Thursday, June 09, 2011

Interesting article about dog meat consumption in China and, like Korea, how people are starting to lose their minds when it comes to dogs.

The Korean's post on dog meat consumption in Korea and what the Korean thinks of it is here. Short version: all arguments against eating dogs are eventually reducible to either pure personal preference or bald cultural superiority. Neither is a good enough reason to dictate people's preference about what to eat.


  1. I disagree that those are the only two arguments.

    A few notes to begin:
    1. I'm a vegan Westerner living in Korea. I've been vegan for 8 years and I've lived in Korea for almost 2 now.
    2. I don't have as much problem with Koreans eating dog meat as I do with Westerners eating it, which will be made understandable below.
    3. Obviously I believe eating animals period is wrong (not so much a matter of mere personal preference, as much as well-thought out ethical considerations, but I'd have to lay "Animal Liberation" and a few dozen environmental papers down on you, and there isn't the space.)

    So people everywhere eat chickens. They are thought of as "food" animals. I don't think they are food animals and I do believe it is wrong to eat them. However, this is how most people are raised - to not love chickens and to see them only as things to eat.

    Dogs, however, are thought of in the West and now by many Koreans as "pet" animals and "friends." They are not by and large thought of as food, especially by younger generations. My evidence for this in Korea is pretty limited so far, but when we talk about this in class (and I never push my own viewpoints, I just listen), most kids think it's wrong to eat dogs or at least wouldn't do it themselves.

    Now, when you eat an animal that is considered a "friend" or a "pet" animal by your society, to do so you must actively disable your feelings of love and compassion for that animal. You must distance yourself from the act, or at the very least, you have to put your own egoic interest in appearing "adventurous" or "daring" or as a "cultural explorer" ahead of your compassion, love and higher feelings that bond you to other animals and, indeed, people.

    I see far too many Westerners engaging in this kind of culinary dare, because they think it'll be cool to go back home and say "Hey, I ate a dog." This would never be acceptable back home, but in this new environment, the ethics and morals of their society and the love for dogs trained into them since birth evaporates.

    Children, meanwhile, who grow up in a society where animals are simultaneously considered "pets" and "friends" and "food to be killed" experience an eerie cognitive dissonance. At its worst this total illogic could lead to children making the connection that "dogs are friends, but dogs are food too, which means that it's okay to kill, abuse and eat my friends. I can simultaneously say I love an animal and sentence it to death." If you don't find this attitude troubling, there is really no point in talking to you about it. But this is the same kind of attitude domestic abusers have to their girlfriends/wives. I love her, but I have to hit her, but I still love her.

    It's one or the other. Korea is rapidly shifting from a "I eat dogs" society to a "I protect dogs" society. Dog meat should go the way of the dodo and fast to keep in step with that shift in attitude, especially if Korea wants to raise responsible pet owners who treat their dogs more like members of the family and less like fashion accessories.

    So, in my opinion:
    Westerners eating dogs are being shitty egoists just doing it to tell a story back home, hardly reason enough to sell their damn souls.
    Koreans eating dogs bother me less cause by and large they're doing it as part of their culture, and it's about as significant as eating chicken is back home.
    But as Korea changes to become a pet-owning society eating dogs can and should become less prevalent and less acceptable or else it creates a rather unhealthy attitude that we can love what we kill.

  2. This is ridiculous. I can both eat dog meat and love dogs as a pet at the same time. What is with people trying to say I should feel bad because I have a pet dog? Why? Would people say it's bad to have a pet cow because people in America normally eat cows?

    That's silly. I hope Korea never completely stops eating dog. I'm a Westerner going to Korea in August and I hope to give it a try, if not just to say I did. If I like it, maybe I'll try it again sometime. Big deal, it's not anyone's business and that's the truth, plain and simple.

  3. I used to think people were smart enough to realize there's a difference between dogs raised as pets and those raised for food. Obviously, I'm wrong.

    There's only one acceptable argument against dog meat consumption and that's the "I'm a vegan/vegetarian and I think any meat consumption is wrong" and interestingly, Jennifer started her comment by stating just that. Then, of course, she proceeds to convince me that I've been overestimating humanity.

    Now, some observations:

    Some western cultures consume dog meat, but only Asians are ridiculed for that.

    Some western cultures hunt and eat whales and dolphins but everybody seems to think only the Japanese do so.


  4. I tend to side alot more with TK on this issue. I think the problem here is two fold:

    1. the failure of animal activists to distinguish between animal consumption as practice, and animal consumption as principle; and

    2. the failure of animal activists to realize that "culture" is not the exlusive domain of meat-eaters but also of animal activists themselves, that their own biases, beliefs and values are the result of social and historical processes that led to having the biases they have (as is the case with meat eaters themselves.)

  5. I agree with the point that there is a third viable argument against eating dogs - dogs raised for human consumption are kept in miserable conditions and sometimes tortured before ultimately being put out of their misery. I think that's a pretty solid argument against eating dogs, and it works as an argument against eating most of the other meat out there, too, since most animals raised for food are treated cruelly. I wouldn't call that reason personal preference, either, unless you'd consider my desire to limit the suffering I cause other living creatures a personal preference.

  6. Jennifer,

    Thanks for the comment. A few questions on your view --

    1. Isn't it true that people, including Westerners, have a right to choose, or at least try, radically a mode of thought radically different from the one in which they grew up? Isn't that the whole point of experiencing another country and culture?

    2. Isn't it true that Korea is increasingly becoming a "I protect dogs" society (to borrow your term) not because Koreans had a sudden ethical revelation, but because it is being influenced by Western culture?

    3. Is it truly impossible to have a dog as a pet and enjoy dog meat also? For example, a relatively famous food columnist Hwang Gyo-Ik speaks of owning a pet and enjoying dog meat. What if the pet is not a "friend" like a human friend, but no more than a pet?


    But your argument would not contemplate total abolition of dog meat from the face of the earth, right?

  7. What about in the US? - dogs that are sold to pet stores are raised in miserable and disgusting conditions with diseases and basically tortured too. They get a nice bath, put on a bow, and sold for $500 plus bucks to some family that wants a certain breed dog for their family. And people in the US support this industry!
    They buy the "in" breed or designer breed. Golden doodle anyone? Puggle?! Do people realize that most of these "purebreds" are breed to such extremes that the features that make a certain breed cute or desirable are actually harmful to their health?

    This is by far more disgusting to me than having the dogs used to feed people and sustain human life. It gets me so aggravated when these "animal activists" get so upset about humans eating animals, but what humans do to living animals for the pure enjoyment of having something cute or that "fits into their lifestyle," or enjoying a horse carriage ride in NYC, etc, is so much more despicable.

  8. I agree.
    The only things I have against the eating of dog meat is that they generally don't seem to be treated all that well by the butchers.
    But of course, the same thing goes in factory farms of the US and elsewhere, so using that as a precedent to ban only dog meat would be kind of ridiculous.
    I like animals a lot and believe in treating all animals -- lab animals and meat animals included -- humanely. If that is possible, I don't have anything against eating dog or cat or whatever else. The latent xenophobia of some people when it comes to this issue really disgusts me.

    I also agree with Linda above. People can be total hypocrites.


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