Dog meat protests are apparently on the rise in Seoul as Koreans struggle to shake the mild reputation they have for turning household pets and endangered animals into soups that are supposed to give men harder erections. I’m willing to bet that most of the people at these protests still prefer to spend a night a week at the local samgyupsal joint, devouring food that Westerners approve of; during the Seoul Olympics the Korean government “closed all restaurants serving Gaejang-guk to better improve the country’s image to Western visitors” according to wikipedia, although naturally they opened up later, and can be found at a safe distance from major tourist destinations. The slow train between Busan and Gyeongju passes a restaurant (very close to Songjeong Beach) called, in Korean, “Old Time Dog Soup”.
I’m an imperfect vegetarian now, abstaining from meat as often as possible, mostly for environmental reasons, celebrating each of those rare days I manage to go without consuming animal products. I come from a family that eats meat for dinner almost every day of the week (they just finished some rather succulent pork chops), but when I moved to Korea I was moved away from my upbringing by observing acts of animal cruelty on a scale I couldn’t conceive of back in America.
I’ve seen the dogs stuffed into cages that are inspiring these protests with my own eyes, and I once even saw a small pig tied up outside a pork barbecue restaurant. It was awful. But I was pushed toward swearing off meat by two things: the hypocrisy of people who declare eating dogs to be barbaric while chowing down on hamburgers, and the realization (helped along by a friend) that even just cutting down on your meat consumption can have an effective impact on slowing down environmental destruction around the world. I can’t stop using cars or airplanes, I can’t stop buying things that were produced and transported with the help of fossil fuels, but I can stop eating meat. So I did.