By Sawyer Pollitt, Staff Writer
I have a dog, her name is GLaDOS, she’s half dachshund and half chihuahua. She’s really cute and kind of stupid, but I love her a lot and I personally don’t think she looks tasty. However, someone from another culture may beg to differ. A person that grew up eating Afghan Hound might think that GLaDOS would be delicious paired with fava beans and nice chianti. Is this person wrong? I don’t think so. Dogs have a special place in our western culture and for good reason. They’re man’s best friend. Dogs have been faithful companions to us long enough for dogs and people to evolve side by side. Protecting us from and alerting us to predators, and perhaps most importantly, providing constant companionship and emotional support. Along with these qualities, we also generally think dogs are just super fluffy and good, just so, so good. It was recently reported by the Animal Welfare institute that South Koreans consume 100,000 tons of dog meat every year, and with the current location of the winter Olympics, new calls to ban the consumption of dog meat are being heard. In the United States on the other hand, we consumed approximately 12,800 tons of beef in 2016 according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, yet there is less widespread outrage over the slaughter of cows, and the outrage that exists is widely looked down upon and trivialized. What makes one animal more special and different from another? I think it comes down to culture and conditioning.
In parts of India the cow is sacred, the people there would surely find it abhorrent that we eat cows as prolifically as we do. In response one may say “But cows taste good! I couldn’t live without that delicious sirloin steak in and around my mouth!” To that, I offer a simple rebuttal: maybe dog is as delectable as the most perfect filet mignon and we just haven’t experienced it yet. Dog could very well be the new red meat that the western world has been waiting for, we just don’t know.
Ok, now we know that dogs might taste good but what about the emotional attachment, the special, unbreakable bond, that exists between human and dog? Somewhere out there could be a young girl in a farming community that wakes up every morning to her pet cow Bessie who sleeps at the foot of her bed.
They go out and play fetch with a particularly large stick and the young girl feels like Bessie is her best friend in the world. Isn’t that how we feel about our dogs? Who are we to prescribe special protections to one animal and condemn another animal to a miserable existence of suffering through factory farming? Are the feelings that this girl has toward her pet cow less valid than our feelings toward our pet dogs?
Either it’s ok to eat all animals or no animals. If the western world thinks that dogs are special, and we get up in arms when we hear about dog farms being a few miles away from the location of the winter Olympics, it’s hypocritical to think that the mass scale factory farming that we take part in is any way more ethical than the practices in other countries. It’s ok if one chooses not to eat dog because they have significance in western culture, but one shouldn’t feel morally superior because they ate a pig over a poodle.
After reading this, I don’t expect anyone to run off and dig into a slice of golden retriever or a shih-tzu filet, in fact, I very much hope that you don’t.
Nor do I expect anyone to swear off meat, but maybe everyone can have a good long think about what makes animals special to us and to other people across the world, how meats that are acceptable to eat are just a social construct, and how other cultures are entitled to give value to the animals that are meaningful to them. Maybe a dog’s purpose is to be an appetizer at Chili’s, but I’m going to keep loving my GLaDOS and all other dogs just the same. Have a happy year of the dog everyone.