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Home » Members Blog

The Slow Shopper: Animal Madness

Submitted by on May 23, 2012 – 10:13 amNo Comment

New additions

There was much excitement recently when, after much planning and deliberation, we introduced three new residents into the household. Meet Chicken A, Chicken B and Chicken C! OK, we have a bit of work to do on the names. To be honest the hens haven’t been brimming over with personality or charisma as yet, so no obvious name choices are leaping out for them. If only they were more like the seven dwarves and we had a chicken that was a bit sleepy, one that did cute chicken sneezes and one that was perpetually happy, the task would be simpler. As it stands, we’d just end up with ‘pecky’, ‘scratchy’ and… well maybe ‘pecky 2’.

Fortunately, what the chickens lack in dynamism they make up for in egg laying capabilities. Fresh, free-range eggs delivered daily, no supermarkets required! They also enjoy the taste of slugs, which is great news for my garden veg. Cost-wise if you go out and buy a new coop, run, chickens and all the food and other bits and pieces needed to look after them, it’s going to take a long time to get any return on your investment. We are doing it mainly because it’s fun, we like our home-made eggs and its bringing us one step closer to the good life!

Ethical pets

On the subject of animals I’ll admit that in previous efforts to get in, around and out of supermarkets as fast as humanly possible, I haven’t spared a lot of time to consider my choice of pet food. There are basically three or four brands to choose from, many of which are made by the same company anyway, so it doesn’t feel like we as consumers have much choice in the matter. It’s silly really; I go out of my way to buy free-range, high-welfare meat yet don’t give the same thought to what I buy for my cat. In any case, now seems like a good time to start thinking about it. Better late than never!

The animal rights campaign group Uncaged have helped to expose the routine animal testing that takes place in the pet food industry. Uncaged highlight the fact that the majority of pet food brands in the UK are produced by two companies that use animal testing; Nestlé Purina/Friskies and Pedigree, Masterfoods (Mars Inc). These companies use invasive, painful and lethal experiments on cats and dogs to help develop their new products. Surely most people who keep pets are animal lovers themselves, and would be horrified to think that other cats and dogs were harmed to make their pet’s dinner? Another related issue is the meat that goes into these products, which in most cases will be factory farmed, so animal welfare is low on the list of priorities.

All this leaves me feeling pretty guilty that my shopping choices have helped to support this mistreatment of animals. Time for a change in diet, kitty! A look on Ethical Consumer’s website revealed that there are more ethical alternatives out there, but you won’t necessarily find them in the supermarket.

Willow says organic tastes best!

Ticking the animal welfare and low carbon footprint (pawprint?) boxes is vegetarian pet food. Whilst this is all well and good for dogs, who are naturally omnivores, giving my cat a diet of vegetable protein and cereals seems unnatural, and a bit mean too. So I settled on Yarrah, a brand that uses only organic and free-range meat in its products and never test on animals. It’s available from Brands By Nature, who specialise in eco-friendly pet products and do home delivery. On the downside it’s a fair bit more expensive but hey, I guess that’s the price of a clear conscience. Until I start to make my own home-made cat food of course. It could happen!

To read previous blogs in this series, click here.

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