Friday, June 22, 2012

Will Europeans stop eating dog meat?

When my daughter attended classes in Germany some years ago, a German girl asked her if she ate dog meat.  My daughter was of course horrified and said she had never heard of anything so disgusting.  The girl insisted that she had read on the internet that people in China ate dog meat.  Of course my daughter found it hard to believe since most of her friends were of Chinese descent and the thought of eating dog meat was so repulsive to the collective conscience of the people of our country that she was certain the girl must have read about some isolated minority tribe in China.  But the girl insisted that all Chinese people ate dogs.  My daughter was annoyed and responded by asking the German girl if she used soap made from Jewish fat.  She said she read accounts of Nazis in Germany gassing large groups of Jews and using their fat to make soap.  That shut the girl up.

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
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Grande_Boucherie_Canine_a_Paris.jpg


Let us explore this dog-eating habit country by country.  Let's begin with.....

USA

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.


France

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.


Germany

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.


Belgium

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.


Poland

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

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:


Source:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_meat

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

9 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. "In 2008, Japan imported 5 tons of dog meat from China compared to 4,714 tons of beef, 14,340 tons of pork and 115,882 tons of poultry." -wikipedia.

      They eat less dog than beef but they still eat it. But Japan is the last nation anyone should excuse when it comes to their diet. The Japanese are stubbornly eating meat of near extinct animals and they show the same hawkishness in their illegal whaling activities as they did in their crimes against humanity in World War II.

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    2. The dogs are not eaten by the Japanese themselves, though. The imports usually go to Chinese restaurants (and I'm not trying to bash Chinese; myself being Chinese too). It's like saying Americans eat Kobe beef because the. USA imports it for Japanese restaurants in America (when kobe beef is absent in US culture).

      By the way, I know most Chinese don't eat dogs.

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    3. However, Japan DID eat dogs until around less than a century ago, much like the Germans.

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    4. I don't know a single Chinese person who eats dogs. I've only heard stories of people in China who do that. But it's the same sort of story as the one I saw on youtube about people in China eating human embryos. I can't vouch for the veracity of such stories. While it's true I wouldn't put dog-eating or even embryo-eating past a citizen of China (considering how Communism has taken away their conscience and humanity), I need more evidence before I can say for sure that there are really Chinese people who eat dogs. The purpose of this article is not to denigrate Europeans as dog-eaters. I just want to set the record straight that the stereotyping of Chinese people as dog eaters is just as outrageously wrong as to chide Europeans for eating dogs.

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  2. Good post, however such accusations are obviously not baseless: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_meat. But what the heck is the problem with dog meat consumption? I would not eat my Fifi (I do not eat friends), but I would happily taste dog meat if it comes from a reliable source. I have much bigger problems with eating pork and would be more than happy if others would think the same way. Pigs are way more intelligent than dogs, and are genetically astoundingly close to humans.

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    1. You have a good point there. Who am I to dictate that dogs shouldn't be eaten when I eat other animals? What about rabbits? They are harmless, cute and furry. Of course ultimately, it's just our own perspectives. To me, dogs are friends and they shouldn't be eaten. To another person, it could be pigs. I know someone who's tried all kinds of meat including snakes, civet cats and crocodiles. But he would never touch dog meat. To him (and it's the same to me), the idea of eating dogs is just too repulsive for words. It's almost as bad as eating human babies. A lot of people I know (and they're Chinese people) feel the same way which is why I get angry when people say dog meat is a part of Chinese cuisine when it clearly is not. Of course you are right about genetic similarity between pigs and humans when compared to dogs which are far more remote.

      One reason why I feel so strongly about dogs is their undying loyalty to humans. No other animal can be this loyal to us. Eating them or harming them in any way appears to me like unpardonable treachery. I feel the same way (although to a smaller extent) about dolphins. They too have been known to save humans who are attacked by sharks. But really, I have no moral right to talk about how wrong eating dogs is when I'm not a vegetarian. I agree with you there.

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    2. The way in which the dogs are killed means it is one of the cruelest sources of meat you could find. Dog meat eating is very popular in Guangdong and also in the north near to the Korean border. The dogs are routinely battered, electrocuted, stabbed repeatedly, burnt by blowtorches and skinned- all these examples are done when the dog is still alive because the myth is that the more the animal is tortured, the more tender and the better the meat will taste. In fact the complete opposite is what happens because the body releases toxins when under stress which makes the meat tougher. There are many Chinese animal lovers who want China to bring in an animal protection law so that the cruelty can be stopped. They also want a law to stop the eating of dogs and cats. In the meantime they have to contend with the traffickers not having the right paperwork and then they call the police and can seize the dogs or cats. Google 'cats and dogs China' and you will find all manner of articles. See the website below of a Chinese shelter who regularly saves cats and dogs from slaughter. Also if you have never heard of it, google Yulin Dog Meat festival. Yes, a festival where visitors can actually see this cruel killing then eat the dog or cat at the end of it, while celebrating the summer solstice. Many people say there is no harm in eating dogs and cats and who are we to judge another culture but have a look at some of the photos and videos out there (posted by activists to let the world know what is happening) and you will realise why people are so up in arms about it.
      http://boaianimalcentre.weebly.com/

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  3. Goes to show that the East and the West are pretty alike in some ways. I can confirm that there are some people in China who eat dog meat. It's usually among the rural people. My grandma used to tell me how she would be invited to dinner by people with little means and they would serve her highly salted dog meat. Seems like poverty does make one view life more functionally instead of anthropomorphizing animals.

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