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Yulin Dog Meat Festival – culture or cruelty?

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The annual Dog Meat festival takes place in Yulin, Guanxi province during summer solstice, which start between June 20 to June 22, and lasts for 10 days. During these 10 days, people from Yulin consume up to 15,000 dogs. The festival is relatively new, it started in 2009.

China has a long history of eating dog meat, which is claimed to reduce sweating during the hot summer months from Chinese medicine.

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Besides China, eating dog meat is also a tradition in South Korea. In recent years, Korean people have split into two camps, one claiming that eating dog meat is part of their diet and nothing different from eating pork or chicken and the others disagreeing with this, protesting against the consumption of dog meat.

Vietnam also is a country where dog meat is consumed. They believe that dog meat is rich in nutrition and proteins and is especially good when having bad luck. They also believe that dog meat can improve the male sexual desire.

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The head of the Food Hygiene Department of the Vietnamese Ministry of Health said: “our country has never considered banning the consumption of dog meat, which is a traditional Vietnamese food. We don’t think South Korea should stop the consumption either. Every country has its own traditions, and they should all be respected.”

But not only Asian countries have the tradition of eating dog meat. Switzerland – in the heart of Europe – has no law prohibiting the consumption of dog meat, only the commercial trade of it. Although nowadays eating dog meat is not as popular as at the beginning of the 19th century, in rural parts of German Switzerland, people still eat dog meat.

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Animal activists from all over the world criticize the Yulin dog meat festival for treating the animals inhumanly and torturing them, finally slaughtering them using pictures of dogs squeezed into cages as evidence. There are numerous articles about how the dogs are mistreated and burnt alive. Whether these things are really true – only someone from inside the scene would be able to know exactly. Also, the circumstances are said to be poor: dirty and not hygiene at all.

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Even though the habit of holding the Yulin dog meat festival is fairly young, it is called a tradition in China. Each tradition has to start at some point, right? And the tradition of eating dog meat dates back several hundred years already, this festival is merely putting it at a certain date. Western media however, believe that the festival was started from dog meat traders in order to increase consumption.

Personally, I don’t mind what other people decide to put into their mouth – as long as I am not forced or convinced to do the same thing. You are free to eat what you want. So if people decide to try dog meat, that is fine with me. What is not acceptable is the cruel treatment of animals. If you decide to kill them for consumption, make sure they don’t suffer.

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Sadly, having lived in China for some time now, I did see shocking things related to animal cruelty here. In a beautiful garden, dedicated to a famous Chinese author, different kinds of foxes were held in tiny cages, not being able to even take a step and losing their fur. The same goes to markets where you can buy small animals like rabbits or puppies, caged in with their mates, not having any space to move freely. In my experience, many Chinese people do not think of animals the same way Europeans do: as their companions and friends, as a living being with feelings. I do believe, that this way of thinking might result in the cruel treatment of animals during the dog meat festival in Yulin, but also in everyday life anywhere in China.

What do you think? Did you ever eat dog meat? What are your experiences with Chinese and their pets or treatment towards animals?

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