IS DOG MORE LIKE A FRIEND OR…A DELICACY?

>> EATING DOG MEAT AS A WORLDWIDE TREND

NEARLY EVERYBODY LIKES ASIAN CUISINE

So do I – spring rolls, banh khoai, pho soup, bhan mi in Vietnam – they are all absolutely delicious!. A few days ago, cycling in North Vietnam I had a chance to see another Vietnamese dish – the dogs being roasted on the BBQ. Next to it, there was a cage with around 20 little puppies in it. I knew it was a part of the centuries-long culture and traditional cuisine here but the view has chilled me as a happy owner of the 3 dogs and vegetarian. The more I read about eating dog meat, the more untasty it becomes.

eating dog meat is part of the veitnamese culture

Photo: Alexander Kohler (you can find more of his work here: http://www.mehrbunt.de/)

BUT…DOES EATING DOG MEAT REALLY HAPPEN ONLY IN ASIA?

China, Indonesia (although it’s prohibited), Polynesia, Taiwan (illegal but black dogs were believed to help retain body warmth in winter time), North and South Korea (around 7 thousand restaurants selling dog meat in 1998 in the South Korea), Vietnam Philippines, India, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Canada, Timor Leste, Arctic and Antarctic regions and in Switzerland (in the Swiss rural cantons of Appenzell and St. Gallen) it has been recorded that dog meat has historically been eaten (note: the list is based on the various records as there is no comprehensive data on the consumption of dog meat worldwide available). Although living standards are improving and dogs are starting to be treated as pets, more than 5 million dogs in Vietnam (and an estimated 30 million across Asia according to the Humane Society) are killed for meat every year in the country, according to the Asia Canine Protection Alliance.

FOOD OF THE POOR OF WEALTHY ONES?

Despite all the arguments that the dog meat (in Vietnamese: giả cầy) eating culture has originated from World War II starvation, nowadays it is considered delicious and it doesn’t cost a fortunne. “Dog is one of the best choices for drinking out. It’s great with beer and vodka, a rich source of protein, and cheap for the amount of meat you get” it’s what a  27-year-old Vietnamese man said to Elisabeth Rosen who investigated the topic. Even the Danish Prince Henry admitted he understood the reason behind its consumption (according to what he’s said in 2006) and what he meant was its taste.

THE SLOWER, THE BETTER

Some gastronomes practice the slow killing methods as they believe it enhances the culinary advantages of the meat. The 7-day-long dog meat festival in Yulin in southern China is an exceptionally cruel example with approximately 10.000 – 15.000 dogs killed for food purposes. However, according to the Independent magazine “[…] a recent poll conducted by Horizon, commissioned by the China Animal Welfare Association, found that most Chinese citizens want the Yulin festival to end”. Despite the fact there is evidence that the dog meat trade contributes to the spread of rabies and the risk of cholera, it still remains a delicacy.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

Not trying to state whether eating dog meat is worst than, for example, pork meat, we want everybody to become aware how the dogs are actually being treated before they land on a plate. I leave everybody to make their own opinion.

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PHOTO BY Alexander Kohler mehrbunt.de

TEXT BY Monika Lewicka nomaddict.org