My daughter then asked me if it was true that there were Chinese people who ate dog meat. I do not know a single person who eats dog meat. Honestly, I would find it very hard to be friends with anyone who eats it. Call me prejudiced or bigoted if you must but I really would find it very hard to have a chat over a cup of coffee with a dog eater. Every Chinese person I know has never eaten dog meat. No relation of mine has eaten this forbidden meat. I know someone who is very adventurous and has eaten exotic food including crocodile meat, snake meat and wild game. But he would never dream of eating a dog because as he rightly points out, dogs are pets and friends. Eating a dog is like eating a human child. It's repulsive and an absolute taboo. And he is of Chinese descent.
Why then do some Westerners insist that Chinese people eat dog meat? A simple search on the internet reveals posts of Chinese, Koreans and Japanese eating dog meat. How reliable are these posts? I have also seen a photograph of a Chinese-looking man eating a well-formed human foetus. Of course there are all kinds of strange people eating strange meat but they are not limited to Chinese people only. Jeffrey Dahmer was a cannibal wasn't he?
I did a search on the internet and guess what? Many Europeans have a tradition of eating dog meat too! Let's look at what different Europeans do with man's best friend.
1910 photo taken in Paris.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Let us explore this dog-eating habit country by country. Let's begin with.....
The terms "sausage" and "dog" have been used as synonyms since 1884 and accusations that dog meat was used in the making of sausages dated to at least 1845. These accusations were sometimes justified.
Dog meat has only become taboo in France today. In the past, it was not so. See the photo above of a dog butcher in Paris taken in 1910. French Press described dog meat in the late 19th century as "beautiful and light" and ran stories of people buying dog meat in France.
Germans have eaten dog meat since the time of Frederick the Great and it's commonly called "blockade mutton". Dog meat continued to be eaten in the 1920s. Even a meat inspection law in 1937 mentioned the following animals as commonly used for meat: "pigs, dogs, boars, foxes, badgers..." It was only in 1986 that Germany prohibited the consumption of dog meat.
In the early 20th century, dog meat was widely sold in Belgium. The average price was 12 francs a kilo ($1.30 per pound) in 1916. Even the Council of the Veterinary School of Belgium recommended dog meat for human food.
In Poland, the meat of dogs is culturally not eaten; it's considered taboo. However, in some rural areas in Poland, there is a tradition of eating dog fat in place of lard. Dog fat is considered beneficial to one's health, particularly the lungs. As recently as 2009, a farm near Częstochowa was discovered to keep dogs which were subsequently killed and turned into lard.
Switzerland has a long tradition of eating dog meat. Eating dog meat is not illegal in Switzerland. Less than 7 years ago, Switzerland enacted a law merely to prohibit the production of food from dog meat for commercial purposes. This is provided for in Ordinance of 23 November 2005 on food of animal origin.
Wikipedia puts it most succinctly and I attach a screen shot from wikipedia:
So, the next time you are asked by a European if you eat dogs, you should feel perfectly justified in turning the tables on him. After all, he has a rich tradition of eating dog meat whereas for the Chinese, it's a recent madness that has affected only a few people.
EDITOR (added on 29 November 2014):
See this news article on the BBC about the tradition of eating dogs and cats in Switzerland:
Stop eating cats and dogs say animal rights campaigners in Switzerland