The Yulin Festival, an annual dog meat festival that has been held in the Guangxi province of China since 2009, is currently underway. The festival reportedly kills and sells up to 10,000 dogs each year to be cooked and eaten as food.
But, that’s not the worst of it. These dogs, many of which are stolen pets or strays, make long journeys in small cages with gruesome conditions, arriving at their destination severely diseased and malnourished before they are slaughtered. Not surprisingly, their slaughter is anything but humane.
Activists Take Action
News of the Yulin Dog Meat festival has brought backlash from animal lovers and activists all over the world in recent weeks. Many activists within China have made efforts to put a stop to this practice, one woman even bought dogs directly from traders to protect them from a gruesome fate. Worldwide, people have turned to Twitter to speak out against the festival with the hashtag #StopYulin2015. Unfortunately, the festival took place despite our attempts to stop it. But, even with heavy hearts, we are already fighting for next year.
Why Yulin is Especially Frustrating
Not only is this festival sad and utterly horrifying, but it is also quite frustrating. If you know a meat-eater who has joined in on the hashtag #StopYulin2015 or if you have seen pictures of Chinese dog slaughtering shared on Facebook by friends that show off juicy burgers on the regular, you might share my frustration. How can someone condemn one type of suffering while contributing to another type of suffering?
At the heart of this frustration is the wish that all animals could be treated humanely–not just those we keep as pets. When people show compassion for dogs, but not for farm animals, it raises a few important questions: Are some species more deserving of cruelty-free lives than others? Why are many Americans quick to defend the dogs being killed in China, but not the millions of pigs, cows, and chickens killed yearly in our own country?
Compassion For All Animals
We animal lovers and vegans are quite familiar with animal suffering. Many of us have become anti-cruelty activists, transforming our lifestyles and diets for the well-being of animals. In times like this, when omnivores around us are suddenly outraged by the suffering of dogs or cats, it’s hard not to see it as one thing: hypocrisy. Or, this may be an eye opening event that can open a door to veganism for omnivores.
In these moments, I urge you to turn your frustration into compassion. Remember that the goal is to create a world without the unnecessary suffering of animals, not to prove a point or win an argument. Any display of compassion for animals, no matter the reason or the type of animal, is a step in the right direction.
How You Can Help
As you continue to raise your voice against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, take the opportunity to enlighten others about the injustices that animals face in our own industries everyday. Draw parallels between the sale of dog meat in China and our own meat industry’s cruel practices. Invite healthy discussions with others (see: how to argue nicely) about the steps we can take to protect the welfare of all species.
Because when #StopYulin2015 fades from the spotlight and Trending page of Twitter, and when most of the world has returned to blissful ignorance, you may have changed a few minds about the urgency of protecting the rights of animals. And that could have a lasting impact.