In the 21st century it is still legal to eat a dog or cat in these countries

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Reactions to the news that Taiwan has passed a law prohibiting the slaughter of cats and dogs for human consumption has been a combination of relief and shock. On the one hand, we are happy that more and more countries are committed to protecting animal rights, but on the other, we are horrified to remember that other cultures continue to include animals that we consider pets in their traditional cuisine.In which countries could you legally test dog or cat meat?

Today there are basically three countries where the trade in dogs for slaughter and sale as edible meat is allowed: China, Vietnam and South Korea. There is a bit of a myth about dog consumption in China, a country whose cuisine raises some suspicions among lovers of urban legends, although it is currently only consumed in certain regions. Perhaps less well known is the tradition in the other two Asian countries, although the truth is that cat and dog meat has been eaten almost everywhere in the world throughout history.

When there is a need, any food is welcome

Fortunately, our society today no longer knows what hunger is. I clarify: it is true that the crisis has left many families with serious difficulties in accessing a decent basic diet, and unfortunately there are still many people in need of help, but I am referring to generalized famine in times of famine. When the few foods that enter a city are rationed, and that with luck.

We are talking, of course, of wartime and post-war times, of epidemics and other disasters that Europe has already overcome, although we forget that in other parts of the world they continue to face them. When you have not eaten practically anything for days, the situation does not seem to improve in the short term and if you have family in your charge, any food is valid. Also the meat of what for us today are beloved pets, dogs and cats.

For example, in 1940 Germany officially legalized the consumption of dog meat, along with other species such as fox, bear, wolf or even zoo animals. The specimens were examined to verify that they did not carry dangerous diseases and later they were distributed between the butchers to ration the meat among the population. Explorers from the Arctic and Antarctic regions are also known to have to sacrifice their own sled dogs when they were caught in the middle of expeditions. Given the need, there are no qualms that are worth.

From tradition to taboo

The dog is an animal that has been domesticated by man for thousands of years and is present in practically all cultures. Although it continues to have an essential role in certain professions, we today almost only see it as a pet. But for a long time it has been more than a simple companion animal and has had a utilitarian role, even sacred and with supposed medicinal properties, and, to a lesser extent, also the cat.

There are numerous references that have come to us from explorers and settlers about indigenous peoples from around the world with a cultural tradition of consuming dog meat. For example, it seems that the Aztecs bred a specific race for this, while the custom among the native Indians of North America could vary from tribe to tribe.

In Europe there have been certain peoples that also sacrificed dogs for culinary use, such as the Gauls, even opening butchers specialized in their meat in France at the beginning of the 20th century. As we have already mentioned, the great wars in the old continent led to extreme situations such as having to resort to consuming any animal, but once the post-war period was over, it became taboo.

Countries in which dog meat was openly distributed for consumption were successively banning it, such as Belgium, Germany or Austria. Although there are nations that do not specifically prohibit it, the idea of ​​eating dog is viewed with horror in the West, and any news related to the subject sparks controversy in the media and outrage among the general population.

As a curiosity, the Swiss press recently reported on how there are still cases in certain rural areas of farmers who maintain the tradition of making a type of dried meat with dogs and also cats, although they are isolated and rare cases. Of course, commercial use is prohibited, only own consumption is legal.

And is that currently any news that comes out related to the sacrifice of animals such as dogs and cats will raise millions of voices against it. That is why the cases of populations in which the meat of certain dogs is still used to use it as human food is limited to indigenous peoples, small population centers from different parts of the world that still live very far from the rest of the planet and maintain their customs traditional.

The cases of China, Vietnam and South Korea

The exception today is represented by these three Asian countries, where dogs and cats are still legally bred, sold and slaughtered for use as edible meat. The case of dog meat is known especially, being the consumption of cats somewhat more recent and limited, closely associated with medicinal remedies.

Anyone who comes to China expecting to find dog meat in any market should know that there are many myths surrounding the gastronomy of the Asian giant. It is a very large country made up of very different regions, with different customs and cultures. Currently, the use of dogs as food is mainly focused on the southeast, particularly Guangdong, plus some areas in the north near Korea. And it is unlikely that they will serve you a dog or cat fooling you like another animal.

As we discussed in the previous post, the Yulin Festival is well known for the controversy it unleashes in the media. It is a relatively recent celebration that commemorates the winter solstice, during which some 10,000 dogs are sacrificed for consumption as meat. In Vietnam it is a tradition that remains very popular in urban areas as well, and is even believed to bring good luck or increase virility. There, cat meat is prohibited.

In South Korea, the custom of eating dog meat is also followed as something traditional that is also associated with its own cultural identity. Although it is not a mainstay of their diet today, many traditional dog-based dishes continue to be prepared, especially stews and stews during the summer. Also in Korea it is given healthy qualities and medicinal products such as tonics or even cosmetics of all kinds are made. Normally a specific breed, the nureongi, is used for these purposes, although other more international breeds can also be seen in the markets.

Culture and tradition or cruel barbarism?

Since Asian countries have become more open to the Western world, many of their customs have been called into question. The case of Korea is the most remarkable because it is a country that has hosted important sporting events at the international level, and that has unleashed criticism from numerous organizations. The government has been trying to regulate the dog and cat meat market for some time to improve its external image, and in fact one of its most important markets has just closed for the 2018 winter Olympics.

The truth is that in recent years more and more people have dogs and cats as pets in Asia, and the new generations do not see very well that they are used as edible meat. There is talk of a certain westernization of its culture, and in a certain way it is criticized that other countries want to impose their own customs, ending centuries of tradition.

Let's remember that rabbit meat is common in Spain, but I have seen stupor reactions from Americans or even some Germans when they met it, because for them it is an adorable animal that they relate to the Easter bunny. Many animal lovers follow vegetarian or vegan diets precisely because they cannot bear the thought of any living thing suffering just to become food, while others only set the limit based on their own personal ethics. Another example is it could be colt meat, inconceivable for many people despite its tradition.

Without wanting to impose our culture on anyone, and as terrible as the idea of ​​sacrificing and eating a dog or cat may seem to me, I believe that the great problem in these countries is not so much in their consumption. The worst thing about this tradition is the treatment given to the animals, the cruelty with which they are raised, sold and slaughtered, usually in terrible conditions, packed into tiny boxes and mistreated. That is the main reason why Taiwan has ended up banning the meat of dogs and cats, within a policy for animal rights.

Possibly also China, Vietnam and Korea end up forbidding trading and consuming meat of animals that we consider pets, or simply the custom will be lost over the years. It is always delicate to try to change customs so associated with the culture of one people because it is not easy to put oneself in the place of the other. In the meantime, anyone who is curious and ventures to try dog ​​or cat meat dishes already knows where to travel.

Photos | nord-dressage.fr, Minh28397, Animals Asia, Kim Bartlett - Animal People, Inc, shankar s.
Directly to the Palate | Taiwan bans the slaughter of cats and dogs for consumption

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