June 23rd, 2014
11:30 AM ET
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Editor's note: CNN's Anna Coren reports on a traditional dog meat festival in southern China. This video contains disturbing material.

A mob of people have surrounded a group of animal rights activists protesting in the busiest open market in town. It's the eve of Yulin's annual dog meat festival, a tradition that dates back generations to celebrate the summer solstice.

Arguments ensue among those living in the city and the people who condemn the tradition. "Don't you eat beef? If you stop eating beef, then we'll stop eating dog meat," yells one man frustrated with the intense media scrutiny in the Dong Kou open market, where an array of birds, snakes, cats and livestock are sold as daily fresh fare.

Dozens of journalists, filmmakers and photographers have come to the city in China's southeast Guangxi province to document an event that lies at the center of a battle between deeply-ingrained tradition and the encroachment of the modern world. Activists say dogs are part of the daily diet here, with an estimated 10,000 dogs killed for the festival alone.

Ask a local when the tradition of eating dog meat began and you'll likely be met with a dumbfounded expression - it is akin to asking someone when people started eating beef. For many in the city, eating dog meat is a hard habit to break, despite changing attitudes about the treatment of animals in China.

Read - Canine controversy: Chinese festival serves up dog meat

Previously in taboo food news:
Lawmaker battles to ban lion meat
Horse: Coming soon to a meat case near you?
Poll – making a meal of mustang
Top Chef trots into taboo territory

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Filed under: China • Taboos


soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. mishatrotsky

    Chinese society is the most callous, cruelest I have seen. They could give lessons to Germany.

    My wife is Chinese, and I lived there several months teaching English. Female infants are put in a field, and left to die. They don't treat people any better.

    Chinese have miserable lives, and take out their frustrations on animals, who cannot talk back or fight back. I've seen it.

    In Chinese society the worst insult is to compare someone to a dog.

    July 21, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
  2. myklftw

    Yeah right, "culture".
    Same excuse everywhere for not emerging from the tar-pit mindset of some ancient, backward "custom".
    One good reason why we all still wage war instead of trying to get along with each other, and f-up our only planet in the process.
    Don't even start about importing our garbage to other solar systems, and pray extra-terrestrials don't find us, because WE will then be the blue plate special for THEM.
    Crap.

    July 21, 2014 at 4:40 pm |
  3. Davey

    This is a culture that thinks it is OK to kill a Rhinocerous for its horn. You won't be able to talk sense with this culture. THey'll kill and eat anything!

    June 26, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
    • Moli

      Rhinos are endangered, cow and dogs are not!

      June 27, 2014 at 6:56 pm |
    • Brian

      Never understood why people thought it was okay to kill and eat one type of animal and not another. I am sure in early history people ate whatever moved and now, because certain people deem that certain animals should not be eaten the world is supposed to comply. I wouldn't knowingly eat certain meats, but I do believe people that eat beef, pork, fish chicken shouldn't criticize people that eat other types of meat.

      July 21, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
  4. Jesus

    Your Culture? The Nazis had a "culture", too. There is little about Chinese "culture" to celebrate- it IS primitive, savage, brutal, repressive and destructive. Once all the Chinese are ground up for food, you can talk to us about your "Culture"...

    June 26, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
    • Emme

      Your ignorance is fascinating, especially considering all of the things the rest of the world learned from the Chinese's "primitive and savage" culture (like papermaking and printing)...idiot.

      July 9, 2014 at 9:25 am |
    • Sarah

      I suggest you, and everyone else who is so up in arms over this, take a step into an American factory farm and slaughterhouse. Then decide what countries are "brutal" and "primitive".

      July 18, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
    • Brian

      That was uncalled for Jesus, quite a contrary comment considering the nick you use.

      July 21, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
  5. Arturo Féliz-Camilo

    Reblogged this on Mr. Feliz's Blog (Teacher Arturo).

    June 26, 2014 at 10:30 am |
  6. Thinking things through

    Back in the 70's I went to university with a man who'd done a year or two in the Peace Corps. One of the foods he had to eat while there was dog. Not just dog, but a dog who was beaten to tenderize him, and stuffed with rice while alive, for a few days before the feast. If he wanted to have any sort of creds with the people he was there to help, he had to participate in this feast. Yes, he hated it, but declining to partake would not have saved a single animal's life. I do eat meat, but I eat humanely raised meat, and thankfully I don't ever have to make the choice he had to make.

    June 25, 2014 at 8:05 pm |
  7. Fiona

    What is never discussed is the real reason humane, intelligent people take issue with the eating of dog meat in Asia (not just China). It's not the species, but how the dogs are tortured on purpose before being slaughtered. The belief is that the more stressed (tortured) the dog, the more tender the meat. I had a Chinese man "explain" this to me, so don't bother replying that I must be some PETA person making stuff up. I have seen meat dogs in the markets in Asia. What they go through is beyond horrific. I've even seen photos of dogs scalded raw - live dogs - and waiting to be purchased for slaughter. It's disgusting, primitive, disrespectful of life. It should be condemned by all who want to consider themselves civilized. Forget the "culture" excuse.

    June 25, 2014 at 3:13 am |
  8. Tammy

    I cannot comprehend some people comments trying to justify this dog eating "tradition". What a brutality and a barbarian way to treat an animal that wasn't created for consumption by humans. Only few animals are allowed to be eaten by the humans, and the slaughter process has to cause no suffering to the animal. If the animal suffered pain while dying, its meat cannot be consumed.
    Every mineral, plant, animal and human has an important task to perform in the overall scheme of creation. God gave us human a wonderful gifts of intellectual potential, physical capacities and spiritual power for a definite purpose. Without the spirituality we are nothing, without a believe in a spiritual, benevolent, and all powerful Creator of this Universe, who we call God, humans are heartless and soulless. People without a believe in God develop weird, warped and destructive ideologies. Society without a believe in God glorifies twisted thinking and remain in the state of a vicious monster. Those people, who are murdering those dogs are not real humans; they may have a human body but have no soul in it. They will carry their existence with no compassion, no heart and no love – a living death. Their spiritual debt accrue and will take few generations to repay it. We are all here on the Earth to correct our souls and do good things. Because God created this Universe and God watches us. Please people, open your eyes and be aware.

    June 25, 2014 at 12:14 am |
    • KS

      "What a brutality and a barbarian way to treat an animal that wasn't created for consumption by humans." Really? Oh Almighty Creator that was there from the beginning of time.. please do tell us more about what we can and cannot eat! Ridiculous rebuttal....

      June 25, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
    • Me

      "Without spirituality we are nothing"? Well, nothing is just that, nothing. I am something, someone. "Without a belief in a spiritual, benevolent and all powerful creator of this universe, humans are heartless and soulless"? Really? Wow. " People who don't believe in God develop weird, warped and are destructive" Let me tell you about my Godless self. I have a huge heart. My soul is filled with love and compassion for all things that coexist on the planet, that is being destroyed on a daily basis for greed and power under the disguise of religion . Not all religious people are like this, but from what I can tell from your post, you are the one who is weird, warped, and destructive. I don't need to be assigned an religion to tell me what is right or wrong when I can see something that is right or wrong or it just feels wrong. Now, to the slaughter of these animals. It's wrong. And to view this as "tradition" or "culture" is not something that you nor I have the say in. However, the cruel practice of this is disgusting. And we can work together to try to educate them that it doesn't have to be "tradition or culture". That is how we can get things like this changed. But if you think that here in the US that our animals are being treated humanly, may I suggest you look at PETA's website. Now, I am not an activist, but you shouldn't condemn other countries or cultures for their practices if you don't know anything about ours.

      June 26, 2014 at 6:25 pm |
  9. Berk Demirbulakli

    Nothing wrong with eating dogs. Puppies are very tender and juicy! Yum Yum

    June 24, 2014 at 7:39 pm |
    • geneinmexico

      the over fed lap dogs can make some good smoked belly

      June 26, 2014 at 11:47 am |
  10. HCCynic

    I don't care how much effort is made to clean up Moochelle, or how Tequilia I have had to drink, she is one dog who is too dang ugly to eat. I am guessing Big Bad Barry has never tasted her either.

    June 24, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
  11. Terri Evans

    That's why when I travel to developing nations, I only will eat a chicken wing or leg and a whole fish or shrimp. I can recognize these shapes for dinner.

    June 24, 2014 at 5:01 pm |
    • geneinmexico

      I just eat what people put in front of me. If they are eating a dish, why wouldn't I want to try some? You sound pretty boring and typical, what's the point in traveling if you really don't wish to experience the culture?

      June 26, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
  12. Tellall

    Sad thing is EVERY animal is feeling and suffers and would like to live... Not only the pet dogs and cats.

    June 24, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
  13. Crane Kick

    People who like cats are always psychopaths.

    June 24, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
  14. Jerv

    Does anyone else count SIX dogs in that single cage?

    June 24, 2014 at 8:25 am |
  15. TNT

    I'm glad the video wasn't that one of the skinned dogs who were still alive, waiting to be slaughtered. Simply heart breaking.

    June 24, 2014 at 7:53 am |
  16. Chang fang

    I have seen Chinese ppl eat evrything but my question is what they dont eat.

    June 24, 2014 at 1:39 am |
  17. barb

    Glad I'm vegan.

    June 23, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
  18. Tony

    One CANNOT compare dogs to cattle!!! Dogs are instinctively connected to man, hence "man's best friend!" My family has farms with cattle and brother-in-law has cattle and NEVER has a cow showed emotion like being happy to see me, followed me around (only if I had food) nor play games with me, etc! There's such a difference in mentality also that further makes man & dog close companions compared to a cow. It's NOT a tradition, it's you're too cheap to buy regular meat so you go to this market! They should feel so embarrassed and ashamed – bunch of hillbillies!!!

    June 23, 2014 at 4:45 pm |
    • don111

      Dog is not my best friend, Yeshua, or gentile's name Jesus, God is my best friend.

      June 24, 2014 at 5:58 am |
      • Imaginary friends are nice

        ...because they're the only ones who don't think you're crazy.

        June 24, 2014 at 11:57 am |
      • dorian canalizo

        I hope you never have an animal or know the love of an animal. You don't deserve it.

        June 24, 2014 at 6:45 pm |
      • Pilot

        Dog is my co-pilot

        June 26, 2014 at 8:26 am |
        • Davey

          Who is your Pontius Pilot though?

          June 26, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
    • ksmpmjoll

      What a narcissistic view of life. So only animals that show YOU affection and attention are worthy of compassion? Interesting

      July 18, 2014 at 8:35 am |
  19. Old Enough

    Chickens, Ducks and Geese can be loyal companions. Horses are common fare in some countries.. We Americans limit our meat consumption to 3 major animals, Cows, Pigs and Chickens. Little else, (Well maybe Turkeys) We are not diverse, we are repressed. Potbelly Pigs have become household Pets... (mmmm delicious) Get over it, don't push your morals on others. These activists are hypocrites.

    June 23, 2014 at 3:49 pm |
    • VladT

      I agree about your cultural point, but as someone who enjoys many different types of cuisines and fusion delights (I refuse to be called "foodie"), American diets include a lot more than those main 3. Numerous types of seafood, bison/buffalo, other game meats, gator, etc have found their ways into many plates across America.

      I personally think anyone who can eat a dog is disgusting, but I would never outright tell someone they are wrong, as it is a cultural dietary staple

      June 24, 2014 at 3:45 am |
      • Moli

        100% agree! ALL animals have feelings and they feel scared when they're about to be slaughtered. I wonder what's meant by humanely raised when we are actually killing them to eat em.

        June 27, 2014 at 7:01 pm |
    • dorian canalizo

      These animals are treated horribly in life and killed brutally. Nothing can justify that. I hope none of you have contact with animals because clearly you have no compassion. You probably should have kids either. And yes, I do not eat of poultry of any kind.

      June 24, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
    • geneinmexico

      repressed in what we eat is just a beginning. Most everything in the US is under a repressed attitude except guns and drugs.

      June 26, 2014 at 11:51 am |
  20. Culture Clash

    Can't say as I would knowingly try it, but they've been eating it for centuries. Who are we to say it's wrong?

    June 23, 2014 at 3:46 pm |
  21. Red

    Our repulsion from the thought of eating dog is strictly cultural. Assuming the dogs are not inhumanely slaughtered, I have yet to find any sound justification that this is inhumane or unjust. "Dogs are friends/companions" is not good enough; that case is totally isolated to the pets we raise.

    June 23, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
    • dorian canalizo

      They are treated horribly! Read up on it!

      June 24, 2014 at 6:49 pm |
    • Susan

      The dogs are tortured ahead of time with the belief that they will taste better. Folks need to know what really happens. I am vegan because I don't need to eat animals to be healthy. But what they do in China is truly evil. Whether they are dogs or buffaloes, I don't care.

      June 30, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
  22. Aychhabra

    Tell the Chinese eating Dog meat is injurious to health.Besides Dog is a human friend hence friends should not eat friend.These comments are also for Koreans where dogs meats are eaten.

    June 23, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
    • geneinmexico

      Purina may have you convinced they are your friends but in other countries they are food.

      June 26, 2014 at 11:53 am |
  23. Houman

    its awful disgusting tradition / culture , it ruined my day when i came home for lunch and heard this from CNN. i am so frustrated. you should be a shamed.

    June 23, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
    • Sark Kazem

      Meh. They probably think the same of our diet.

      June 23, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
    • ChickenMan

      I Like Chicks with BIG Breastesssses !!!

      June 23, 2014 at 4:56 pm |
    • Any Hindu from India

      Why do you eat our God for your hamburgers? You are disgusting and think of nothing but yourself.

      June 24, 2014 at 11:56 am |
      • Engorgio Penissio

        why are Indian mes such nasty filth that always rape young girls?

        June 28, 2014 at 4:19 pm |

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