icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

As South Korea considers banning dog meat, who are the meat-munchers of the West to tell others what animal is OK to eat?

Charlie Stone
Charlie Stone

Charlie Stone is an author and journalist who has worked for the BBC, several national newspapers in the UK and international media.

Charlie Stone is an author and journalist who has worked for the BBC, several national newspapers in the UK and international media.

As South Korea considers banning dog meat, who are the meat-munchers of the West to tell others what animal is OK to eat?
South Koreans eat around a million dogs a year, but dog meat could be taken off the menu if pooch-loving President Moon Jae-in gets his way. But why is killing a dog for food any different to a pig or a chicken or a cow?

“Let them eat cake,” Queen Marie Antoinette allegedly said not long before the guillotine chopped off her head and ushered in the French republic. I don’t think anyone ate her, though.

Unfortunately, like so many of these catchy phrases peppered throughout history, it’s almost certainly made up. But the broad point remains – the rich and dumb Queen of France during the French Revolution couldn’t understand why the starving peasants were demanding bread when cake – brioche, actually – was so much tastier.

Also on rt.com Disgusting perverts or just misunderstood? Meet the zoophiles who have sex with animals and want to be embraced by Pride

‘Let them eat dog’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, though, does it? But in some countries, man’s best friend is also a juicy delicacy. It just depends, I guess, on your taste. And your culture.

I have never, personally, eaten a bit of dead dog – or not knowingly anyway. I have a mate, though, who is an electrician, and he once told me a story about a pile of dog and cat skeletons he found when he went to do a bit of wiring at a Chinese restaurant in an English suburb. Trust me, I have never eaten chow mein since; isn’t ‘chow chow’ a breed of dog with a black tongue that looks a bit like a teddy bear?

I did, though, walk through a market in Hanoi, Vietnam a few years back that had dead dogs hanging from hooks, gutted and skinned, the same as you might see a chicken or suckling pig in a Western butcher’s shop.

I’m English, so I was, of course, outraged. “WTF?! You can’t f**king eat Fido, that’s barbaric!” There was a stall nearby in that very same market that sold a selection of lovely sweet treats and cakes; why not eat one of them instead?! 

I sounded a bit like Marie Antoinette. I later met a local who explained to me, calmly, that these are not normally stray dogs taken from the street and butchered. This doesn’t tend to be the end for most family pets. And it’s nothing whatsoever to do with poverty or not being able to afford a nice bit of steak instead. They’re actually, he said, a special breed – a delicacy. A treat.

“It’s an animal,” he said. “Pigs are cleverer than dogs, but you don’t get all preachy when it comes to a bacon sandwich. Do you?”

Err no. He was, of course, right. 

They’re partial to a bit of dog munching over in South Korea too, but pooch-loving President Moon Jae-in reckons it’s a bit backward these days – not to mention a tad embarrassing in the eyes of the rest of the world. I very much doubt some of the older South Korean folk feel that way, though. They eat about a million dogs a year, but it looks like they could soon be removed from the menu. 

“Hasn’t the time come to prudently consider prohibiting dog meat consumption?” Moon asked his prime minister.

That is, I’d suggest, far more to do with the cultural influx from the West in South Korea, than anything to do with animal welfare. 

You either eat animals or you don’t, surely? Exploit them for their fur or whatever, or don’t. Isn’t it absurd to rank creatures on their supposed friendliness or how sweet they are? Baby seals are pretty damn cute, but that doesn’t stop hunters whacking them on their heads for their fur. A baby pig snuffling about in the yard is fun, too, but that doesn’t stop people sticking a spit through them and roasting them over an open fire. 

They say in some cultures they eat monkey brains… direct from the skull of the monkey that may even still be alive. It’s even featured in a snuff movie called ‘Faces of Death’. Just like that Marie Antoinette quote though, it’s probably all bollocks. The scene in Faces of Death was a pretty amateurish fake.

Halal meat production is very real, though, and pretty barbaric when you think about it. A lot of the time, the animal isn’t even stunned; it has its throat cut and its blood is left to drain away.

A creature butchered so it can sit on your plate is still a dead creature. Dog or pig or cow or duck. It’s just a question of cultures. They eat eggs with embryos inside them in the Philippines, and a whole array of insects are tasty treats in loads of countries. Horse meat is still pretty common in Spain; it’s said to give people strength. Same as that dead horse had when it was ambling happily about on the plains. 

Even the sight of all these things over the years, though, I admit, almost made me vomit.

Also on rt.com It’s the ‘End of Meat’, so shut up & drink the oil: NYT tries to berate its readers into a plant diet

Still, I am partial to a bacon and egg sandwich. Although the argument for that pig’s death makes less and less sense, especially when you consider the negative impact of meat production on the planet. Scientists say the single best thing that any of us can do to do our bit in saving the planet isn’t flying less or getting solar panels on the roof – it’s eating less meat and dairy products.

There is absolutely – to my mind – a convincing argument to turn veggie. But if you eat sentient beings – beef or chicken or turkey or lamb or duck – is it really all that different to eating a dog? How?

If you like this story, share it with a friend!

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Podcasts