By Brittney Hemmands
Blog Content Contributor
During the summer solstice, China celebrates their tradition of consuming dogs for over 400 years. This is called the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, when 10,000 to 15,000 dogs are slaughtered in June for meat dishes. The event started in 2009, and has received criticism from many individuals. In fact, when the festival started this June of 2017, protesters found a truck full of these soon to be slaughtered dogs and freed them. This heroic act was posted on social media and met with praise from others who agreed that the festival was disgraceful and disgusting, which brought up some intriguing thoughts for me. What interested me was that we were so quick to shame another culture for their traditions, but we hold the same traditions for other animals. Now do not get me wrong, saving the lives of dogs is an amazing step forward for humanity, but I could not help but think about the irony of it all, especially from an American perspective.
It is considered tradition to kill cows, chickens, and pigs for consumption and to hunt deers for fun in America, just as it is tradition to kill dogs in China. Many would argue it is not the same, but why? It is because we have this connection to dogs; they are considered our pets, our friends, and even our protectors. There is a definition for this: speciesism. Specieism is defined as “the assignment of different values, rights, or special consideration to individuals solely on the basis of their species membership.” This is why we can bawl tears at the death of dogs, but disassociate so much with other animals that we do not bat an eye when eating steak or chicken, when those animals have also suffered. What we were raised to believe- that eating chickens, pigs, and cows are okay- is the same thing that the Chinese were raised to believe- that eating dogs is okay. Maybe the reason why we think it is wrong is because we choose who to have compassion for, not even realizing that our own cultural biases made us this way.
This raises an important question: is it hypocritical to praise saving dogs from getting killed, but be annoyed at others who want to save the chickens, pigs, and cows that are in slaughterhouses in our country? I have heard a multitude of arguments that it is the tradition and the way things are supposed to be. I have even heard that there are certain animals that are just meant to be eaten. If that is the case, why would we get mad if certain Chinese individuals want those animals to be dogs? These are the questions that should be asked more because while we want to change a different culture’s ways because they are not our norm, there would be outrage if someone tried to change our culture and tell us that we cannot eat the animals that we have been eating.
I want us to all think. Think about what we condone and what we do not condone and why. Think about if we should bash others because they are doing the same thing we do, just with different animals. And once we are done thinking, maybe we can finally take some action.
Featured image contributed by Martin Michel-Hensley.