The annual summer festival in Yulin has been widely criticized, mostly by Westerners who aren’t used to thinking of dogs as food. Images and footage of filthy dogs crowded into cages and being brutally slaughtered zoom around the Internet, leaving a wake of outrage and condemnation. And rightly so: the cruelty depicted is stomach churning.
It’s easy to criticize a practice in which we don’t participate in a place many of us have never been. Harder is taking an uncomfortable look in our own backyards – or in this case, on our own barbecues.
In Canada, it’s considered standard practice for chickens and pigs to be so crowded in pens or cages that they can barely move – not just for a few days, but for their entire lives. When we look at a picture of a cage filled with dogs or cats, we instantly recognize the fear and stress that would cause. We live with these animals, and we know they would find being body-to-body with strangers against their will to be terrifying and enormously stressful, just as we would.