Is US Factory Farming Any Less Cruel Than South Korea’s Dog Meat?

by Vins
Published: Updated:

The 2018 Winter Olympics, held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, served as the hook for a number of critical news stories on South Koreans’ consumption of dog meat. As the Guardian’s Chas Newkey-Burden wrote, “With the Winter Olympics turning attention towards South Korea, dog meat has been put on the media menu. The west has gone into shock mode.” Acknowledging that details of the dog meat trade are “indeed horrific,” Newkey-Burden, a self-described vegan, challenged those offended by it to examine “all meat production with fresh eyes.” There is “some hypocrisy in the outrage” over South Koreans’ appetite for dog stew or dog salad, he wrote, “and perhaps a little dollop of racism (or at least xenophobia) on the side.”

The Guardian article noted that, across Asia, demand for dog meat leads to the slaughter of thirty million dogs every year. (Newkey-Burden’s article attributed this figure to an April, 2017 BBC News report, which in turn cited the Humane Society International as the primary source for this statistic.) Although eating dogs is considered horrendous in the US, it is accepted as normal in China and South Korea, where Labradors, Beagles, and Chihuahuas are among the breeds regularly consumed as meat. Dogs raised for meat are subject to horrific conditions—as major news outlets like NBC News, CNN, and USA Today reported during the PyeongChang Olympics.

However, Newkey-Burden wrote, in the US and UK, lambs, pigs, chickens and cows raised for meat are subject to the same treatment as dogs in Asian countries.  In the US, nine billion chickens are slaughtered each year; according to a study by Viva!, a UK-based vegan charity, 93% of pigs killed in the UK are factory-farmed.  “In this context,” Newkey-Burden observed, “the recent coverage of Korea’s dog meat industry amount to little more than the condemnation of foreigners for having their own food culture.”

Source: Chas Newkey-Burden “Offended by Koreans Eating Dog? I trust you’ve never had a bacon butty,” The Guardian, February 15, 2018,
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/15/korea-eating-dog-meat-animals-food-west

Student Researcher: Abigail Williams (Indian River State College)

Faculty Evaluator:  Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)