Are you an animal lover? If so, then you are one of many people who have pets that they love, care for and protect. The thought of feasting on your beloved pet is unconceivable. Yet, in some countries, the animals which we keep as pets are seen as food and make it to the plates of partakers. Animals that we see as “pets” become part of their balanced and hearty meals. Here are some countries where what we consider to be pets are actually livestock.
Dogs are livestock in countries such as Switzerland, the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Nigeria. While it is illegal to buy and sell dog meat in Switzerland, it is not unlawful to kill and consume one’s own dogs. Dog meat is consumed by more than one third of the population of China. Some believe that dog meat is a health tonic. In Nigeria, marketers of dog meat say that it cures malaria and repels witchcraft, thus boosting sales. To honor the mythical warrior, Ogun, live dog sacrifices are made during a three day festival. The consumption of dog meat is still legal in several states in the United States and Canada.
Cats, our furry feline friends, are found on menus in countries such as Vietnam, China and Australia. The hunting, slaughtering and consumption of cats were illegal in Vietnam until January, 2020. Cat meat or “little tiger” as they are called, is a delicacy and is often paired with beer. Given that the demand for cat meat is high, cats are stolen from their homes. The owners of cats in Vietnam and China are disturbed by this practice. Over a million cats are killed and consumed every year in Vietnam. In China, the cat meat industry is flourishing. Feral cats which have a negative impact on wildlife in Australia are eaten.
Bush meat is the name given to monkey meat and is popular in West and Central Africa where it is consumed. In Congo, monkey meat is a delicacy which is often grilled, boiled or fried and served at special occasions. Monkeys are hunted and taken to the market where customers scramble to purchase the carcasses. In Kenya, monkey meat is called Lilaku. Some species have become extinct or are near extinction because of overhunting.
Many people are conflicted about whether rabbits should be livestock or just pets. Rabbits are well liked and in the United States, is the third most common mammal to be kept as a pet. In many countries, these furry animals are reared for consumption on a large scale. China produces tons of rabbit meat yearly. Rabbits are relatively easy to rear as they require little food and water and they are also easy to slaughter. Rabbit meat is marketed as a leaner and healthier option to chicken and beef.
Turtles were very popular in the United States especially after it was featured on the menu of Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration in 1865. Real turtle soup was served at special occasions, particularly those hosted by the elite, as it was quite expensive. In the 1860s, wealthy persons held “turtle frolics” which were turtle soup parties. Turtle soup became less popular in the 1960s. One of the challenges in the United States is that turtles are being harvested at an alarming rate, much faster than they are able to reproduce. In China, turtle soup is said to have several health benefits including improving circulation and kidney function and reducing menstrual cramps.
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