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. Korean

    Why eat a dog when you can have a filet mignon? Only reason I would eat a dog is if my family is going to die of hunger.

    July 1, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Reply
  2. DJ

    1. Koreans aren't the only culture that eats dog meat. China and Vietnam eat them regularly as well. Even countries in Europe ate them even in recent years.
    2. Koreans are just as intelligent and more cultured than America is and Koreans don't off themselves in record numbers.
    3. Americans have a bad habit of judging other cultures as if ours was the standard that the world should live by.
    I have dogs back home whom I love, but I have tried dog meat before and it was tasty. to me it's no different than eating cow, pig, chicken, lamb, fish, snake or rabbit which are all creatures that people keep as pets. I always laugh that people get so offended by these stories when, until they read it, they had no idea what happens.

    July 1, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Reply
  3. Obamabus

    As evidenced by the occasional news story, a dog would not hesitate to eat it's "master" given certain circumstances. An animal is an animal. I wouldn't eat a dog because of having bonds with many over the years, but it's presumptuous to judge others for their cultural heritage.

    July 1, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Reply
  4. mia corvin

    ‎"I HAVE LEARNED FROM AN EARLY AGE TO RENOUNCE THE USE OF MEAT, AND THE TIME WILL COME WHEN MEN SUCH AS I WILL LOOK UPON THE MURDER OF ANIMALS AS THEY NOW LOOK UPON THE MURDER OF MEN" -Leonardo da Vinci-
    </3 mia corvin

    July 1, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Reply
  5. Adam

    Horses are human best friends too, and people eat horse meat. I don't eat horses or dogs, but if there is no food, you bet I would eat them to survive. I would never consider pets such as dogs and cats are my best friends. They're not your friends, they are animals. Dogs and cats attack people before too.

    July 1, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Reply
  6. quje

    Did you know that pigs have a higher intellect than dogs? Did you also know pork is much closer to human flesh than dogs. If you don't, your an ignoramus. Having said this, is it then okay to eat pork and not dog meat? Isn't it a double standard? You say pig is ok and dog no. Come on. This is all cultural. Look at the French. Pigeons are considered a delicay in France. However, in most countries, pigeons are a symbol of peace. They also played a crucial role in world war I as messengers. So how can the French or the rest of the world for that matter, criticize countries that find dog meat a delicacy.

    July 1, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Reply
  7. Janna

    Debates like this are why my boyfriend and myself get incredibly upset at people who make jokes to us about rabbit stew when they know we own pet rabbits, or inform us they tried guinea pig when they were on vacation in Peru and it was delicious. I know that eating rabbit and guinea pig is morally acceptable to many people (especially rabbit in this country), but to me, they are companion animals and I won't even feed rabbit to my cats. We are well aware that others view our pets as food. In fact, one of our two bunnies is a meat rabbit breed, so we have problems keeping her weight down. We don't need to be reminded of that constantly, though.

    The point is this: throughout human history, we have eaten pretty much any living thing that wasn't poisonous, including the meat of our fellow man. Every culture has its own definitions of what's acceptable or not. Obviously, South Korea is experiencing a cultural shock thanks to Western influences (not good, not bad – just the way it is) in how they view dogs. Here in the United States, I'd imagine there are a lot more people like myself who would refuse to eat rabbit than there were 50 years ago for the exact same reason those Koreans won't eat dog: we've come to see them as intelligent, caring creatures who we share our homes with, and the thought of using that animal as a food source turns our stomachs.

    I think many Hindus would feel much the same way about our consumption of cows, by the way. So for those who feel we Westerners are morally "superior" somehow, keep in mind that it's all a matter of perspective.

    July 1, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Reply
  8. Jody

    Evolutionarily speaking, our culture has grown with dogs, who in turn have evolved to assimilate into our societies. They are almost unique in the animal kingdom. For example, dogs are the among the only known animals with left gaze bias, allowing them to read and respond to human facial emotions. Other animals, even our closest relatives among the primates, can't do that. And we humans are wired to react to dogs in a similar fashion as to children. Eating dogs speaks to a certain lack of ability to empathize with humanity. That's why the reaction against it is so strong.

    Not that it really matters, eventually we'll move to a insect and vat grown meat diet, which will be healthier and more efficient than any animal-based food stock. It's pretty inevitable.

    July 1, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Reply
  9. Varex

    Oh! lets save the cows then. Since some cultures consider them sacred. Ill pass I like hamburgers, and if they like grilled dog well it is what it is. Who should impose on them; what makes dog more important than any other animal? Truth is they are all important so i say grace. Guess we could all become Vegans and make it fair. Personally I'll pass on that.

    July 1, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Reply
  10. Nic

    I have no legitimate reason as to why dogs should not be eaten. I understand that "it's immoral" is not a valid argument and is culturally relative and, usually, I support the idea that each of us (should) have the right to act in any way that does not interfere in the well being of others. All that said, can it not be enough, just this once, that I don't want to experience a humanity that slaughters the same animal it trains for human assistance? One that exchanges romantic, childhood ideals for progressive and logical thought process? Can't anything be left untouched by politics, religion, and formalities? For once, can I keep the notion of loyalty and truth in my family "pet", instead of exchanging it for images of pointless excess and greed manifested the slaughter of the same creature? I understand that no one is hurt tremendously by the consumption of dog meat, but no one would be hurt tremendously if dog meat was taken off the menu, either.

    July 1, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Reply
  11. Help save the animals

    What most of you are missing is the fact that in the Korean dog markets the dog are tortured before they are slaughtered (there are plenty of video on the internet and You tube showing this) because they believe a tortured animal will improve sexual performance. There are up to 25 dogs pack into tiny 3' by 2' cages. Cats are boiled alive. Don't believe me – check for yourself!!! YOU call that culture!! That is just sick!

    July 1, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Reply
    • SkyJelly

      help save the animals from what? being eaten? Do you know why lobsters are boilded alive? IS it because everyone who cooks them want to see them squirm? Did you know that the human body releases chemicals when under duress? Do you know all the facts or is this just something distasteful to your superior morality?

      July 2, 2011 at 3:31 am | Reply
      • Superior

        I am superior to you dumb skyjelly-that name suits you well. Jellybrain! Lobsters are disgusting because they eat all kinds of shit from the bottom of the ocean. Shit like you. Don't eat dog, cat, lobster, and all disgusting rotting corpses.

        Rot in Hell evil doer skyjelly! Only the sick, cruel, and evil torture for fun before they eat! Anyone who eats dog meat is part of this ugly cycle. Go play with your pet lobster and jump in a pot of boiling water where you belong.

        The world now knows what goes on in these horrid dog markets. I'm glad they stopped this evil festival.

        July 2, 2011 at 4:12 am |
  12. Calico

    The same thing that's wrong with eating human meat.

    Or from a different perspective: the same thing that's wrong with eating any commercially produced meat. It's unnecessary, it's cruel, it's unhealthy, it's wasteful, it spreads disease, and the industry is a heavy polluter. In some countries as much as 1/3 of all greenhouse gasses released are as a result of meat animal production. In the US, one of the top users of fresh water is not factories or golf courses – it's livestock production.

    July 1, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Reply
  13. Grace

    Just because we can kill dogs as meat does not mean we should. We have a responsibility to take care of those that can not care for themselves. It is vile and inhumane. Those that feel it is ok are just plain wrong!

    July 1, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Reply
    • Dana

      Meat is meat.

      July 1, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Reply
    • SkyJelly

      wow. So cows and pigs and sheep can take care of themselves and dogs cant? btw.. do you know about cats in korea? My guess is you and most of the posters here don't. Most here dont know anything about koreans or any other culture for that matter including their own. If ignorance is bliss... tis folly to be wise!

      July 2, 2011 at 3:20 am | Reply
  14. Dan

    If it means fewer loud, smelly, annoying dogs, I am all for it.

    July 1, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Reply
    • bill

      Human beings are evolving to not eating meat. It's only the un-evolved who think eating dogs or any other animal is okay.

      July 3, 2011 at 1:00 am | Reply
  15. Sara

    I've eaten puppy in a soup as part of a spiritual ceremony. It was sweet and tasty and greasy. Somewhat reminiscent of duck because of the fat content.
    I doubt that I would add it to my regular diet, but meat is meat. If I am willing to eat a pig or a turkey or fish, why is a dog any different?
    The whole point of the ceremony in which I ate the soup was to remember the sacrifice of the animals during the hard times when dogs were the only animals that were around TO eat.
    People forget that eating is something to be thankful for, something to appreciate.

    July 2, 2011 at 12:07 am | Reply
  16. Blessed Geek

    WHAT'S WRONG WITH leaving dead people on streets and not burying them. People make such a big stink about ti.

    What's wrong with purifying your crap and body fluids right in the starbucks store front and making a cuppa from it right before your eyes.

    July 2, 2011 at 12:11 am | Reply
  17. Wasabiwahabi

    Fido isn't kosher. Emily Lodish is well-aware of this, but an inflammatory article that makes no sense will last longer than a well-reasoned one that does. Okay, Emily Lodish – let's see you eat a plate full of paws, if you are so keen on the idea.

    July 2, 2011 at 12:12 am | Reply
  18. Freethinker

    If the economy gets any worse you may change your mind. by the way, dog doesnt taste bad, just very greasy

    July 2, 2011 at 12:30 am | Reply
  19. Carne Diem

    I love that new Korean cookbook, "101 Ways to Wok Your Dog."

    July 2, 2011 at 12:34 am | Reply
  20. Nicholas Forte

    i knew the posts on this would be hilarious...but WOW!!! LMAO!

    July 2, 2011 at 12:56 am | Reply
  21. Nosajo

    I lived in S. Korea for 3 years, I ate kegogi a few times with a side of kimchi and a bottle of soju. Good times!

    July 2, 2011 at 1:06 am | Reply
  22. Li

    What's wrong with eating humans?,,,, it's stupid and unhealthy to eat meat .... What's wrong with eating dogs? The same thing that is wrong with eating humans.... The world needs to stop mass producing animals for meat all together

    July 2, 2011 at 1:08 am | Reply
  23. 080080

    DING DING DING! Bring on the racism!

    How are you going to say that Koreans are barbaric and disgusting for eating dogs and call Indians crazy for not eating beef?

    I'm sorry, I forgot that projecting ones culture onto the rest of the world is the American way.

    To those of you citing Scripture and Kashrut law... please remember that South Korea is not a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values.

    You hypocrites will make such a big stink over Asians eating dogs and come out of the woodwork acting like you've done years of research on the evolutionary and anthropologic ramifications of eating dogs but have nothing to say about mass rape in Darfur or honor kills in the Middle East.

    July 2, 2011 at 1:09 am | Reply
  24. Michael Schumann

    Wake up people! Human beings are omnivores that means that we as a species will eat almost anything that does not eat us first. In the proper circumstances, no "pet" animal is safe from becoming dinner. In time of war, or other times of deprivation, even the most civilized of people will resort to taking their protein where they can find it. Look into the history of the matter. See what people did to eat in the Franco Prussian war. See what they did in Leningrad during 900 days of siege in WW II.

    And "evolution" is NOT a sound argument in favor of Rover. Cows have been evolving alongside humans for centuries too.

    July 2, 2011 at 1:22 am | Reply
  25. Ted

    People meat? You folks are mentally ill. This is the slippery slope for those with no moral compass. Nothing is sacred. Why not eat your own children then? How about your grandmother? She's old and useless right?

    July 2, 2011 at 1:32 am | Reply
  26. Bookenz

    Because it's morally reprehensible.

    July 2, 2011 at 1:33 am | Reply
  27. Bad Dog!

    The headline asks "What's wrong with eating Dog meat?" Well, it makes you crap in the back yard,yell at the neighbors (all night),sniff your wife's dirty undies,jump up on the couch and lick your balls. Oh,yeah, and it pisses off Germans

    July 2, 2011 at 1:47 am | Reply
  28. Better than you all

    It's wrong because I deem it so. Nuff said, end of discussion!

    July 2, 2011 at 2:09 am | Reply
  29. lulz

    Dogs are another source of food. People have pigs as pets.....they have chickens as pets, they have fish as pets, they have turtles as pets, and no one has any problem with eating these animals. Then they go crazy when you talk about eating a dog. I HAVE eaten dog. To be honest the meat isn't very appealing to me, it's like beef except tougher, but other people love it.

    I think it's just ignorant to say it's wrong just because it's "against YOUR morals" well it isn't against mine. Most of the comments in this section seem to state "It's wrong because I don't agree with it" Well, I don't agree with you eating pork so anytime I see you eating pork i'm gonna flip out on you.

    July 2, 2011 at 2:19 am | Reply
  30. Meerkat21

    1, farming animals for meat and profit is morally and ethically wrong. We talk of and freedom so much and yet denies the same rights to free living to animals.
    2. Commercial animal farming IS animal ABUSE !
    3. We do not have claws on our fingers, or canine teeth, or long jaws, or the speed and strength– essential features of a successful Carnivore.
    4. Humans are born vegetarians!

    Save the animals, environment and the world- Be vegetarian.
    SAY NO TO COMMERCIAL ANIMAL FARMING

    July 2, 2011 at 2:31 am | Reply
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