Garnering huge moral outrage is the Yulin Dog Meat festival, which as you guessed, is a festival set around the selling and eating of dog meat. To us in the western world we look at this and think “ew, dogs are pets” right? I’m absolutely with you on that one. But that’s me and my western sensibilities talking, my personal bias on the subject. This blog post is going to me trying to put my personal feelings aside and analyse this situation a little.
I’m going to ignore the reports of abuse and cruelty and torture that have leaked out of Yulin since its inception in recent years. Not because I don’t believe, or don’t want to acknowledge it. I do, I acknowledge that the reports are real, and perhaps they hold some truth. I think that focusing too much on the animal cruelty and abuse side of this blog post, with no solid evidence to back it up would be fruitless. It wouldn’t be beneficial to me or anyone. So from this point forwards this blog will be working on the assumption that the livestock at Yulin will be treated humanely and so forth.
So what’s the issue really? Why is dog meat such a bad thing to eat? I’d argue it was probably down to the success of dogs as pets in the western world. With a lot of families owning them, your standard pooch is considered man’s best friend. I’ve never looked at any live animal and thought hmm, that would be tasty food. But then again, I’ve never had to.
I live in western society, where I can walk down to the supermarket and grab the boneless skinless breasts pack; without ever having to consider the moral complications of eating chicken. This goes for most of western society, we’re all like this pretty much. We don’t get involved with our food more than we have to, it grosses us out. We’re happy to live in denial of the facts of where the meat has come from and how its ended up on your plate.
This is probably why we’re so startled and shocked when something unusual happens or some truth about our food is revealed. We feel betrayed. When it comes to Cows, Chickens, Pigs – we don’t really have any moral obligation to the death of these animals. Nor do we object to their standards of cleanliness in life. However as the recent horse meat scandal rocked Britain, there were hundreds of comments from angry people. Comments about being disgusted, about how wrong it was to serve people horse meat without them knowing. It was huge.
In truth there’s no real issue with eating horse and its been practised for thousands of years. The same goes for dogs. Its easy for us in the western world with our abundance of food and ease of access to it to sit here and judge other cultures and their way of life. What we need to understand is how our morality might not line up with theirs, and that doesn’t make them bad people, or wrong for doing what they do.
Would I myself eat dog meat? Sure, I’d try it, I don’t see why not. It’s food, and if your problem with eating food is that it used to be alive then you’re going to have a lot of trouble eating anything on this planet. I don’t think that makes me a bad person.
Lets get pissy with people mistreating animals absolutely; the least you can do if you plan to kill and eat an animal you’re raising is give it a good life. But getting pissy at people who like to eat different food than you do? That’s not really okay.