As a lover of animals who holds a doctorate degree in biochemistry, Shannon Falconer found a way to combine her professional expertise with her passion for pets, co-founding the pet food company Because Animals.
But what sets Because Animals apart from other pet food companies is it does not use animal products in its ingredients. The company presently manufactures pet food sprinkles made from cultured bacteria and probiotics, as well as organic dog cookies. Meanwhile, Because Animals is developing a plant-based dog food, and cultured meat pet food products.
“I grew up with three dogs and three cats. I had a really close relationship with animals at a young age, and largely for that reason my connection to animals, I stopped eating meat in my early teens for animal welfare reasons, and then I started volunteering with animal rescue, cat and dog shelters in my teens and continued through my adulthood,” Falconer explained.
Having earned a PhD in biochemistry and with professional experience as a microbial chemical biologist, she saw an opportunity to apply her knowledge to create products that she can feel comfortable feeding her pets.
“At a certain point in my career development I decided that I wanted to dedicate my scientific training to taking animals out of the supply chain. For me, I saw a huge opportunity in pet food because for me, I’ve been able to feed myself a meat-free diet for the vast majority of my life, but nonetheless when it comes to my dogs and cats, I don’t really have many or any options. For that reason, I decided that pet food was the best opportunity for this developmental work in cultured meat,” she said.
Because Animals’ present and future products
Because Animals, a U.S.-based company, presently offers two main product lines. Noochies is its line of organic dog cookies. It also offers Omega & Probiotic sprinkles.
Those products have received great reviews from consumers, but Because Animals continues to develop new lines of meat-free pet food. The company is also using its existing products as “brand building” to build awareness for its cultured meat pet foods under development.
“What we’re doing is using these other cultured ingredients – the probiotics, nutritional yeast – that people are already familiar with the health benefits of for both themselves and their pets, and we’re using those in our current foods and selling them and connecting with customers and using those to explain to people what cultured meat effectively is. … That’s why we did start the company and the brand-building with offering these other non-cultured meat, but still cultured products, as a way to ultimately introduce cultured meat to the market,” she said.
Falconer said the company is preparing to launch a new plant-based dog food in 2022, and when it gets the appropriate governmental clearances, cultured meat products, which are not yet legal to sell in the United States. She said the company has been actively “communicating with the FDA, but there is a lot that still has to happen,” and in the meantime has been taking pre-orders for such products.
When that becomes a reality, Falconer is confident Because Animals cultured meat products will win favor of pet owners.
“We’re a company that’s dedicated to taking animals out of the supply chain. Nonetheless, our first priority is feeding our pets the healthiest and safest foods that we can provide them,” said Falconer. “We need to make a product that’s as healthy or healthier than what is available in terms of the status quo. I would make the argument that if we think about all of the recalls on pet food, predominantly those are due to bacterial and chemical contaminations. The way that we grow our meat, it is a very, very clean environment.”