The summer solstice returns and with it the beginning of the annual Yulin dog meat festival. Predictably there are individual and groups of self proclaimed dog and animal lovers angrily up in arms in protest.
In spring this year Hong Kong University presented four talks on When Animals Meet Humans. The third of these talks was on Animal Laws. Two speakers were able to approach the subject from different but very interesting angles:-
* Amanda Whitfort, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, HKU
* Dr Fiona Woodhouse, Deputy Director (Welfare), Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)
Both speakers were well worth listening to. The talk was supported with numerous unsurprisingly grim photographic images of neglect and other cruelty to animals used as pets and companions. Applicable now to the context of Yulin, Professor Whitfort made the point that in mainland China there is no animal cruelty legislation. The salient point of the talk though (for me) was one made by Dr Woodhouse. She touched on speciesism and the reasons why it exists:-
* sliding scale of morality
This was too much to resist. Come the Q&A session at the end of the talk, the right hand went up in the air to attract the speakers’ attention. Two questions were then directed at the room of 50+ people:-
1) How many people in the room felt images shown during the talks were of unacceptable levels of animal cruelty?
Literally every person in the room raised a hand (the point of specifically looking was done to see if anyone hadn’t raised a hand).
2) How many people in the room are vegan?
This time there were only five hands raised. A perfect example of the sliding scale of morality mentioned by Dr Woodhouse. And so that brings us to Yulin. Numerous people speak out against the eating of dogs in Yulin. Millions sign petitions. Many such people gleefully tuck into slaughtered produce fresh from the animal agriculture conveyor belt of death. People salivatingly wolf into produce such as cheese and eggs that keep animal agriculture profitable (the beef and dairy industry are one and the same, the chicken and egg industry are one and the same). People righteously speak about the appalling treatment of dogs in Yulin prior to their horrific death. Do all these people genuinely believe life as a slave to industrial agriculture is pleasant?
Its easy for anyone to sign an online petition in a moment. Publishing a hashtag with indignation on facebook or twitter takes no longer. Its much less convenient to make the effort to consciously target removing animal products from your lifestyle. If you have or you are considering protesting (online or otherwise) about Yulin, give yourself some food for thought; Click here to watch Earthlings then see what you think.
Of course there’s the sliding scale of morality for those who prefer.