Article: Dog Eating in China: What is really going on?

In Articles, Food, Society & Culture by TechnoOwl

Claim: Eating dogs is common and widespread in China and it’s something that ordinary Chinese people support.

Origin: Dog eating has a long history of consumption in Asia as peasant food. However, the spread of religion such as Buddhism and Islam which prohibits the consumption of certain meats as well as the dawn of the Industrial Revolution saw an almost complete wipeout of the practice with isolated places in China and the Korean Peninsula the only remaining places that have niche markets for it still. The practice didn’t become mainstream knowledge until 2009 when the prefecture of Yulin, Guangxi Province in China started the 10 days long “Lychee and Dog Meat Festival” where festival-goers eat lychee fruit and dog meat. The festival was originally authorized by local officials as an attempt to draw in more tourists and businesses to the city. The city government has since distanced itself from the festival due to popular backlashes over it. As well, there have been other dog meat festivals such as the Jinhua Hutou dog meat festival in East China’s Zhejiang province. But the Yulin festival has been the poster child due to its media coverage.

Facts:

  • The consumption of dog meat in all of China is limited to Yulin after the Jinhua banned consumption in 2011.
  • The supply of dogs killed for the festival was <1000 in 2015 (Source)
  • Survey results of Chinese living in Yulin about Dog eating: (Source)
  1. 72% have never eaten dog meat or rarely eat it.
  2. 28% eat it on a regular basis
  3. 12% percent eating it weekly
  • Chinese celebrities such as Chen Kun, Yang Mi, and Fan Bingbing have spoken out against it.
  • Peter Li, China policy specialist for HSI, said: “Despite the effort by dog traders to heavily promote the eating of dog for the last seven years, it’s clear that the majority of Yulin residents still don’t eat it on anything like a regular basis. The truth is that eating dog and cat is not part of China’s mainstream culinary practice even in Yulin, the home of the dog meat festival. We’ve already seen the Yulin authorities take steps to curb the sale of dog meat, so we hope that these survey results will encourage them to go even further. Far from being vital to the Yulin economy or way of life, the dog meat festival is a national disgrace that tarnishes the name of the city around the world. Now is the time to end it.” (Source)
  • Qin Xiaona, director of CAWA, said: “The survey results are encouraging. The survey tells the world that Yulin’s food culture is not defined by the local dog meat traders. Their cultural claim is not supported by the survey. Those of us who lived in Guangxi in the past know that dog meat consumption was a distasteful habit. You just did not cook dog meat in your own kitchen. The survey results should encourage the Yulin authorities to correct the misperception perpetrated by the dog meat industry by fostering a new and healthy food culture in line with the rapid progress in the rest of the country.” (Source)