The summer solstice is coming and with it, controversy, because in one city west of Beijing, people celebrate the dawn of summer by eating dog.
Every year, thousands flock to in Yulin in Guangxi Province for the Dog Meat Festival where vendors hawk dog meat, hard liquor, and lychee fruits. Supporters believe eating dog prevents illness in the upcoming year. They say it’s an individual’s right to eat whatever he likes, and that the problem is caused by outsiders imposing foreign values on a local custom.
Activists point to the 10,000 dogs that perish each year, saying dogs are pets in modern China, and shouldn’t be viewed as food. Others highlight the illegal hunting of strays, or even pets, and the questionable killing methods. Some say it’s also a people issue, and the real problem is food safety.
Even though most Chinese support the festival, protestors’ activities have created a controversy. Celebrities have spoken out against it, and it’s been a big topic in blogs and news outlets this past month. In 2011, controversy forced the closure of a 600-year-old dog meat festival in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province.
This year, local authorities are claiming the festival doesn’t exist, and it’s just a celebration by locals. They’ve encouraged vendors to take the word “dog” off their signs, and sell other meats like donkey.
The activists may be winning with reports that profits are predicted to drop this year. One restaurant owner told China Daily his sales are down by two-thirds, and he’s storing less dog meat now. However, as China Daily is a state-owned media, this piece could just be propaganda aimed at pacifying proponents!
Our conclusion: Eat dog or don’t eat dog, but definitely talk about it.