Vietnamese Street Vendors Turn Dog Meat Into Kebabs
Thu, April 22, 2021

Vietnamese Street Vendors Turn Dog Meat Into Kebabs

A photographer from San Francisco recently shared “extremely disturbing” photos of dogs lying in metal grates and served to locals in Hanoi, Vietnam / Photo by: Visviva via Wikimedia Commons

 

A photographer from San Francisco recently shared “extremely disturbing” photos of dogs lying in metal grates and served to locals in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Internationally published photojournalist and commercial photographer Josh Edelson visited Vietnam and shared via British newspaper Daily Mail some of his shots that portray how street shops in Vietnam are making dog kebabs (meat dishes). The first time Edelson asked the street vendors to take photos, he was shooed away. “They don’t like having photos taken,” the photographer shared, adding that it has become a controversial part of the Vietnamese culture.

Dog Meat Culture of Vietnam

Eating dog meat is a part of Vietnam’s culture, Ho Chi Minh-based travel company Saigon Kiss Tours said. While not everyone loves eating meat dogs, about half of the country’s population does. The travel company based it on the statistics provided by an international alliance of four animal protection organizations, The Asia Canine Protection Alliance (ACPA). 

ACPA, with a goal of ending the illegal trade of dogs in Vietnam, details that the country consumes about 5 million dogs every year. The area that consumes the most dog meat is found in Northern Vietnam, the travel company added. Locals believe that dog meat contains many proteins. Since the meat is also hot, it is suitable for areas with cold weather, such as in Northern Vietnam. 

Elder Vietnamese also believes that eating dog meat at the end of the year can help dispel bad luck. This is because the canine represents night or dark because they protect people’s belongings at night and so one needs to find something darker to dispel the dark. “Eating dog is a solution,” the travel company said about their country’s culture.

This is why when Edelson traveled in Vietnam, he believed that the photos of dog meat sold by street vendors are an “important story” to tell. After the rejection, three street vendors finally allowed him to film the scene of how dog meat is turned into kebabs. The Daily Mail added that even the Vietnam government has tried to crack down on the delicacy. 

Edelson’s photos showed that the teeth of the dogs are still in place while they are displayed in metal grates. Their skin has already darkened when they are piled up near the sausages. People passing the road can see the carts that sell dog meat. The photographer added that he saw soldiers and motorists stop at the cart and snack on the dog meat after the vendors fried it to serve to the buyers.

In other Southeast Asian countries, eating dog meat is already frowned upon, although it remains legal in some countries. The government is already looking for ways to outlaw the Vietnam practice by 2021.

Eating dog meat is a part of Vietnam’s culture, Ho Chi Minh-based travel company Saigon Kiss Tours said. While not everyone loves eating meat dogs, about half of the country’s population does / Photo by: Hieucd via Wikimedia Commons

 

Dog Meat Industry

In the past, the dog meat industry flourished, but canines were being snatched from their homes. Then, they would be placed in metal cages and eventually end up in restaurant tables. In 2014, thousands of pets were reported stolen from the front porches and gardens to feed the locals' appetites. There was also a point in time when almost seven tonnes of live dogs were shipped every day to Hanoi, the country’s capital.

Dogs were also force-fed because they were being sold by weight. They would be stuffed with water and rice using stomach tubes. So, the more packed they were, the higher their value would be in the market. There were also dogs eaten in Vietnam that were trucked in from Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. However, in the past few years, animal rights organizations have succeeded in closing most of these trade routes. This only means that the majority of the dogs eaten in Vietnam are shipped from within their country.

There are local diners who believe that the more the dog suffers before being served as food, the tastier its meat will be. Thus, it is common practice to bludgeon the animals using a metal pipe; it may take more than ten blows before the dog dies. Others slit the dogs’ throats or stab them in the chest. Some animals are burned alive. 

Meat Supply per Person

Our World in Data, a platform that provides data and research on global problems, shared that Vietnam had a 25.30 kg average total meat supply per person in 2001 and that number increased to 27.79kg the following year. Meat supply per person was detailed in the years that follow: 2003 (29.66kg), 2004 (31.73kg), 2005 (34.94kg), 2006 (38.12kg), 2007 (42.23kg), 2008 (46.09kg), 2009 (50.35kg), 2010 (51.52kg), 2011 (57.60kg), 2012 (55.01kg), and 2013 (55.22kg). The data excludes fish and other seafood sources.

Comparing Vietnam and US Street Vendors

Vendors in Saigon and Hanoi sidewalks consider street vending as a lifeline. Official government data in 2015 showed that migrants aged 15 to 59 made up 17.3% of the country's population and the majority of them worked in the unofficial sector. In the US, vendors worked in a diversity of occupations before vending. These occupations are as follows: the service sector (28%), sales, accounting, IT, business management, banking, HR, and engineering (29%), manual jobs (14%), government (8%), and social welfare (8%). This data was provided by the Institute for Justice and the University of Colorado.

If today's vendors in Vietnam enter the business with experience from other forms of employment, they might just be better equipped with the skills and training to be successful even without resorting to animal cruelty. 

Vendors in Saigon and Hanoi sidewalks consider street vending as a lifeline. Official government data in 2015 showed that migrants aged 15 to 59 made up 17.3% of the country's population and the majority of them worked in the unofficial sector / Photo by: Uwe Aranas via Wikimedia Commons