Culture and local traditions should not be used to justify animal cruelty, and just because some traditions are the norm does not mean they are morally acceptable, said The Kennel Club, the largest organization in the UK dedicated to the welfare of dogs.
Unlike other domestic livestock animals, dogs and cats are carnivores that are inherently different in temperament and physiology. Livestock is raised for food, while dogs and cats are not. There are no health benefits in consuming dog and cat meat either. For example, in Korea, it is believed that eating dogs during the summer will help cool off the body whereas, in China, the canines are eaten during the winter to warm people’s bodies.
There is no scientific research proving that dog meat can improve blood flow and “chi” and aid in digestion. Neither does it show that dog meat is more nutritious than chicken or pork. Alarmingly, cats and dogs in China’s markets are bludgeoned, impaled in the neck or groin, electrocuted, hung, or thrown in boiling water, leaving the animals to suffer from a violent death.
What Does the Public Think of Dog and Cat Meat Consumption In China? (2015)
Animals Asia, a Hong Kong-based charity that focuses on ending animal cruelty in Asia, said that a total of 3,221 valid questionnaires were collected, consisting of 1,161 respondents from A-class cities and 2,060 from B-class cities. In A-class cities, men (61%) were likely to consume dog meat than women (40.4%). 59.6% of women did not eat dog meat unlike 39% of men. In B-class cities, 87.1% of women and 70% of men did not eat dog meat unlike 12.9% and 30% of those who ate dog meat, respectively.
The report revealed that eating cat and dog meat is not a prevalent behavior in China. 21.55% of respondents from B-class cities had consumed dog meat in the last two years and only 1.7% ate cat meat. In A-class cities, only 44.52% and 0.52% of respondents had eaten dog and cat meat in the last two years, respectively. Respondents from A-class cities cited taste (46.6%), Chinese tradition (31.5%), and health (21.1%) as one of their main drivers for consuming dog meat. The respondents also consumed dog meat because their colleagues (25.2%) or family (21.9%) ate it.
In B-class cities, the respondents mentioned taste (43.9%), health (33.3%), and being the same as livestock animals (13.6%) as one of their reasons for eating dog meat. They also consumed it because their colleagues (20%) or family (16.8%) do as well. In B-class cities, only 45.6% consumed dog meat every year compared to 24.5% of respondents in A-class cities. 7.8% of respondents from A-class cities consumed dog meat every week whereas only 1.6% ate it. Only 0.6% of respondents from A-class cities ate dog meat every day.
Participants from both A-class and B-class cities said they commonly ate dog meat at a dinner with friends (64.1% and 63.8%, respectively), family dinner (29.6% and 23.6%), special seasons (ex: summer, autumn, or festivals) (28.2% and 17.9%), home-cooked meals (20.6% and 12.2%), and business dinner (12.8% and 5.5%). In both A-class and B-class cities, the respondents stopped eating dog and cat meat because of the following “I think it’s cruel” (33.1% and 38.6%, respectively), “They are companion animals and not food animals” (32.5% and 37.9%), and “It is unsanitary” (29.4% and 36%).
The top concerns cited by respondents from A-class and B-class cities were “Meat does not go through any inspection and quarantine (39.4% and 48.7%), “unsanitary conditions on farms and in markets” (11.8% and 19.2%), and “some are poisoned animals” (15.8% and 19.2%). In general, 46.4% of respondents from A-class cities agreed that killing cats and dogs for consumption should be illegal, with the figure being slightly higher for those in B-class cities (51.4%).
Dog and Cat Meat Consumption In South Korea
Julien Dugnoille of The Conversation spent more than a year monitoring South Korea’s cat and dog meat trade, as well as the ingrained relationship between meat consumption and health benefits. Some dogs are bred for human consumption yet more animals that have been purchased and sold are actually household pets. Those pets are caught in the streets or put up for sale by their owners.
Some customers want “pedigree” cats and dogs as they perceive them to have purer blood than “non-pedigree” animals, which can fetch as much as 10 times the price when sold. While dog meat consumption reaches its peak during the summer, Dugnoille noted that dogs are eaten steadily during the year, especially in all-male social gatherings.
One perceived health benefit is when dogs are hung and beaten over a fire, the adrenaline in the blood will increase, thereby increasing the sexual stamina of the individual who consumes it. The flesh is usually eaten in the form of a stew or soup. Meanwhile, cat meat is commonly eaten by middle-aged working class women as they believe that a feline’s meat and bones will cure rheumatism.
Since cats are agile animals, the women think that consuming cat meat will help them remain healthy into their sixties or seventies, allowing them to support themselves financially. One charity operates a vegan restaurant where people can visit rescued animals and adopt them. Sadly, many resident animal welfare advocates confessed to Dugnoille that they had eaten cat or dog meat in their thirties out of family and professional pressure. Dugnoille concluded that youths who are actively opposed to the dog and cat meat trade might embrace the practice when they get older for the above-mentioned reasons.
Dog and Cat Meat Consumption In Vietnam
Vietnamese consume dog meat as they believe that eating one by the end of the month will help them get rid of the bad luck they accumulated in the previous weeks, reported Ate Hoekstra of DW, a global English-language news and information channel in Germany. Cats are also eaten in the country, with dozens of restaurants selling feline meat in Hanoi, stated South China Morning Post, an English-language newspaper in Hong Kong. Hence, it is rare to see cats wandering the streets, and most owners keep them indoors or tied up for fear of being taken by cat thieves.
Cats are sometimes smuggled from Thailand and Laos due to the demand from restaurants. According to Hoang Ngoc Bau, one of Hanoi’s few trained vets, Vietnam started to consume animals that are considered pets in other regions because of a circumstance. He said, “The country was once very poor, and we had a long war. We ate everything we could to stay alive— insects, dogs, cats, even rats ... It became a habit.”
In recent decades, changes in society and cultural perceptions in Vietnam entail that a growing number of people share Bau’s love for animals. However, old eating habits are hard to change so owners are trying hard to protect their precious pets from being sold and cooked.
Dog and cat meat are consumed in Asia for various reasons ranging from perceived health benefits to getting rid of bad luck. However, there is no evidence that eating dogs and cats will help people become healthier. Although there are people who are in favor of consuming dogs and cats, there are others who assert themselves to end this cruel practice.