Soylent Gray Area is Dog!

I read an article on CNN.com the other day titled, “The argument for eating dog” by John D. Sutter. The article wasn’t intended to be written as a travel piece, but practically speaking it is, as it is when traveling that we typically encounter foods that are foreign to us.

Such as the habit of eating dog in some parts of Asia.

From the article:

Here in the Untied States, we will spend $58.5 billion on pets this year, according to one industry projection. We pamper dogs with Christmas presents; send them to “doggie daycare”; bring them on planes (more than 2 million pets and animals fly per year); and trot them around show rings, judging the perfection of their pedigree.

 

Eat them?

 

Unthinkable. Repulsive. Cruel.

 

We don’t even consider it.

 

The images featured on [CNN] take viewers inside Southeast Asia’s illegal dog-meat trade. Shot by Luke Duggleby, who traveled to Thailand, Laos and Vietnam for the story, they’re well worth your attention. He documents a trade that is estimated to include hundreds of thousands of dogs per year.

Usually the comments section on CNN articles get very political very fast, but in this particular case the commenters are staying on point for the most part and engaging in an interesting and civil discussion about cultural values when it comes to the food we eat. Some of the more interesting comments:

Pet or food…it’s all in the culture. Don’t judge. Hindus HATE Americans and Muslims eating cows…they think its barbaric. But they understand its a part of culture and move on. ~Birhome

I can’t really judge one’s culture if the culture’s resources are limited. ~KLA

I don’t think anyone is advocating chowing down on chihuahuas or a golden retrievers. If we created a special breed just for eating, that would be an easier transition, I believe. ~Erock13

Until very recently, while dogs were domesticated centuries ago, their primary purpose as such was as working animals, much like a horse. They were used as guard animals, herding animals, hunting animals and so on.

 

Dogs as purely pets is recent; only in the past 100 years or so. ~Panacea

As travelers, and people in general, I think there are two primary reasons some of us shy away from various foods:

  1. It sounds and/or looks repulsive to our palettes (insects, spiders, some types of sea creatures, pretty much anything that still has feathers on it)
  2. It’s an animal that we have been taught is off limits (dog, cat, horse, dolphin)

Of course, many with iron stomachs will try anything once. For my part, I would probably give dog a try if it was offered on my travels, but as a westerner I do think I would be hard-pressed to ever make it a part of my regular diet.

What about you? Would you/have you eaten dog dishes when traveling in Asia? What are some other unusual foods you have tried while on the road? And is there anything you absolutely would not eat, under any circumstances, that people in other regions of the world consider a common meal?

Read the article in its entirety, and the comments: The argument for eating dog

Image: “Un menu qui a du chien” by Adrien Leguay. CC BY-ND 2.0.

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