Whenever I heard people talk about countries like China and Korea eating dog I used to think that this was some sort of crazy rumor that made its way across the pond. However, one day I ended up moving across the pond myself-to South Korea. It was while living here that learned that this “rumour” was in fact very true.
Living in a rural town, I got a look into this business first hand. One day while walking to work something stopped me dead in my tracks. It was a truck driving past me and the back of it had a cage filled with stray dogs-crying and whimpering. These poor dogs were being collected to be cooked and made into dinner.
Knowing their fate, I froze. I could feel my heart breaking. I wanted to do something, to chase after the truck and free those poor souls! But there was nothing that I could do. I hopelessly watched the truck drive away as the sound of whimpering slowly faded with it.
South Koreans do not deny that there are dog restaurants, and while it is technically illegal, these restaurants do still exist. It’s a bit of a grey area. I have even had some of my young students tell me that they have eaten dog.
My friend, who was a teacher in South Korea, ate the school lunch one day only to find out afterwards that what she had eaten was dog! Luckily, I am vegetarian so I can confidently say that I have never accidentally eaten dog…I hope.
While your first instinct might be to lecture South Koreans as to how cruel they are, I made myself stop and take a moment to reflect. I was in their country and needed to make sure to process the differences in our worlds before being so quick to judge.
As a vegetarian you would imagine that I would be specifically sensitive to the killing and eating of dogs. This is not true. I am no more sensitive to the killing and eating of dogs than I am to any other animal (which frankly is quite sensitive).
In Western society it is illegal and seen as cruel and inhumane to kill dogs. You go to jail for it. Yet, when it comes to another animal with four legs, a beating heart, personality and even a more intelligent brain than a dog (such as a pig)-it is perfectly fine to slaughter and eat it. I mean, it just tastes so delicious.
Why is it illegal and unethical to slaughter a dog but not a pig? Because a pig tastes better? Because dogs can play catch?
I am not saying that I support the dog killing industry by any means, but I will not judge South Koreans any more harshly than I judge my own society for parallel actions.
This is a topic that I have questioned many times in my life and even wrote a research essay on it back in university. My essay was about ‘Speciesm’-a term used to describe the difference in the treatment of animals based on their species.
Since living in South Korea, this issue was brought back to light for me with their eating of dogs meat. I decided to revisit my old essay. It’s not the most light-hearted essay and I can’t see it trending on Buzzfeed anytime soon. I want it to be clear that I didn’t write it to start a debate or offend anyone who does eat meat. In fact, the only eyes I wrote it for were my professors-to read and grade.
However, I do believe that this is an issue that is rarely brought to light and I decided to post on my blog for anyone who is interested in gaining a deeper insight into why as a society we can justify eating pigs but not dogs.
You may click here for a full page view.
While looking into this issue again recently I came across this documentary that is actually called Speciesism! Just came across this and am excited to give it a watch. We are the most powerful animals on the planet but that doesn’t mean that this is our planet. It is important that we use this power carefully and not destructively. I think a little awareness brought to how we treat the animals on earth could bring a world of good, literally.