Overthinking It

Yulin Dog Meat Festival: Controversy and Hypocrisy Much

The infamous Yulin dog meat festival in Guangxi province, China, opened today. Yulin celebrates summer solstice with its annual dog-eating festival. According to Chinese folk beliefs, eating dog meat will bring good luck and health. Some also believe that dog meat will ward off heat in summer month.

Around 10,000 dogs are expected to be killed and eaten during this controversial 10-day festival. As expected, the festival has drawn much international attention and controversy, with millions of petitioners and several international celebrities rallying against it.

However, I find this outrage superficial.

Let’s take a look at the some of the more popular arguments against the eating of dogs.

It is cruel!

Critics of the Yulin dog meat festival argue that the dogs are treated inhumanely. They are cramped into tiny cages, and given little food and water. And apparently, many of the dogs are beaten and boiled alive because there is a belief that the more frightened the dogs, the tastier the meat.

This is indeed a legit concern. But most of those who make such arguments aren’t vegan and vegetarians. They will get angry at the consumption of dog meat at one moment, but wouldn’t bat an eyelid when they happily chomping down their fried chicken at the next moment.  Fried chicken which came from chicken that were reared in horrible conditions as well.

I think you get the message.

And if the inhumane treatment of dogs in the dog meat trade is the issue here, will the consumption of dog meat be ok if the dogs are reared and killed humanely?

Dogs are intelligent and sentinel creatures!

Yeah, I’m sure they are. But so is Percy the Pig. In fact, pigs outperform 3 year-old human children on cognition tests and are smarter than any domestic animal, and animal experts consider them to be more trainable than dogs.

But hey, Percy the Pig makes tasty bacon. So who cares whether Percy is intelligent or not, right?

But dogs are so cute!

I don’t even want to dignify this non-argument with an answer.

Dog is man’s best friend!

This argument has some merit. It suggests that humans’ relationship with a particular animal determines whether it should be eaten or not. And the dog, given its special relationship with humans since time immemorial, has a special status.

So yes, this argument will probably resonate with dog-lovers, but what about those who dislike dogs and don’t think that dogs deserve some kind of special status?

And I don’t think that Hindus go around condemning and criticising the Brits for eating their Sunday Roast despite the sacred nature of cows in their society.

Personally, as a dog lover and dog owner, I wouldn’t eat dog meat. That is a personal choice. But I don’t think it gives me the right to criticise and condemn others for eating dogs – there is no moral high ground that I can stand on since I am not a vegetarian. Doing so makes me a hypocrite, and I don’t want to be one.

I know it is fashionable to jump onto a bandwagon and support certain “hip” causes, but let’s make a more concerted effort to think twice about our own positions before picking a side, shall we?


(Photos from TheIndependent.co.uk)

1 Comment

  1. James Dorsey

    Blowtorching and boiling live skinned animals isn’t acceptable anywhere. It’s a crime. And it exists throughout Asia. Yulin has just brought it to light. Is such a practice tolerated in Singapore? My guess is not.

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