While three countries all have the highest records amongst regions eating dogs as part of their cultural habits, dog meat trade in Korean seems to be a bit more humane than in China and Vietnam.
Although there are many dog meat restaurants are operating in Vietnam, there is nothing so-called ‘dog farm’ in this country until now. Most dogs to be butchered are stolen from the streets and this fact is obviously known by the eaters. The picture of dog meat trade is also similar in China. During Yulin, the annual festival of eating dog meat in China, it is believed that slaughtered dogs are mainly stolen pets despite the claim from the suppliers, insisting that these dogs are specifically raised for the purpose of eating only. The evidence of many dog collars found in the slaughter house has proved that the claim is just a way to deflect public criticism. As a result, many gangs of dog thief are doing really ‘good’ business barbarically, by trapping, bailing and stealing pets and re-selling them to the restaurants in these countries. Even worse, there have been several cases reported, that these thieves are caught and beaten to death by the pet owners and other villagers.
In the end, the dog meat eating habit is not only inhumane in the way our pets is caught and butchered by evil-doers, but also inhumane in the way it triggers anger and fierceness inside us. It is not to argue whether killing a pet is more or less ethical than putting a man to death, but to emphasise the fact that, if we ever feel sorry for a loss of human life, feel the same for other animals co-existing with us on this planet as well.
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.
Welcome to “Stop the Taboo”, a social media campaign aiming to raise people’s awareness and alter their attitude towards dog and cat meat consumption in modern 21st century. Although dogs and cats has been used as food in times of war or other hardships, this practice is increasingly considered as a horrific eating habit and against the evolution of mankind. My campaign chooses to target China, Vietnam and Korean as three nations consuming most of these pets meat in the world, especially when this phenomena has become traditional or daily cuisine in these regions. My campaign hopes to contribute to the mutual ongoing effort of other activists, who are attempting to stop this pet meat eating taboo.