Dogs are family members in many homes in the U.S., so it is hard to fathom people treating dogs any different than the loveable pets that they are. Right now in China preparation is underway for a summer solstice festival where 10,000 dogs are being slaughtered to supply meat for that event on Monday, according to VOA News, on June 20.
In contrast to what many people think, dog meat is a delicacy in China and not the food of the poor. In the 1990s the city of Yulin in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in Southern China started a tradition of celebrating the arrival of the summer solstice with a festival serving up dog meat and drinking lychee liquor. This is now an annual dog meat festival, which has a huge attendance.
While this tradition is embedded in the Yulin culture, it is not the only city in China to have such a festival, although it is the largest of its kind. There are other southern cities in China that also have dog meat festivals, such as Guangzhou and Huajiang.
According to The Business Standard, “millions” in China are calling for an end to dog meat festivals. While CNN News reports that this isn’t just a concern for the inhumane treatment of dogs, there is a health safety issue that comes along with the dog meat used.
According to CNN, “China’s food safety regulations ban the processing, selling and serving of products from diseased or dead animals of unknown causes.” But the authorities in Yulin, where the largest dog meat festival is held, continue to ignore the rules. Dog meat from unknown sources is still being sold to consumers, and “in so doing prioritizing the profits of dog meat traders over consumer health.”
The long history of eating dog meat in northern China stems from fighting off the winter cold along with the superstition that this type of meat is good luck, much like it is in southern China. Eating dog meat has an air of sophistication about it for the people partaking in this tradition.
While Yulin’s festival will go off as planned on Monday, there are many festivals that also thrived in the past that won’t happen on Monday, or ever again for that matter. Eating dog meat is not something many people aspire to these days in China and a great many find killing dogs for their meat is barbaric. Local governments have stepped in to ban such festivals. One such past festival is the Jinhua Hutou Dog Meat Festival in Zhejiang, which the local government put the kibosh on.
The act of eating dog meat is bad enough, but having an actual festival that is fashioned around eating dog meat is seen as disgusting and inhuman by many today, causing much flack for everyone involved. It is most likely for this reason that the local Yulin government denied having a dog meat festival to the national press last year. They also denied any involvement in organizing this event that serves dog meat, according to VOA News. Sales of dog meat has decreased by 60 percent in Yulin last year from the previous year.
Many of the restaurants that were well known for serving dog meat have closed down. One very popular restaurant in Guangzhou, which was the go-to place for this meat is now a clothing store. People have stopped eating this meat and in turn this has put many places out of business. There’s a huge push on by animal rights activist from all over the globe for the government of China to ban the consumption of dog meat. Online petitions are getting a lot of attention today as they call for the end of the Yulin dog meat festival.
It is such a bizarre custom to celebrate the summer solstice by butchering thousands of dogs to eat. It seems to go against what the summer season stands for, it is when life is at is fullest in bloom. To end the life of so many caring and kind creatures for celebrating this season that is vibrant with life, just goes against the grain, not to mention horrifically wrong.