Is Eating Dogs Different from Eating Cows and Pigs?

Confronting our inconsistent choices about who winds up in our mouth.

Posted Oct 20, 2011

The recent slaughter of numerous escaped animals in Ohio raises many questions about the moral and legal status of animals. Indeed, this was a tragedy that could have been avoided if there were laws to prevent the keeping of exotic animals by private citizens. 

Other forms of animal slaughter can also be avoided with stronger existing laws that are vigorously enforced and by the choices we make. Just today I learned about the cancellation of a dog-eating festival that was supposed to be held in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, China. I recently wrote about our choices in food and noted that it's a matter of who we eat, not what we eat, when we consume formerly sentient beings.

Of course I find the idea of a dog-eating festival to be disgusting and am appalled by it, but as one of the people interviewed notes, "I am opposed to the cancellation. Eating dogs is no different than eating chickens, sheep or pigs." They're right. In my essay concerning eating pigs I wrote, "When some people learn that I go to China to work with Animals Asia in their moon bear rescue program (see also) they ask, 'How can you go there, that's where they eat dogs and cats?' I simply say that I just left the United States where people routinely eat pigs, cows, chickens, and millions of other sentient beings." Why is eating dogs different from eating cows and pigs at a barbecue or in a restaurant? For one, we don't see the actual painful process of how pigs and cows become meals. 

Dogs cramped on a truck in China (from article cited in the text)

While this dog-festival was canceled it's highly likelythere will be others that will actually happen. Deep thanks to all of the people who are working to stop them (see also with a picture that will make you sob and smile). And while they're doing all they can do in a very difficult situation, we can also make a difference simply by facing our choices in food head-on and by being consistent about who winds up in our mouth. It's much easier for us to do this then for the people in China to accomplish what they're trying to do.