This is a written in response to the article “Indonesians Taste for Economical Dog Meat Growing, Even Though Others Shun It” published in Today on March 26, 2017. Today chose not to publish our response.
Most people who have a pet dog can proudly call them part of family; the dogs recognise us and reciprocate the affection that we express towards them. For some people, dogs can provide much needed company and comfort in times of distress and loneliness.
It is therefore understandable that we condemn the dog meat trade, after hearing about the deplorable treatment that our beloved canines are being put through in some parts of the world.
However, many of us unknowingly subscribe to the same belief system that is responsible for the existence of the dog meat trade, by ignoring the plight of billions of other animals who are killed for human consumption every single year.
That belief system is carnism.
Carnism was defined in 2004 by social psychologist, Dr. Melanie Joy, as a belief system that conditions people to kill and eat certain animals, but not others. It is a flawed system that is deeply embedded within our cultures and prevents us from expressing our natural compassion without prejudice.
In the report, ease of access and supposed health benefits were given as reasons for some Indonesians to consume dog meat. Likewise, within our society, such reasons perpetuate the consumption of beef, pork, poultry and other animal products as a norm, even though strong scientific evidence indicates that plant-based alternatives, such as tofu, require less resources to produce and are healthier foods.
In addition, many of us remain unaware that cows can remember faces and recognise their own names when called, pigs love to run and jump, and some chickens even purr when being cuddled. How are they different from dogs or cats? Sadly, in our city, many of us do not have the opportunity to interact with these wonderful animals in a pleasant environment and draw similarities with our dear pets.
Singapore can contribute to improving animal welfare globally by endorsing, promoting, and accommodating a more humane lifestyle, and incorporate it as part of our national identity. As the Singapore Kindness Movement enters its second decade, it can be expanded to lead in this transition. It all begins by accepting that every animal is a thinking and feeling being who deserves our care and compassion.