The cruelty being inflicted on dogs and cats at the Dog Meat Festival in Yulin, China, is sickening and morally indefensible. But those of us who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
The animals we consider food in Canada are crowded into filthy factory farm warehouses, transported long distances without food and water, and gruesomely killed.
Chickens are bred to grow so enormous so quickly that their bones and hearts give out; their very existence is like something out of a horror film. Pigs, who share many endearing qualities with dogs, are confined in crates so snug that they can't even move-not just for a few days, but year after miserable year before they are finally killed.
Many tens of thousands of chickens and pigs are scalded to death each year in Canada when they are improperly slaughtered, and too many cows are skinned alive on fast-moving slaughter lines. Sound familiar? It should: these are the very practices for which many of us are currently condemning China.
Some Western spectators accuse those in Yulin of torturing animals because of a belief that this makes the meat taste better. Accuracy of the claim aside, this is precisely what foie gras is: ducks and geese are intentionally inflicted with severe and painful liver disease to create a luxury food product. The process is so inherently inhumane that it has been banned in countries from Australia to India to the United Kingdom.
Yet, far from banding together to condemn the practice, Canadians zealously defend our "right" to consume foie gras.
Some have expressed disgust that the jubilant spirit of the Yulin festival is disturbingly at odds with the somber and sad massacre. We ask, how can they celebrate this death?
We ask this while flocking to ribfests and baconpalooza festivals all over the country to celebrate over the bodies of different species of tortured animals. These events are so popular that this very weekend Ottawa is hosting the first of the two ribfests it will hold this summer. You can read about it on the government website of our country's capital.
In Canada we consider dogs and cats friends, while pigs, cows, and chickens are food. But there is no reason for this other than culture. In other parts of the world, cows and pigs are not considered food. And in some parts of the world, like Yulin, there is no cultural taboo against eating cats and dogs.
We are right to be horrified by the cruelty being needlessly inflicted on 10,000 animals in Yulin this week. But we should be equally outraged and moved to act in response to the cruelty endured, from life to death, by hundreds of millions of animals each and every year in Canada.
We can see the barbarians in their glass houses, and they are us, too.