Every year on June 21st thousands gather in Yulin, Guangxi, China to celebrate the slaughter and consumption of dogs, infamously known as the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. Although these festivities only originated in 2009, the ancient custom of dog meat consumption goes back more than 400 years. The belief behind this cruel tradition is that the animals will taste better if tortured and brutally mistreated before slaughter due to the increase in adrenaline that will therefore increase virility. They are kept in cages that enable them to move, murdered in front of each other to induce fear, and most of the time, boiled alive. And that was just to name a small number of the “rituals” they practice.
So, after all of that disheartening information, it’s assumed that we all, as in a large percent of people living in westernized countries, share a common opinion regarding this barbaric tradition; it’s downright wrong, and simply repulsive. Considering an online petition originating in the UK received 4 million signatures in 2015, and more recently an American petition organized by the HSI (Humane Society International) collected 11 million in 2016, it’s safe to say that a lot of people would agree. But do we? Because last time I checked “animal rights” by definition, isn’t exclusively dedicated to the animals we deem worthy. It applies to all beings categorized into the animalia kingdom by taxonomist Carl Linnaeus in the early-mid 1700’s. Our cultural, religious, or any form of bias for that matter, will never change the legitimate definition of animal rights. Although it seems to be that way when so many Americans who implement animal products into their daily lives, fight the exploitation of another. One that doesn’t necessarily obey the cultural standards that have been placed upon us from the moment we were born into this society.

And the Yulin Dog Meat Festival isn’t the sole practice that is only considered “barbaric” when it’s taking place half way across the world. Sharks, horses, and elephants are all considered delicacies somewhere. 100 million sharks in Asia, 250,000 horses in Europe, and 33,000 elephants in Africa are killed annually for their meat and other unnecessary resources. But the destruction of innocent lives that we are responsible for remains far greater. Those numbers don’t even come close to the staggering 9.2 billion farmed animals that are killed each year by humans in the United States as of 2015 (excluding fish and other crustaceans). So can we really justify that others are in the wrong simply for murdering a different species?

They’re all animals.

Equally torturous. Equally unethical.

Picture this: someone in China right now is sitting down to enjoy their favourite meal. You are doing the same, however you are approximately 11,640 km away. The only difference is the species that you have on your plate. Theirs is of the canine family according to taxonomic hierarchy, and yours is of the bovine family. The only change in this situation is your perspective, which inherently consists of the bias that was passed on to you.

The only question left to ask is; why do we choose to limit our compassion?

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