Have you been wondering about the #StopYuLin2015 hashtag floating around social media at the moment? I was too. I thought YuLin was some asshole person that needed to be stopped.
Turns out that it's actually a Dog Meat Festival happening in a town called YuLin in south-west China. Understandably there’s been a lot of outrage and international pressure in backlash to the facts being (sensationally) reported by CNN, The Guardian, and the BBC, namely:
- The festival has been running since 1995, though YuLin's local government has distanced itself from the controversial event and claims there's no official festival at all
- It involves the slaughter and processing of approximately 10,000 dogs, some of which are raised expressly for human consumption and others that are rumored to have been stolen from urban areas either as strays, guard dogs, or even pets.
- Some of the dogs are in ill health as a result of malnourishment and inhumane housing conditions, but are processed anyway.
People are most pissed off about two pretty obvious things: one, Fluffy’s being served up for lunch, and two, that Fluffy might have been stolen from his loving family. No one’s going to disagree with that second one of course; stealing is bullshit and the theft of an animal considered to be family is even crueler than that of an inanimate object.
But that first point…
That first point…where do we begin? Let's just think about this for a second. Open your mind, and think through this with me logically--then leave your opinions in the comments below.
I have a puppy, Tula, who is my father’s whole world. She is absolutely a family member and I love her to bits and pieces.
I have no plans to eat dog. I don't personally agree with it, grouping my disagreement under the same "fuzzy" moral umbrella I use to justify usually abstaining from lamb and veal (I don't eat baby anything; not only because it's a baby, which seems cruel to me, but also for the conditions these particular animals are commonly raised in) and foie gras because of the often deplorable way in which it is produced.
What I really don’t understand, though, is the outrageous righteous anger at the concept of eating dog. Think about it for a second: what makes eating dog different from eating cow, chicken, or pork?
“But dogs are like family! Those other animals don’t have personalities like my dog and they’re raised to be eaten anyway!”
I get that dogs are like family—to us, here, in the West and other similar cultures. But in some Asian countries and also commonly in South America, dogs are not viewed as family members but as pests, workers, or as a food source. In fact, dogs have been raised as a food source in China since the Neolithic period, right alongside fowl, chicken, pigs, and cows. An animal that’s family to you is good eating to someone on the other side of the world, and vice versa. Try to consider that.
As to those “other animals” not having as much personality as your dog—can you really say that? How much experience do you REALLY have getting to know the personalities of chickens, pigs, and cows?
I have a bit, and I can tell you that pigs are incredibly smart and opinionated with their own likes and dislikes, and can very easily form bonds with humans. So can chickens, to a lesser degree. Cows even have best friends in their herds and senses of humour, and are capable of making intelligent decisions. These animals aren’t just mindless slabs of living tenderloin waiting to make it onto your grill. So, what’s the real difference here?
If you’ve followed my blog for a while you know I do eat meat. I used to be a vegetarian and a pescatarian (fish being my only source of meat) but being passionate about food I sort of swung back around to the omnivore persuasion.
But the key for me is trying to be mindful about what I eat. I know what I’m doing. It’s an educated decision about the type of animal, how it was raised and where and under what conditions. I try not to just thoughtlessly shove any meat I can find into my face.
If you’re going to be outraged about people eating dog, then perhaps you should also give a little bit more thought about the meat you eat. Be outraged about all meat eating, or choose to be understanding of other cultures.
What are your thoughts on the issue? Let me know in the comments. I'm always up for lively, informed, and intelligent debate. If you're just going to be an ignorant asshole, please go away. :)