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It is possible to purchase offal mostly from cows and pigs at the butcher. While this is generally sold as dog food it is treated with human food hygiene standards at my butcher at least. I am informed by them that most of this product goes into the mass market pet food chain. It is worth noting that it is "sustainable" on the wallet, costing between £1.5/Kg for liver/kidneys and £2.5/Kg for ox heart.

Is it possible to say if subsisting with this as a major source of protein in ones diet is environmentally sustainable? On one hand one is contributing to the animal production industry with its significant environmental footprint, on the other it is not the offal market that is driving the industry and it seems likely that any shortfall in the supply of of offal to the pet food industry is likely to be made up with plant protein.

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  • thanks for the information. I think meat is always the last option
    – bou
    Commented Mar 11 at 2:09

5 Answers 5

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Eating plant-based is always going to be more sustainable than eating meat, with the exception of some shellfish. Regardless of where you are getting the meat or for what purpose it is being bought, it is still contributing the same meat industry, which is the source of all those emissions. Wallet-sustainable is of course important, but if you are looking for environmentally sustainable as well, avoid meat - especially meat which comes from cows - where possible.

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With questions like these, I find it helpful to think about what would happen if everyone did it (or at least, lots of people). What would the total market impact be? The offal is cheap because there's a high supply and low demand. If demand (D) increases, the price (P) and supply (S) will increase (image from Wikipedia):

Supply and demand curve

So, this means that offal will no longer be as cheap for pet food manufacturers as something else. The net result of eating more animal products will always be that more animal products are consumed, meaning more animals are raised and butchered.

The only exception would be a byproduct for which someone generates a new use, or perhaps a strategy for creating demand to manage populations of an invasive species. However, both strategies still run the risk of the demand eventually exceeding the "oversupply".

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To add to the @LShaver's answer:

If half of the population's protein demand is supported by offal and half by meat, then we'll need fewer animals overall.

So I'd say yes, that could be a viable research path.

That is assuming the claim that offal is easily replaceable by plant feed is correct.

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It's a myth that eating animals is bad for the planet. Watch one of these vids to learn why:

But it's still worse for the environment (and you) to eat conventionally raised meat than organic. They spray the crops they feed the animals with agrochemicals. So I'd just focus on that aspect.

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    Newspapers have reported that the expert in these videos is payed by the meat industry and is often criticised for downplaying the statistics he presents.
    – THelper
    Commented Mar 19 at 10:27
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Nothing is ideal - neither veganism nor non-veganism. Each has its own merits and demerits. The same is case with dairy or nuts and so on. A research shows that meat and cow milk is more beneficial for the kids growth than their plant based alternatives. And also, manufacturing of the plant based alternates needs more resources like water, energy (if it is being produced using renewable sources) etc. Unfortunately, we have started learning about these things very late in our lives that has additional consequences. Also, in some Asian and low income countries, the meat eaters are proportionally way more than in high income countries. So, reducing the carbon footprint is not adequate globally. And I find this discussion that what should we pickup from the shelf in the supermarket is very INCONCLUSIVE.

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    Welcome to Sustainable Living! Note that this is not a discussion board, but a Q&A website. You say "manufacturing of the plant based alternates needs more resources like water, energy" but 1) compared to what? and 2) do you have any references to back up this claim?
    – THelper
    Commented Mar 19 at 13:20

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