Opinion / Xin Zhiming

Cultural norms vs. diet choice

By Xin Zhiming ( Updated: 2014-06-09 10:02

You eat whatever is eaten where you are born.

I found the tongue-twisting argument when I searched Yahoo! Answers for comments on eating dogs, which is common in some Asian countries and a small number of Western countries but deemed by many as unbearable brutality.

The argument essentially defines the nature of the behavior of eating dogs: It’s a cultural thing.

For many Western people, dogs are faithful and cute pets and it is barbarian and cruel to cook and eat them!

But for people in other cultures, it may not be that serious. In Yulin city, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, a dog-eating festival is held in the summer once a year. A large number of dogs are slaughtered and cooked every day during the festival, arousing protests from dog-loving people.

As the festival draws near this year, some famous actors and actress have joined the campaign to call for stopping the festival to save dogs. And their fans have exchanged abusive words with local people who support the festival through social media, accusing them of being barbarian and inhuman.

This is not the first time for the Chinese people to engage in such a fierce debate that concerns the fate of dogs. And in 2011, some animal protection activists even gathered at an expressway toll gate in Beijing to block entry of dog-carrying trucks into the city.

Proponents said eating dogs is a tradition in many parts of the world and should not be stopped simply because some people dislike it. And they said most of the consumed dogs are farmed ones, not pet dogs.

Opponents said dogs are faithful friends of mankind and we must treat them well, not take them as food. Animal protection activists also argued that the process of dog slaughtering is too cruel for people to bear.

Indeed, for people in some parts of the world, eating dogs is nothing different from eating pigs or chicken. It is a choice of diet that has been fixed as part of the culture where they have been brought up.

Even US animal rights group PETA admitted in a blog article that while it is upsetting, eating dog meat is no different from all other forms of animal consumption and loving pet dogs does not necessarily contradict with eating farmed dogs.

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