08/06/2015 05:49 BST | Updated 04/06/2016 06:59 BST

In Defence of Dogmeat

This summer solstice sees the return of the annual dogmeat festival in Yulin, China - a festival accompanied by a rage equally lunar in its predictability. I will not waste words or integrity defending China's animal rights record, because I don't much fancy my chances. Nor will I recount the full horror of the abattoir I visited in Zhongshan (a mere 400km from Yulin - a stone's throw in Chinese terms). I have seen dogs die, their shivering legs slipping on a mud floor strewn with blood, hair and faeces. But even with those images burnt into my memory, I cannot see how that whimpering gore could be tangibly worse than the sufferings endured by more 'edible' species.

The scientific community agree on the intelligence of pigs, for instance. Pigs can perform tasks that researchers previously thought only Rhesus monkeys and chimpanzees were capable of. Like humans, apes and dolphins, pigs can recognise their reflection in the mirror. But even a Lacanian mirror stage does not stop pigs being labelled as pork. Nor do the capacities of other animals for memory, fear or pain grant them any more rights than we would give a potato. So if we eat pigs, why not dogs?


Why is eating pork or beef or lamb a time-honoured tradition in Euro-America when eating dogs and cats is a horror beyond words? If you love animals, treat them equally. If you respect animals, acknowledge their agony. Recognise that the bloodless form in your supermarket polythene was bred with that as its purpose. It began its life in a factory, it was raised by machines, its body was ripped apart on a floor similar to the Guangdong abattoir where I bought my lunch. If you want to eat an animal at least have the decency to look it in the face as the life fades from its panicked, rolling eyes.

But dogmeat is not just an animal rights issue. It has a racial and a political dimension. Even at its most abstract, the manner in which humanity divides animals into edible and inedible mirrors the way in which humanity divides humans into civilised and uncivilised. Some animals are our 'best friends', just like some societies are valued as cultured and rational. Other animals are just meat, like the passive masses of the patronisingly-named "developing world" - unknown people who are nothing in life and mere numbers in death.

Lassie vs. 42 million cattle a year.

12 Charlie Hebdo cartoonists vs. 2,000 Nigerians killed by Boko Haram.

The differing grievability of these deaths relies on the same infectious, binary logic.

The discourse of animal rights is too often used as a neo-imperialist stick with which to beat Western normality into the rest of the World. The Chinese eat dogs - look how barbaric and crude and unsophisticated they are. Ignore the Whiteman and his foie gras, his veal, his eggs from caged hens. It is the Other who is cruel, not us.

Scream at the Chinese. Scream at their savage customs until the veins bulge on your bloated, hypocrite head. Scream until your rage shatters the reformed Kievs in your freezer like glassware at an opera. Pause only to repackage your hatred into blinkers that obscure the double-standards of your own hideous morality.

Rage as much as you want, because these parochial agonies and heartfelt petitions to the Chinese Embassy will not stop people eating dogs. Because fundamentally, prohibition has never worked.

I can inform the reader that it is very possible to find dogmeat for sale - even in the UK, if you know where to look. The meat usually comes from low-quality dogs kept in poor conditions - dogs that almost certainly suffer in death. As a pro-dogmeat party we know of several such suppliers in Thanet. Our members have eaten their produce many times. But it doesn't have to be like this. It is entirely possible to have humane, locally sourced, organic dogmeat - just like it is with other meats.

The welfare of animals can only be assured through regulation, not white-knuckled fury. If people want to cause animals less pain - eat less of them, or stop eating them entirely. Don't pick and choose according to that Orwellian mantra:

"all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others".

Eat all animals or eat none.

Legalise Dogmeat.