What's wrong with eating dog meat?
A Chinese animal lover consoles a dog after a convoy of trucks carrying some 500 dogs to be sold as meat, were stopped along a highway in Beijing on early April 17, 2011, and the dogs were later rescued to the China Animal Protection Association. There were about 58 million pet dogs in 20 major Chinese cities at the end of 2009 and the figure is rising about 30 percent each year, according to a survey, as pet owners in China spend an estimated two billion USD a year on their animals.
June 30th, 2011
02:05 PM ET

What's wrong with eating dog meat?

By , Global Post

Barbecued dog and steamed paws?

These and so much more were to be had at this weekend's dog meat festival near Seoul.

Alas, it was not to be.

Animal rights activists put up such a stink that the organizers, from the Korea Dog Farmers' Association, said there was no way they could go through with the event.

"We couldn't possibly go on with the plan due to endless phone calls of complaint ... now there are few willing to rent us a place for the event," Ann Yong-Geun, a professor of nutrition at Chung Cheong University and an advisor to the association, told AFP.

Organizers of the festival had wanted to showcase the positive side of the dog meat industry in South Korea, where there are about 600 farms that raise dogs for meat, according to Ann.

Dog soup, or Boshintang, is a summer delicacy in South Korea, though the Wall Street Journal reports that it isn't as popular as the media would make it seem.

A minority of people eat it regularly. It’s consumed most frequently in summer but is available year-round. And it’s more popular with men than women and is said to possess qualities that "help stamina."

They were, for example, going to show videos of farms raising dogs under sanitary conditions — something, they will tell you, that would become a more ubiquitous practice were the industry legalized and regulated.

But for many activists, the humane treatment of the dogs is beside the point. To them, dogs are companions not a main course, end of story.

Read: North Korean propaganda.

The irony is that in South Korea, that wasn't really true until more recently. And even now, it's really only true in the city, where they raise "pet dogs," as opposed to "meat dogs."

As William Saletan wrote in Slate a few years back:

In the country, they raise "meat dogs," also known as "junk dogs" and "lower-grade" dogs. But you don't become a "lower-grade" dog by flunking an IQ test. You're just born in the wrong place. Then you're slaughtered and fed to a man who thinks he's humane because he pampers a Golden Retriever that has half your brains.

So, what's really wrong with eating dog? Just because we don't do it in the U.S. doesn't seem to make for a very good argument.

GlobalPost's Dog Meat Mafia series, delves into the seedy world of the booming dog meat industry in Southeast Asia.

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Topics: China • Culture • East Asia

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soundoff (2,494 Responses)
  1. Stanford

    I don't mean to offend, but I would like to use Indians as example. We have thousands of Indians living in America. We know very well that Indians do not eat cows. You don't see Indians insulting us or offended by Americans eating cows. They understand culture is different in different countries. So how about we open our eyes and mind?

    July 1, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Reply
  2. Angela

    The idea of someone eating a dog is repulsive and outrageous to me. I do believe it is definetely a cultural thing, but it does seem that a lot more people in Korea are starting to feel the same way. The mere fact that people stood against this and got the event cancelled says volumes on how people value their dogs. We do have to remember that in India the cow is sacred and they don't believe in eating them. To a lot of american's that idea of not eating beef just doesn't make sense because we have almost always eaten cow meat here. I think that this article could have been written better and with more information. I feel that the writer rushed through it without really caring that this would be an article people would actually want to read. Instead we got a half-hearted attempt at a story that could have been very informative. What a shame.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Reply
    • Dog

      word homie...this journalist should be fired right now.

      July 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  3. humby

    its all how you are raised as a kid, living on a farm all my life i can tell you that the arguement of dogs being intellegent, listening to commands a companion etc don't hold water....i have had pet pigs, cows, deer, sheep etc all just as smart just as friendly and just as loyal as any dog..i know it makes people feel better thinking they are eating a pig they consider a "stupid" annimal but the truth is they are just as smart as any dog you own. you eat them without thought becasue you were raised doing so, not that that is a bad thing i personally love! meat.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Reply
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      A dog will stand by you when you are hurt or in danger, and other animals won't. A dog you raise will die for you and be proud to do it.

      July 1, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Reply
  4. Emotional IQ

    I think as a 21st century global society, we need to really reevaluate what animals we eat in general. We now know that gorillas and chimps share 98% of our DNA. Dogs have an emotional IQ and they grow to trust the humans that raise them. To slaughter them after they have grown to trust the human that is raising them goes against a basic human notion. We despise betrayal. When a human behaves one way to another human and then later turns against the person, we view that as wrong. I think the same behavior exists here. Dogs might not have all the intellect that we have, but they certainly have a strong sense of loyalty to the person who feeds them and cares for them. To betray that loyalty to slaughter dogs after the fact is wrong. Many will say that this is Western superiority. I get tired of people who argue don't infringe on other's culture. The reality is that culture is what we as humans decide, and culture changes with the times. The idea of women being equal to men was not always true in our society nor is it true in cultures around the world. Our understanding of the world that surrounds us has grown significantly in the past century, and we should not toss out our understanding of the world just to appease another culture's hunger for dog meat.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Reply
    • WontEataFECKINGdog

      Nailed it!

      July 1, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Reply
    • ryanzzzz

      An argument based on emotion and not logic. You people are getting more and more ridiculous and ignorant. As its been said before on these boards, many animals that this country considers fit to eat display some sort of "emotional IQ" as you ridiculously put it. Pigs for instance, are just as smart if not more intelligent than dogs. Of course, you see only what you want to see.

      July 1, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  5. Jeff

    Let me first start off by saying, I would never eat a dog. I will also say that I am a vegetarian who would never eat a living animal, period. But those of you who eat pig and cow, that say you'll never eat a dog and that it's a ridiculous notion are plainly hypocrites. Pigs are proven to be smarter than dogs but yet you won't refuse a nice plate of bacon next to your eggs in the morning to further the 'American' way. So keep living in your blissful denial and be thankful the term 'what I don't know won't hurt me' exists.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Reply
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      Jeff, I agree about pigs. A pig has a handlike 'trotter' that can actually grasp small objects, and a snout that can raise things up to the trotters. When they see something on the ground, they can pick it up; this means they have a bigger forebrain and more curiosity. It also means they think things through, and I think they know we are eating them. It's cruel, and bacon isn't all that great. Cows don't care, chickens are as dumb as potatoes, but pigs look into the distance and wonder.

      July 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Reply
  6. Kevin

    How is eating dog any different then eating chicken. Millions of people in the U.S. have birds as pets just as much as we have dogs, yet we slaughter millions of chickens a day. If a Asian country wants to eat dog, let them. We have no right to tell them other wise. America has a habit of sticking their nose where it doesn't belong. We have no right to tell another country what to eat and how to live. I guess, people forgot why the Europeans came to America in the first place.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Reply
    • Jay

      You are a dribbling moron, and here's why. Chickens and other domestic food stocks do not enjoy the dog's priveleged position as a companion to Man as dogs do. As moral and empathetic beings, there is a realization that we are essentially betraying and eating our friends when we see other cultures harvesting dogs for meat.

      July 1, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  7. WontEataFECKINGdog

    health benefits are a cheap excuse for eating dogs. there are plenty of other things you can do to boost energy, stamina, and immune response. for example, reducing consumption of grains (particularly those that are gluten-based), eating more green vegetables, and getting the majority of your protein from whey & chicken. combine that with plenty of short and intense exercise.

    the day i support eating dogs comes immediately prior to the day i support cannibalism. they're man's best friend. leave 'em alone.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Reply
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      Bub, no one's ASKING you to eat a dog. Almost everyone here is either revolted or indifferent(or joking). We don't eat dogs in this country; the article's about Koreans coming around to our way of thinking.

      July 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Reply
  8. Jarrod

    The question posed here is "What is wrong with eating dog meat?" The answer is nothing. Don't get me wrong. If someone offered me dog meat, I probably wouldn't eat it. Over the years, we have bred certain animals for certain things, some for food (pigs, cows, chickens) and some for companionship/other functions (dogs, cats). Because of this, people cannot get past the idea that this animal is ONLY for this and this animal is ONLY for that. In some countries, not just the one detailed in the article, the dog is more than a companion. It is a part of the regular diet. Since some people cannot get around the idea that dogs are for companionship, they have developed ideas, correctly or wrongly, that they can't be eaten "because they have personality" or, for you vegans, "they are sentient beings." Don't anthropomorphize dogs, or any animal for that mater, beyond what is true. Animals are animals, and we are the dominant species. We choose what we do with them, for good or ill. They don't get a say. It's one thing to say "people mistreat animals" when you see some animal getting beaten to death for no reason. It's another to say it when we kill an animal for food. We raised that animal TO GET EATEN.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Reply
  9. Saku

    Dog sashimi is the best! Also doggy-call rolls are good.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Reply
  10. sass

    what a joke response! we should be complaining and fighting for animals being tortured no matter where they are!
    and YES!! that poor dog is in obvious pain. If you can't see that then stop feeding your face with so much meat.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Reply
  11. JasonB

    Here's the difference between eating dog and other animals that goes beyond culture (although, admittedly, it's not a moral argument): Our relationship with dogs is unique among all other animals on earth. It goes to the very beginnings of human culture and the evolutionary journey wolves took to becoming dogs. Cows, goats, sheep, pigs, camels, etc... as we know them today, were all bread from their wild ancestors to serve us in various ways, including the eating of their meat. Dogs were bread from wolves to what we know them as today, but in a very different way. They were bread to serve us, not for what they produce, but for jobs they do. And part of that breeding included a companion relationship, which lead to a unique brain chemistry and behavior with dogs. This phenomenon of Koreans eating dogs may go back hundreds of years, but that is relatively new when compared to the thousands of years dogs have been interacting with humans in non-food stock ways.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Reply
  12. ryanzzzz

    If we think outside of the box, maybe we should be examining the implication of "owning" a dog as a pet as barbaric and inhumane. Look, I don't deny that dogs as pets give many people emotional happiness (including some of my extended family), and they've played an intrinsic role in history as guarders of livestock and property, but that fact is dogs are merely our slaves, who we've reared and engineered through eugenics and selective breeding over 1000 years to become helpless animals that must be dependent on humans because it is too stupid to survive in the wild on its own. Not to mention we neuter and euthanize at will, as well as selling off offspring and breaking up families. We also like to force breed them for profit. Dogs may seem happy and content, but they were never free, and I've always compared such temperament to the UNCLE TOM stereotype of a dumb but carefree "negro" slave who thinks fondly of his MASTER.

    If you think its wrong to suggest such analogies, well isn't that what dog-lovers do (trying to constantly preach about the HUMANITY in dogs and how they resemble people relationships). Well, perhaps then, this issue is looking ambivalent (are dogs family members or happy-go-lucky slaves)? And remember, for cultures who historically never ate dogs (actually, I'm sure all cultures have at one point in time), they were only domesticated to serve a practical function for the benefit of humans, much like livestock. Dogs weren't domesticated to be part of our family so to speak. My father grew up on a farm, and only a short while ago, was it the norm to keep the dog outside of the house (and not in ones bed or bathtub).

    July 1, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Reply
    • RobS

      I understand where you're coming from. And you've got a point. But I do think that we have a symbiotic relationship with dogs and that dogs are perfectly content with this bond to humans. It works both ways, humans like dogs, but dogs also like humans. Maybe some of us carry the symbiotic gene expression and others don't (?).

      July 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Reply
  13. Adam

    The issue is that dog's have had a symbiotic relationship with humans since our emergence into homo sapien. They express emotions similarly to humans and understand our emotions. All these things have been shown by scientific evidence. So although technically we can eat anything it doesn't mean we should and it does come own to morality. Reference to your picture in the article for proof of the immoral nature of this practice.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Reply
    • Jay

      Yes, exactly! it is disturbing that you are about the only person here to point this out, while morons keep saying "it's no different than eating cows or chickens" and completely missing the subtext. Thank you.

      July 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Reply
  14. Clarissa

    I think it is morally wrong – in the sense that dogs are one of the most intelligent domestic creatures. They experience way more emotions than say a fish or cow or deer when they are mistreated or about to be killed. I just don't see how this can be done in other cultures, but i know it's hard to understand if we are not brought up in that culture. I feel that the fact this festicval was cancelled is a sign of changing times. And eating dog meat is a sign of poorer times for these countries. Hopefully this will not be considered a "delicacy" for much longer. =(

    July 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Reply
    • ryanzzzz

      Pigs have been proven to be as intelligent as dogs, if not more so (I believe they have the capacity of a two year old child), so your logic fails and only shows your ignorance.

      July 1, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Reply
      • RobS

        I do question our practice of eating pork. Although they don't form much of a working relationship with humans, they are right up there are far as intelligent domesticated animals are concerned. I wouldn't eat orangoutangs or monkeys either.

        July 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  15. Sick boy

    I'm allergic to dogs. Would that affect me if i eat it?

    July 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Reply
  16. Jutta

    Screw getting into debates about whether this is right or wrong. This..... just makes me sad. The kind of sad that yanks your heartstrings hard enough to rip them.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Reply
  17. RobS

    There is something about the relationship between humans and dogs. Somehow we forged a working bond eons ago. Maybe for survival, working together to protect the home-front and hunt for food. Somehow, instintually, it seems to be a betrayal of this bond to eat dog, just as it would seem deplorable if dogs began eating people. And dogs are just plain smarter than cows. Ok!

    July 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Reply
  18. nino

    No wonder who its cats and dogs are the ugliest faces in planet.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Reply
    • Alienbrother

      Thankfully, your poor grammar reflects the fact that you are an ignorant person whose opinion really can't be taken seriously, I'm sure here, and with everything else in your life – home-schooled were you? I'd be very surprised if you were even able to understand this article, but then you probably could make out the words, cat and dog right? Right? Now say it with me, C.A.T spells cat. Oh – big clap for you. Now let's try spelling doggie... are you ready for more than three letters? Imbecile.

      July 1, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  19. gremlin

    On some levels, it's not "wrong" to eat dog meat. Why is it not wrong to eat pig meat? But at the same time, animal rights activists here also protest meat eating. We as a society elevate certain animals above (and below) the level of foodstuffs for psychological reasons.
    It's always tricky to eat things that eat other animals. Most (not all) of the animal flesh consumed by humans is from herbivores. Some exceptions are goats and pigs, which I think are omnivores, but the ones consumed here are mostly fed grain and vegetables I believe. Things such as prion based diseases can only be transmitted by consuming the tissues, and those types of diseases are seriously nasty. Some parasites as well. There are reasons that some of these animals haven't become part of the ordinary diet of many places. They can be eaten, but it carries a different sort of risk.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Reply
  20. erich2112x

    Everyone knows that dogs, whales, dolphins, and any other animals with higher intelligence should be left alone.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  21. James

    Telling people in other cultures what they can and can't eat is culinary imperialism. Mind you own business.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Reply
    • Chris

      Thank you, it's refreshing to see some voices of reason in this endless sea of self riotous hypocrites that believe if someone doesn't share their same views, culture or beliefs, then it is the other people that are wrong. There are nearly 7 billion people in this world, not everyone is going to share the same culture, beliefs or choice in food.

      But then we hear, "But dogs are pets, you can't eat pets". Don't even go there. Just because dogs are pets in some countries doesn't mean they are "pets" elsewhere. Heck many people have pigs as pets right here in America, but how many of those people sit down at their breakfast table and have a few strips of hickory smoked bacon every morning and not even think twice about it. If you don't like people eating dog, then so freakin what, then DON'T EAT THEM; its not like YOU are being forced to eat dog. And the people eating dog has ZERO effect on all of you hypocrites, so get down off your high horses and realize that there are more people in the world other than you with different cultures and just because they are different doesn't mean they're wrong.

      Personally, I would never eat a dog or cat, but I'm open minded enough to realize that other cultures do eat them, and who am I to say that they are wrong for doing so.

      July 1, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Reply
  22. krats1976

    What's wrong with eating dog is that the dogs are kept in horribly inhumane conditions and then often tortured before they're slaughtered. That was the fate of the other puppies in my dog's litter... and one reason why I was happy to do what I had to do when I brought him back to the US with me from South Korea.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  23. Patrish Dehler

    From some of the comments I've read it's obvious the moral and mental character of you is pretty pathetic. Some of the dogs that are eaten are alive while their, limbs are ripped off, or they are skinned alive, they do not die a quick, humane death. Before you make smart-ass comments, do your research. Each country has their own cultures, but when others suffer be they animals or human, then it's never right.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  24. Salmander

    Vincent: Want some bacon?
    Jules: No, man. I don't eat pork.
    Vincent: Are you Jewish?
    Jules: Nah, I ain't Jewish, I just don't dig on swine, that's all.
    Vincent: Why not?
    Jules: Pigs are filthy animals. I don't eat filthy animals.
    Vincent: Yeah, but bacon tastes good. Pork chops taste good.
    Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'd never know 'cause I wouldn't eat the filthy mother****er. Pigs sleep and root in sh*t. That's a filthy animal. I ain't eatin' nothing that ain't got sense enough to disregard its own feces.
    Vincent: How about a dog? Dog eats its own feces.
    Jules: I don't eat dog either.
    Vincent: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?
    Jules: I wouldn't go so far as to call a dog filthy, but they're definitely dirty. But, a dog's got personality. Personality goes a long way.
    Vincent: Ah, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he would cease to be a filthy animal. Is that true?
    Jules: Well, we'd have to be talkin' about one charming mother****ing pig. I mean, he'd have to be ten times more charming than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I'm saying?
    Vincent: [laughing] That's good.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  25. d rufus onfyre

    This story should not only draw attention to the cruelty of raising dogs to be slaughtered for human consumption, but also pig, cow, sheep and other animals we take for granted as acceptable food sources. It is illogical to justify eating some animals and not others, therefore the choice should be not to eat animals. While it may be illogical, I will eat birds and fish but I draw the line at eating mammals, because human beings are mammals too. I know this choice undermines my argument and to say "you have to draw the line somewhere," may be a cop out, but it is a choice I can live with.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  26. sophia s.

    There are many things wrong with eating dogs! They are domesticated COMPANION animals. Not domesticated CONSUMPTION animals. Would you eat your best friend? I don't think so...

    July 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Reply
    • RobS

      Have you seen my best friend!? Just joking. You're right of course. I agree that they have been domesticated as companions and therefore we have an obligation to treat them respectfully. Just like we have an obligation to treat those that we call friends with respect, otherwise, we shouldn't have made them friends.

      July 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Reply
  27. urgentattentionnow

    Amazing how many people would rather abort a human life than eat an animal...morals? huh? Really? Really?

    July 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Reply
  28. Charles

    We choose not to eat certain animals, for this we have changed the way our brain works to think it is bad. For this reason alone in our country this should never be allowed. In other countries it's their choice but we will of course think it's wrong. It's that simple end of story. Also whoever wrote this is an idiot and kind of an ass.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Reply
  29. bejubeused

    Old school Asians need to stop believing it a good idea to devour everything that moves – from dogs to shark fins to tiger privates. Sick culture.

    "is said to possess qualities that "help stamina." BALONEY!

    July 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Reply
    • Arch Stanton

      And there's the rub. In Asia the family is everything. It is very difficult for an Asian to change because to declare something is wrong is to declare an ancestor was wrong–an ancestor who is still looking over the shoulder of the Asian wanting to change.

      July 1, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Reply
  30. Lassie

    I'm going to go with because dogs are affectionate towards humans. And they're extremely loyal and protective of their owners. Most dogs will die to protects their owners if they're attacked. The same cannot be said for chickens and cows.

    July 1, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Reply
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