Co-Founder of omni, UK
Did you know the world’s pets currently eat a whopping 20% of the planet’s meat, according to a recent study from UCLA? “Not many people realise that having a medium-sized dog is the equivalent to owning a Landcruiser SUV in terms of carbon footprint – most of this comes from the meat we’re feeding them.” Guy Sandelowsky, a veterinarian surgeon in the UK, wasn’t always aware of these facts, either. But he did wonder…
“As a veterinarian, I could never understand why we feed dogs so much processed meat when we know it causes cancer and obesity in humans. Yes, it is convenient, but considering the fact that almost half of dogs in the UK suffer from obesity-related health problems and up to 30% are tragically put to sleep due to cancer, it never sat right with me. I sadly saw these health problems firsthand all too often in the clinic. When my own black Labrador, Bondie, got mouth cancer at the unusually young age of four, it really got me questioning what I was feeding him,and it motivated me to come up with a better way.”
When he looked into science, he discovered that some of the longest living dogs were fed plant-based diets. Science has proven that dogs are omnivores, so, like us, they can thrive without meat. He co-founded OMNI with Shiv Sivakumar, who, with his family based in Sri Lanka, has raised their dogs vegan for generations. Most lived up to 16 years without being fed a single piece of meat. The theory did add up, but the practice wasn’t a piece of cake.
“Dogs do like to eat meat, so we had to rival meat-based dog food on flavour.”
Inspirations, go-to’s and lifehacks:
- Pandemic lifehack that helped you survive 2021: Baking bread and running in the park with my dog
- A person that inspires you: Serena Williams, amazing athlete and pro-plant-based eating
- Last series/movie that kept you awake: Million Pound Menu, all about start-up restaurants
- App you find most valuable: WhatsApp (boring, sorry!)
- Favorite food / favorite vegan treat: Watermelon – best fruit ever, especially when served cold
It took almost a year of intense research and development, including 20 recipe iterations, before they finally created their first product. “We were desperate to find out what the doggies thought, so we were quick to recruit 250 UK dog parents. The feedback we got was overwhelmingly positive, with over 91% telling us that their dogs ‘Love OMNI’ and many reporting that their dog was picking OMNI over the meat-based option. This was a pivotal moment for us, because we realised that our food was not only healthy and better for the planet, but it was actually more delicious than meat.”
OMNI recipes are formulated to meet FEDIAF guidelines for a nutritionally complete diet. “Rather than rely on animal by-products, fillers, and leftovers, we’ve made a point to only include premium plant-based ingredients that humans would love to eat, too, like sweet potato, brown rice, lentils, pumpkin, and blueberries.” Compared to traditional animal-based pet food, OMNI says its vegan formulation requires 61% less water, 92% less land and emits 85% less GHG emissions, all while providing 30% more protein to sustain our four-legged friends.
Since their soft launch in May 2021, OMNI grew by 55% and secured 1.1 million GBP in investments from ProVeg International, Trellis Road, Purple Orange Ventures, Shiocap, Kale United, as well as several angel investors.
Guy is one of the Food Heroes for 2022. See more inspiring and world-changing stories from Food Heroes here.