If you can eat a pig, you can eat a dog.
The annual dog meat festival was held in the small Chinese province of Yulin this week and once again the Western world is up in arms.
It never ceases to amaze me how many meat-eaters turn their nose up at eating dogs but are happy to chomp a ham sandwich.
“But dogs are intelligent!” They cry.
So are pigs.
Pigs have even been proven to possess higher levels of intelligence than their canine companions.
The idea that eating a dog is barbaric but eating a pig is acceptable is a construct of our own culture. It is not better or worse — it is just different.
Both animals are bred for human comfort.
Both animals are sources of protein and fat.
Both animals are animals.
It’s just that in western societies: one is bred for food and the other for companionship.
The differences between the two may not be physiologically compelling but there is something about the consumption of dog that sparks the social justice fires like nothing else.
Online petitions calling to end the festival have been circulating for years with one attracting almost five million signatures.
It is difficult to control such a practice when it is run by local businesses and already lacks official Government backing.
Watch CNN’s reportage of Chinese protesters who try to buy back some of the dogs.
The consumption of dogs at the festival is not the only activity to come under fire with critics claiming the dogs are “butchered” and skinned alive before being eaten.
The claim that dogs are tortured before their death is strongly disputed by festival organisers and evidence that says otherwise is yet to be produced.
British philosopher Julian Baggini even made the suggestion that perpetuating such an idea as truth is in itself a classic form of Asia-specific racism.
“Is there not a whiff of orientalism here: a too-quick readiness to believe that the Chinese behave barbarously?” he said.
The caging of the dogs before and during the festival also gains massive amounts of publicity as westerners balk at the imagery of dogs in cramped cages.
The images may be difficult to stomach but they are also the reality of millions of factory-farmed animals who live here and overseas.
It seems hypocritical to cry murder at one but turn away from the other.
But we do.
It's a pity that dogs are man's best friend but pigs are only best dinner.
Feature image via Instagram. @stridy_ and titan_ay_chihuahua.