This study investigated consumer knowledge and attitude toward environmental sustainability, grain-free diets (GFDs), and the influence of on-site environmental sustainability education on pet owner diet choices. A two-part questionnaire was designed, bracketing an educational brochure on environmental sustainability and GFDs. The study consisted of an informational brochure and two questionnaire sections, Q1 and Q2. Preliminary information regarding current diets, diet choice(s), views of environmental sustainability, the definition of GFDs, and the likelihood of feeding GFDs were gathered via Q1. Participants then read a factual brochure regarding pet food trends and environmental sustainability. After reading the brochure, participants completed Q2. Pet ownership of the survey population indicated 12/78 cared exclusively for at least one cat, 48/78 cared exclusively for at least one dog, and 18 cared exclusively for at least one dog and one cat. The majority (70/78) of survey responders fed a dry commercial product, 25/78 fed a canned commercial product, and 1/78 fed a commercial raw product. Prior to reading the brochure, 44.9% of participants were able to partially identify a GFD, 47.4% partially defined environmental sustainability, and 19.2% reported feeding a GFD. After reading the brochure, 67.6% of participants were able to identify a more environmentally sustainable diet vs. 55.9% prior to reading the brochure. A paired T-test demonstrated that after reading the brochure, people were significantly less likely to feed a GFD (p < 0.001). When participants already feeding a GFD were isolated, they demonstrated a higher likelihood to feed a GFD both before and after reading the pamphlet than the remaining population; however, the likelihood decreased from 8.4 ± 2.7 to 7.8 ± 2.7. The informational brochure was effective; participants were less likely to feed a GFD after reading the brochure. Although participants considered environmental sustainability important, factors independent of environmental sustainability influenced the likelihood of diet change. Participants already feeding a GFD also ranked environmental sustainability highly but were less likely to consider changing their pet's diet. These preliminary findings identify a need for public education regarding pet food choices that can have environmental consequences.
|Publication Title||Frontiers in Veterinary Science|
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