On dogs as food...yes, really
Call me strange, but I’ve always wanted to write a sci-fi kid’s novel on the subject of a parallel universe in which dogs are raised for food and biofuel. (Some of this fantastically abhorrent stuff is even committed to my computer’s hard drive.)
So when I read Monday’s New York Times piece on dog evolution and early domestication, I was oddly enthralled––and none too surprised––to learn that wolves may have initially been transitioned to domesticity by way of the human appetite.
Yes, it looks as if our Asian ancestors may have been the first to domesticate the dog while looking for a way to feed themselves. Dogs would have been penned, bred and tamed––with their destination the dinner plate.
Though it’s been a shocking revelation to some to think their ancestors would deign to eat a dog, it’s not so odd when you consider that many Asian cultures still enjoy a canine meal. And while that fact may gall and appall most pet lovers, it doesn’t me. As far as I’m concerned, dogs are fundamentally no different than pigs or goats or cows or chickens when it comes to the dinner bell.
Now, that’s not to say I’d be happy to eat a dog outside a South Korean village in the sticks (were there nothing else to eat and the risk of offending my hosts too great). There’s too much attached to the concept of dog-eating for most modern minds to comfortably wrap themselves around. Even in modern Cuba where meat shortages sometimes mean cat for dinner, dogs are totally off limits. Might as well dine on a human (which, let’s be honest, most of us would do if push came to shove). Or an insect––blech!
At this point you might be wondering what possessed me to enter into this gorily distasteful diatribe on dogs as food––beside the disgusting novel and the NYT piece, I mean. And here’s where I confess to have engaged in some online back and forth with a few vegans on the subject of pet eating. (This, in the wake of my apparently too-popular USA Today piece on vegetarianism.)
For some reason, it seems that some politically-minded vegans like to point out that eating sentient beings like cats and dogs is every bit the same as eating a cow or a chicken. Somehow, they believe this will stop me dead in my tracks as I recognize the flaws in my argument, thereby arousing in me a deep need to free my fridge of its meats and run headlong into the supermarket’s tofu display.
I’m not feelin’ it, I tell them. Try that argument with someone who doesn’t keep goats and chickens as pets...and doesn’t already count her daily animal protein calories on the fingers of one hand because she can’t find well-raised meats.
Yet even while I raise the insect arguments, they persist in the pet comparison. Maybe next time it happens I’ll raise the subjects of wolf subjugation in ancient Asia, plane crash nightmare scenarios, Soylent Green, Cuban cats...and this great sci-fi novel treatment they would just LOVE to read.
For less cheeky, easier reading, I recommend a post on my Top 10 vet-recommended OTC remedies (over on my DailyVet blog).