China's Favorite Menu Is Back: Dog Meat
Despite criticism and efforts by China’s central government to stop the disturbing trend of eating dog meat, some people in China still continue to consume them and celebrate a festival featuring dog meat as the main star.
According to a report by The New York Post, one of the communist country’s festivals kicked off last week—the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival. It’s a 10-day celebration that features sweet stone fruit and the meat of man’s best friend. The festival kicked off in Yulin, China, last Sunday.
The festival pushed through despite an order from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture last April that reclassified dogs as pets instead of livestock that can be served on dinner tables in homes and restaurants.
However, the 10-day festival which used to flock thousands of attendees in the past years has received a lower turn out this year. Activists see it as a sign that people are slowly turning their backs on the disgusting and disturbing practice of eating dog meat.
China’s decision to turn its back from its years’ old tradition comes following major criticism from other nations, as early speculation showed that the possible ground zero of the deadly coronavirus was a Wuhan wet market, which not only sold dog meat, but also other exotic animals such as snakes, frogs, and bats.
Although more recent evidence suggests that the COVID-19 virus actually came from a Wuhan virology lab and not from a wet market. However, since China’s traditional (and quite disturbing) wet markets have been brought to the world’s attention, it has been under intense scrutiny over health and safety issues.
“I do hope Yulin will change not only for the sake of the animals but also for the health and safety of its people,” said Peter Li, China policy specialist with the animal rights group Humane Society International.
Aside from the Ministry of Agriculture’s decision to reclassify dogs as pets, the communist country also imposed a ban in late February on the selling and consumption of other wild animals such as snakes and bats, as it had become a public health concern.
Dog, which is sometimes referred to as “fragrant meat” in Mandarin, became one of the most popular alternatives to pork after the African swine fever took over hundreds of thousands of pigs, resulting in higher costs. Households and even restaurants started to replace pork in their dishes with dog meat instead, claiming that it didn’t only cost less but also made their dishes more savory.
Zhang Qianqian, an animal rights activist, said that she believes the Yulin dog meat festival will eventually be banned, adding, “From what we understand from our conversations with meat sellers, leaders have said the consumption of dog meat wouldn’t be allowed in future.” However, Qianqian admits that banning dog meat consumption as a whole is going to be hard and will take some time.