Every Pedigree ad on TV, every Instagram influencer posting minute-by-minute updates of their tail-wagging buddy’s day, even movies like Hachiko all confirm one saying: Dogs are a man’s best friend. Their favorite chew toys, their preferred times for a walk (even if it’s at the crack of dawn), even their tick infections mean as much to us as our own preferences and problems. Keeping their value as a companion, a protector, even as an honourary family member in mind, how would you feel if you were served grilled dog meat for the main course at dinner?
Lest you close this window in disgust, you should know why you’re being asked to consider this (illegal) proposal:
Very recently, the government of Nagaland announced a ban on the trading of dog meat, both raw and cooked. Hailed by dog-lovers as a landmark change in the attitude towards their beloved Fido, some would (hesitantly) point out that this change came about entirely because of the pressure from the majority who staunchly believe that dogs are meant to be our friends, not our food.
But on what basis do we distinguish between diet and dost, keeping in mind that not all food is made out of the sheer necessity to satiate hunger, but for olfactory and gustatory pleasure as well?
The fact that many rejoiced at the announcement of the ban, in which the people of Nagaland were effectively asked to give up the same dishes that they have been consuming for generations all together and thus abandon a very old, integral part of their culture, does evoke the notion that perhaps pressure from another society or culture may have demoralized and shamed them into giving up parts of their heritage.
Not much good ever comes out of situations in which a minority is forced to live or act in a way that is deemed to be the ‘right way’ by the majority simply because of the emotions so closely attached to their unique way of life. Banning the consumption of dog meat is no different. To spew vitriol against people who eat dogs, to condemn them as ‘barbarians’ and ‘savages’ who’ve just stopped short of cannibalism while we wolf down chicken, pork, or mutton is anything but logical.
The fact that the meat industry, especially in India, treats animals with a chilling callousness and cruelty to the extent that most meat-eaters would prefer not to play the Whatsapp forward video on how chickens are reared and butchered is nothing new; it sours the taste of KFC chicken wings in our mouths. As individuals that (as much as we hate to admit it) actively contribute to the systemic cruelty towards animals do we have the right to categorize certain animals as ‘food’ and others as ‘pets and companions’? How do we not choke on our hypocrisy every time we celebrate the ban on dog meat but continue to voice our disapproval on the ban on beef, claiming it’s ‘the death of secularism’?
Society has long established the belief that dogs are at worst a neighborhood menace and at best our family, and therefore anyone that believes otherwise is, without an inch of a doubt, a complete beast best confined to a jungle. How would you feel if entire nations looked at you in horror as you dined on the same food your grandmother’s been making since as long as you can remember? Should they accept your indigenous cuisine, or should they pressure your government to trim your culture down to their comprehension?
Written by Sadashiv Mitra for MTTN
Edited by Mihika Antonia Dean for MTTN
Featured Image by Hritik Jain for MTTN
Artwork by www.espritvagabond.fr