Eating Man’s Best Friend

John D. Sutter doesn’t understand why we don’t eat dogs:

The United States euthanizes 1.2 million dogs per year, according to the ASPCA. Would 6741960599_a1e9c58d64_zeating them be so different? It actually could be seen as helpful.

“[U]nlike all farmed meat, which requires the creation and maintenance of animals, dogs are practically begging to be eaten,” Jonathan Safran Foer, a vegetarian and novelist, writes in the book “Eating Animals.” Euthanizing pets, he says, “amounts to millions of pounds of meat now being thrown away every year. The simple disposal of these euthanized dogs is an enormous ecological and economic problem. It would be demented to yank pets from homes. But eating those strays, those runaways, those not-quite-cute-enough-to-take and not-quite-well-behaved-enough-to-keep dogs would be killing a flock of birds with one stone and eating it, too.”

 objects to this line of reasoning:

[T]he reason we shouldn’t eat dogs is related to the same reason it is more heinous and hateful to burn a synagogue than a community center, or that it is more of a violation to burn down a man’s home than the two rental properties he owns of an equivalent dollar value. The spaces, objects, and even animals we sanctify with our respect, friendship, and time really do enter into different moral categories. It is not inherently evil to smash a picture, but it is a gesture of hatred to tear a beloved family photo.

Societies like Korea, where dogs have been eaten and kept as pets, even come up with different categories of dogs to separate the ones that are sanctified by human friendship, and those that are not and therefore can be eaten. As Americans, with our own history and sense of ethics, we would probably never develop this distinction, and that’s okay. We’re fine with diversity when it comes to other cultural manifestations, like manners, another dimension of human behavior with moral implications. It is a human wrong to be inhospitable, but hospitality may have completely different expressions and taboos from one culture to the next. So, too, with our taboos on eating and animals.

The Dish has covered this subject repeatedly over the years. Update from a reader:

Before moving to eating dogs, why can’t we at least start with eating the pigeons? City pigeons are extremely well fed, many are gourmet fed and plump as hell. They should taste great. And it’s gotta taste like chicken, right?

Maybe from a pigeon farm. But you really want to taste a pigeon that feeds on New York Shitty trash?

(Photo by Nina Matthews)