The Yulin festival is one of the most controversial food celebrations in the world. Held in China annually in the Guanxi province, the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival openly sells dishes made from canines. During the peak of the festival’s popularity, it’s estimated that 10,000 dogs and cats were killed and eaten during the 10-day feast, according to the BBC. But that is soon about to change. Chinese authorities have banned dog meat sales for one week starting June 15, during the time of the Yulin festival, according to the Los Angeles Times.
If the report is true, it would be a major triumph for animal rights activists who have been trying to shine a spotlight on the contentious eating tradition. The dogs are often held in captivity their entire lives and killed brutally. However, vendors have contested news of the ban, saying it’s only a rumor.
Peter Li, China policy specialist at the Humane Society International, told the BBC that in recent years local authorities have tried to discourage the sale and consumption of dogs at the festival, but that this year there will be bans. Of course, some vendors might find a way to get around the ban, but animal rights groups called the news — if it is true — a “milestone victory” for the humane treatment of domesticated animals.
The ripple of discontent against the tradition of eating dog and cat meat has spread throughout Asia. Last month, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to ban the sale and consumption of dog and cat meat. In 2015, the Sunshine Restaurant in Guangzhou, China — well-known for its dog meat menu items — was forced to close due to a lack of customers.