Around the world, people are becoming increasingly aware and disgusted by the market for dog meat. While some activists and international companies have deemed the practice as reflecting poorly on a country, it still seems entirely normal to some. Why do those in the United States consider eating dogs unnatural? How has the market for dog meat survived for so long long with the increasing opposition?
French actress and activist Brigitte Bardot discussed the more popular perspective during a Korean radio interview, where she stated: “Cows are grown to be eaten, dogs are not. I accept that many people eat beef, but a cultured country does not allow its people to eat dogs.”
Where the issue arises for most is the thought of eating an animal meant for companionship. While eating dog is taboo in the West, many countries raise dogs for the specific purpose of eating them. Therefore, the market for dog meat is just as natural as other livestock like pigs and cows.
In China, an annual dog meat festival, held each year in Yulin to celebrate the summer solstice, has attracted increasing negative attention. Those defending the practice asked protesters to explain why they ate beef in order to put it in perspective.
In Korean cities, dogs are raised as pets and are bought and sold for companionship. On the other hand, in the country’s rural areas, dogs are raised for their meat. The distinction does not come with breed but rather depends on where the dog is born.
There are also groups of people who do not have the option to eat what Americans consider traditional livestock. In India, cows are sacred and are thus off limits for being farmed and eaten. For Muslims and Jews, eating pig is forbidden.
Jonathan Safran Foer, a novelist and vegetarian, writes in his book Eating Animals, that euthanizing pets “amounts to millions of pounds of meat now being thrown away every year.”
He adds: “The simple disposal of these euthanized dogs is an enormous ecological and economic problem. It would be demented to yank pets from homes. But eating those strays, those runaways, those not-quite-cute-enough-to-take and not-quite well-behaved-enough-to-keep dogs would be like killing a flock of birds with one stone and eating it, too.”
There is still the unarguable fault in the dog meat industry, which is the current treatment of dogs before they are killed and the method of killing. Governments of nations who practice dog-eating are working on legalizing, licensing and regulating the industry so the methods become more humane.
Even this point has been argued by pro-dog meat people. While some facilities are inhumane in the treatment and killing of the dogs, there are plenty of slaughterhouses in the U.S. with horrid treatment and killing methods for the animals kept there.
If the process is legalized and regulated, dog meat can be added as an option for anyone to eat, and for those who have few options to begin with, this can make a difference.
However, even if eating dog becomes widespread and safe, will it be accepted? It is still considered a strange and barbaric idea in some cultures, but if the practice achieves universal acceptance, then it may make the process safe and widespread enough to feed more mouths than previously thought possible.
– Courtney Prentice