Dogs for dinner — who are we to judge?
The week started off in typical morning show fashion with the early conversation being an extension of a twitter battle started the night before. At issue was a move made by Olympian Gus Kenworthy to grab a headline and enhance his public image (after placing 12th in his competition). Gus made headlines by applying his world view of dogs as pets to his host country by going after the dog farming industry. I tweeted at him on Sunday night starting a firestorm of tweets horrified that I would dare stand up for a practice that most Americans (including myself) find repugnant.
This is an issue that I've taken up before writing about the hypocrisy and ignorance of the dog farming opposition a little over a year ago.
Perhaps the biggest hypocrisy surrounding the self promoting stunt pulled by Kenworthy is that animal farming across the world, including in the US, is an ugly trade for sure. But let's see all the advocates giving up pork, beef and lamb. We do our best to maintain humane standards for animals raised for consumption. The right thing to do would be not to judge the Koreans on the practice of eating dogs. The right thing to do would be to help them implement a more humane way of farming the food.
He's right that the dog farming industry is in decline, but it is still a relatively common practice in many Asian countries. Some say that Korea in particular is such a rich country that eating dogs has become a delicacy and compare it to American veal. Let's suppose that is true for a moment. I for one would be annoyed, maybe even a little outraged, if a foreign athlete came to the US and tried to free calves on a farm that were destined to be a Milanese (which I had on Saturday night at a local Bordentown restaurant) or Saltimbocca, which is one of my go-to dinners when eating out.
As far as the reality behind dog consumption, the practice is dropping among younger Koreans but is still enjoyed by the older generation.
How many people live in poverty and already have difficulty obtaining the proper amount of protien for their diets? We have a culture in the US striving to send charity to countries less fortunate, doing our best through tax dollars and charity to help feed the world. We should not stand by and emotionally taint a huge source of protein for people in Asia by applying our "pet mentality" to them. Korea, despite being a "rich country", has a poverty problem among people over the age of 65. These are the folks more likely to consume dogs. In other Asian countries, the poverty and dog consumption is even higher.
Eating dog meat has been a tradition in certain cultures for a long time...an estimated 9,000 years. Millions of dogs are slaughtered every year outside of the US for food consumption. There is even a history of Native Americans consuming dogs.
And then of course, the all important inconvenient truth about dogs in America where we still euthanize more than a million dogs and cats every year.
The arrogance of an Olympic athlete going to another country and grabbing a self promoting headline at the expense of the cultural norm of the host country is reprehensible. The false narrative pushed by Kenworthy ignoring that in Asian culture the practice of dog consumption goes back thousands of years is ignorant of history and culture. Just because another culture is completely different than our own does not give us the right to paint an arbitrary negative picture and act morally superior. What about the diversity of other cultures and the celebration of our differences? Outside of human rights, prosperity and American foreign policy interests, we should have no role in other people's cultural choices.
Help educate dog farmers to employ humane best practices. And tone down your arrogance as if the only acceptable slaughter of animals for food is in America with chickens, pigs, sheep and cows. Of course, if you're a vegan at least you'd be consistent.
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