Dispatch #70 – Why Do the Chinese Eat Everything ?

November 28, 2011
Dispatch #70 – When I was in Guangzhou, the former Canton and China’s ivory carving and trading capital, I learned that there is a special market for cats. You pick your cat and they kill it and butcher it on the spot for you to take home and eat, and another one that specializes in wild animal meat like snakes and rats. There is an expression that the South Chinese eat anything with wings except a plane and anything with legs except a chair. I asked Grace Gabriel, the head of the Beijing office of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) about this curious ominivorousness and she emailed,

“Tracing Chinese cultural history back a few thousand years, respect for nature and compassion for other beings are values that have been cherished in religious beliefs, as cultural heritage and guiding principles. The concept of ‘living in harmony with nature’ was reflected in art, literature and up until the beginning of the last century, China still had rich biodiversity in many regions. People lived sustainably with the long term view of leaving something for future generations. Unfortunately, the political turmoil of the last hundred years in China have decimated most of these beliefs. Wars, foreign invasions and occupations, civil conflicts and then Mao political movements stripped away basic trust between people, compassion and empathy and long term view. Today, there is no dominant religion in China. The society is ruled by one principal only: Make Money for Me. On the way to make riches for oneself, there is no concern for anything including other people and theenvironment, let alone animals. Unfortunately what was the depiction of one group of people ‘eating everything in sight’ [the South Chinese] is adopted by a lot more people now. And Chinese have the ability to travel all over the world now. Especially in countries where law and order are not wellestablished these Chinese feel that they can eat anything. With elephant ivory, there are some laws which may have deterrence effect. But to animals such as dogs and cats, there is no law in China that protect them. So, in addition to the demand reduction campaign to end wildlife trade, IFAW has been involved in research and draft of an anti-cruelty legislation in China, in the hopes that the law can cover companion animals as well.

As to eating giraffe’s bone marrow, it couldn’t be traditional medicine as there are no giraffes in China! There is a saying about eating whatever part of the animal helps the same body part on a person. This saying quite often is taken very literally, I am afraid… Big sigh..

Read on if you can (warning to PETA and vegan fans 🙂 http://blog.dispatchesfromthevanishingworld.com/?page_id=1756

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