Yesterday, 10 000 dogs were slated to be eaten at a dog-meat eating festival in a place called Yulin in China. There was a lot of media controversy about this festival and an online petition going around to protest it. Some people with the means "rescued" the dogs meant to be eaten by buying them, apparently with the plan of rehoming them, to give them a "second chance" at life. I was among the many who signed the online petition and expressed outrage online at this festival celebrating the eating of dogs. I realise now that my contention with Yulin, even on the surface level, is problematic in a number of ways.
Do some lives matter more than others?
The idea that dogs should not be killed over other animals that are more commonly accepted forms of food such as chicken, seems to privilege one life form over another. Interestingly, in some parts of the world,there is recurring debate over whether some human lives are more valued/valuable than others, and the ethical problems it creates. I see the same dialectic occurring here. The argument that animals like dogs and cats have a special relationship with humans, because we view them as pets and companions is fuzzy because a chicken might very well be a pet to a person in another country. Does this mean that only vegans can sign the online petition against Yulin without being hypocrites? Unfortunately, I think so. If there is anything that the rest of the meat/ meat-based produce consuming world can object to about Yulin2015 it's the inhumane conditions that the animals are kept in prior to their slaughter, which is not a problem unique to this particular event.
Occident VS the Orient
Clearly, Western media has played up the inhumanity of Yulin2015 with proclamations of how barbaric Asian people are eating their beloved pets. I read a report recently about how consuming dog meat is not some sort of traditional event deeply-entrenched in Chinese culture,in fact Yulin in particular has far more contemporary roots. I suspect that much of the controversy surrounding the event stems from a sense of righteousness that some news agencies have created in subtler ways than others.
As an ardent dog-lover, I strongly disapprove of Yulin 2015 and the idea of eating dog meat in any form. As a meat-eater, I have to admit that while I am entitled to my own views, there is no reason why the participants of the festival should care about what I think, and this is probably the hardest pill for most to swallow.