food / travel

Animal Rights In China: Making The Case To Ban Dog Eating

Animal rights activists have attacked an annual Dog Eating Feast, which asks the larger question over values in modern China.

Dogs being butchered in Guangdong, China
Dogs being butchered in Guangdong, China
Xu Ben

BEIJING — The "Dog Meat Feast" held annually in China's southern city of Yulin sparked disputes this year between dog eaters and dog lovers, which in a few cases turned physical.

By now, it is clear that the standoff over this annual tradition will not go away quietly. Indeed, confrontations over animal protection issues have become a global phenomenon, with both cultural and legal differences.

A series of articles in the Oakland Tribune, a northern California newspaper, chronicled Raymond Yong, a live poultry vendor selling chickens in Richmond Farmers Market who was the target of protests from animal protection activists in 2011. The protesters argued that Yong kept his chickens in squalid conditions, and that the individual customers slaughtered the chicken at home with “unprofessional" methods that cause additional suffering and harm to the innocent birds. The protestors flooded the mayor's inbox with over 1,000 emails and asked him to shut down Yong's live bird stand.

Meanwhile, Yong's customers, mostly of Asian origin, defended the continuing sale of live poultry, pointing out that freshly slaughtered chicken is integral to their food culture, as well as tasting better and being healthier.

Changing values

The debates that ensued led nowhere, and it was ultimately left to the Richmond City Council to vote 4-2 to ban the live bird selling stand. Though the customers of live chicken did not like the conclusion they, they nonetheless did not contest what is ultimately a political and legal decision.

In today's America, animal protection has become an idea accepted by most people, and thus accepted by the public. Social concepts evolve. People used to not question the use of ivory products or fur. Tiger bone, shark fin, bear bile and bear's paw were also considered as nourishing foods while the testing of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals using live animals was seen as right and proper for the sake of human consumption.

Today, most people simply choose to no longer pursue these goods; and even those who do tend to know that other people hold a judgement against them.

Progressive social ideas are bringing new value to animal protection, ultimately making our society more civilized. And when a society is more civilized it is easier for good values as a whole to prevail. Instead, where ignorance prevails more evil deeds are bound to occur.

According to reports, certain Yuling city dog vendors publicly mistreat and maim the dogs and use this as blackmail to force dog lovers to buy the animals at high prices. If proven true, this is a new kind of evil that ought to be condemned by a civilized society. But at the same time, we must face the fact that such cruelty on a dog is only one step away from eating it. Slaughtering the dog for food may be a Chinese "traditional culture," but it doesn't conform to today's values about animal protection.

Therefore, it is clear that what should be changed is the tradition, which in itself will make Chinese society more civilized.

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food / travel

Russia Thirsts For Prestige Mark On World's Wine List

Gone are sweet Soviet wines, forgotten is the "dry law" of Gorbachev, Russian viticulture is now reborn.

A wine cellar at the Twins Garden restaurant in Moscow

Benjamin Quenelle

MOSCOW — A year after its opening, Russian Wine is always full. Located in the center of Moscow, it has become a trendy restaurant. Its wine list stands out: It offers Russian brands only, more than 200, signalled in different colors across all the southern regions of the country.

Russian Wine (in English on the store front, as well as on the eclectic menu) unsurprisingly includes Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula where viticulture has revived since Moscow annexed it in 2014.

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