Glenn Polyn//August 1, 2022//
Glenn Polyn //August 1, 2022//
In the pet food sector, few brands are comparable to Side By Side, which makes all-natural pet food in small batches using whole foods and an Eastern Food Therapy philosophy. Pet Age recently spoke with Carol Bramson, founder of Side by Side Pet, to learn more about her views on proper nutrition and the importance of how ingredients are handled.
What mission statement did you create for Side by Side Pet?
Side by Side is a mission driven company with the goal of helping pets live longer. Our pets give us unconditional love, all they ask is that we care for them. The best way to show our love is by feeding them well. We’ve created the following mission statement to support this purpose: To help pets live longer. To feed them the way nature intended using whole food ingredients and time-tested Eastern Food Therapy. To heal from within. To change the industry, get back to basics and to do this all together.
Recent studies published by Purdue College of Veterinary Health and Helsinki University highlight the detrimental implications of feeding your pet a highly processed diet and the benefits of adding whole foods. Changing out 20-25 percent of their daily feeding with whole foods can have a significant positive impact on their overall health and longevity.
To feed them the way nature intended using whole food ingredients and time-tested Eastern Food Therapy: We support time-tested Eastern Food Therapy and the whole food movement in pet feeding. The addition of Eastern Food Therapy allows for the use of food to both nourish and heal the body.
To heal from within: Healing practices started with the use of foods, the better the nutrients we put into the body, the better the body performs.
To change the industry: Side by Side is on a mission, to help change the industry and support new learning and awareness about how highly processed pet foods have adversely impacted the wellness of our pets. This change is in process due to the research reports identified above, and the efforts of many pet advocates who are educating pet owners through their work including: Truth About Pet Food, Forever Dog, Pet Fooled, amongst others.
Get back to basics: Our pet’s lifespan has reduced over the last 50 years and a key contributor to this outcome is the quality of nutrition. It’s time to get back to basics and feed our pets in line with their ancestral diet, including species appropriate ingredients. Lean proteins, including organ meats, and protecting those ingredients and their cellular structure, means not using high heat, high pressure or multiple cooking processes. Keeping ingredients raw or as close to raw as possible is the best practice.
We live with our pets by our side, they are part of our family, and we are a brand that wants to be by the side of the pet owners interested in learning about pet nutrition and making changes to support the pet’s wellness and quality of life.
How do you define “species-appropriate ingredients” and why is it important?
Our accepted definition of “species appropriate ingredients” includes foods that our pets would have eaten if they lived in the wild. When you consider that dogs are descendants of wolves, an easy way to define “species appropriate ingredients” would be to look at what the prey of a wild wolf would have consist of, which would include animal prey such as a rabbit. The wolf would eat all parts of the animal including the organs, bone meal and contents of the stomach which included fruits and vegetables.
Why do we strongly feel that “species appropriate ingredients” are so important? Because our pet’s bodies depend on the nutrients found in these natural sources to survive. The largest percentage of the ancestral diet consisted of lean meat, and that included meat from a variety of sources including organ meat, bone meal and more. These natural ingredients include a variety of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, all of which are essential for a dog’s well-being, just as they are for humans. An important example of an essential amino acid is taurine, which aids in cardiac function, eye health and other critically important bodily functions including the immune system. Taurine is especially concentrated in the heart muscle of the animal prey and it’s important to include this nutrient in its natural form, in your dog’s diet. All of Side by Side’s diets are based on the ancestral diet in their whole food form, therefore all our diets include heart meat because we strive to mirror the way the animals ate in the wild. Our dogs’ bodies best absorb the nutrients they need when delivered in the right species appropriate form, such as heart muscle, not from a processed supplement powder that may be synthetic.
What is not a species appropriate ingredient? Pea flour, which is a processed ingredient used as an alternative source of protein. You will never find pea flour in any of our diets. Side by Side will always stay true to the ancestral diet and “species appropriate ingredients that the animal would have eaten in the wild.”
What’s the difference between Side by Side’s Cooling, Warming and Neutral recipes?
Side by Side was built on the foundation that Whole Food Nutrition delivers both nourishment and healing properties. In support of the healing properties of real whole foods, Side by Side selects ingredients for its diets based on the time-tested energetic property of each ingredient as warming, cooling or neutral. By doing so, veterinarian’s and pet owners can select the diet best suited for their pet at any point in time based on characteristics that the dog might be exhibiting. In our diet formulations, we’ve recognized this time tested and well documented practice of food energetics to support the body and we’ve done so in a manner to simplify the science that it was founded on, and to make it easy to implement to help support our pets. We’re proud of the many testimonials that come in every day from pet owners sharing the positive difference they’ve seen in their pet as a result of the change to whole food diets and the matching of the right foods to their pet’s particular needs.
The system of food energetics (part of Eastern medicine) is a time-tested method that has been in place for over 1,000 years. Every ingredient has an inherent energetic property either: warming, cooling or neutral and each food affects the body in line with this property. As an example, celery is a cooling food, it’s high in water content and therefore supports the cooling of the internal system. On the other hand, pumpkin is a comfort food that provides soothing and warming characteristics in support of those needing internal warmth. Below is some additional descriptive information regarding the differences in our warming, cooling and neutral products. We’ve color coded our packaging, pink (warm), blue (cool) and green (neutral) to make it easy for the consumer to shop.
Cooling diets (for dogs that run warm): If a dog is experiencing a period where his/her body is running warm, there may be outward hints such as pacing, panting, itching, allergies, seeking cool places to rest and their tongues may be red or dark in color. By changing the diet, and adding cooling foods, it’s possible to cool these pets internally, decreasing the symptoms while increasing the comfort level of the pet. The primary aspect of all our diets is the protein ingredients, and for a cooling diet this would include rabbit, duck or in some cases pork which is considered neutral and cooling. Vegetables like broccoli, celery and spinach and fruits such as apples, blueberries and bananas are all wonderful cooling ingredients.
Warming diets (for dogs that run cool): If a dog is experiencing a period where his/her body is running cool, outward hints include seeking warm places or hiding under blankets, lacking energy or appetite and a light pink tongue. By including warming ingredients in the diet for these pets, it’s possible to warm them internally. Warming proteins include chicken, turkey and lamb, vegetables include pumpkin, squash and parsley and fruits include cherries and peaches.
Neutral diets (for dogs that are just right): The goal is to restore and maintain balance in the body, and a neutral dog exhibits this balance. An example of traits for a neutral dog may include happy active and energetic behavior, clear eyes and a nice pink tongue. In this case, feeding a neutral diet will help maintain this balance and neutral proteins include beef, bison and salmon. Vegetables include carrots, green beans, beets and fruits include raspberries and pomegranate.
All of Side by Side’s diets are formulated to meet the established standards for complete and balanced diets. In formulating our warming, cooling and neutral diets we seek to attain complete and balance through the energetic properties for each diet. In getting the right nutrient profile, however, we may include a neutral, warming or cooling ingredient(s), and the combination of these ingredients retains the classification and delivers on the nutrient and energetic objectives.
Why do you feel that a freeze-dried diet is ideal for dogs and cats?
Proper nutrition starts with the ingredients, but it’s equally important to pay attention to how the ingredients are handled. On the ingredient side this means unadulterated whole foods, not genetically engineered, or lab created, just simple natural whole foods. On the process side, this means raw or as close to raw as possible, no high pressure or high heat. These factors are key to protect natural nutrient retention and to delivering those important nutrients in a form that our bodies can take in.
When your doctor recommends broccoli, he means broccoli in its natural form, and it’s because this natural combination of fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and iron is structured in a way that our bodies can absorb. This factor is true for our pets as well. Unfortunately, many pet foods are made with ingredients that don’t serve their bodies — whether its chemically engineered, overly processed or a denatured by-product — many of these foods are void of natural nutrients, and difficult for the body to adsorb.
At Side by Side, we focus on foods that nourish and heal the system from the inside out. We source our ingredients from local farms in the Midwest and then minimally cut and blend these raw ingredients to protect the cellular structure, our freeze-dried diets are blended raw and then freeze-dried to lock in the natural nutrients. Side by Side’s diets are freeze-dried raw, or shelf-stable raw as we like to share. We are careful not to introduce any step that might breakdown the cellular structure of the food; when we say broccoli, we mean broccoli. It’s for all these reasons that we receive the testimonials that we do, from pet owners, thrilled to see the positive difference in their pets. Whether it’s the dog that demonstrating the energy to run miles with their pet parent again or the 10-year-old dog jumping up on the kids’ bed to play, we’re grateful for this sharing and thrilled to touch so many lives in a positive way.
What does the future hold for Side by Side and the pet industry?
The pet food industry is changing and at an accelerated pace. Consumer interest and knowledge in pet nutrition, including the adverse effects of highly processed foods, is at an inflection point and growing rapidly. The scientific studies that highlight the benefits of whole foods and the detriment of processed diets are driving this change. Pet food retailers, including the big box players, are removing products with bad ingredients, and the boutique stores have some of the cleanest products on shelf with the fastest growing categories being freeze dried, fresh frozen and lightly cooked diets. In some cases, the boutique stores are eliminating all highly processed kibble products from their stores.
Influencers in the pet nutrition space have made a significant impact on the education level of consumers and their recommendations are propelling the growth of raw food diets and freeze-dried raw diets. While highly nutritious, feeding a frozen raw homemade diet may not be feasible for many pet owners for a variety of reasons. This is where freeze-dried raw is a perfect solution. Freeze-dried food is easy to use and shelf stable for up to two years. Freeze-dried raw also retains nearly 100 percent of the natural nutrients found in raw food, particularly when the ingredients are whole foods and not exposed to any high pressure or other methods that denature of impact the ingredients at the cellular level. Adding the requirement for “species-appropriate ingredients” and in the right proportion, results in a feeding method that mirrors the ancestral diet. The diet our pets were meant to eat. Freeze-dried raw is recognized by veterinarians and nutritionists as one of the most nutritious food options above commercially available cooked diets.
Our pets are part of our family, we want to keep them by our side for as long as possible and nutrition is a path to help support this love. It’s rewarding to be part of this change and for the recognition Side by Side has received for staying true to our mission, doing the right thing for our pets and touching lives in a positive way.