BEIJING: In many parts of the world, dogs are known as man’s best friend, and as Beijing opens its doors to tens of thousands of visitors for the Olympics, some restaurants are making sure that dog meat is not on the menu.
In early July, Beijing’s food safety administration announced a ban on the sale of dog meat at 112 officially-designated Olympic restaurants, during the Olympic period.
The measure was just one of many taken by China to present a welcoming face to the world during the 2008 Olympic Games.
Other restaurants not on the Olympic list are being “encouraged not to serve the meat”, according to China’s government-run official media.
However, dog meat is still available in some Beijing restaurants. In China, like South Korea and other Asian countries, dog meat is considered tasty and good for health.
At one Beijing restaurant specialising in dog meat dishes, staff members welcomed customers and handed out the menus, which were packed with colourful images of different dog meat dishes.
However, they refused to appear on camera, and refused to allow any filming in the restaurant that would identify it. They were concerned that being seen to continue serving dog meat at the time of the Beijing Olympics would bring trouble for their restaurant.
Another Beijing restaurant which normally specialises in dog meat, however, has taken the opposite approach and decided to suspend the sale of dog meat for the duration of the Olympics.
A food and beverage manager at the Guizhou province restaurant said: “The Olympic Games is not just something for Chinese people, but also a big deal for people all over the world.
“Since people around the world see dogs as a human’s friend, I think the ban of dog meat is, firstly, to respect the habit of other countries and nations.”
Dog meat is not widely eaten across China, but Guizhou province is one area where it is particularly popular.
Western tourists in Beijing shared the opinion that eating dog meat is not for them, but differed over whether it was right to ban it for locals during an international event like the Olympic Games.
One South African tourist in Beijing said that eating dog meat is “repugnant”, and should be banned, especially during the games.
But one young American visitor, Cara Casey, said: “I understand that China is trying to please everyone, and doesn’t want to upset anyone before the Olympic Games. But I think that if it’s part of your customs and your culture, they shouldn’t ban it altogether.”
Keeping dogs as pets is part of Chinese culture too, and it is common to see people of all ages lovingly looking after their pet dogs all over the country.
One dog-owner said although he would never eat dog meat, he thought that the partial dog meat ban in Beijing was an unnecessary overreaction by local authorities.
For Chinese dog-lovers, they will never eat the animals, as after all, their pet dog is “man’s best friend” too. – CNA/yt
Channel News Asia