The Hypocrisy of Animal Rights

[in translation via ESWN]

Chickens were turned into meatballs for hotpot meals and the slaughter of the chickens took place right on the street not far away from the diners. This scene occurred at a newly opened restaurant “Fangji Chicken Meatball Restaurant” in Shenzhen. Yesterday afternoon, almost one hundred animal rights defenders gathered in front of the restaurant to protest. At one point, the angry chicken lovers entered the chicken meatball restaurant to demand the shop owner to free the chickens.

On June 15, this reporter went to the Fangji Chicken Meatball Restaurant on Lianhua Road in Buji district of Shenzhen. The shop is about 10 or so square meters in area. There were seven cages containing chickens of various colors on the sidewalk in front. The slaughter area was just one or two meters away from the cages. Two shop employees took a brown chicken, slit its throat and drained its blood. Then they picked up the dead chicken with a thong and threw it into a large iron pot of boiling water. Afterwards, they picked the chicken up and then the two shop employees used a sharp knife to skin the chicken. After washing the chicken, they cut off the head and tossed it into a garbage bag on the side. According to the shop owner, they are from the Jiaozhou-Shantou area where chicken meat is popular. The chicken soup for the hotpot costs 25 yuan while the chicken meatballs cost 60 yuan per kilogram. Each chicken will yield at most one kilogram, and therefore this is expensive stuff.

Yesterday afternoon at 4pm, the founder of the Shenzhen Chicken Net Isobel went with more than 10 chicken lovers in front of the shop. They held publicity placards and leaflets and they were waiting to meet other chicken lovers. Isobel explained the Chicken Net is an organization that is concerned about stray chickens. After this newspaper reported on the problem of chicken slaughtering and consumption in the street, the Chicken Net netizens were heartbroken and therefore decided to hold an action to protest the act of slaughtering chickens in the street.

At 430pm, the protestors unfolded a banner and raised their placards on which were written slogans such as “Love little animals, respect life.” They distributed the leaflet for “A Letter to Shenzhen Citizens” which said that “chickens and pigs are friends of human beings and refusing to eat chicken and pig meat is to respect life.” The action received the attention of many pedestrians and residents.

Before the action, the organizer Isobel told the reporter that they wanted to adopt a rational approach. But during the protest, some angry protestors went into the chicken meatball restaurant and demanded the shop owner to free the chickens. The shop owner said that there were no more chickens in the restaurant. The reporter observed that there was only one goose and several cats. The protestors found a skinned chicken and two bags of chicken meatballs in the refrigerator. At the sight, several female chicken lovers hugged each other and cried. When the protestors could not find any chickens in the restaurant, they attempted to go upstairs to look but found nothing.

Even though the chicken rescue mission failed, the protestors made speeches in front of the restaurant with a loudspeaker. Many elementary school children and their parents were attracted to the scene, and some students also protested against the slaughter of chickens.

Against the condemnations from the numerous chicken lovers, the chicken meatball restaurant owner took down the plastic “Fang Company Chicken Meatball” sign, locked up the shop and left.

At 6pm, after the chicken meatball restaurant owner has left, the protestors prepared to proceed to another restaurant in Shawan. Supposedly that restaurant advertises with a sign that says “Chicken Meat 120.” Isobel said that there are no animal protection laws and so their actions are awkward. They want to gain government attention to come up with legislation to prevent cruelty against animals.

Ms Shenzhen 2005 Gao Haiyun is the spokesperson for Chicken Net. Today, she brought along a banner that said: “Boycott harmful eating habits; refuse to eat chickens and pigs; be a civilized person.” According to information, this incident gained a lot of attention at the Guangdong One Net, so that many of their netizens came to join the Chicken Net chicken lovers to protest yesterday. Almost one hundred people were at the protest today.

In memory of all the slaughtered chickens, each protestor wore a white rose on the lapel.

This is a Southern Metropolis Daily article. Well, it’s a slightly modified Southern Metropolis Daliy article, as I’ve changed all references of ‘cat’ to our slightly more killable fine feathered friends. (oh yeah, and ‘dog’ was changed to ‘pig’ in that one spot… and chicken to cat… I love find/replace functions)

China gets a lot of flack for what the people are ok with eating. Equal parts tradition and extreme poverty have caused the residents of this lovely nation to develop eating habits that simply gross most us Westerners out. Intestines (and not just wrapping your favourite sausage); heart, liver, gizzard, stomach, kidneys (and not just in your favourite sausage); heads, feet, joints, and pretty much every other bit’o’beast is commonly consumed.

It’s no surprise that these habits would expand to include two animals that A) never saw it coming – with what seemed like a rock solid peace treaty, and B) involve no hunting – as a simple pat of the lap or whistle is the only tool you’ll need to capture them.

Now the argument as I understand it, is that these animals are ‘pets’ and therefore deserve some sort of ethical considerations that those we’ve decided aren’t quite so litterbox trained don’t. Personally, I don’t care much for what the reasons are… it’s bunk.

catslaughter.jpg chicken2.jpg
Sorry, what’s the difference?

Don’t get me wrong. I did the vegetarian thing; eight years peppered with religious veganism. I also did the animal rights thing with a couple years of co-running an environmental/AR group in school. There are principles here I agree with. Unfortunately the larger concepts of these lifestyles are generally quite lost to their mass of practitioners. Eating meat of certain animals and not eating meat of others because it’s not “civilized” is just as retarded as a Chinese typewriter I’m afraid.

A friend, upon my arriving in China, explained that I might want to prepare myself as there’s a lot of animal cruelty here, and what would I expect of a country that doesn’t have much in the way of hvman rights [sic] never mind animal rights. From zoos to restaurants, our earthly comrades are generally not living the plush standard of life that we would expect for them back in the West.

The argument is vacuous though. If an animal is slaughtered “humanely” do you think that it’s sitting there with the bolt gun against its head thinking “well, thank god it’s not a knife to the throat … that makes people feel icky.” No. One because it’s an animal that never had the resources (or opposable thumbs) to evolve passed its current station in life and very likely has no real concept of what’s happening other than the smell of death and fear in the air. And two because it’s just a stupid statement, and if it’s one thing humans have proven… (opposable thumbs or not) we can be a whole lot less intelligent than the creatures we share this planet with.

Can you imagine if a wolf, in a coy move to maneuver up the “civility” chain, decided that bunnies were too cute to eat, so it was only going to eat things like frogs, fish and the occassional badger.

So I think the retort here is thus: “we aren’t animals, we’re humans.” And if this is what was about to come from your lips… take a step back from your monitor, pick up your PC speaker and beat yourself with it. Humans are animals. We need to move past this. All the philosophy and religion in the world cannot change this fact. And just like every other animal, we have always and likely will always kill to live.

Now, I understand if you have a pet cat or a pet dog you might feel queasy about eating your best friend’s brethern. I personally have a hard time eating dog meat for this reason coupled with the fact that I was raised in a different culture that never desensitized me to such things. I also agree with the argument that dog meat, got in traditional fashion, shows a side of humanity that is sadistic and I don’t dig it. But slaughtering and eating one species in the same fashion as another but damning it as “uncivil” because of the type of animal… c’mon. There’s a reason that these ’causes’ get so many high profile supermodels to support these causes – intelligence is not required to protest.

Lets be clear. My argument here is not against those that don’t like to look at animals being slaughtered. It’s fine if you would like to remain ignorant and not know what goes into getting that pork chop to your table. I’m also not attacking you veggies that obstain from the flesh for what you feel are negative environmental impacts. Save the world. I’ll love ya for it. My problem is simply with the hypocrites that closed down this guy’s restaurant in Shenzhen because they didn’t agree with the type of meat he was selling.

25 Responses

  1. I have not eaten meat for more than a decade, yet I completely agree with your post. It is ethnocentrism that causes one to criticize the eating of dogs and cats as somehow different from eating any other animal.

  2. You know we live out in the sticks, and every morning we see some poor old goat getting it’s throat cut outside the local restaurant. It’s not a nice thought. However, only last week there was a horrendous documentary on BBC TV about factory farming in UK. It was enough to turn your stomach, not just the way the animals are killed, but their short and pathetic lives. It made me stop and think, at least the goats round these parts live a free and easy life, browsing in rubbish tips and hedgerows and nibbling the tops of succulent marijuana plants befire meeting their quick death.

  3. PS: Thinking back to the distant past when I was a kid, we often ate sheeps’ hearts, sheeps’ brains, brawn made from pigs’ heads, pigs’ feet, and the liver and kidneys of anything. Also my mother and grandfather used to love tripe and ‘chitterlings’ (Intestines), although I didn’t like these myself. When I tell younger people this they all go ‘Yeeeuuukkk!!!” These were in the times just after WW2, and food wasn’t so plentiful. I think the worse thing I did was eat my pet goose, although I didn’t realize until the next day when I couldn’t find him. No wonder I’m unbalanced. (They burned my Guy Fawkes too, his name was Peter and I loved him.)

  4. @CLB: Ethnocentrical pricks 😉

    @Phoebe: You disappoint. I was SURE you’d be all over this post shouting bloody murder. 😉 I know how you love cats (as do I) and generally like to put me in my place on here haha.

    When I was into animal rights more than I am now I was exposed to quite a bit of lit. and vid. from PETA and the likes … it’s disturbing stuff. The goat might have a better life out near your place, but rest assured there are rows of battery cages and factory farms here in China too. PS: Noticed some ganga on a path walking to the bus stop after work today… too funny.

    I think about what I eat now and what I was comfortable eating before I came to China… things have definitely changed. The Chuar! vBlog showed a bit, but it really is just commonplace to eat strange things here. Especially when you’re shacked up with a Chinese girl that keeps bringing the most random pieces of animals home for dinner.

  5. Hey Ryan, yes, I do love cats, all animals in fact. However, I don’t disagree for the sake of it, I’m the most unconfrontational (is that a word?) person you could meet.

  6. In my hometown, we like to eat kind of frog living in the forest. It is very few and expensive, only can be found in the winter. I remember last winter someone gave us one sack of frog, before cooking we just threw all of them into the pot with boiled water. at that time one of the frogs accidentally missed the boiling, jumped quickly to a dark corner and hided. Later at the dinner table, when we are tasting the delicious frog dish, we just heard the constant noisy voice of that missing frog right from the dark corner…..chill until now…hehe

  7. This was horrible. After reading the comments it seems your readers are already desensitized to to the pictures, but FYI…there are some of us who are not. This was just awful, and the pictures were foul…cat AND chicken. A little much for this early in the morning. I would have appreciated a warning. As a cat lover and proud parent to 4, it was really quite upsetting to see that picture so early in the morning.

    As for hypocrisy, I sort of see your point. I was a vegetarian for 5 years and definitley struggle with the killing of animals for our eating pleasure. However, as it relates to my fury friends, dogs and cats, why can’t we have truce? Is it so far fetched to simply draw a line and say that you won’t consume the relatives of animals you love? Hypocrisy? Perhaps. At least I can go home and pet my furry friends with burping up one of their distant relatives.

    And on an unrelated sidenote regarding the Google post…I still don’t totally agree with you about Google. Your response was interesting, although I didn’t fully agree. Still left me wondering how Google is bad and WalMart isn’t. As if Walmart hasn’t bent it’s standards to sell in China. They haven’t been so bold as to declare “do no evil” because they are evil.

  8. Just curious, what does the time of day have to do with anything? Personally, the choice to eat dog or cat is a cultural issue. We westerners generally don’t eat these animals because we’ve put them on a more equal level with ourselves, choosing them from the animal kingdom as companions for man. Therefore, it seems unseemly to us to eat them. I don’t really see this as hipocrasy. It’s just the way it is. The Chinese on the other hand see no such distinction. However, as China becomes more westernized, as the “old society” fades away, these ideas may change to coincide with the western way of thinking. However, if I saw a restaurant that was slaughtering chickens (or whatever) out in the street, I probably wouldn’t eat there either. Not out of principle and not because I thought it was “cruel”. Rather, I would think the sight of blood would extinguish my apetite pretty quick. I don’t know, blood doesn’t make me go, “Mmmm, yummy.” I thought selling dog meat was illegal now in China. I think it is in HK anyway.

  9. Oh, and just a brief comment about Wal-Mart. Not that I really know that much about it or anything, and I never shop at Wal-Mart. But, actually, I had heard that Wal-Mart had refused to alter its standards while doing business in China. For instance, I read in an article in Time (I believe) that Wal-Mart flat out refused to pay bribes or gifts to government officials in order to receive preferential treatment. I think this hurt them in the beginning, but they came out on top in the end. Anyway, don’t know what’s true or not really. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

  10. @Phoebs… I think it’s a word.

    @Kate: Eek.. a sack of boiled frogs. How big is your family? Do they really taste like chicken?

    @Thea (cats): Sorry Thea. I know the photo was a bit graphic. There’s no reason you can’t have a truce with any animals you wish. Though I suspect a truce with any large predators will only go one way. However, the hypocrisy comes when someone demands this way of thinking of someone else. In the above story cat lovers forced the closing of this shop on the grounds that it was “cruel” – but it’s no more cruel than any other “meat meal” place.

    @Thea (Walmart): Walmart here is the same as Walmart in Canada. A few productual differences, but otherwise bang on. So I’m not sure exactly how the comparison fits. Google itself has admitted that this business in China is too shady for their comfort. If I think it and Google thinks it… you still think that it’s alright for Google to compromise the integrity of its ‘free and open information to all’ mantra for the sake of a few bucks in the Chinese market? Walmart isn’t sensoring anything.

    @Stuart: Interesting about the not paying bribes thing. I’m leaning more towards the “not true” angle… as I can’t imagine anyone doing business in China (especially on such a large level) and not going through at least a bit of guanxi palm greasin’. But still… interesting.

  11. Haha,”sack” means a very big one,right? Then which word is fit for containing about 50 small frogs? It taste like fish“Mmmm, yummy.”
    As to the hypocrisy thing,certainly they are handling this matter in a very irrational and extreme way, I think it’s better to find a more positive way for the chicken lovers to alert people this kind of slaughter shouldn’t be encouraged.

  12. Sack fits… sorry… sack could really be any size, just in my mind it’s the size of a sack of potatoes (I have no idea why). Optionally you might use bag, as I think bag conjours a smaller image.

  13. …Very sleepy afternoon!….thanks a lot. Actually I want to use bag, but in my mind, bag is for the student using.(I have no idea why).
    By the way, I don’t understand this sentence:

    “As if Walmart hasn’t bent it’s standards to sell in China. They haven’t been so bold as to declare “do no evil” because they are evil”

    what’s his point? could you tell me ?

  14. @Kate: Much to the happiness of my step-brother, Thea is a girl ;-). Her point is to say that though Google has been bold enough to declare they “do no evil“, Walmart never would make such a claim, because Walmart is evil. In China Walmart represents the ability to buy reasonabily good quality (and slightly more expensive things) at a repuatable Western super-store and gives many Chinese a feeling that China is developing. In the West, Walmart is often labelled as “all that is wrong with capitalism” as they’ve destroyed the market for what we call “mom and pop shops” or small shops owned by a family or small company by providing the same (or slightly lesser quality goods) at a cheaper price. They can do this because they have more purchasing power (being a bigger company they can make better deals with suppliers). In the end the consumer wins, but the small businesses don’t.

    @Thea: sorry.. but if I said the name “wang fangfang” you wouldn’t know if it was a guy or a girl 😉

  15. Google ,Walmart all do not perform very well in china market,and the name wang fangfang is a girl, even lived in china beyond 10 years, you can’t grasp it ,IMO /

  16. Thanks a million ! But still a little confusion, what’s the common things between Google and Walmart?
    I think that the situation Google encountered in china is entirely different from that Walmart did. So it is no comparable between them.

  17. @RMB: Hey! Welcome to my site man. Saw my comment on TTC eh? And I damn well better know it’s a girl’s name.. it’s my girlfriend’s name. But yeah, I see your point… I’ve been here a year and a half and I still have no idea what names are boys names and what are girls.

    @Kate: There isn’t one. That’s the problem (IMnotsoHO) with Thea’s argument. They can’t be compared. Go back to my Damn Google, Buncha Commies post and you can see what was said about the topic.

  18. Ryan, thanks for clarifying my point on why WalMart is evil. Yes, they didn’t pay off any warlords to build in China, but their business practices are still scary. The jobs they bring are low wage, unskilled labor. I believe they are now the largest employer in the world. They have no unions (not that I’m necessarily pro-union in their current form) and in the US, offer virtually no benefits to their employees since the majority of their employees are considered part time, and therefore exempt from health, retirement, and vacation/sick time benefits. In the meantime, they are slowly eliminating small and medium size business. Their size allows them to demand their goods and services at extremley discounted rates so low that many small and medium businesses can’t afford to work with them. It’s much bigger then eliminating the “mom & pop” stores…it’s eliminating middle American businesses. I find it interesting that I’ve never seen you write about what it will do to the business landscape of China. When they were opening the first stores in China, I remember reading and watching about how we will begin to see a change in Chinese shopping culture and habits as a result of Wal-Marts. The desire for Western merchandise will lead people out of the markets and into their stores, and the shift will be slow, but great.

    I know lots of people shop there, but I don’t and tell everyone I know not to. My reasons are many, but on a strictly personal level it is this…I was raised in a comfortable life by entrepeneurs of a small business. As an adult, I have worked for large companies, but ultimately found my place with a small business. I feel it is only right to support fellow little guys. I avoid Starbucks, and buy my coffee for the coffee hut down the street. No Pizza Hut, instead a delicious pizza from the neighborhood restaurant who knows my name and just how I like it. You get the idea.

    Google…I agree the relationship is a shaky one. I’m not 100% sold that it was a good idea for them to bend their standards, but I also understand why they did, and don’t necessarily think it’s totally bad.

    And thanks for clarifying that I’m a girl 🙂 Not that it mattered.

  19. @Thea: Matters to Dan! 😉 The one big, huge, MONSTEROUS difference between why Walmart is good in China and bad in America is that in America you already had quality control. When I go to Walmart at least I can feel reasonably comfortable that what I’m buying is actually a bottle of purified water and not just a slightly used bottle that has been refiled with tap water. In markets here, unlike in the West, you have a chaotic scramble of goods for sale. They’re all cheap and all fake. There isn’t much that isn’t counterfeited in China. Walmart at least brings some security to this.

    If it wasn’t Walmart I was shopping at, it would just be their competition. France’s Carrefour, Germany’s Metro, Beijing’s Hualian … and I’m sure soon enough England’s Tesco. The business model is out. There’s no going back.

  20. Hey, I’m new here, and I probably wont be back, but I just wanted to voice my opinion…
    I agree with your post, that dogs and cats are no different then us Westerners eating cows/chickens/pigs…and that the only reason we are so repulsed by what they commonly eat in China is because of the relationship we ourselves have established with dogs and cats. I’m 16 and Ive been a vegetarian since I was 10, and frankly I will never eat another piece of meat, whatever kind of animal it is, ever again. Its just wrong. All of it. Like honestly, if you’d be repulsed by eating a dog or a cat, then why would you eat a cow or a pig? Honestly. It’s not hard to figure out! Love all animals. Feel for all of them equally.

  21. Thank god that restaurant was closed down. This would be my comment irrespective of whether it sold chickens, pigs, green aliens, snails, little chinese children boiled alive or cats and dogs boiled alive. To my mind there is absolutely no difference whose meat it is. In fact, eating animals to me is equally unacceptable to eating people. There is no humane method of killing an animal. So the protestors did well and let there be more of them.

    What many do not realise is that humans are not obligate carnivores. The real carnivores are not ablet to digest many foods except meat and yes they do not have opposable thumbs to kill their prey humanely. Has it occurred to the writer of this silly piece that by virtue of being humans with presumably, brains and opposable thumbs we have a duty of care towards all creatures on our planet and the obligation of stewardship towards the environment, not to mention a choice to do good to these creatures or to kill them. Hopefully we will choose to do good, that is why we have the power of choice and intelligence and oppposable thumbs, right?

  22. Actually, we have all those things because of Darwinian evolution via natural selection – we have all those abilities because it assisted our survival in some way.

    What a twistedly serene world you must live in to divide everything into “good” or “bad”.

    It’s interesting to me (in a self-centered sorta way) that no matter how deep I went into vegetarianism and veganism (again, was a veggie for 8 years), no matter how PETAized I was, I never could convince myself it wasn’t the natural order of things to kill and be killed for food.

    You make it seem like we should pity the poor carnivore who is just not mentally evolved or dietarily capable enough to not eat meat.

    You’re right that we have an obligation of stewardship towards the environment, but not – as I’m guessing you intend – because it needs us. Quite the contrary, we have an obligation to maintain its health because we need it.

    It’s self-important to the highest power to assume that the Earth needs us in any way to take care of it. It did quite fine without us for all but the blink of time we’ve been here – and should we ever fuck it up so deeply that we are not able to live on it, then it will do fine once again.

  23. please do not cook animals alive. that is cruel. I say one has to eat what one has to eat to live, instead of protesting eating of animals how about educating people in all areas of the world to treat animals humanly and kill them properly, show them how. I seen some videos of how animals are killed and that is what appauls me not the kind of animal being killed I mean didn’t in the old days they just pointed a gun to the head and shoot the brain? wasn’t that quick and painless? not ever having that done to me not sure. people in this country used to eat things in times past that we don’t today, like deer, maybe beaver, muskrat, birds etc? it was a matter of eating or going hungry.

    frankly I dont accept that we are just advanced monkeys/apes. we are distinct the fact that we have reasoning ability free will etc and ability to build on previous knowledge and convey complex knowledge to each other, build sky scrappers, make robots that go to mars that self regulate, the ability to change ourselves and ability to learn and alter our understanding based on those findings. but one has to honest for that to be beneficial. while monkeys are what still monkeys? have they changed in the past billion years? don’t they still just breed eat sleep and convey just a very limited vocalizations that pretty much mean the same as those vocalizations from a zillion years ago?

    if apes and monkeys are still here and suvive very well, why the need to evolve into something else? and why is the cro magnum man and neaderthal gone? why is he not here if his evolution was meant to increase survival yet the monkeys are doing just fine yet these intermediates are gone? anyway the sooner we recognize our godly qualities that animals dont have such as capacity for self sacrificing love, sense of justice, ability to build on knowledge and its application (called wisdom)and self awareness that trensends our limited phyical boundaries (ability to think about others we don’t even know and concern for them, awareness of the problems we have and ability to look for answers that sorta thing ability to ask questions and yes even worship something or someone). we have moral capacity animals have instincts.


    • A couple quick corrections Rosa,

      – It’s millions (not billions or zillions), and we didn’t evolve from apes and monkeys as we know them. We evolved from common ancestors. Chimps and humans share a common ancestor that (while probably more chimp-like than human-like) was different from both of us. Whatever the conditions were that gave favour to the random mutation that eventually lead to our intellect, simply haven’t repeated themselves in the chimp line.- In the old days animals were slaughtered with a rock, stick, knife or axe — guns would be a relatively new way to kill things (as history goes).- Animals have instincts, and we have instincts, and we are animals.- Our moral capacity is not a moral obligation. It is the side-effect of a set of tools grown into us over a long period of time. I’ll certainly not argue that we’re the same as all other animals, but the difference between us and chimps is much much smaller than chimps and… dogs? Dogs and frogs? Frogs and bees… etc. What we’ve accomplished with our differences is the evolutionary equivalent of saying “Look at how evolved fish are, they are fantastic swimmers. Much better swimmers than us. Maybe we’ll evolve into fish one day.”

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