Food News

Yulin dog meat festival: A cultural tradition or outdated cruelty?

In Britain we love our dogs. They are our loyal pets and have been for hundreds, if not thousands, of years since they became domesticated. Should dog meat appear on sale at my local butcher, I am fairly confident that the butcher would:

a) be prosecuted for flouting meat guidelines

b) be utterly vilified for cruelty to animals

As cruel as the concept sounds to us, it is the case that in China, dogs (along with some other animals we can identify more with, like pigs) have been farmed for their meat for thousands of years. Quite simply, in the past, it was as acceptable to eat dog meat as is it for us to eat chicken meat.

This is largely no longer the case as China has developed, and the meat itself is now only really found in the Hunan and Guizhou provinces, where it is considered a delicacy and eaten only occasionally.

Every year, though, Yulin in south western China holds an annual dog meat festival to celebrate the longest day of the year, with about 10,000 dogs (and some cats) eaten as part of the celebration.

The worst thing about this festival is that many of the dogs eaten have not been farmed; the majority of them are actually stolen from people in urban areas. However, the demand is still there for the dog meat and enjoyed by thousands and the festival seems set to continue for some time yet.

Although this event sounds horrible, it is clear from the amount of protests, the improvements in animal rights, and the fact that younger generations treasure their pets in China, that this traditional festival is bound to be condemned to the past at some point.

We can only hope that the continued pace of change in China sweeps away this cruel and unwanted tradition that is at odds with the direction the nation is moving in.

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