TODAY -

Consumption Of Dog Meat: A Matter Of Taste Bud? Cultural? Or Heinous?

Pamkhuila Shaiza *



Yesterday my aunt told me that "I am missing out a lot by not eating dog meat". This takes me back to the day I went to take my first class in South India. After I introduced myself, one of the student ask me, "So, do you eat dog-meat? I heard you Asians (Mongoloid) eat dog meat". I should say, I felt quite confounded by the question, not because I should or should not be judged by what I consume, but because I was automatically associated with the dietary system of the Asians.

Again, I was more distressed because my ‘three years’ stay’ in Kerala taught me that the people there are highly intolerable towards domesticated animals – dogs and cats combined (kicking, throwing, beating and shooing among others). Bobins Abraham’s article on “Undercover Investigation Exposes Yulin-Like Horrific Dog Meat Trade In Nagaland” in India Times only bring out such hypocrisy, cruel judgement, and scorn from media, instead of actually determining the moral high ground of preferring one animal meat over the other.

Coming from a place where dogs are raised as livestock, like cows or pigs, I have never felt that eating dog-meat is "either considered so dirty, heinous, or outrageous". For most people, I think 'dogs', or 'cats' for that matter, appeal to the sense of 'cuteness' that makes them think that mistreatment or slaughtering of dog amounts to being highly inhumane or barbaric in nature. For others (like in South India), consumption of 'dog meat' is simply considered 'dirty' or 'unhygienic'.

Keeping in mind that other animals like pigs, sheep, goats, cows, chickens, fishes, etc. are slaughtered to fill the human platter, I fail to see why dogs are getting bias treatment from human above other animals. It is like human racism never stops within themselves, but goes even beyond to the animals. For those who are not a vegan, they always have to consume some form of meat, one way or the other, and from dog-eaters’ point of view, consumption of other meat accounts to slaughter and can be termed as hypocrite for opposing their consumption.

With regard to consumption of 'dog meat', I think the choice is simply 'cultural' or 'personal' (as in preference for menu). For the Asians, consumption of deep fried insects, or sea food like squid and octopus is simply cultural. In fact, pizza lovers will definitely have option to eat squid pizza in Asian countries. Again, the Americans, Europeans, and the Asians loves to eat pork and beef, which might otherwise be deeply disrespectful to the Muslims and Hindus respectively.

Interestingly, the South Indian Hindus are fond of beef, and majority of them consumes beef. I am not conditioned by culture as to what should fill my plate and menu. For me, it is simply a matter of taste bud. Having said that, when my 'drunk' neighbour killed my dog pet 'Keeper' and turned him into stew, I was completely devastated. My mother (a Vegan) shouted from the roof top that she was dragging the 'drunk' to the traditional court for killing one of her family member.

I feel my Mom went a little overboard, but that was my 'Mom'. She cried for a day, when our childhood pet "Red Chick' (as we call her) got lost after being our pet for 9 years (Till now, we don’t know what happened to her). I should say the 'Red Chick' lived her life to the fullest, and in chicken years, I think she lived for 99 years. When it comes to their own pet (like our own siblings and children), people become attached to them, and therefore, consumption of pet becomes rather difficult for the owner. A man I was seeing once told me that he loves 'dog-meat' and that he is willing to eat the dog, provided it is not his pet-dog.

In other case, my childhood friend told me that her family eats their dog-pet after every six months, and although tears are shed when the dog is being killed, merriment and celebration normally follows the dinner table with the 'dog-pet' being served as the main dish.

In my place, consumption of dog meat is "as old as the olden days", and such consumption is included in all the "long, long ago…" or "once upon a time…" stories. Dog however is not consumed everyday like other meat or slaughtered for celebratory function like the 'Yulin festival' of China. Dog-meat is considered exotic and rich, and in olden days’ dog-meat was considered auspicious, and consumption of this meat was seen as protecting people from 'bad spirit' and 'communicable diseases'. The same belief goes for consumption of cat and snakes. Keeping in mind, the Cult of Bast, where the ancient Egyptian revered Cats, I guess such beliefs were there among many societies, cultures, and communities as well.

COOKING DOG-MEAT - CULINARY ASPECTS

Cooking dog-meat requires culinary skills. For a start, dog-meat have strong odour and it takes tedious procedure to clean the hair, burn the skin, and wash it. Since the smell of the skin is hard to get it off, it requires various herbs and spices like onion, ginger, garlic, black pepper, turmeric, red chilli powder, vinegar, etc. to cook the meat. When I was in 9th standard, I was fed dog meat with celebratory mood by my uncles so that 'bad spirit' will not disturb me.

The smell was so strong that after 10 years, I can still smell the meat, and the flesh reminds me of mutton. Speaking of mutton, this is one meat my taste bud has failed to acquire its exotic taste people associates with. When I was in the university, occasionally, they served mutton in the mess. That was my first (and the last) encounter with mutton, and the taste is similar to dog-meat - in smell, in meat texture, and in just being nauseatingly smelly.

Unlike me, the smell of dog-meat is considered as one of its best element of taste by many dog-eaters. In my place, dogs are not normally found in meat-store, but are cut and sold by individual family or group of people in the community. In this context, it can be stated that my people are ridiculous meat-eater. They will even run into debt just to get hold on ‘any form of meat’. Words normally spread like wildfire when a dog/dogs will be killed, and people will queue up from dawn to buy the dog-meat. Even those who have not heard of the poor dog being killed, will sniff the smell of the dog being burnt and cut, and come and queue up with the rest of the people to 'get hold of the dog-meat'. Dog-meat is very expensive as compared to other meat, and it cost as much as $6/2.5 pounds of flesh.

YOUNGER GENERATIONS

The idea of killing pets has amounted to killing their own family members, and such 'thinking element' have made people to go against killing pets or dogs altogether. Thus, some of the younger generations interestingly have become more concern about consuming dog-meat, which I feel emanates from the many institutes, organizations, and people campaigning as to how barbarous consumption of dog or cats or 'cute' animals are or how dog has been "men's best friend" since human can remember.

That being said, such 'emotional bribery construct' only comes out as gross overstated hypocrisy since many of them consume other form of meat. True, dogs are beyond loyal and a great companion, and for them, it is all about, "Master, I bow down before thee", but keeping in mind that other animals have the same feelings, it becomes hypocritical for meat-eaters to hype their scorn on dog-meat eater. It is very strange for people to think that the pain endured by other animals or insects they consume does not have the same pain when they are being slaughtered. Thus, the whole point is to ask whether it is more ethical to prefer one animal over the other. Moral target is obviously easier when they are targeted from outside.


* Pamkhuila Shaiza wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a Research Analyst, Project Guru at Gurgaon, Haryana and can be reached at pamshaiza(AT)gmail(DOT)com (Twitter- @shaizapamkhui )
This article was webcasted on July 16, 2016.



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