“Cats are friends, not food!”

I’m not kidding; that’s exactly what these signs say:

Currently in the Chinese media, and now all over the English China blog world, is the news that China is considering passing a law that would make it illegal to eat dogs and cats. But even if it passes, I have my doubts that those hypocritical pork-eating bourgeois specie-ists will succeed in enforcing their shameless attack on cultural practices that go back thousands of years.

The image on the right is a bag of dog meat one of our Chinese teachers gave us as a gift.

Anyway, I just couldn’t pass up sharing a photo of a sign that says “Cats are friends, not food!” (猫是朋友,不是食物)。 Also visible in the photo:

  • “Refuse to eat cats.” (拒绝吃猫)
  • “Please show humanitarianism, set them free.” (请发扬人道主义 放过它们)
  • “Cherish humanity’s good friends! Refuse to eat cat and dog meat.” (爱护人类好友!拒绝吃猫狗肉)
  • “Refuse to eat cat and dog meat. Cherish humanity’s friends.” (拒食猫狗肉 爱护人类之友)
  • 请口下留情 is a play on the phrase 手下留情 (“restrain your hand”), as in showing mercy or sparing someone’s feelings by not meting out more punishment than is needed, often in the context of criticizing. On the sign they switched “hand” (手) for “mouth” (口), so it might mean something like, “Be merciful; please restrain your mouth”.

For our personal encounters with cats and dogs as food in China, including a downloadable translated menu from a local dog meat restaurant, see here:

This is a dog meat restaurant near our old apartment:

The last time we ate dog, at a Korean restaurant with one of our teachers and her Korean fiancé:

Honestly, it tasted better at the dump-of-a-restaurant two photos up, but it wasn’t great at either place. Not like some of the donkey I’ve had.

12 thoughts on ““Cats are friends, not food!””

  1. Yup, it is species-ist!

    But it is a step in the right direction. And it seems a fairly sensible step to me. Extreme animal-rights supporters are not going to convince China to go vegetarian, but at least this opens up the idea that maybe not all non-human animals are there for our consumption and use. Starting with the cute furry animals is a good political strategy.

    I hope it gets a few people thinking.

  2. So wait Joel, are you for or against the banning of dog meat in China? I would say dogs are far too intelligent a species to be killed for their meat.

  3. Shall I jump in and dominate the conversation? Yes, I shall!!

    I don’t think intelligence is the right criterion to use to decide if we should eat something or not. Put it this way, it would mean that we would be allowed to eat silly old Grandma once she got too senile.

    Alternatively, if we are talking about the average intelligence of a species as a whole, then, if some super-smart alien race came to Earth and started harvesting us for food, we would have to let them eat us.

    It seems to me a better approach is to ask if it can feel pain and suffer.

  4. Well, this certainly explains Chinese menus I have seen that offer beef…pork…chicken…fish…and “meat.”

    My own thought about meat eating is that we generally avoid eating predators (cats) and scavengers (rats and dogs, and in some cultures that would include pork and shrimp). But maybe the Chinese don’t make this distinction.

  5. @baroness radon: No, it doesn’t any Chinese menu you’ve seen. Meat that is not specified as to which animal it came from is almost certainly pork. Unless, of course, you’re in a Muslim restaurant, in which case it’s probably beef or lamb, or perhaps chicken.

    @Glenn: All living things can feel pain and suffer. That doesn’t change the fact that it is just as ethically acceptable to eat meat as it is to eat veges- provided, of course, you swing that way. You obviously don’t, and fair enough. I would argue that the only moral imperative is to inflict no more suffering than is absolutely unavoidable.

  6. @Chris

    I disagree that all living things can feel pain and suffer.

    I disagree that it is just as ethically acceptable to eat meat as it is to eat veges.

    I disagree that the *only* moral imperative is to inflict no more suffering than is absolutely unavoidable.

    But I do agree that it is a pretty good moral rule to follow.

    And, in most societies today, vegetarianism (or even, often, vegan-ism) follows from this rule (here in Guangzhou, for most inhabitants, it certainly does).

    (Of course, there is a lot more to say about all this, and a lot of detailed argumentation required — this is one of my academic interests. But here is probably not the best place for it.)

  7. I asked one my students about this today. He immediately said that all these ‘demonstrations’ are totally staged by the gov., which is trying to promote the idea. He said there’s no way that these are just regular people doing this sincerely, that they are definitely gov. workers because there’s no way the gov. would allow something like this unless they were the ones behind it. He said it was the same deal with the demonstrations outside the Japanese embassy a couple years ago — all faked to give the appearance of mass appeal and support.

    Now about our furry friends — this got my attention because of an inside joke with my family back home from the Shark Tale movie, where sharks go to Fish-eaters Anonymous meetings and have the slogan “Fish are friends, not food!” It also got my attention because our background is in Intercultural Studies, and non-vegetarians being grossed out by some kinds of meat (cat, dog) but not others (pig, crab, lobster), especially when they start trying to make moral arguments against certain kinds of meat, is a great example of cultural conditioning and how it affects not just our involuntary gag reflexes but also our ideas of right and wrong.

    If vegetarians say “eating dogs is wrong because eating meat is wrong”, I get it. But trying to argue that pigs and cows are fair game but kitties aren’t? Good luck. Besides we eat crabs and lobsters and prawns. Think about it: how nasty is that? They’re giant poop-sucking insects and we eat them straight out of the shells!

  8. @Joel

    Interesting. So, if your student is correct, why is the gov. promoting it?

    I’d like to think that the gov. is being very far-sighted. They are aware that meat production is extremely economically inefficient. That is, they are aware that, for the same land area, many times more non-meat food can be produced than meat food. And they are aware of the dangers of future famines in China (and the consequent political instability). And so they are starting the process of swaying Chinese people away from meat and towards non-meat alternatives.

    I’d like to think that, anyway!

  9. That would be amazing if that’s what was motivating them. I have no idea myself; I just thought that student’s immediate reaction was interesting.

  10. Some good points. When I think about aren’t pigs supposedly of very high intelligence and yet in the West we see no moral problems with eating them. In fact pigs apparently share much or own genes, which is why they were looking into using pig organs as donors for human patients. In fact I thought someone received a pig heart a few years ago? Pretty sure I read that…

    But all this aside, there must be hardly any meat on dogs?

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