The annual Yulin dog-eating festival has begun – yes, you read that right
Many Yulin restaurateurs believe that adrenaline adds flavour to animal flesh, which means the dogs are typically killed in full view of others
Dog meat markets and events like the Yulin dog eating festival, which resumes this week, are rightly condemned internationally and by many in China. For most of us, the idea of killing, cooking and eating dogs – animals we often know personally and love – is enough to make us lose our lunch.
Why is it, then, that most of us can pass a fried chicken shop without batting an eyelid? During the festival, which lasts 10 days, up to 15,000 dogs will be bludgeoned and gutted, while during the same period, nearly 29 million other animals, who also value their lives, will be killed here to satisfy British appetites.
There’s no rational justification for this arbitrary double standard, especially as animals killed for the dinner table in the UK face horrors very similar to those endured by the dogs killed and eaten in Yulin, who are commonly transported there from other cities. They’re crammed into small cages and loaded onto lorries, which may then travel for hundreds of miles. The same is true for the hundreds of thousands of terrified animals still exported from the UK to the EU for fattening and slaughter.
Some dogs in Yulin are clubbed over the head. This is certainly grotesque, but it’s also business as usual for commercial fishers, who repeatedly bash in fish’s heads and beat live, intelligent octopuses against rocks in order to “tenderise” their flesh. Many sea animals – all of whom have the same capacity to feel pain as any dog or cat – experience explosive decompression, and their eyes may even burst as they’re hauled up from the depths of the sea.
Many Yulin restaurateurs believe that adrenaline adds flavour to animal flesh, which means the dogs are typically killed in full view of others. This is horrifying, but animal protection group Viva! estimates that in UK abattoirs, approximately one million pigs regain consciousness before they die of blood loss.
Abattoir veterinarian Gabriele Meurer says: “The slaughtermen are in such a hurry that they often don’t put the electric tongs in the correct position on the pigs’ heads. The pigs get only half or insufficiently stunned, wake up while they bleed and are obviously still alive and conscious when they plunge into the boiling water. Sheep are stunned just as badly.”
In the UK, 86 per cent of pigs are gassed with carbon dioxide. It takes them up to 30 seconds to lose consciousness, and during that time, you can hear their frantic squeals as they hyperventilate and try to escape the gas chamber. If the British meat industry did to dogs and cats what it does to pigs, chickens, cows and sheep, it would be prosecuted for cruelty to animals.
No animal wants to suffer and die to end up on our plates, and deep down, we know it. But from a young age, most of us are conditioned to view certain species as worthy of care and compassion and others as unworthy – all based on arbitrary human preferences.
Intentionally or not, parents, teachers, the media, and other influences send children the message that puppies and kittens are “friends”, cows and chickens are “food”, and rats and mice are “pests”. Most children are also taught that human desires, needs, and interests always trump those of any other species.
As a result, we learn to ignore our own consciences, which tell us that it’s wrong to mistreat others. We convince ourselves that we have the right to imprison animals in laboratories, experiment on them, and kill them because it might help humans. That it’s OK to eat ice cream made from cows’ milk because our desire for dessert outweighs a mother cow’s instinctual need to nurse and care for her baby. That keeping orcas in barren tanks for profit and entertainment is acceptable. That the enjoyment we get from casting a baited hook into the water to catch fish matters more than the pain inflicted on them when they’re pierced through the lip and yanked into an environment in which they can’t breathe.
I often think of the words of Isaac Bashevis Singer, who wrote of animals: “In relation to them, all people are Nazis.” It’s an uncomfortable notion, but who could argue with it?
We can – and must – overcome our toxic, speciesist mindset. If this pandemic teaches us one thing, surely it’s that all living, feeling beings are connected. It’s time we took an honest and hard look at our own prejudices – our xenophobia, our sexism, our racism, and our speciesism – and took a stand against violence, no matter who the victims are.
Is it too much to dream that we’ll look back and say that 2022 was the year we truly started to see ourselves in others and began treating all sentient beings with the respect and compassion they deserve?
Mimi Bekhechi is Vice President of PETA UK, Europe and Australia
386 dogs rescued from truck heading to China dog meat festival
Activists found creative ways to save dogs being killed for Yulin dog meat festival
Chinese police have intercepted a truck carrying 386 dogs to slaughter at the annual dog-meat eating festival in the southern Chinese city of Yulin, which was scheduled to start on Tuesday – the day of the summer solstice.
Footage from the scene showed the dogs were crammed into wire cages in poor conditions. On discovering the truck last weekend, animal rights’ activists worried that some of them may be suffering from infectious diseases. So they reported the truck to the police, citing the country’s legislations on epidemic prevention.
Lin Xiong, one of the activists who saw the truck being pulled over by the police, said: “It was horrifying to see so many dogs in such an appalling state, it was like a truck from hell for these poor animals … The dog meat slaughter brings shame on our country and so we will keep fighting until we see an end to this suffering.”
Ahead of this year’s Yulin dog meat festival, which draws a small crowd in the city, Chinese activists found creative ways to save dogs from being killed.
Xiao He, a Shaanxi-based animal rights activist, said he had worked for weeks with fellow activists to go through China’s existing laws and regulations to persuade the authorities to stop the event from happening.
“There are regulations that articulate how to deal with animals, for example legally required quarantine inspection certificates. But clearly those who carried the dogs did not comply with the regulations. We have to remind them as well as the authorities [of those regulations],” He said.
In 2020, China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said dogs are not “livestock” for eating, but rather companion animals.
Campaigners who have been involved in saving the dogs on board said they were of different breeds, sizes and health conditions. They said they were probably stolen household guard dogs or pets, strays grabbed from the streets, or came from other unknown sources without traceability.
After the police intervention over the weekend, the dogs were sent to be quarantined. Chinese activists told the Guardian that the dogs have now been handed over to Beijing’s Capital Animal Welfare Association, after the traders signed an agreement to relinquish their ownership of the animals.
Peter Li, China policy specialist at Humane Society International, a campaign group, said the Yulin authorities were “duped” by the traders who have falsely argued that dog meat consumption is “traditional” and part of the local dietary culture. “Dog meat consumption is supply-driven, driven by the traders, not consumer-driven. The dog slaughter in Yulin is commercial in nature, not cultural,” he said.
Li said that his team on the ground saw Yulin police trying to prevent business owners from making a show of the “festival”.
“Eaters from outside Guangxi used to be sizeable before 2014. This group has gone down drastically particularly since 2020. Most eaters are local and the number has been dwindling.”
Sick, but as non meat eaters would say:
A dog, is cow, is chicken, is pig, is sheep, is turkey, is lamb, is ….
So who has the right to say that dog cannot be eaten when they stuff their faces with Chicken, Bacon and more.
Go vegan, eradicate animal death from your corner.