BEING VEGAN – May The Outrage Turn To Something More
By Paul Graham
Las Vegas Informer
“The basic thing is to hopefully stop people from killing anything and to create a non-violent diet for themselves, because a non-violent world has roots in a non-violent diet.” Casey Kasem
I have read this past week of great outrage about an annual festival to celebrate the summer solstice that takes place in Yulin, a city in China near the border of Vietnam. This yearly event gathers people together to drink lots of alcohol, enjoy cups of sweet fruit, and the main course of the day…dog meat. It is said that as many as 10,000 dogs are slaughtered for this occasion each year. That should be very difficult for most to fathom, but in fact it is only one of many festivals like this that take place throughout the country and surrounding countries as well. South Korea has one day each year where the entire country enjoys dog meat, if you can imagine that. Activists have been able to see a number of these festivals either cancelled or altered to not include the partaking of dog meat.
Why does this strike such a chord with so many people? Especially when we see over 20 billion animals slaughtered for food here in the United States each year and over 60 billion world-wide. Well, that is where that word “speciesism” comes in, where someone holds one species of animal to be more important than another. We have a great affinity for dogs because they have been bred to be domestic and companion animals for humans. SInce we don’t typically walk cows around the block, play fetch with the sheep, allow the chickens to ride in the car with their heads out the window, or permit the pigs to sleep up on the bed with us, we tend to look at dogs in a different light. We are morally outraged when we think about dogs being gathered together like this; abused, slaughtered, and eaten for sake of some festival or any other reason. It gets our attention because it is being done en masse. But in reality, dogs and cats can be found slaughtered and hanging in marketplaces ready to be prepared for human consumption in various countries on a daily basis. There is a truth in all of this that we must never lose sight of though…there is no difference between dogs and any other living, sentient being. We just feel the way we do about them because we have a personal relationship with them.
In regards to Yulin, and probably most other celebrations like this, dogs are gathered up, confined, and sold unscrupulously in the marketplace. The dogs are packed into crates while still alive and weighed, injuring some and suffocating others. Most of the dogs are strays, bred for this purpose, or are often stolen pets. They are drugged or poisoned and are poorly treated as they are kept in unsanitary conditions in preparation for slaughter. Like the case with any other animal held in preparation for slaughter, the thought should outrage us and move us to action against these acts of barbaric human behavior. The people of Yulin and others that participate in eating dogs in this fashion believe in a folk-custom that the consumption of dog meat brings health and luck. Really? This custom needs to end. Unfortunately, in like fashion, many people believed for far too long that humans could be enslaved and used for whatever purpose. Because, after all, it had been customary for so long. This is where evolutionary thinking and living comes into play. We must come to the point where we believe that any action that brings harm to another living being is not of benefit to that human or non-human animal and society as a whole. Many are waking up to this truth and embracing it for their lives but far too many in this world are not making this connection.
If it helps anyone to think of this happening to their own companion pet somehow and being absolutely disgusted by it…then so be it. Don’t allow that distaste and disgust to end there. Make the connection with all living creatures that are being used, abused, enslaved, and slaughtered for human consumption. If we are upset about a festival that will eat 10,000 dogs in a day, then let that move us to look at our own lives first and make sure that we are not bringing harm to any living being by our lifestyles. That is where change begins. Let us take on the cause, not only of these unfortunate dogs, but of all animals world-wide that face a similar fate on a daily basis. Let us do away with ridiculous customs that are only a disguise for bad behavior. Let us not be manipulated in believing that certain things go on because they are deemed necessary or they have been done this way for a long time. It is far past the time to move beyond that. The fact is that we don’t need to use animals or animal products in any way in our lives for health, happiness, or daily necessity. There is actually a much better life for all concerned on the other side of all of this and I implore you to find it and encourage others to find it as well. It is not only the only hope for these dogs, but for all animals and mankind as well. Peace will first be found in our hearts and then it will be found on our plates.
Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004. He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer. He has a daily vegan food blog www.eatingveganinvegas.tumblr.com which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas. He can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/EatingVeganinVegas.
Paul‘s revised edition of Eating Vegan Vegas is now available in bound book form and can be ordered through Amazon.com or any independent bookseller. The e-book version can be found at Kobo.com.