China moves its summer solstice DOG-EATING celebrations forward to avoid protests by animal rights activists
Some residents of the southern Chinese city of Yulin started gathering last weekend and eating dog meat and lychees to celebrate the longest day of the year, ahead of Saturday’s actual solstice, state media reported.
The locals wanted to avoid protests which have in recent years seen the festival, slaughterhouses and markets selling dogs targeted as part of a social media campaign and ongoing online petition against the practice.
The public uproar reflects the increasing affluence of ordinary Chinese, who keep pets, travel overseas and are changing attitudes toward traditions they may not have questioned before.
Under the Yulin tradition, eating dog and lychee and drinking liquor on the solstice is supposed to make people stay healthy during winter. It is unclear if the supposed health benefits diminish if the feast occurs before the actual solstice.
Animal rights activists say the event is a public health risk because the dogs undergo no quarantine to ensure they are free of disease, and that they are strays grabbed off streets around the country, as well as allegedly stolen from pet owners. The dogs are often poisoned with toxic chemicals that could be harmful to humans, they say.
Deng Yidan, an activist with Animals Asia, said the public backlash hurts the image of Yulin and China. ‘Negative coverage is growing – dog theft, criminal activities, food hygiene issues, and rabies fears – not to mention the division in society between those for and against the festival – together these have brought significantly more negative publicity to Yulin than economic benefits,’ Deng said in a statement. The Yulin government has sought to distance itself from the feasting, saying it is not officially endorsed. State media reports say the government told restaurants to remove references to dog meat from their menus and signboards – though it did not ban the sale and consumption of the meat, which is not illegal in China.
Although I adore dogs as my pet of choice (and honestly this really grosses me out to think of precious dogs as food), I cannot see any difference between Tongans eating horsemeat, Lebonese eating goat meat, Americans eating cow meat etc. All of these animals are kept as a pet somewhere in the world and yet some cultures eat them. Chinese culture has not traditionally kept dogs as pets… also it is a source of attainable meat. As long as they are not torturing the animals before eating them and respecting where their food comes from, I say eat on. And to the animal rights people… they also have the right to protest and disrespect an entire nations culture because every human being is born with the right of free speech. We are not animals… even those who eat Fido.