Today on Grist we’re launching a series of articles about protein. What made me want to focus on protein? Well, let’s just say it started with my dog, Lucy. (That’s her over on the right.)

I’d been abstractly aware of Lucy’s meat intake when, a few years back, she started developing allergies. Like the slightly-obsessive home cook that I am, I started cooking for Lucy.

Clueless at first, I fed her portions that were around the same size as the kibble she’d been getting in her bowl for years. (At first it was chicken and rice, but I quickly replaced the rice with sweet potatoes just in case it was the grains she’d been allergic to.) And then — when Lucy growled and grumbled and harumphed — I realized my mistake: Now that her food wasn’t dehydrated, she’d need twice as much. I grimaced and pictured the astronaut food that my sixth grade classmates had passed around after returning from Space Camp in the late ’80s.