Culture or Canine Controversy?

By Julie Monteiro

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“Keep your dogs inside, in case it ends up in an Asian oven!”

To this day, the condescending joke remains relevant as some Asian communities continue to consume dog meat. While many can’t stand the thought of such “inhumane” practices, the question is not whether eating dogs is right or wrong. The question is: who do we  blame? The culture? Or those that have failed to understand that culture?

June 21, 2017, marks the most recent Yulin Festival. Marking China’s summer solstice, the week-long celebration has received relentless criticism for the consumption of dogs every year. As a dog-lover myself, I can’t imagine ever feasting on these canine companions. But the problem at hand involves Western society taking it upon themselves to bash the so-called “sickening” culture that Asians have carried with them for generations on end.

The outrage itself is fabricated. Dog meat is not the main problem. The problem we face is that Western culture has taken full responsibility to deem what is and what is not “appropriate” to be eaten. And so the rest of the world is expected to abide by these cultural standards.

But who gave us the right to halt a tradition? And to what extent will we continue to put our wants and needs before others?

It seems as though we’ve pushed it to the point where our love for these animals has caused us to disregard a culture which has been around for thousands of years. Strange how by advocating for the ban on dog meat we’re putting forth the feelings of dogs before several communities of people.

“If you befriend it, it’s a friend. If you raise it for food, it’s food,” claims William Saletan in his essay “Wok the Dog.” He elaborates “the value of an animal depends on how you treat it.”

The call to ban dog meat in Asia is based on our emotional connection with dogs. We’ve developed a special bond with these canine creatures which we only assume everyone else shares. But that’s not the case. And we need a call to reality.

Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society, states that “We live in a global economy… in a very transient society,” and continues to say “We need to be morally consistent and ask other countries to act in a way that is consistent with our own policies.”

So apparently Western views on animal consumption are superior to all other cultures.

It’s one thing to be against eating dog meat. But it’s an entirely different story if you’re against other people eating it.

Regardless of what’s eaten, everyone should have the right to their personal preferences. Just because it’s not what’s considered acceptable in someone else’s eyes doesn’t mean it applies to everyone. Understandably, I wouldn’t be so happy myself if eating beef were suddenly banned because vegans were upset about cow consumption.  

We need to think twice when it comes to manipulating what others can eat, especially when the main reason is that we failed to appreciate another culture different from ours.

It’s not about whether or not you should eat dogs. It’s about people having the right to eating the meat that they want, just as you and I do.

 

Works Cited

  1. Kettley, Sebastian. “Yulin Dog Meat Festival 2017: What Is the Festival and Why Hasn’t It Been Banned in China?” Express.co.uk, Express.co.uk, 21 June 2017, http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/819671/Yulin-dog-meat-festival-2017-China-ban-stop-festival.
  2. Park, Sumner. “Lawmakers Look to Ban Eating of Cats and Dogs.” TheHill, 26 June 2017, thehill.com/regulation/legislation/339047-lawmakers-look-to-ban-eating-of-cats-and-dogs.
  3. “Why Congress Should Not Ban Cat and Dog Meat.” The Daily Bell, http://www.thedailybell.com/news-analysis/why-congress-should-not-ban-cat-and-dog-meat/

4 thoughts on “Culture or Canine Controversy?

  1. Vincent

    Very interesting topic. The people who helped edit are obviously quite competent. I completely agree with the fact that you can’t berate a cultural tradition, and while many may disagree, the editorial was really well written and overall a good way to get people talking. Nice job.

  2. Bilal A.

    This editorial is very well written and I fully agree that Western culture shouldn’t be the basis for everyone else’s lifestyles and traditions. The evidence you’ve provided also adds a very convincing touch to your argument.

  3. Christopher Goodman

    That’s a great report; your reasoning is very sensible. Thanks for sharing.
    CG

  4. Emily Besley

    What a compelling read, Julie! We so often forget that our ideas about what is right and wrong are substantially influenced by our culture and background. Great job!

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