Ok, so I’m going to have to let you down / fill you with untold relief. This is not really a clichéd Buzzfeed listicle devoted to cooking canines. This is classic #clickbait. Chances are you clicked on the link out of a mixture of shock, disgust, and morbid curiosity. But why does the thought of eating dog disgust us so much, when many of us will happily devour a bacon roll? I have been pondering this recently, and it’s brought me to a realisation about my own attitude to meat.
It is oft repeated by faux-ashamed one-time-veggies that the smell of bacon was too much to resist – leading them into temptation (and out of vegetarianism). We bacon-eaters join in the frivolity – giggling at their weakness, and agreeing that salty fatty bacon is brilliant. Now picture the scene where a friend chuckles through her confession that she turned her back on veganism because of an incorrigible penchant for fried slices of labrador arse. It’s not the same, is it.
I listened to an interesting podcast episode from Gastropod recently, called ‘why these animals?’, and it reignited within me a long-run dilemma: why do we eat the animals we eat (and not the ones we don’t)? Importantly, my use of ‘we’ is telling here, and refers to pasty ginger Scottish men.
Carnivores and vegetarians justify eating certain meats and animal products according to relatively arbitrary moral logic and social norms. For example, horse meat sits comfortably alongside pork and beef in a French butcher’s window, but would have a British butcher run out of town (just cast your minds back to the Findus lasagne scandal of 2013)! Fancy a pig’s milk latte?
Taboo is culturally specific, highly subjective, and entirely contextual. Indeed, it often feels as though there is a healthy dose of xenophobia in the vitriolic criticism of the South Korean dog meat trade (for example). A lot has been written by vegan journalists about the hypocrisy of our disgust at eating dogs. The argument is often made that we should turn our gaze toward the cruelty and barbarity of our own meat industry – and turn our backs on it all.
This leaves me in a difficult position. I am not willing to cease eating meat, so I have to acknowledge my inconsistencies and contradictions. I love animals – and yet I also love their taste. I see animals as subordinate to humans – we carnivores must, or how could we continue to eat them in good conscience? I never have nightmares about the relationships and life experiences a pig might have had were it not for my desire for a pork chop. I’m not sure I could forget in a hurry that I had eaten a human steak – the moral and emotional turmoil of a very different magnitude.
I don’t really fancy poodle and noodles, or a sausage(dog) roll – but I wouldn’t be morally opposed to trying them. Similarly, a mouthful of insects – apparently the future of food – gives me the heebies, but I’d give deep fried crickets a go. Carnivores (and even veggies to a degree) deserve to be chastised and berated by vegans for our morally confused attitude to living creatures – and I continue to have respectful debates with friends. I’m not necessarily sure what the point of this post is, in the end, except to argue for greater acceptance and understanding of other cultural norms, and to point out what an inconsistent monster I am.