sustainable dog life with Kinga Rybinska
In 2019, Eat Small, Insect Poweris happy to present to its community amazing people who have distinctive ways of thinking – and living – when it comes to pet nutrition and relationships with pets, and animals in general. Subscribe to our newsletterand stay tune!
Meet Kinga Rybinska
Kinga is a multidisciplinary person. She is both a journalist, a professional translator, a SEO (search engine optimization) expert and an online creator. She also has a true passion for dogs and she dedicates a great part of her life, not only to her 2 dog friends at home, but also to her online shop UNIQUE.DOG Green Design from Berlin. She is the author of the book: Grüner Hund, Handbuch für nachhaltiges Hundeleben, for which she has met numerous journalists, veterinarians, alternative medicine practitioners, pet shelters owners and pet food and accessories producers, to present a panorama of a life with dogs from a green perspective.
Eat Small: Kinga, you use the adjective GREENin the name of your e-shop. What is the philosophy behind your store and what are the values that you want to transmit with it?
KR: When I created my e-shop, its name was SECOND HOUND. Back then I was offering homemade dog stuff, all made from fabric leftovers or recycled cloth. The name SECOND HOUND was a pun to second hand because many dog blankets, food bags and other accessories were made from used clothes. My motto has always been “recycling instead of waste”. Over time, I decided to expand the product range and re-named the shop UNIQUE.DOG Green Design from Berlin. Now, I also sell dog accessories made of certified organic fabrics and many sustainable foreign brands that fit into my green concept. 5% of the sales go to various animal welfare projects and I exclusively work with used plastic-free boxes for the shipping. With UNIQUE.DOG I try to keep a minimal ecological footprint.
Eat Small: You also wrote a book for dog owners and/or dog lovers: Grüner Hund, Handbuch für nachhaltiges Hundeleben. Can you explain what is a green dog and what is a sustainable dog life?
KR: Unfortunately, the e-shop is not enough to reach a large pool of dog owners and « infect » them with my green ideas. Anyone who looks for green, ecological dog accessories or healthy food is already convinced. As a journalist, I also want to reach people who have not dealt with dog sustainability so intensively or even not at all. This is how the book idea came about. Green Dogstands for a dog that is fed healthily and naturally and has as little contact with chemicals as possible. I show ways to reduce meat consumption, avoid regular (and often unnecessary) deworming and medications, and to reduce waste. In the book, each chapter has a section called Animal Welfare, where I extend the topic beyond the dog itself to the animals that land in its food bowl.
Eat Small: Are your dogs green dogs? What are the choices that you have personally made to become sustainable with your dogs?
KR: Yes, of course my two dogs are green! Both Shila and Fasa come from animal shelters. I would never buy a dog that was purposely bred, while there are so many broken souls behind bars. Their diet is completely natural: they get regional venison (from Brandenburg forests), lots of organic fruits and vegetables and high-quality organic oils and dried herbs. Two days a week the diet is 100% vegetarian or vegan. I give them meatless treats – vegan biscuits or insect-based snacks and the few toys they own are made of natural plastic-free rubber. As poop bags I use resistant PET-bottles or old paper bags. I haven’t vaccinated my dogs for years and instead of deworming pills I give food with antiparasitic action and test regularly their stools for worms. The healthier the intestinal environment and flora, the highest the likehood that the dog’s body fights by itself its potential enemies.
Eat Small: What is your opinion on the general topic: dog nutrition and dog food in the year 2018? – Is there room for improvement?
KR: In recent years, many good dog food brands have emerged, with both dog health and animal well-being as a main focus. On the background, more importance is being given to the origin of protein and livestock handling. The topic « vegan food for dogs » is coming up more and more. Personally, I remain critical. And if we look at the other major trend of « organic meat », I find that more could be done. In 2018 though, a few companies came on the market relying on insects as the main source of protein. For me, 2019 will clearly be under the sign of innovative and environmentally friendly feeding methods. I see insect protein as THE solutionto the increasing ecological impact of mass livestock farming – this, not only for pets but also for humans.
Eat Small: Therefore you believe that insect protein in pet food can be a valuable alternative to meat protein in order to have a more sustainable life with your dog?
A definite yes! For two reasons:
•Nutritional: Insects provide a high-quality protein, they are almost free of carbohydrates, very low in fat and rich in vitamins, minerals and oligo elements.
• Environmental: Insects love to be close together, they require very little space, they grow fast and they produce very little greenhouse gases.
As dogs and cats do not feel disgusted by creepy-crawly animals, they don’t have this psychological barrier, which is still present in Western countries.
I see limits – or potential risks – only if insect farming reaches truly industrial scales. If man exaggerates and becomes greedy, bad farming practices can emerge, like in any other livestock farming. Cheap or poor feeding, lack of hygiene control, unnecessary use of preventive medications… Today nobody knows what kind of illnesses stressed or badly nourished insects could suffer.
Eat Small: Do you think that complete veganism is possible for dogs?
KR: Although a vegan diet is possible for dogs and probably sufficient according to scientific studies, the problem of heat-resistant B vitamins remains unresolved. Plants don’t carry B12 vitamin, essential for the nervous system and brain and to renew many types of body cells. B12 vitamin is only found in meat, milk, fish, eggs… and some insects. In vegan dog foods, these – and other additives – must be added artificially and therefore can’t be fully natural. From a purely subjective point of view: I don’t think it is right to punish our dogs for the human mistakes in mass livestock farming and thus, restrict them to a pure vegetable diet.
Although insects carry similar or higher nutritional value as meat, an insect diet can’t be considered vegan because it comes from a living being. A lot of people use today the term « entomo-vegan » though, to describe a diet based on insect protein, because it implies to avoid eating superior livestock forms (cattle, poultry, fishes).
Eat Small: Kinga Rybinska, thank you very much for your professionalism, experience and time and to have openly shared insights about alternatives views and nutritional approaches with Eat Small, Insect Power for pets and nature.
We encourage everyone to visit your amazing e-shop: UNIQUE.DOG
Veronique Glorieux is a canadian-board veterinarian who cumulates more than 10 years of medical work and experience with dogs and cats. Animal wellfare and environment are 2 topics that moves her. She lives now in Berlin, where she co-founded Eat Small and uses her experience in a different field of practice. With healthy and sustainable insect-based pet food she aims to support both the health of pets and of the planet.