Outrage over the Yulin dog meat festival shows Western hypocrisy at its worst

Would Indian Hindu's admire the way we work our way through beef every Sunday?

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The Independent Online

This week southern China’s Annual Dog Meat Festival begins. In the course of 10 days, 10,000 dogs and cats will be slaughtered and eaten. They will spend their last days in tiny cages.

The event has upset many, and over 11 million have signed a petition to put a stop to it. People struggle to believe that in the 21st century, dogs are still being killed for food. In fact, 10 million a year are consumed in China.

While I’m happy that there’s been such a fuss, I do find much of this outrage phony and superficial. And I wish that dogs and cats were not the only creatures to make us question eating meat. It seems that many only care about an animal when they can imagine it sitting on their lap.

Footage shows dogs ready to be slaughtered in Yulin

The fact is that there are many animals to care about. Chickens, pigs, lambs and cows – albeit, less cute - all deserve the same consideration that humans give to dogs. We will always be inconsistent in our beliefs - one of the most common arguments used in the West to justify eating some animals over others is intelligence. And yes, Spot the dog can catch a ball – but did you know that Percy the pig could outperform a three-year-old child on a cognition task? Pigs are clever, and even considered more trainable than cats and dogs.

Who cares, anyway? “Pigs taste nice”, many will say. Let’s face it, though, dogs are just as delicious to some. The only thing stopping anyone from eating them is cultural norms - values handed down to us from the society we live in, not our brain.

In the West, our cultural beliefs have seen us judge China for its dog meat festival. But we don’t have much of a leg to stand on when our own practices may be seen as equally abhorrent, depending on who’s looking inwards. Would India, where cows are worshipped, admire the way we work our way through beef? We have no right to petition for dogs and cats if we cannot explain what makes them better than every other species.

I struggle to reconcile that we have not shed the needless killing of animals from our intelligent, emotionally astute societies – only made it more calculated and efficient with new technologies. The dog meat saga is the latest example of an unwillingness to engage in essential issues. There should be a saga every day when you consider what an awful, unforgiveable thing the meat eating industry is.