The cat and dog meat industry polarises people. In the West it is seen as obnoxious even obscene, while in Asia eating cat and dog meat is no different to eating chicken and pork. There is an attitude difference between Asia and the West in this respect. But it appears that the South Korean government have decided to phase out dog meat because it’s a divisive practice. It attracts criticism worldwide.
I’m going to criticise the South Korean government right now because I don’t see a story about South Korea banning the practice of eating cat meat. Why are cats excluded from this legislation? I don’t understand. Perhaps the reporting is incomplete.
I’m told by The Independent that eating dog meat is not banned in South Korea currently but neither is it specifically a legal activity. And it appears that the eating of dog meat has declined in South Korea over the years because of criticism from animal rights groups. In addition, the younger generation have different attitudes to the older generation in South Korea. The mood is changing thankfully. I say thankfully because I live in the West and I don’t like to see cat and dog meat.
The South Korean government are clearly sensitive to this criticism. For animal advocates in the West, it is great to see their efforts come to fruition in a ban against dog meat in an Asian country. That’s why people like me post about cat and dog meat all the time. We want to in influence opinion. We want things to change. Our biggest target is China, which is a tough nut to crack.
Is eating cat and dog meat any different to eating chicken and pork?
Of course, it begs the question as to whether eating cats and dogs is any different to eating conventional livestock such as pigs and chickens. This is one of those perennial arguments which always resurfaces. But there is a difference between eating cats and dogs and chickens and pigs.
I will briefly touch on the difference. There is a social contract – an unwritten contract – between cat and dog companions and their owners. And the contract says that the owner will look after their dog or cat and in return the dog will help protect the human and provide the human with companionship. The contract between these two parties does not include one party to the ‘contract’ killing the other and eating it! That’s the first point.
The second point is that in the West the killing of livestock is regulated by extensive legislation in order to make sure that the animals are killed humanely. In Asia cats and dogs are brutally killed before being consumed. In China there are no regulations regarding the killing of cats and dogs and other animals. In South Korea I’m sure there are regulations on the slaughter of animals but I would doubt that they are properly enforced and I am sure there is a lot of cat and dog cruelty taking place in the backstreet cat and dog meat markets in South Korea and other Asian countries. That’s the problem. The business is plain cruel.
South Korea pressured into change
And the government in South Korea know the problem because the policy chief of the ruling People Power Party said that it is time “to put an end to social conflicts and controversies around dog meat consumption through the enactment of a special act to end it.”
The government is debating it. If passed the ban would take place before the end of 2023. It is expected that this new law will be passed and there will be a three-year grace period to phase out the businesses. The objective is to entirely ban dog meat in South Korea by 2027. The businesses will be compensated.
They have been objecting to the phasing out of their businesses. And it’s a big business in South Korea. Nearly 1 million dogs are killed for human consumption in that country annually.
A poll conducted in 2020 found that 84% of South Koreans have never eaten dog meat. And 59% of South Koreans support a ban. The Independent reports that there are over 1000 dog breeding farms in South Korea. There are 34 slaughterhouses and 219 distribution companies. Around 1500 restaurants serve dog meat.
The problem is a deep-rooted cultural attitude towards eating dog meat which is difficult to shift and one has to be critical sensitively because this is a cultural issue but there’s far too much dog and cat cruelty in Asia. It’s horrendous actually. It’s time to stop eating these companion animals. The slaughter and eating of companion animals simply isn’t part of the contract between us and them.
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