Dog: man’s best friend. I have owned and loved dogs for most of my life, and the Rottweiler whom I owned for 13 years was the sweetest, best friend and companion that anyone could ever imagine. His loyalty, love, obedience, humor, intelligence, affection, and a thousand other qualities, made human beings look like lizards in comparison. I love dogs, and I will always be in favor of their human companionship. Like no other creature on earth, they comfort the lonely, aid the disabled, and teach us what true, unconditional love really is. There is a spark of the divine in dogs, and their goodness often shames us humans.
But the fact is that, in some parts of the world, people eat dog meat. In fact, it is considered a delicacy. The main countries where dog meat is consumed on purpose (excluding times of starvation), are Korea (North and South), Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, and unexpectedly, Switzerland (although there are small areas in many other countries where it is eaten). Consumers of the meat agree that it is delicious.
Here in Kunming, Yunnan, China, there are a few dog meat restaurants around town. I have not yet been to one, mostly because of the way I feel about dogs. But people I know who have eaten dog meat have universally called it delicious. As a lover of dogs and a foodie, not to mention a food writer, I am truly at an impasse: should I try dog meat, or not? I believe that each side of the question has a strong argument.
First, those who oppose the consumption of dog meat argue that dogs are different than other food animals. Of course, all animals (and particularly mammals) suffer death in order for humans to eat them, but dogs are different. Dogs, among all mammals, have evolved to be companions to humans. They are intelligent, they imitate us, they serve us,they love us, and they are our friends throughout their lives. They are closer to humans than all other animals (except chimpanzees of course). Thus, dogs, as intelligent companions to man, deserve to be placed in a higher rank than other animals, and thus not to be killed as food.
Next, those in favor of eating dog meat argue that all mammals are basically the same. Pigs and cats are intelligent too, and cats are also evolved to be companions to humans. There is really no difference between slaughtering and eating a pig, a cat, a goat, a donkey, a horse, or a dog. All mammals will suffer pain and death if they are to be eaten. The best we can do is to ensure that mammals, and especially dogs, are killed humanely and quickly.
I really struggle with this issue. I really can see both sides of the issue. After all, if I have no problem eating pork, which is meat from a very intelligent, affectionate animal, then what is different about a dog? I fully admit that my personal aversion to eating dog meat is because I personally love dogs and have owned them as pets. But if I had owned a pig as a pet, wouldn’t I be equally as averse to eating pork? I suspect that I would.
So, what is my conclusion? I really, really want to try dog meat, just so I can know what it is like. The foodie side of me never denies myself any sort of food, if it is a cultural dish, and prepared properly. But the dog-loving side of me cannot help but imagine the great, canine friends that I have loved in the past, and be repulsed by the idea. I also would insist on the humane treatment, containment, and slaughter of dogs — and I am fully aware that dog-eating countries are often not humane. So what will I do? I am not sure. Do you have any philosophical thoughts about this issue? Then please comment on this article, and help me decide!