OPINION: Closing a Dog Slaughterhouse Is Great News… Now What About ALL Slaughterhouses?

I have followed the issues surrounding the dog meat trade for years now. In fact, I remember being a green activist and continually posting about it on social media. The images and videos coming out of places where dog meat is considered a “delicacy made me shake in anger or sob for hours.
So when I say I’m happy that South Korea’s largest canine slaughterhouse complex is being dismantled and turned into a public park, I mean it. No animal deserves to go through the horrors in the slaughterhouse: mistreatment, electrocution, and butchering in sight of other caged dogs.
Housing at least six dog slaughterhouses that could hold several hundred animals at once, the Taepyeong-dong complex, south of Seoul, was a major source of dog meat for restaurants across the country. According to The Guardian, more than 1 million dogs are eaten each year in South Korea.
But I can’t help but think of the hypocrisy of many celebrating this news. If you’re happy about the closure of this slaughterhouse (and rightly so) but eat meat, it’s time for self-reflection.
I remember before I went vegan, years ago, I would cringe when scrolling through Facebook and seeing images of the dog meat trade in other countries. My anger would overflow. How could someone do that to an animal?
That’s when I realized that I was actually paying for similar, equally horrific things to happen to animals in my own country. The only difference was that I was paying people to kill chickens, cows, and pigs instead of dogs and cats. My culture was different, but I was still inflicting suffering.
So if you haven’t made the connection yet, I get it. I was there.
You see, the truth is that the animals we raise and kill for food are just as sensitive and intelligent as the dogs and cats we adore at home. Chickens purr like cats, recognize more than 100 human individuals, and use previous experiences to make future decisions. Cows form close friendships, like to sleep near their families, get excited when they solve problems, and love music. Pigs can play video games, have excellent object-location memory and a sophisticated sense of direction, and sing to their young when nursing.
Yet we subject farmed animals to some of the worst cruelty. Would we ever deem it legal to shackle a dog by her hind legs and slash open her throat? Would we allow a cat to be kept for his entire life in a cage so small that he couldn’t even turn around? Would we permit killing puppies and kittens by slamming them headfirst against concrete floors? Of course we wouldn’t. But these heinous acts are completely legal to inflict on cows, pigs, and chickens in the animal agriculture industry.
In South Korea, no law exists to protect dogs in the meat trade. Similarly, in the United States, no federal law exists to protect farmed animals during their lives at factory farms. And chickens, those intelligent beings who purr when petted, are not even included in the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, left with virtually no protection from abuse.
Nobody needs animal products to survive. In fact, humans thrive on a healthy plant-based diet. And not only do you spare animals immense suffering by going vegan; you also protect the environment.
The only difference between the animals you love and the animals you (currently) eat is your perception of them.
But it’s never too late to make a change. Join me and millions of others in switching to a humane vegan lifestyle.