In downtown Shanghai a provocative campaign is making the rounds, encouraging people to stop eating cats and dogs. Though frowned upon by most Western cultures, the practice is actually quite common in China and much of Asia.
While the Chinese government is thinking of outright banning the eating of cats and dogs, the custom is so widespread and popular that animal rights groups believe the best approach may be to the public’s morals instead: "What You Just Put In Your Mouth Could Have Been Your Child's Partner in Growth," accuses one advert displayed at train station.
Eating your beloved pet poodle or fluffy Siamese cat may seem like an offensive and incredibly taboo concept throughout most of the world, but cats and dogs haven’t always been considered pets. In many parts of the world, like Mexico and Polynesia, their existence predated the arrival of European settlers and they were commonly bred for food.
Even now, cats and dogs are commonplace on many menus in Vietnam, Korea, and China. They’re eaten as solo meals or added to other meat dishes for a touch of extra flavor. In some cases the meat or lard is even used for medicinal purposes.
The argument could be made that dogs and cats may actually be the only source of meat for a population, and despite cultural taboos, is possibly the best source of nutrients for survival. In war-torn Syria, for example, the thousands of starving Syrian refugees are encouraged to eat stray cats and dogs (though there no reports yet on how often this happens).
It’s not confined to war zones either. In many cities across the world there’ve been numerous reports of stray cats and dogs being consumed by the homeless and poor during particularly rough times. Simply put, when there’s no other food available, eating a cat or dog (regardless of your own feelings on the matter) may be the only way to stay alive.
Truth is, the practice of eating cats and dogs is more common than you think, and may even be happening right under your nose. Read on to see where they’re eating cats and dogs around the world.
Eating cats and dogs is not only extremely popular in Taiwan but there is a prolific underground trade supplying strays to local restaurants and meat vendors across the country. The meat is usually added to other, more parochial meat dishes for added flavor. For the record, the government has passed legislation banning the practice, but it still persists and is very popular particularly in smaller towns and villages.
Yes, even in some parts of the U.S. you’ll find people that are completely okay with eating puppies. There’ve been reports aplenty across the Aloha state about people eating stray cats and dogs for years. There’re also plenty of pets that are kidnapped for human consumption too. An eight-year-old Labrador named Caddy was recently dog-napped from an equipment shack at a golf course (where his owner left him while he was teeing-off) by local landscape workers who butchered and ate him.
Hawaii’s house committee recently tried to pass a bill banning the eating of cats and on the island, but it was shelved because there was too little concrete, legislative evidence for it (meaning that while it does happen a lot, not everyone goes to jail for it so there aren’t formal records). It takes the American “hot dog” to a whole new level, no?
Serusha Govender is The Daily Meal's Travel Editor. Follow her on Twitter @SerushaGovender