On June 21, as every year since 2009, the town of Yulin in China celebrates the summer solstice with a festival where lychee… and dogs are eaten. Strongly opposed around the world – every year, petitions calling for an end to this “terrible festival” are launched – this event has also sparked – but to a lesser extent – the debate in China.
According to several polls commissioned in recent years, China’s population – the majority of which does not eat dogs – still supports banning the festival, while local associations have called for consideration of the canine as pets and that the sale of their meat is prohibited.
A rage at variable geometry
Seen from the house, the dog food seems crazy. French animal defense organizations don’t have to convince anyone of the brutality of this festival … but are happy to use it to promote the cruel treatment provided for animals raised and slaughtered on French territory , for our own local custom of cooking and feasting.
Christmas festivities are also often chosen by animals, angered by the treats provided for the millions of geese and ducks fed for the occasion. “There has to be an independent and impartial view of these customs, no matter where they come from,” said Amandeus VG Humanimal, president of the Humanis association. And if it causes great suffering to animals, they should be rebuked. Sometimes we imagine that traditions have always been and always will be, while a certain number of them are lost or banned. »
Each human culture develops its own categories of animals, primarily based on the use in which they are placed: some animals are intended for food, some serve as our companions, others are considered useful. scientific models. These categories are associated with important effects: dogs and cats, in particular, are now widely viewed as complete members of the household. We develop a relationship with them and their well -being is important to us. Our relationship with livestock is more utilitarian. We also know them under terms that clearly refer to their use, such as “laying hens” or “dairy cows”.
For some species, the categorization is more vague: rabbits, for example, are considered wild, companion, butchery or laboratory animals at the same time. These categorizations vary greatly from one culture to another (in the United States, horses are not seen as a source of food), but also according to the seasons. Dog killers, for example, existed until the beginning of the 20th century in France, and later in Germany and Switzerland.
… And carnist ideology
On what basis are its categories formed? A famous American psychologist, Melanie Joy, thinks that cultural habits are not enough and offers a hypothesis in her “Introduction to Carnism: Why we love dogs, eat pork and bring cattle (L ‘Age of Man, 2016)”. Carnism, according to Joy, can be a system of conditioning the mind from an early age to consider that it is normal, natural or even necessary to eat some animals and not others. “And don’t recognize that this practice is something strange or above all morally questionable”, Élise Desaulniers and Martin Gibert specify in the collective work La pensee végane (PUF, 2020).
Are we all one day angry at the idea of eating veal, pork, salmon or lamb … like vegetarians already, and like most French people about dog or cat meat? ? A market, still marginal but growing, in any case developed in recent years around imitation meat, these plant products reproduce the taste and texture of meat, but without use in animal breeding.