A massive wave of scandalized reactions.
Celebrities, animal welfare groups, newspapers, TV, and literally everyone on social media going crazy.
For a few days, the dog meat festival in Yulin, China, will be in the spotlight.
Here are three headlines from major news websites that I stumbled upon today :
Yet, I wish I didn't have to write about it. And I'm not doing it for the reasons you probably think I am.
I am not going to address the 'atrocity', the 'barbarity' or the 'cruelty' of the event. Instead, I'm going to try and explain why what may feel to the mass of people like a gut reaction to injustice is nothing but shameless ignorance and blatant hypocrisy.
Because if you are horrified by the actions taking place in Yulin but you consume animal products (in the form of food, fashion or entertainment), or if you don't -if you're a vegan- but consider what happens in Yulin to be worthier of your concern than other forms of animal exploitation, you are part of the problem. A problem consisting of two tangled points :
Firstly, there isn't any moral foundation for humans to decide which species are worth being included in the moral community and which ones aren't. This is the definition of speciesism.
Secondly, considering your own traditions and social norms to be more acceptable than those of others is the definition of racism and xenophobia.
The following examples may help shedding light on the point I'm making :
And here is an excerpt of an article that was published on BBC.com earlier today :
"[...] Ahead of the festival, dogs are often kept in small, cramped cages. [...]
Many dogs are transported from other cities in cramped lorries and unsanitary conditions, allowing diseases to spread easily. According to campaign groups, dogs are denied food and water for days during their trip.
Selling dog meat for human consumption is legal in China, with an estimated 10 million dogs killed for human consumption every year.
The Yulin event is a source of pride for many locals, with many restaurants serving dog dishes and people travelling to the city to join in. But it attracts widespread and growing criticism each year. [...]"
Here is the same article with a difference (a difference that is only relevant if you're a speciesist) :
"[...] Ahead of the festival, pigs are often kept in small, cramped cages. [...]
Many pigs are transported from other cities in cramped lorries and unsanitary conditions, allowing diseases to spread easily. According to campaign groups, pigs are denied food and water for days during their trip.
Selling pig meat for human consumption is legal in Europe, with an estimated 10 million pigs killed for human consumption every year.
The event is a source of pride for many locals, with many restaurants serving pigs dishes and people travelling to the city to join in. But it attracts widespread and growing criticism each year. [...]"
If you're not a vegan, the second version is what you're actively supporting on a regular basis.
Looking down on other people for engaging in the exact same actions as you do makes you a hypocrite.
If you accept the basic idea that enslaving other beings for unnecessary reasons is wrong, and if you’re appalled at the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, this has to be extended to all animals and all parts of the world.
Humans don’t need to eat animal flesh and secretions to be healthy, and they certainly don’t need to use their skin or fur for fashion or their bodies for entertainment. In this regard, eating, wearing, or using nonhuman animals in any way must be accepted as morally wrong, regardless of where you live or the species concerned.
To conclude, whether you are a vegan or not, I know you are outraged by the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. As you should.
You’re probably outraged that animals are being abused, tortured and murdered. As you should.
You’re certainly wondering how people can be barbarous enough to inflict that much pain and suffering on vulnerable, sentient creatures. As you should.
You’re likely to think these people are immoral and engage in unjust actions, this being reinforced by the fact they do it for what appears to you as unnecessary reasons. And you should feel this way. But not just about certain animals, and not just against certain people. Morals and values do not exist without consistency.
Every animal, human or nonhuman, has a right to live a life free of suffering and commodification for the purposes of the human species.
Being vegan is the only rational answer to your outrage.
Being vegan is the only rational answer to your commitment to unconditional justice.