Friend or Food?

dog festival

A woman sells cats and dogs at the Dongkou Market in Yulin ahead of the annual Dog Eating Festival. Some of the animals will be slaughtered for eating at this year’s festival, according to the woman, while the rest will be bought and kept as pets. Zuma Press

This coming weekend China will be celebrating its annual dog eating festival. This has activists up in arms across the globe and for obvious reasons. Many cultures consider dogs to be pets, friends, and certainly not food. This raises some uncomfortable, but necessary questions. Who decides which animals are fit for consumption, why is it acceptable to eat some, but unforgiving to eat others? Why does the dog get saved, but the pig remains caged?

I am a dog lover. I love dogs more than most people, simply because they are such loving, caring creatures and will never harm you, at least not intentionally. So for me, knowing that somewhere today dogs are being sold to be slaughtered and eaten tomorrow, is horrifying. I can’t imagine how it could be acceptable and even celebrated to eat dog meat. I wanted to condemn the Chinese for what they are doing and then I realized, with grief, that I’m allowing the exact same thing to happen in my own country, only with different animals.

Why is it acceptable to slaughter cattle, chickens and pigs for meat, but not dogs and cats? Why are only two species being exempted from slaughter and the rest simply do not fit the category of ‘pet’?


How can we classify a select few animals as friends while others are fit for food? Just because ‘we’ve always eaten pork’ doesn’t mean pigs shouldn’t be protected with the same fervor dogs are. Just because bacon tastes delicious, doesn’t mean pigs shouldn’t have rights when it comes to their lives, living conditions and ultimately, how they die.

Now I love bacon and red meat as much as the next South African and the idea of giving up meat is really, really tiresome and at times even seems ridiculous. This is mainly due to the fact that it is embedded in our culture to eat meat… and lots of it. We are so used to this way of eating that we will turn a blind eye to the horrid conditions animals are being raised in, transported in and slaughtered in, just so we can have a lamb chop on the braai over the weekend.

This weekend when you’re eating steak, or a drumstick, or a beef burger, please just sit a moment and contemplate what’s on your plate. I’m not asking you to give up meat. I’m not asking you to condemn other cultures just because they have different preferences and traditions than you. I’m asking you to start thinking about these issues. Start questioning how the meat you eat got to the supermarket. Begin to ask how the animals were treated and help the victims in this massive food industry.

3 thoughts on “Friend or Food?

  1. We also have a dog, the most amazing creature one can imagine and best comrade in life. What makes me really consider dogs a very unique animal: that after a while they seem to develop a much closer emotional relationship to their (human) “owner” than to other dogs. It is assumed that dogs (but also wolves) have an unusual high level of oxytocin, a hormon and neurotransmitter that is responsible for giving pleasure from friendly relationships.
    regards, Michael

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