Are you one of the many people signing petitions against, or clicking “like” on every Ricky Gervais post about, the Yulin Dog Meat Festival? Are you outraged by a festival that kills dogs for food? Well, put down your pork chop and let’s have a chat.
First, I get it. Here in the U.S., dogs are family. They stare up at us with their big eyes, they lick our faces, they sleep on our beds, they play fetch, they greet us when we come home. I feel the same way about our cat. People who own ferrets feel that way about their pets, as do people who have hamsters, or guinea pigs, or parrots. We anthropomorphize our pets; there are even memes about answering your pet if it meows or barks. We love our pets.
But we don’t love all animals. That is made clear by the insane amount of meat we eat in this country. We consume more beef than almost every other country in the world. And beef comes from (this may shock some of you) cows. Cows, that up to the moment that bolt gun hits their forehead, were very much alive. Red meat is bad for you-on that point, many physicians and researchers agree-but that doesn’t stop us from eating it. We know cows suffer, and yet, we still eat beef.
We know pigs suffer, too. This link to a Mother Jones investigative article contains a very disturbing video, but I bet there are a lot of folks who will watch it, wince, and go have some bacon. Sows are kept in gestational crates, impregnated over and over again, unable to turn around, stand, or move in any way. Of course, we cannot forget “pig lagoons,” toxic lakes of fecal matter that often leak into the surrounding ground, contaminating the soil and water.
Chickens are living hell on Earth, at least according to numerous videos. As Nicholas Kristof puts it:
If you torture a single chicken and are caught, you’re likely to be arrested. If you scald thousands of chickens alive, you’re an industrialist who will be lauded for your acumen.
Matt Rice, the director of investigations for Mercy for Animals, told Kristof federal regulations do not apply to slaughtering chickens, adding:
I think most Americans would be shocked that 95 percent of farm animals aren’t protected by the few laws we have.
In short, we inhumanely slaughter a lot of animals so we can dine on barbecue, burgers, hot dogs, and steak.
Which brings us back to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. Are the dogs treated inhumanely? By all accounts, yes, just as cows, pigs, and chickens are treated in this country. But what is it specifically about this festival that offends and outrages so many? Reread the second paragraph of this article. Puppies are friends, not food, right?
Ever seen a calf? Big brown eyes, long eyelashes, adorable little faces. How about a lamb? Fluffy, tiny, gamboling about the fields. Do you eat veal? Sweetbreads? Easter lamb? Calves and lambs are just as cute as puppies, yet a lot of people have no problem whatsoever devouring the meat of these baby animals.
Do you know how foie gras is made? The luxury item, dined on by the rich and famous, comes from torturing geese with a process called “gavage.” Luckily, chefs are discovering ways to harvest foie gras without using the gavage technique. They still have to kill the goose. Just like you have to kill a duck for Peking duck, or a goat for Curry goat.
If you eat meat, you really haven’t got a leg to stand on regarding the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. The only group that can truly be outraged by this are vegans: people who do not consume or use any animal byproducts. No leather, no wool, no silk, no dairy, no shampoo tested on rabbits, no meat, nothing. Of course, if a vegan is reading this article on a device made using slave labor, that’s a whole other issue, but for now, we’ll stick to the blatant hypocrisy of eating meat and decrying the Yulin Dog Meat Festival.
Is it icky? Yes, to us, just like our massive consumption of beef is icky to people in India, where cows are sacred. But honestly, if you eat pork, beef, chicken, fish, eggs, or cheese, how can you tell another culture that their choice of protein is wrong? How can you tell another culture the way they slaughter their meat is inhumane, knowing how so much of our own meat comes to the table?
This is really about how much Americans love dogs, and not at all about the way animals used for meat are treated up to, and during, slaughter. Sign the petitions, click “like,” but remember: The next time you wrap your lips around a burger, or a rack of ribs, or a lamb or veal chop, the next time you listen to the sizzle of sausages on the grill, that meat was once a living creature, just like the dogs in Yulin.