Twisted Perceptions On Food
Among animal activists, vegans and dog lovers alike there has been constant chat of the 2015 Yulin Dog Meat Festival. I have kept quiet, slipped in between conversations, liked a few posts here and there, I have even gone to comment on a post or two. However, I haven’t been able to bring myself to write something, to share my own views due to the fear of debate, hate, anger. But now, as I sit here and read comments of disgust, of love, I feel compelled to write something.
Ever since I was little I was taught compassion. I was taught to be kind to the lizards in the grass, the birds in the sky, the pets in the house. I thought that I was kind to all animals. When I went to eat, my perception of compassion changed, I didn’t bat an eye to the animals on my plate. I only saw them as food. I didn’t process them as living, breathing animals that had now been killed. It never once crossed my mind. As I sit here now though, I cannot think of a single reason why it would have crossed my mind. I was raised to believe that there were separate categories of animals. I lived life blinded by speciesism. That was who I was.
If we fast forward in my youthful years to the awkward age of 12, I was in class when our teacher loudly exclaimed that he could never bring himself to eat a quail as they were so beautiful, that in fact, he was vegetarian as he loved all animals. I justified myself in my head, I told myself that I would never eat a quail as they are beautiful, that I would only eat farm animals. There was no logic in my justification of eating meat.
And then it leaves me here. Vegan. 14. When I look back on my life I can see that I stood on the excuse that I would never eat a quail because they were someone’s pets, but I would eat a farm animal as they are food. When I now come across posts on dog meat festivals I think of my 12 year old self, how I would have angrily commented on the post stating that; ‘It was disgusting, how could anyone ever eat a dog? A kind intelligent animal?’. I see my 12 year old self in the thousands, millions of comments left by people all around the world.
‘This is disgusting.’
‘I can’t believe they are doing this a dog.’
‘I will kill anyone who does this to dogs.’
‘Those poor animals.’
The comments are endless, streaming into social media like fire, spreading through blogs, pages, tweets, posts, everywhere you look. I have a secret to tell you:
I am with these people. I stand with them on their fight to end the dog meat festivals. What differs me though is I stand to end all forms of farming animals. Whether it be dogs, birds, cows, pigs, no animal should have to spend a life in a cage. Then on these posts are the small but strong group of those pointing out the inequality. Pointing out that all animals suffer when they are seen as food. That it doesn’t matter whether you are a dog or a pig or a bird, they all fear. They can all feel pain.
Then there is anger. Fire. Burning through these comments because DOGS ARE TORTURED. Because DOGS ARE KILLED VIOLENTLY AND WHILE THEY CAN STILL FEEL PAIN. What can I say to this? How can I explain?
‘The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.’
In Australia, it is legal to crush chickens alive, to keep them in tiny cages, to restrain them, keep them from proper light, food, to take mothers away from their calves and is this reader, not the same as what happens to dogs? Is this not what is happening in Asian countries, labelled as dog festivals?
The only thing that differs in farm animals and dogs is your perception. Why love one and eat another? They both feel pain, are both treated the same in farming processes, both have social order, love their offspring. Why, oh why, do we take preference of one?
Next time you see a comment on social media about the dog meat festival, think. Don’t reply. Just think.
Are they really treated differently?
*All rights of photography to Jo-Anne McArthur