Sometimes the best ideas are not for the squeamish. The veterinarian behind Raw Essentials promotes recycling some of New Zealand’s cuddliest pest species into pet food. It contributes to a healthy natural diet and provides a worthwhile use for other
Back in 2007 Dr Lyn Thomson started Raw Essentials to enable New Zealand pet owners to feed a natural, ‘raw meaty bone’ diet to cats and dogs. The diet is good for your pet’s health as it is unprocessed and nutrient-dense. It’s also good for the New Zealand environment. The product comes from farms working to improve soil quality. It also includes pest species such as rabbit, hare, possum, wild goat, NZ wallaby and wild deer.
Raw Essentials focuses on operating as sustainably as possible. It was a winner in the 2012 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards and a finalist last year.
The Raw Essentials concept has resonated with New Zealand pet owners. The business has gone from strength to strength. There are now eight Raw Essentials shops in Auckland and one in Hamilton.
They stock a range of products including a nourishing pet broth that proved so popular Lyn has spun off a separate company to produce a similar treat for people – The Essential Broth Co.
As a keen advocate of sustainability in the veterinary industry Lyn recently contributed to an article on how vets can adopt more sustainable workplace practices for VetScript magazine. In a Letter to the Editor she expresses her support for the NZ Veterinary Association’s new goal to remove the need for antibiotics for the maintenance of animal health and wellness by 2030.
“We actually have one year to get our act together, and thirteen years to implement the changes,” she says. “The World Health Organization global action plan is a prevention-first plan. Prevent the development of diseases that need the use of antimicrobials to cure them, and prevent the need for the use of antimicrobials in food production.
“If the plan is to succeed, we need to acknowledge the fact that the single greatest leverage point for a sustainable and healthy future without antimicrobials is the living soil in which we grow our food. The future will focus on the development of sustainable agriculture and food security based on restored soil health. Replenish the soil with organic matter, minerals and micro-organisms. Return the soil to being our greatest asset for carbon fixing and reduce global warming, and grow food full of nutrients and friendly germs that nourish and heal.
“The future of food production is in production of nutrient dense food, from nutrient dense soil. The future of our collective health is the nourishment of humans and animals with species appropriate food full of healthy microbes and the food those microbes like to eat.”
“I run a practice that identifies that antibiotics and highly processed food contribute significantly to the current global crisis. Our business decisions focus on putting People and the Planet before Profit. I run a profitable practice, not the tree hugging practice imagined.
“I love this profession and I feel deeply that we have here in NZ, right now, a chance to quickly and easily correct the current crisis. We can meet the May 2017 WHO deadline for a framework and implementation plan. We can be the ‘model sustainable nation’ that will take us to the giddy global heights that NZ Inc. have in mind. We just have to ‘do the right thing’.”
One of the Sustainable Business Network four transformation areas is Restorative. This includes projects to enhance New Zealand’s natural capital, with a focus on food and water. Find out more here