May 23, 2024


Travel Adventure

Is cooking with dog food instead of meat actually fine? I gave it a go

5 min read

Results ranged from surprisingly yum to soul-destroying.

I love cooking. The kitchen is a hearth of culinary creation, of sensory delights, of gastronomic poetry. I also can’t afford anything nice. Why does a pack of instant noodles and some milk cost ten bucks? I love you, Aotearoa, but I miss being able to afford bare necessities. 

I met a bloke at the pub recently who was employed in freezing works. He told me dog rolls are actually fine for human consumption, despite what the labels say, because Big Dogroll isn’t going to risk any lawsuits. I took his word at face value and decided to try eating dog food with no further research. 

It was lots cheaper, but possibly not worth it. Here’s how it went. 

Superior Possyum cheeseburger 

I was dead curious about tasting possum. For a country with a pest problem, I’m flabbergasted that we don’t solve it by eating the bastards. Apparently this is due to the risk of tuberculosis and 1080, which I just found out right now by Googling it hours later. 

At $15 for 2kg, this is the bougiest dog slab. Described as “semi-moist” and “palatable”, it’s blended with fresh beef, lamb liver, and kidney. It has lots of vitamins which promise to make my coat extra shiny. 

Cheeseburger seemed like a good dog-meat recipe to me. Your average fast-food burger, like Possyum, is already highly processed, so I reckoned it wouldn’t taste too different. I once knew a “vegetarian” who ate Maccas because “it’s not real meat”. I figured the condiments would mask any ick, too. 

I sliced a 100g hunk of Possyum, which is recommended for my daily intake. I sauteed garlic in olive oil and added the sizzling meat. It was thick and compact; refusing to cook through but smelling pretty good. I melted on a slice of rubber Chesdale and added barbeque sauce. 

Bon appétit!

It didn’t taste bad. It was immensely dense and very chewy. I couldn’t swallow it. I don’t know why. I tried again, but my gag reflex kicked in. It’s just meat – what’s the problem? Am I really that narrow-minded, unwilling to sample foods from cultures not my own?

Enticed by the smell of roast garlic and possum, my flatmate wafted into the kitchen. I fed them some dog burger. They are bisexual and have a much better gag reflex than me. They swallowed. The light slowly faded from their eyes. 

“It gives the impression of a real burger, but without the internal consistency,” they said. “It feels like mush. You bite into this meat patty thinking, Oh yeah, this is a burger. But then you keep eating and realise there’s no love in this world.”

I made them eat dog food with me from this point on, to be strong where I could not. 

Edmonds corned dog roll

For this meal, I followed a recipe from the classic kiwiana Edmonds cookbook. I learnt that corned beef is not beef with corn, but beef you make wet by simmering it in water for thirty mins, which sounds even more disgusting than dog roll. 

Corned beef is described as “economical” by Edmonds, but at $16-17 a kilo, it’s hardly economical anymore. Wag, by comparison, is $3 a kilo. Much better. 

I used Wag Chicken & Garlic. When I sliced the roll open, it was already wet. Soggy, smelly meat liquid ejaculated over my countertop. I added vinegar, onions, sugar, peppercorns and herbs, then began to cook; my house briefly filled with a decadent homely musk, before being replaced by the most foul, deathly stench I’ve encountered in my life. It smelled like a corpse dissolved in wet compost. Fittingly, Wag roll is so soft that my corned beef disintegrated into sludge. It then congealed, leaving a jelly on top. 

Corned “beef”. Mmmmmm.

My flatmate took a sip of dog roll soup. They dry heaved. I took a sip. I also dry heaved.  

“Why did you try making corned beef out of chicken?” asked my flatmate. “Are you stupid?” 

I regretted pitching this article. 

Edmonds Superior Chunky dog roll meatloaf

Sorry, we didn’t eat this one. I fed it to my actual pet dog who I acquired halfway through writing this article. He liked it.

By the way, are dog foods all named by lesbians? Butch? Strapz? Sounds like a good time. 

Vitapet Duck Tenders

Straight up, these are delicious as fuck. The core ingredient is 97% jerkied duck – my favourite meat, and a quarter of the price of Jack Links jerky.  These are the only treats I managed to stomach, and I had a couple extras, too. 

My flattie also rated them highly. 

“Thanks for helping me with the article,” I said to my flatmate.

“It’s OK,” they said, eating another duck treat.

“You can stop eating those now.”

“OK,” they said.

When I came back later, the packet was empty. 

Vitapet Chicken with Bacon Flavour

I tentatively nibbled on these while waiting for a delayed Metlink bus in Newtown, and I still wasn’t the weirdest person at the bus stop. Disgusting, floury, and doesn’t taste anything like bacon. I spat the glob into a public bin. 

My flatmate agreed: they didn’t taste bacon by any stretch of the imagination.My dog didn’t even like them. He buried them in some cushions, then ate his bed instead. 

Vitapet Chicken Sticks

Hold on – these taste exactly like the bacon snacks. The sausage shape is more appetising, rather like kielbasa, but they taste like drywall. Total ripoff. 

“An overall better sensory experience, but retains the essence of Play-Doh,” was the consensus. 

“Each of the treats has a je-ne-sais-exactly-quois, and it’s Play-Doh,” another flattie agreed. 

At the end of the day, for the most part, dog food is not very nice. It’s one thing to eat dog food as a laugh for an article, but I think about the freezing works bloke at the pub, and what he told me about the number of homeless and poor people – people in desperate situations who can’t afford better – who have dog food as part of their diet. Massive numbers of families in New Zealand suffer from poverty and food insecurity. This silly experiment is a harsh reality for some. 

Thanks Spinoff for this job so I can afford real human food. Although maybe a bit more of that duck jerky wouldn’t hurt, either. 


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