2009/07/14

Chinese eat dogs and cats? A cicle in civilization

One year in Germany, I have been asked by many Europeans the same question: do Chinese really eat cat and dogs?

I think the answer is not simply yes or no. There are indeed some people eat cat and dogs in China, but I would say the percentage of people eating dogs in China isn't any higher than the percentage of new Nazis in Germany. People get the false impression from the exaggerated news report. I don't know any of my Chinese friend eating dog, nor have I met any case of xenophobia in Germany.

There's no need for me to deny that Chinese do eat almost everything. It is a very rich eating culture, as long as you can imagine. But most people have very healthy and normal diet: rice, a lot of vegetable and little meat (Maybe also McDonald's now).

There is a historic ground for it. For the poor people, thousands year old Chinese history has always been accompanied by huge famine. People are dying of hunger, they have to live and they have no choice, thus they eat everything they find. This is also the same for other parts of the world. Those picky young people, their grandparents have also eaten some "disgusting" food.

From a religion perspective, many religion has certain rules and concept on what should be eaten and what are dirty. For Chinese, all lives are equal. It doesn't matter if someone eat beef or pork or dog.

In the case of dog, there are also cultural reason. Quite surprisingly, in old days in China, dog has been a symbol of snobbishness and cruelty because the rich landlords and tax collectors bring the dogs as accomplice to bully the poor people. And poor people never have a chance to raise a dog for themselves because there are so less to eat. The deep friendship and adoration between man and dog don't widely exist in our culture until recently.

OK, enough for this nasty topic. Then I want to talk about a feeling of mine. Civilizations are turning in a circle. Chinese has develop high level of culinary skills long before the Europeans get command of fire. Ancient record tell us that hundreds of year ago, Chinese describe the foreigners as "with monstrous color of eyes, hair all over the body, emit unpleasant odor." Chinese emperor called the foreigners "barbarian" and disregard their culture, refuse to pay attention or learn from them. Hundreds of years later, the "barbarian" came back. They came back with guns filled with black powder and ships equipped with newest compass, and opium, of course. (China invented the black powder and compass, but use the black powder only for fireworks in new year.)

Today, young Chinese adore Hollywood stars with blue or green eyes, using American shaver and French perfume. Now it is our turn to play the role of "barbarians" and less civilized people. The "more civilized people" make all kind of disgusted facial expression when they hear about those exotic Chinese food (snake, dog...), making fun about the old habits.

I especially don't understand why some people eat so much chicken and pork and beef, even horse and rabbit, without a bad conscience when they care so much about cat and dogs. What is the difference between these life? Why some animal should be slaughtered without any sympathy, some others deserve a luxurious life?

China has experience both the top and the bottom of the civilization. China understand the stupidness of laughing at others culture and being too proud and too blind. China has learned it lessons, and hopefully the lessons serve as a mirror for the civilized people now. Those who stop improving will be defeated and eliminated.

1 comment:

livatlantis said...

Zilong,

I just came across this post now, and I'm glad you're writing about it. I did in fact almost try gòu ròu in Hefei, and informally researched the consumption of dog and its implications.

You can read my article here:
http://realityequation.net/dog-on-a-platter

You'll find we've raised a lot of the same questions. Let me know what you think.

Enjoyed reading your post.

Cheers
Parimal