Why people eat dogs and cats?

One of the reasons that dogs and cats are still consumed as food in several countries is the perception people have towards them.  Historically, dogs are raised for the purpose of hunting, herding, pulling loads, or protection, while cats are raised because of their ability to hunt vermin. They apparently do not have as high social position as in Western society. Even those are kept as pets in Asian countries, in general, are still treated as a ‘domesticated animal’ rather than a companion. Additionally, the tradition and culture in the East believe that mankind is the most powerful and intelligent creature in the universe. Hence, they give themselves the right to abuse other ‘lower-class’ animals. This explains why animals in the East are more likely to be mistreated by many means than those are in the West.

Another argument that dog or cat meat ‘lovers’ tend to use is, why there should be a discrimination between different types of animals. If one can eat chicken, pork or lamb, so why they cannot eat dog or cat meat? And even when kangaroo meat starts to be found in every supermarket in Australia, what is the limit to justify ‘to eat or not to eat’ a species? These pet meat eaters also claim that according to their cultural belief, eating meat derived from dogs and cats will bring good luck or health. In Chinese tradition, cat meat is the main ingredient in the traditional dish “dragon, tiger, phoenix” (snake, cat, chicken), which is said to fortify the body. In Vietnam, people think that dog meat will bring good fortune. There is also a superstition that it has medicinal properties and helps warming up the human body, especially in winter. For this reason, dogs are sometimes clubbed cruelly or beaten into death before being cooked, as it is thought that the more adrenalin circulates in the dog body, the more fresh and flavour is the meat.

One of the many difficulties when tackling the problem is that, the habit of eating these animals’ meat is considered as a part of culture and has been practiced for generations in these areas. Hence, older men are normally main consumers, especially in rural areas. It is a real struggle to change their attitude because of their conservative mind as well as they are not tech-savvy enough to be engaged effectively by social media.

Phuong Pham

Cats await their own death in the slaughterhouse, while watching others are slaughtered in front of them. Source: AP/Humane Society International
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