the spread of antibiotic resistance.
So where does that leave dog owners?
Some people have turned to insect-based pet food. Advocates say it comes without the risks of protein deficiency that vegan diets can have, while still being planet-friendly.
UK-based company Yora specialises in pet food made with insect protein. According to their carbon calculator, feeding my two large dogs a chicken-based diet will cause at least 21,660kg of carbon dioxide over their lifetimes each.
Turning to grubs, however, would reduce this to just 5,792kg each – thereby saving 32 tonnes of CO2 between them.
To put that into context, 32 tonnes of CO2 is enough to heat the average UK home for 14 years.
And that’s just from swapping from chicken to insects. Beef, which is a more common protein source in dog food, has a significantly larger carbon footprint.
Feeding a large dog beef-based food uses 117,942kg of CO2 throughout their lifetime.
Moving just one large dog from beef to insects would save the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide used to fly from London to Barcelona 640 times.