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Wild Earth was founded by IndioBio co-founder Ryan Bethencourt who is described as an ethical vegan. The company was launched in 2018 to create and offer a vegan food for dogs.
Wild Earth is a startup company with the goal of using cellular agriculture to make sustainable, cruelty-free pet food. This is a practice of growing agricultural products directly from cell cultures (also known as cultured meat) instead of using livestock.
At present, Wild Earth offers 3 vegan recipes made in the US in the midwest. Ingredients are sourced from the US, Latin American, European, and Asian countries (not including China).
Wild Earth is headquartered in Berkeley, CA and Durham, NC.
Wild Earth has 2 lines of vegan dog foods with 3 recipes. With scores of 2/10 and 3/10, they’re considered very high risk and high risk dog foods.
Wild Earth Complete Protein is the company’s entry into the dog food marketplace with a single vegan recipe. It has high carbohydrates of 37% as calculated, which is understandable as starches, grains and legumes are needed as protein sources. The protein level is 31%, which is slightly higher than other vegan options in the marketplace.
The company recently added Core Formula line with 2 recipes which share the same ingredients except for a difference in flavoring. They have even higher carbohydrates at 46% as calculated and lower protein of 23% than the Complete Protein recipe.
In a 2018 interview, Wild Earth’s founder described the company’s goal to pursue fungi, and specifically shiragiku koji with its 10 essential amino acids as an alternative protein source. He described this as a better quality protein for dog food that he calls “clean protein.” But there is no indication on the website or their ingredient list that they are at this stage.
The only reference on the ingredient list to fungi is Aspergillus oryzae. It’s recognized as a fungus used in Japanese fermentation. It’s also used as a digestive aid in livestock production. Fructooligosaccharides are also added, presumably as a prebiotic to nourish a dog’s existing gut bacteria. The website states it uses “superfood ingredients” to provide an umami flavor but it’s not apparent if either of these ingredients contribute to that. At this point in time, there is nothing that appears substantially different from other dog food ingredients to move this company closer to its clean food goal.
In support of alternative dog food, the company quotes from a 2013 study in Nature saying “the genomes of dogs have evolved to not only enable them to digest plant-based starches, but to thrive on foods that include a wide variety of ingredients including fruits, vegetables, herbs, grains, meats, poultry, fish and more, making them true omnivores.”
However, these recipes are devoid of more than trace amounts of fruits and vegetables, have no animal protein at all (being a vegan food), and only processed grains, legumes and starches that would seldom be consumed by carnivores in the wild due to their natural repellents.
In actuality, the genetics of dogs have not evolved to process the high levels of carbohydrates found in most dry diets. Dogs, and humans, have 8 hormones to increase blood sugar for survival in times of famine … and there’s only one hormone (insulin) to lower blood sugar in high carbohydrate, dry dog food diets. Obesity and diabetes have become common among dogs on high carbohydrate diets.
Dogs have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates but starch is needed for extrusion in dry foods. Some studies also show that dogs fed a high carbohydrate content have changes to their gut bacteria.
Wild Earth also states ingredients are sustainably and responsibly sourced, and being plants, that’s an acceptable statement. However, in terms of ingredient safety, there is no information that these are non-GMO or organic. Without the expense of animal protein in these recipes, there could have been a higher investment in organic ingredients that would eliminate GMOs and the risk of high pesticide crops that lower the safety of the ingredients.
The company could also consider a better alternative to inflammatory seed oils … using better plant oils that wouldn’t compromise its vegan goals.
Pursuing an alternative type of protein is certainly an interesting prospect (even though we don’t advocate vegetarian or vegan diets for dogs). And while doing this, it’s hoped the company would consider using better quality ingredients and increasing the amount of whole fruits and vegetable ingredients to minimize the addition of vitamins and minerals … and create a truly clean food.
Wild Earth’s Complete Protein Dog food is considered high risk for its high carbohydrate content and for being ultra-processed. There’s an extensive amount of added vitamins and minerals, added amino acids, inflammatory seed oil and plant protein. Safety concerns include the use of high pesticide foods in its first 5 ingredients, including a GMO crop and using natural flavor. The ratio of omega 6:3 fatty acids is not provided.
Wild Earth’s Core Formula dog food is considered very high risk. It has high carbohydrate content and is an ultra-processed dog food. There’s an extensive amount of added vitamins and minerals, added amino acids, inflammatory seed oils and plant protein. Safety concerns include using high pesticide foods in the first 5 ingredients, and the use of a GMO crop and natural flavor. The ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids has not been provided.
No recalls to date.