Today I want to talk a bit about the annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China, and the hypocrisy that accompanies it. Tomorrow is the first day of the 2019 Yulin Dog Meat Festival (also known as the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival), which is a yearly festival in Yulin, Guangxi, China where festival attendees eat dog meat and lychees.
The first Yulin Dog Meat Festival was held in 2009, and has continued to run annually from June 21 to June 30. There are reports that between 10,000 and 15,000 dogs are killed each year for meat during this festival (although numbers have been declining since 2015). This festival has received a lot of attention from around the world, and has been highly criticized by animal rights activists, as well as animal welfare supporters, since its inauguration in 2009. It’s a controversial festival for certain countries, where dog meat consumption is either illegal or not acceptable.
Dog meat consumption is popular in China; anywhere between 10 and 20 million dogs are killed for meat in China every year — plus millions more in other countries. The reason this particular festival has been under fire over the last ten years is because pictures and videos have surfaced from the festival, which appear to show animal suffering — such as dogs being skinned and boiled/cooked alive, dogs being beaten to death with metal bars, and dogs having their arms tied behind their backs, as well as dogs who appear to be stolen pets. Despite the photographic and videographic evidence of dog suffering, Yulin residents and festival goers believe that killing and eating dogs is no different than eating poultry, beef, or pork. While I don’t agree with torturing, killing, and eating dogs (or any animals) whatsoever, they bring up a valid point…a point about how much hypocrisy there is around dog meat, by countries and people who are large consumers of other types of meat.
Do I believe that the over 10,000 dogs killed annually for the Yulin Dog Meat Festival (along with the millions more killed throughout the year) suffer? Yes, I absolutely do. I’ve seen videos and pictures from the festival, and it’s completely barbaric, sad, and absolutely unimaginable. But I also know that cows, pigs, chickens, etc. all around the world suffer every day as well. So if we’re fundamentally against the torture and murder of dogs for meat in China, shouldn’t we also be against the murder of animals who may look a little different but are the same in so many ways? If we’re going to protest one kind of animal being killed for food…then why not other animals?
It’s all about perception. Dogs are commonly considered companion animals/pets, but it doesn’t mean that cows, pigs, chickens, fish, etc. are any less valuable and deserving of life and love than dogs are. A cow or a chicken or a pig feels exactly the same on the inside as any dog does. They want just as much love, freedom, and happiness as our pets do. So let’s not be hypocritical, and let’s choose to be fundamentally against all animal suffering and murder. Let’s change the way we see certain animals. And let’s show all animals the same kindness and respect.