Breaking through stereotypes: dog meat in China

By Molly Lang
By November 29, 2019 December 2nd, 2019 Blogs, Something Alternative

It is an interesting description of Chinese food: The Chinese can eat anything that flies, anything that has four legs.

Do all Chinese people eat dogs?

Many people ask this common question when they meet Chinese people. This is misleading, because of stereotypes.

A 70-year-old man in Zhejiang, China. Said: “I have never eaten dog.”

“Why eat dog? Dogs are our friends.” Said a girl from Guangdong, China who had a dog.

Most Chinese people are also surprised and scared to hear about eating dog meat: “We have dog meat on the menu, but few people order it.” Said a restaurant owner in Zhejiang.

An opinion poll by the China animal welfare association show that 69.5% of people have never eaten dog meats.

This phenomenon can help us break the stereotype that all Chinese people eat dogs.

But the impression that Chinese people eat dog meat is not unfounded. The practice of eating dog meat is not common in China, but in some parts of China, dog meat is used as food.

A festival that celebration of eating dog meat has really happened in China.

Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, it is a festival formed in Yulin, Guangxi, China. It is a traditional folk custom celebrating the summer solstice. But this festival is not officially organized by the government. Therefore, this festival can only be said to be a spontaneous activity, related to local eating habits.

What do people do on that day?

Lychee and Dog Meat Festival is like the Spring Festival or Mid-Autumn festival in China. Although it not an official festival, it is also a big day for family and friends to get together. A lively festival of eating and drinking together.

In fact, this festival has a very long history of folk. However, because the economy isn’t developed, it is a local festival. In recent years, with the development of the economy and material abundance, gradually become famous.

In terms of names, we can know that the main food used to celebrate the festival is lychee and dog meat.

Yulin is abounding in lychee and it has many different kinds. Summer is also the season for lychee production. On the day, people will eat directly or soaked it in wine and drink it.

Another special food is dog meat. It is worth mentioning that the dogs served as food during this festival are different from pet dogs.

Why people will choose dogs to eat?

The story comes from the folk. Common saying says: “Winter ends with raw fish, summer ends with the dog.” Due to the similar pronunciation of end “止zhi” and solstice “至zhi”, many people interpret it as eating raw fish on the winter solstice and dog meat on the summer solstice. So, the custom of eating dog meat on the summer solstice gradually formed among the people.

“My hometown is south of the tropic of cancer. The weather is hot and the summer is hard to pass. Hence the appearance of eating dog meat, a way of fighting fire with fire to ward off the heat.”commented someone local to Yulin.

Dog meat is rich in protein, which enhances the body’s resistance to disease and cell vitality. Shizhen Li, a medical scientist of the Ming Dynasty, recorded it in “Compendium of Materia Medica” that Dog meats are good medicine for health.

And because of the way they cooked, it is very delicious to eat. Local people love it.

“I eat dog meat because it is good for health I think. And it is a tradition. That dog is a meat dog, it is completely different from pet dog. Dog meat is really delicious.”  A Yulin dog meat seller said.

Furthermore, Chinese businessmen pay attention to meaning. The summer solstice means a new season is about to start, and dog meat is easy to catch fire, which indicates the business will be very excellent. This is the reason that many businessmen choose to eat dog meat on this day, seeking a symbol of prosperity.

What do people think about it?

In recent years, the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival has attracted the attention of some animal protection organizations. Several public welfare organizations spontaneously went to the dog meat stall in Yulin to boycott.

On June 21, 2014, several dog lovers clashed with local diners at a dog meat restaurant in Yulin, causing one diner to bleed from his mouth.

A local in Yulin, said: “You can resist. But it doesn’t affect us. It’s a tradition. Dogs are animals like pigs and cows. Why can’t they be eaten?”

“I remember when I was very young, this festival is already very grand.  I don’t know where it comes from, but it existed in my grandparents’ time.

“But we don’t eat all the dogs. We never eat pet dogs,” said a young local man in Yulin.

After days of protests by dog lovers and animal rights volunteers, 17 restaurants that serve dog meat have been forced to stop their operations.

The development of civilized times and the collision of traditional customs make this festival controversial. Eating dog meat has become a very sensitive topic.

Not only dog lovers but also celebrities have proposed boycotting the festival. They hope to ban the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival. This festival is a kind of folk custom. It is a day the local people who gather together on the summer solstice. So, the government cannot directly intervene.

The stereotype that everyone in China eats dog meat is not true. In China, most Chinese have never eaten dog meat. Although in some areas, such as Yulin, it has a tradition of eating dog meat, there are many voices against it.

Words: Molly Yang

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