There is a bright silver lining to the coronavirus outbreak which started in China and which is frightening many people across the planet because it is perilously close to being a pandemic. The silver lining is that the administrators of China, and I hope its citizens, are reflecting on their habit of eating exotic and potentially dangerous animal parts in the belief that they have health benefits. Often wild animal parts are also used in traditional Chinese medicine. This proposed change in attitude is good for animal welfare generally as it would change the human-to-animal relationship in China.
Snake oil remedies
The argument is that there is no scientific basis for these supposed benefits and there is a drive in China for a more civilised and scientific approach to their diet which would mean overturning centuries-old beliefs that, for instance, cat helps circulation, snake meat fights fatigue, pangolin scales help nursing women to lactate and silkworm pupa, made from cocoons, cures erectile dysfunction. There are many other animals used by the Chinese which are meant to cure similar ailments. They remind us of the old “miracle elixirs” (sometimes referred to as snake oil) pedaled in America in the 19th century (or that is the impression I get from Westerns!).
The call for this fundamental change to the attitudes and habits of the Chinese people comes from the national people’s congress, the country’s parliament who have already taken steps to tackle these habits by fast tracking legislation to ban the consumption of wildlife which has been prompted by this dire viral outbreak.
Also, I mentioned in a previous post that the city administrators of Shenzhen, a metropolis of almost 12 million people, have since proposed to outlaw consumption of dog and cat meat. This large area resides in a province in the south of China where cat and dog meat is historically eaten. I would hope that the entire province changes their stance on what the West would consider to be a distressingly cruel habit in part because the killing of the animals is carried out in an unregulated and cruel manner.
An editorial in the People’s Daily, which is the mouthpiece for the ruling party, called for a revolution in the national diet as seen by the quote in the image above.