Dog meat is the flesh or other edible parts derived from dogs. The human consumption of dog meat has been prevalent in many parts of the world. Today, consuming dog meat is frowned upon in Western cultures. However, food made with dog meat is still consumed due to traditional, cultural, ritualistic, or religious purposes in several countries around the world.
Dog meat can be considered a staple food in some countries, just as beef and chicken are in Western cultures. Some countries consider it shameful to raise cattle for food instead of treating them as pets as Western cultures do with dogs. Travelers from the West should be wary when trying traditional dishes in these countries and research what type of meat is used.
China is the biggest consumer of dog meat globally, consuming about 20 million dogs per year. Dog meat has a long tradition in China and is still eaten in many regions of the country, such as Yulin, which holds a dog meat festival every year. The Lychee and Dog Meat Festival is widely protested; however, it draws a huge crowd every year, driving up the demand and prices for dog meat.
The most well-known country for eating dogs is Vietnam, where dog is a dietary staple. The Vietnamese use almost every part of the dog in stews and soups and serve it spiced on a stick. Many believe that dog meat has medicinal properties and brings good fortune. Unfortunately, Vietnam has no regulations regarding dogs and dog meat, and so many dogs are stolen from homes to be slaughtered and used as food. Vietnam is the second-largest consumer of dog meat behind China.
In Africa, the consumption of dog meat is common for ritual and cultural purposes in several countries. Burkina Faso sees dog meat as a cultural luxury and a delicacy – not served at restaurants but is seen as a special meal to look forward to among families. The history of dog meat in Burkina Faso centers around family, friendship, and bonding. Dog meat is a delicacy in Ghana and is often used as a courtship between the Frafra and Dagaaba tribes.
Consuming dog meat is generally taboo in Europe; however, as of 2014, around 3% of people in Switzerland eat dog meat in the form of jerky or traditional sausages. Additionally, the Polish believe that dog fat has medicinal properties such as relieving joint pain and body aches.
Eating dog is also taboo in the United States and very much so frowned upon. The United States, however, doesn’t have any laws banning the consumption of dogs and cats. Only a few states do. The sale and consumption of dogs and cats are still legal in Pennsylvania. The Kickapoo Native American tribe residing in modern-day Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas have several traditional recipes involving dog meat, including one served during festivals that worship their chief deity.
Dog meat historically and currently has a significant role in many cultures. In many parts of the world where dog meat is not taboo, safety and humane concerns are widespread, and unfortunately, rarely taken seriously.