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  National
Appetite for Dog Meat
Where in Asia Do People Eat Dog Meat?
By Majorie Chiew
The Star Online
Foreigners eating dog meat at a restaurant in South Korea

China

THE Chinese are said to have eaten dogs for at least 7,000 years. Dog meat is said to be favoured for its flavour and supposed health benefits, including the belief that it warms the body during winter, according to the website One Voice (onevoice-ear.org/english/campaigns/china/dog_report.html).

The report states that even today, dogs are eaten throughout China, except in Hong Kong where eating dog meat has been illegal since 1950.

In recent times, the bulk of dog meat has been produced commercially by dog breeding farms. Various breeds are reared but many farmers prefer St Bernards for their rapid growth, bulk and flavour. Today, however, they appear to have fallen from favour because of their substantial feeding costs.

Farmed dogs endure short, cramped, miserable lives. Brutal death awaits them. Many are said to be tortured or bled to death slowly. This results in adrenaline-rich meat which, according to folklore, makes men who eat it more virile.

China's clean-up of Beijing ahead of the summer Olympic Games has also resulted in the closure of many dog meat restaurants. But in cities across China, roadside restaurants specialise in dishes made from every conceivable part of the dog, including the head, legs, testicles and innards.

South Korea

The practice of dog-eating may have originated during times of famine when people killed and ate their dogs (friendsofdogs.net/koreandogs.html). However, this practice was viewed with disgust by the community.

Those who eat dogs cite superstitious beliefs to justify their acts. Some claim that keeping an old dog brings disaster to the household and a woman who is too fond of dogs may become infertile.

Dog meat dealers also exploit the myth that eating dogs increases male virility. Over two million dogs are killed yearly on the basis of this widespread belief.

When preparing the dog for food, it is said that the fur may be burned off with a blowtorch, often while the animal is still alive. Many dogs are subjected to a cruel, slow death due to the superstitious belief that the more the animal suffers, the better the meat tastes.

Despite South Korea's economic success, this cruel practice is still carried out till this day.

Vietnam

The dog-eating custom, which developed as a result of poverty, originated from then-North Vietnam. In the north, dogs were the cheapest source of protein. As the people didn't have anything to feed them, the dogs became scavengers and were later picked up off the streets (quickstart.clari.net/qs_se/webnews/wed/ab/Qvietnam-animals-dogs.R1LY_Dl7.html).

The owner of Ho Chi Minh City's thriving Hai Mo dog restaurant insists that the dogs served at the restaurant are not pets or strays, but are from breeding farms in the countryside.

The restaurant's menu features 10 dishes, including steamed dog, minced and seasoned dog wrapped in leaves, fried intestines, spare ribs and fried thighs. A sour dog curry with fermented wine is served with noodles for variety while the most expensive dish is bamboo-shoot dog soup.

Though dog-eating has come under fire in South Korea, where dog restaurants were officially banned during the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and criticised by FIFA during the 2002 World Cup, the practice of eating dogs has gone unchallenged in Vietnam. The country has no animal welfare organisation and no laws to protect animals from cruelty. Opinions on dog-eating are divided although many Vietnamese see it as unsavoury.

The south's plentiful food supply and Buddhist influence will probably ensure that dog-eating will never become popular.


The above article is from The Star.



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