Let’s have a frank conversation. Why don’t you eat dog? Is it because you have a pet dog or because they are just sooo cute? Maybe the thought just makes your stomach turn, or maybe you just haven’t had an opportunity to do so, and therefor haven’t given it much thought.
I’d put myself in the last category because I’ve always tried to keep my mind open, and until yesterday the question “Would you ever eat dog?” was purely hypothetical. yesterday I stumbled upon a scene that made my stomach turn and raised a few questions amongst friends.
I had just arrived at a casting and was making my way up a driveway, where up ahead a man was squatting while wielding a meat cleaver. He was busy chopping up some kind of animal and I casually commented to Gary and David (fellow models) “Looks like Bush meat”. As we made our way past the man, we realized that he was in fact chopping up dog. It’s limbs we’re stiff and the face reminded me of a Pitbull. The skin was pulled back tightly, and it’s jaw was clenched tightly bearing its teeth. There were two buckets, being used to sort the meat and a giant wok was being heated in preparation for the meat.
David and Gary were repulsed. David referred to the man as a savage and Gary took a number of pictures which he planned on sharing with friends and family at home in South Africa. I for one, felt a little “off”, not quite sick, but not quite right either.
Once I got home, I had a good talk with Ellen about what I seen and a few questions came up:
1) How is dog meat any different from other meats? In parts of India, the cow is sacred And revered. Hindus couldn’t imagine eating beef.
2) Does it make sense to create a hierarchy, where certain living things are more “eatable” than others?
3) If dogs were farmed for their meat, much like chicken or pigs, would that make eating them more/less acceptable?
4) After watching Food Inc. I really began to question the relationship we have with our food. most of us couldn’t imagine killing anything in order to eat, and yet in order to eat meat, an animal needs to be killed. There is a huge disconnect between us and our dinner plate that is damaging the balance we should be trying to find.
At the end of the day, I’m still not sure where I stand on dog meat. What I have tried to do this past year, is to be more aware of what I eat, where it comes from, and my buying power. I love meat, and seafood, and dairy, and vegetables. I’m not sure I’ll ever sacrifice any of those foods, nor do I think I should have to. I tend to view all life as equal, and the animals I eat are on the same level. They die for me to live. I know it doesn’t have to be this way, but that is my choice, just like the Chinese make the choice to “eat everything with four legs except the table” (expression told to me by a Chinese friend).
The question we should be asking isn’t whether it’s ethical to eat dog meat, but rather, how sustainable and how humane our food choices are overall. That to me is the most important and least judgmental way to ensure that we respect our world, as well as meet our needs as a society.
After all, if the dog had been raised on a farm in a sustainable and humane way before being killed, who are we to say that the Chinese man wielding the clever was any more savage or amoral than than those of us who eat chicken or beef that comes from hormone injected animals living in overcrowded cages before dying painful deaths.
Now, be forewarned, I’ve included some of Gary’s pictures. They are very graphic and if you’d rather not see, don’t read further. You were warned!