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Eating Dog Meat in China
Dog meat (Chinese: 狗肉; pinyin: gǒu ròu) has been a source of food in some areas of China from around 500 BC, and possibly even earlier. Mencius, the philosopher, talked about dog meat as being an edible, dietary meat. Ancient writings from the Zhou Dynasty referred to the "three beasts" (which were bred for food), comprising pig, goat, and dog. Dog meat is sometimes euphemistically called "fragrant meat" (香肉 xiāng ròu) or "mutton of the earth" (地羊 dì yáng) in Mandarin Chinese and "3-6 fragrant meat" (Chinese: 三六香肉; Cantonese Yale: sàam luhk hèung yuhk) in Cantonese (3 plus 6 is 9 and the words "nine" and "dog" are homophones, both pronounced gáu in Cantonese. In Mandarin, "nine" and "dog" are pronounced differently).
The eating of dog meat in China dates back thousands of years and it remains socially acceptable. It is thought to have medicinal properties, and is especially popular in winter months, as it is believed to generate heat and promote bodily warmth. The meat is popular in Guangdong and Guangxi from whence it went on the menu for Chinese astronauts to consume in outer space. When food is scarce, dogs are eaten as an emergency food source.
Some controversy has emerged about the treatment of dogs in China, not because of the consumption itself, but because of other factors like cruelty involved with the killing, including allegations the animals are sometimes skinned while still alive.
A growing movement against consumption of cat and dog meat has gained attention from people in mainland China. Those changes began about two years after the formation of the Chinese Companion Animal Protection Network (CCAPN), a networking project of the Chinese Animal Protection Network. Expanded to more than 40 member societies, CCAPN in January 2006 began organizing well-publicized protests against dog and cat eating, starting in Guangzhou, and following up in more than ten other cities "with very optimal response from public." Before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chinese officials in Beijing ordered dog meat to be taken off of the menu at its 112 official Olympic restaurants in order to not offend visitors from various nations who would be appalled by the offering of dog meat at Beijing eateries.
Since January 2007, more than ten Chinese groups have joined an online signing event against the consumption of cat and dog meat. The signatures indicate the participants will avoid eating cat and dog meat in the future. This online signing event received more than 42,000 signatures from public, and has been circulated around the country.
Some Chinese restaurants in the United States serve "imitation dog meat", which is usually pulled pork, and purportedly flavored like dog meat, e.g. "Northern Chinese Restaurant", in Rosemead, California. These restaurants do not serve genuine dog meat.
In China, draft legislation has been proposed at the start of 2010, which aims to prohibit the consumption of dog meat. The legislation, however, is not expected to be effective, despite officially outlawing the eating of dog meat if it is passed. On 26 January 2010, the first draft proposal of the legislation was introduced, with the main reason for the law reportedly to protect the country's animals from maltreatment, and includes a measure to jail people who eat dog for up to 15 days. However food festivals continue to promote the meat. For example the 4th annual Yulin, Shaanxi food fair that took place on May 29, 2011 spanning 10 days consumed 15,000 dogs.
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