Ah, dearest January. Month of our grand ideas and schemes to lose 20 pounds in the next year, never eat another piece of non-organic fruit again, be ready for bikini season a month in advance, renovate the entire house in the trendiest and greenest fashion, eat only super foods, sell the cars for charity and walk everywhere from now on.
Yeah. Right. Cynical? Perhaps. Realistic? I hope so. But, let’s be serious. If you want to convince me that I’m really going to stick to something (“something” probably being decidedly difficult and/or maybe even unpleasant) for the next 365 some days based on some rash decision I made on December 31st at 11:55 p.m. while dancing in a party hat and downing Chardonnay, I need to convince you that you’re crazy.
So, fear not, this 2011 challenge has absolutely nothing to do with you! I’m actually going to encourage you to take a tiny bit of focus off yourself in this new year and whatever goals you may or may not have because I’m going to assume that you already are trying your best to accomplish living in a more sustainable fashion. This challenge is for your pets.
So often our pets escape our notice and the best of our intentions when it comes to the ways we’re striving to live a greener life. Pets just are, right? They eat what we feed them, generally do what we tell them, and adore us whether we deserve it or not. Yes to all of the above, which is why they deserve more from us. I quite possibly love my dog more than anything else on the planet, and when it comes to her, I’m likely to do anything, make anything and go anywhere. And, when it comes to her and some sustainable practices, my inspiration actually comes from my mom.
A few years ago she began baking homemade dog treats for our set of three beagles. She termed them Three Beagle Biscuits (adorable, right?) and started a little phenomenon in our house that our dogs were quite fond of. The benefits to making your own dog treats are multi-fold and the effort is surprisingly little. Not only will your dog love you even more, they will be healthier thanks to you, and you’ll gain one more opportunity to positively support the environment.
Yes, of course you can go buy “eco-friendly” and “green” treats with super fun names like: “Peace Prayer Love Bites Treats.” But, consider the effects you could have if you instead go purchase organic, local eggs; honey from your local bee farm, and safflower oil from the farmers market. You’ll spreading the wealth a little further by pouring back into local producers, as well as lessening all of the environmental impact involved with far off peace prayer love bites that get shipped in a large cardboard box with Styrofoam peanuts and spend a day or two on a gas guzzling delivery truck.
Recipe for Three Beagle Biscuits dog treats
To make this super easy and break you in gently, I suggest the following recipe:
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup safflower oil
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup rolled whole oats
Melt honey and peanut butter mixture until liquid consistency. Mix all other ingredients together. Drop 1/2 teaspoon sized balls onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350º Fahrenheit. 8-10 minutes. Makes approximately 45-50 biscuits.
How easy is that! For the non-vegetarian pup, take away the honey and peanut butter and use chicken and beef bouillon. Research ingredients that can improve your pet’s health, ie: flaxseed oil for Omega 3 and shinier coats; brewer’s yeast to prevent fleas; or pumpkin (Vitamin A) to fight infections.
You can Google numerous recipes online. If you’re feeling really adventurous, I encourage you to take this a step further and look into making your dog’s food in its entirety. This can be as easy as baking brown rice and chicken along with your own meals, and you can take it as far as going completely raw. The options for raising pets with a more sustainable mindset are nearly limitless. Have some fun baking, and then go take your puppy for a nice, long walk.
Tara Alley is a freelance writer native to Montana, now living in sunny California. She currently writes for Coffee Home Direct, promoting sustainable coffee and coffee makers. You can reach her at: alley.tara[at]gmail[dot]com and follow her on Twitter @hopesiempre.
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Image source: iStockPhoto (obtained by the author)