Yulin dog eating carnival outrage: The politics of food

There has been a major outcry for banning the Yulin Festival, a dog-and-cat meat eating carnival held annually on the occasion of the summer solstice on June 21st in the city of Yulin in China. Many gruesome images of dogs and cats jam packed in cages, being cooked in stewing pots and hung in slaughter houses have been circulated on social media to rouse public opinion against the ‘ghastly’ tradition.
Whilst the ban may or may not actually take place (China had earlier banned a dog eating festival in 2011), and the uproar has raised legitimate concerns about animal torture and human health risks (such as rabies), it may be helpful to look at the issue as placed within some larger debates- animal rights vs. humans rights, perceptions of barbarism in oriental cultures through ethnocentric norms and relevance of (‘outdated’) culture in today’s modern times- which constitute the politics of food.
Different cultures have varying conceptions of what can and cannot be eaten. In India the pervasive caste system bans consumption of meat for the upper castes, but Dalit communities have long eaten meat, even beef, as a source of protein.

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