Several Asian countries have long traditions of eating dog meat. Adventurous gourmands who've tried it describe it as darkish, gamey in terms of taste and a little stringy in texture. Dogs' flesh, which isn't especially fatty, may be cooked in a stew, roasted or barbecued.
First, those places where they do eat dog meat:
According to traditional Chinese food concepts, dog meat is a "warming food" and so especially suitable for consumption in the depths of winter. Black dogs are preferred to those with light-colored fur. In the People's Republic of China, there's no law against the raising of canines as food or the sale and eating of their meat, and dog flesh continues to be fairly common on menus in Guangdong, Guangxi and other parts of the country's south. According to some estimates, as many as 20 million dogs are killed for their meat each year. The PRC's Mongolian and Tibetan minorities have taboos against eating dogs.Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The city of Yulin in Guangxi has become notorious in recent years on account of its annual dog-meat festival, usually held in late June. Animal-rights activists have tried to shame Yulin's leaders into halting the event, and intervened to prevent shipments of dogs reaching the city ahead of the festival. Dog-lovers in China have also pointed out that the lack of laws limiting or forbidding the eating of canine meat is in striking contrast with the onerous restrictions city dwellers come up against if they keep a dog as a pet. The theft of pet dogs so they can be sold for their meat is a common problem. Perhaps realizing that animal welfare is not a priority for many Chinese, the authorities have begun to emphasize that dogs' flesh may not be a safe food to eat, because of the conditions in which the animals are raised and slaughtered, and also because some of them are stolen.
The enjoyment of dogs' flesh continues to be common in both North and South Korea. The authorities in the south are aware that this practice doesn't enhance their international reputation. At the same time, they're careful to placate the fiercely nationalistic segment of the general public, and this means prohibition is politically impossible for the foreseeable future. The dog- and cat-meat industry turnovers US$2 billion per year, and thus has lobbying muscle. Annually, around two million dogs and 100,000 cats are turned into food, typically a dog broth called gaesoju. Unlike the Chinese, Koreans see dog meat as a food best eaten during the hottest part of the year, as it can bolster one's stamina when the mercury is soaring.
Currently, South Korean law doesn't ban the slaughter of dogs for their meat, nor does it protect dogs being raised for their flesh abuse. (It does, however, protect dogs kept as pets or guards.) However, there are some restrictions on the sale and advertising of canine flesh. In Seoul, restaurants which serve it can't be located on main roads, and there mustn't be any mention of dog flesh on menus and signs in languages other than Korean.
Pro-animal groups hope that in the runup to the 2018 Winter Olympics - which will be hosted by the South Korean county of Pyeongchang- they'll be able to leverage international attention into government action against the country's dog-meat trade.
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Rather than the relatively low level of dog-meat consumption in Thailand itself, animal-welfare campaigners active in the southeast Asian kingdom are more concerned with the large-scale capturing and transporting of dogs from Thailand into Vietnam via Laos. Human consumption of dog meat is virtually unknown in Bangkok and Thailand's south. In the northeast, however, where many dogs are bred and killed primarily for their skins, dogs' flesh is eaten by a signficant minority. It's more of a treat than a staple, as the price is often four or five times' that of chicken.
The eating of dog meat wasn't common in Vietnam until after World War II, except in times of famine, but the food has become more popular in recent decades. One reason is that times were very hard after the Vietnam War ended in 1975. Another is a new custom among the country's growing entrepreneurial class: Enjoying a meal of dog at the end of each lunar month to get rid of bad luck. Nowadays, a significant number of Vietnamese see no contradiciton between loving their pet dog and relishing the flesh of other canines as part of a feast. There is no serious movement to have dog-eating made illegal.
Dogs' flesh is sought after by a good many Cambodians for the same reason it's eaten in China: It's believed to make the body stronger against the cold. As in China, the trade is legal. Barbecued dog meat marinated in spices is sold by roadside vendors, while restaurants typically serve it curried with rice.
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And those where they don't (or shouldn't):
Most Taiwanese find the idea of eating dog meat quite disgusting, and the consumption of canine meat - never common - has been illegal since 2003. At least once per year, however, the police catch and fine someone cooking and selling dog meat to customers who know exactly what they're getting, and who in some cases have traveled quite far to enjoy it.
Serving cat or dog has been illegal in the former British colony since 1950; those who contravene this law face a fine of HK$5,000 (about US$650) and up to six months' imprisonment. Many Hong Kongers keep pet dogs, and it's said larger breeds are popular because owning one implies you have a bigger-than-average home (which, given the cost of real estate in Hong Kong, means you're rich).
Unlike most neighboring countries, the consumption of dog-meat hasn't been a feature of Japanese cuisine in recent centuries. There's no law against the serving of dogs' flesh, and at least one Chinese restaurant in Tokyo openly sells it.
The Philippines enacted a ban on dog meat in 1998 in response to alarming expansion of the dog-flesh trade. However, enforcement has been problematic, in part because the meat of canines is considerably cheaper than pork or beef. An estimated 500,000 dogs are still consumed each year, some by indigenous people in Benguet province specifically exempted from the prohibition because canine flesh plays a significant role in their culture.
Canine flesh is likely eaten by some rural inhabitants of Laos, but the country is better known as a supply route between dog breeders in Thailand and consumers in Vietnam. The Muslim majorities of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei regard dog meat as haraam (forbidden).
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