A dog’s breakfast..

There are reports the Chinese are to take dogs (and cats) off their menus.

The regulations – if they are approved – have been 11 years in the making and anyone eating pets could face 15 days in jail.

Dog, which is known as “fragrant meat”, has been eaten in China for thousands of years – some view it as a tonic, others make a stew which is aid to warm the blood.

The proposed rules are based on anti-cruelty legislation, rather than a cultural issue about eating the animals, but it does raise a number of issues that may well be worth discussing. 

And to be fair, other countries eat dogs too.

I was in South Korea (from where the above picture of a steaming pot is taken) during the World Cup in 2002 and the caretaker of a block of flats we were broadcasting from in Seoul invited us to taste some, angered by the foreign media’s view of what he called “protein food”.

I had some . A colleague of mine had a similar experience in Cambodia –  the polite thing to do was to try it. We both agree it tasted like goat.

We both also agreed that we felt a bit uncomfortable, even though here and in many other countries we breed all sorts of animals to eat, which in other countries may be seen to be wrong.

To the left is a picture of a man tucking into dog meat in Abuja, Nigeria, and here’s a story just a few days ago from the Phillipines.

So why shouldn’t we eat dog ? is it a “cuteness” issue, an intelligence issue or a cultural problem ?

Is it right that China and other countries falls into line with other parts of the world ?

31 Responses to “A dog’s breakfast..”

  1. 1 TomK in Mpls
    February 1, 2010 at 19:32

    Meat is meat. What about people that raise cute little Guinea Pigs under their beds for food? Are we going to tell them they are wrong/immoral/evil too?

    • February 3, 2010 at 06:48

      No, Tom, we’re not going to tell them that. We’re going to hope that at some point they will see the fear and pain in their little friend’s eyes and that will say it all. Words go in one ear and out the other. What touches the heart is where it matters.

  2. 3 Kate M.
    February 1, 2010 at 20:06

    This is one of the reasons why I became a vegetarian. I see no difference in eating a cow or chicken and eating a dog. It is hypocritical to say it’s ok to eat one animal over another just because one is cuddly. Cruelty is rampant in the meat industry, it is not limited to dogs.

    • February 2, 2010 at 20:55

      I agree! However, when does anyone think the world will go vegetarian? NOT in our lifetime or even in the Millennium. With that said, what’s wrong in subtracting animals from the killing list rather than adding them? If people eat meat because they are brainwashed by the meat/dairy industry into believing they need this type of protein……….WHY EAT EVERYTHING THAT MOVES?

      Start removing types of animals from the menu, and soon there will be none left.

      Furthermore, animals such as c ats, dogs, horses or any other that have been domesticated for hundreds of years, serving humans — shouldn’t be part of anyone’s menu. One can’t have a pet and eat it too.

      Is nothing sacred?

  3. 5 Seth
    February 1, 2010 at 21:10

    I wonder if Tom K would enjoy some tasty human? after all, meat is meat, right?

    • February 2, 2010 at 21:05

      That’s a good point, Seth! : ) There are too many people on the planet, destroying all the resources without giving anything back to mother nature, and a despicable lack of respect to other living beings. Perhaps the neanderthals were more civilized than the current “superior” beings, at least they hunted because they didn’t know how to produce their food, which we do now.

  4. 7 Idris Dangalan
    February 1, 2010 at 21:16

    Dog or Peugeot in Nigerian language is expensive in most part of Nigeria and Monkey (fine-boy) is sweet meat for many Nigerian population. Dog/Cat/Monkey= Sweet meat in Africa and Nigeria.

  5. 8 patti in cape coral
    February 1, 2010 at 21:19

    I don’t think people are evil for eating dog, but I couldn’t eat one (knowingly). I guess it’s just human conditioning, there are certain animals, especially in the states, that most people wouldn’t consider eating, such as cats, dogs, and horses. At first, I thought I could never eat a rabbit, but I was lucky enough to have two of the meanest and dumbest rabbits I have ever seen as pets. I don’t think I would object to eating them now.

    Actually I admit to my hypocrisy. I like the taste of meat, but if I had to butcher my own meat I would probably become a vegetarian. I don’t think cuddly has anything to do with it. Cows are very inoffensive, but they are very popular meat. Deer are some of the most beautiful. animals ever, but we don’t seem to mind eating them either. I still remember hiding under my bed and covering my ears as a child so I wouldn’t have to hear my grandmother choosing a chicken for dinner. It was good soup, though.

  6. February 1, 2010 at 22:28

    hello kate,

    like you i am an animal lover, although not a vegetarian. i would never eat a dog, but what about the fact that animals eat other animals? what can you say of the food chain?



    • 10 Kate M.
      February 3, 2010 at 02:43

      I do not have to eat meat to survive. Animals eat other animals in order to survive.

      • 11 patti in cape coral
        February 3, 2010 at 16:29

        Hi Kate – I asked this question a while ago, and nobody really addressed it. If you have pets that are carnivores, is there an ethical question about buying meat products for them? I haven’t looked it up, but I don’t think carnivorous animals can survive on a vegetarian diet.

  7. 12 Alan in Arizona
    February 1, 2010 at 23:24

    This is one of the toughest question I’ve heard on WHYS. As you circle the globe the answer to your question changes constantly and the line between right and wrong for whatever reason gets blurry, then focuses then blurs again.

    I’ve been on the verge of cutting out meat in my life, though I love it. I couldn’t eat dog as a pleasant meal, but I could if I had to keep from starving. I could eat lots of things. But I’m not! So eating dog would be out. So would be the El Gato Tacos ( cat taco’s ) that a street vendor, tried to sell me, some 30 years ago in Juarez, Mexico. The Hispanic friend I was with said they were real. I was appalled!

    Now with a Food Channel show that travels the world eating unusual items being so popular, I’m surprised that any country would limit what indigenous people can eat, if it has been done for a very long time.

    Now a whole society will have the additional hardship of not eating an excellent source of protein that they are use too. They will also have to care for, feed, cleanup after and potentially train, get fixed and eventual pay all the vet bills and so on as most of the rest of the world does as they care for their pets.

    I’m not for eating dogs, but I’m also not in favor of the additional hardship for these people.

  8. 13 T
    February 2, 2010 at 01:08

    Every country has their own cultural styles. In parts of Asia they eat dog. In the States, lots of people are obese and refuse to stop binging (despite knowing it’s bad for their health).

    Who then are we to judge someone else?

  9. 14 Tom of Melbourne
    February 2, 2010 at 06:34

    The most popular reasons against eating dog meat are, we were told, that dogs are an intelligent and affectionate animal. Well, recent studies have shown that swines can perform more complex problem solving tasks than dogs, and they too make affectionate pets. So why shouldn’t pork be on the banned list? In Islamic countries it’s already banned. This clearly shows that this issue is a cultural one dependant on how animals are revered and stigmatized by people.

    Squids too are highly intelligent. In fact, they’ve been observed to be a user and maker of tools. What about social insects like ants and bees who founded mega-cities? Surely these are way more impressive than what our canine friends can accomplished!

    Don’t get me wrong but I love dogs too, and as pets…

  10. 15 Gary Paudler
    February 2, 2010 at 07:45

    I’m with Kate. I haven’t eaten meat in over 20 years but know that it is just as cruel to inflict the process on fish, chickens, cows and pigs. Jonathan Safran Foer’s book “Eating Meat” is a beautifully written examination of the issue in which he speaks directly to our sentimental aversion to dog meat while avoiding the obvious inhumanity we inflict on billions of other animals.

  11. 16 shaukat hayat khan daha
    February 2, 2010 at 09:07

    It is the love of Chinese people for the animals .They are proving that it is the china where every thing is ok. and the hue and cry on this issue is not mandatory at any level.

  12. 17 Andrew in Australia
    February 2, 2010 at 14:48

    I’d love to eat dog.. especially that damn animal next door that wakes me up every single day!

    I often imagine an open spit in the back and inviting the neighbors around.

    • February 3, 2010 at 06:52

      Well Andrew, all we can do is look you up and warn your neighbor that his dog is in danger of your abusive wishes which I hope are only fantasies. And if he wakes you up, maybe you’d never get to school on time or to work on time, assuming you have a productive day ahead.

      There are always music headphones.

      Lately I’ve been reading about animal abuse in Australia. Keep your cottonpickin hands off that dog or you will be the one on the Barbie.

  13. 19 Ronald Almeida
    February 2, 2010 at 15:02

    Since it’s all in the mind, I believe every individual must decide. Though I’ve never eaten cats or dogs and wouln’d do so. Not out of any idealogical reason, since I have eaten horse and will do so again. The problem lies in killing the animal. I keep chickens but have a hard time killing them.

  14. 20 bevx
    February 2, 2010 at 15:14

    Who cares what they eat!
    Do not interfere.
    If people want to eat what they like so be it.
    When one is hungry then you eat what is available,don’t you?
    In France they eat horses!
    Just do not INTERFERE in other nations affairs!

    • February 2, 2010 at 21:11

      There was a cannibal in Wisconsin called Jeffrey Dommer (sp?) who killed and ate some 30 people. He ate the people for protein as well…Should we have left him alone without interfering? After all he had the power to kill those people? He was on very top of the food chain!

  15. 22 Chintan in Houston
    February 2, 2010 at 15:14

    If you can eat a cow, a pig, a chicken, a goat, aren’t those all pets too. Of course you can eat a dog. I would like to see it on the Menu in the US 🙂

    NFL players Michael Vick got 2 years in prison for dog fighting and Dante Stallworth gets 30 days for involuntary manlaughter of a HUMAN due to driving under the influence.

    Seems like humans love their pets more than their own kind!

  16. 23 patti in cape coral
    February 2, 2010 at 16:25

    @ Chintan – Considering human nature, I’m not surprised people love their pets more than their own kind. I certainly like my cat and dog more than many people I know! :0)

  17. 24 Elias
    February 2, 2010 at 16:31

    Dogs and cats were killed for food to be eaten, also their fur were used to make coats for export to the west and other regions. This practice has been going on for many years, it would be most surprising if it was stopped permanently.
    There is a saying, the chinese eat everything that lives and crawls, snakes, bugs etc.

  18. 25 Andrew in Australia
    February 2, 2010 at 17:15

    I had always thought that the reason the Chinese were so fond of those little yappy dogs was as an emergency food source!

    I wish I remembered who did the report on the BBC not long ago about how dogs in mainland China were more a status symbol or fad than a companion and that when the fad faded many dogs either went missing or were just let outside and the door slammed behind them.

    On a serious note where I live, and this was the law as far as I know, it is not permitted to slaughter food animals in one’s home for human consumption – however it is legal to do so with cats and dogs for meat. Strange but apparently true, though I don’t want to test that!

  19. 26 Tara Ballance, Montreal Canada
    February 2, 2010 at 17:22

    In parts of Africa, Congo and Timneh African Grey parrots are eaten in much the way that North Americans chow down on chicken. While as a human owned by a parrot (believe me, it is NOT the other way around) I find this appalling, bush meat is an integral part of the local diet.

    I also find it appalling that the majority of pets (including my cockatoo) have better access to medical care, food, and shelter than many, many human beings.

    I think that as a species, we really need to reevaluate our priorities. If the Chinese are writing this legislation to deal, in part, with cruel treatment of animals, then perhaps they could also take a look at how their existing legislation handles the treatment of humans.

  20. 27 JanB
    February 2, 2010 at 19:09

    “If the Chinese are writing this legislation to deal, in part, with cruel treatment of animals, then perhaps they could also take a look at how their existing legislation handles the treatment of humans.”

    Good one!

    As for myself, no, I wouldn’t eat a dog or a cat unless I had no choice to stay alive, but I do understand that pigs and cows are on about the same level of intelligence as cats and dogs and that pigs can be kept as pets (btw, I don’t pork either, for a number of reasons, none of them religious). It’s up to any individual to choose what animal they can or cannot eat. I chose not to eat animals I’ve ever had as a pet (mostly because it would be hypocritical towards their species), animals that show levels of heightened intelligence (primates, whales, some birds and the larger cephalopod species) and because I just don’t like sea food anything living underwater is also safe from me.

    Now that I think about it I pretty much only eat beef and chicken and much less than most of my friends, well the human body doesn’t need that much meat anyway (unless you live in the (Ant)arctic).

  21. 28 Violette
    February 2, 2010 at 21:32

    I too struggle with eating meat. I have completely stopped eating pork and I only eat small amounts of chicken and beef. Also the meat I eat has to be “humanely” raised…that is the animals have to have an extremely clean and wholesome existence in a completely natural enviroment ( chickens raised in pastures allowed to be out in the sunshine and fresh air foraging for bugs, worms and eating grasses and weeds along with their feed and water, and cows raised in pastures exclusively) and both raised with no antibiotics and then “harvested” by the quickest and most pain free method possible. I researched this information for months and visited the farms that passed my criteria for humanely raised meats. I have also done this for organic milk and cheese as well.

    I would never eat a cat or dog as I consider them to be companion animals. I give both of the cats that live with me the best food and care I can. I contribute to shelters for all kinds of homeless animals and I support groups in China that are working to raise the consciousness of the people there to treat all animals humanely whether they use them for food or not.

    This is a deeply personal issue for a lot of people. I found my way of “living with it”. That being said I may become a vegetarian one day.

  22. February 3, 2010 at 07:11

    I don’t eat meat, drink milk, eat eggs and avoid all animal produce if possible.

    There are 365 Apples that grow on an apple tree in one year.

    And, 52 pints of almonds on an almond bush.

    Mother Nature took care of us…….

    Meat was never meant to be digested by humans. Sure, cavemen ate meat. But whoever said cavemen were anything but cavemen?

    Meat and dairy are not healthy foods to digest and cause allergies and stomach trouble and other health issues.

  23. 30 George Williams Bangirana
    February 3, 2010 at 12:06

    I would never eat Meat other than what I have grown up eating.
    I believe there are so many things that people around the world eat and yet others find them rather repugnant.
    I would never knowingly eat a cat/ Dog/Lamb and so many types of fish.
    I have friend s who eat all of these things. I even have one who eats mice, and one who eats some small birds.
    Who am I to judge?
    Its a cultural thing…… Let anyone eat whatever they want so long as they do not infringe on anyone’s freedom.

    I hear some poeple here even eat dead human meat.

  24. February 3, 2010 at 12:53

    Ooh may, I guess this is just fun. It shouldn’t bother anyone that eating dogs is bad. Their great grand fathers have been eating it. Its just something that one community isn’t into so much that we tend to think or see it as something odd.

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