Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers whether tourism industries are at risk in countries where dogs are eaten and whether a boycott of countries would be reasonable. Here are some of the comments:
Nguyen Le Quan, Ha Noi
I don't eat dogs and also find this very unusual. I can understand how terrified dog-lovers around the world feel knowing that their beloved pets are eaten in Viet Nam and elsewhere in Asia. But boycotting a country because of this is something I consider awkward and useless.
It certainly would not change the Vietnamese people's eating habits, which is rooted in centuries of history.
Let's imagine, would you stop painting your house with your favourite colour because your neighbours don't like it? Certainly not. Isn't the decision to eat something also a very personal choice? Isn't it a so-called human right?
So please, respect it whether you like it or not. You may feel it's ridiculous, but I think eating dogs or other strange things here is a cultural element worth understanding, if not exploring. If you choose not to explore this Vietnamese way, I am sure there's a lot more to see and enjoy here that would highlight the very dimensional world we live in. So don't miss it!
Delfyn Ferreira, French, Japan
Personally, I think everybody is free to go or not go to a country. If authorities of a country officially boycott a country, I'm not sure.
For me, eating dogs and cats is simply unthinkable. They eat horse here in Japan. I know some restaurants prepare fish alive, and I don't boycott Japan for all that. I just don't go to these restaurants, that's it. And, of course, I hope other people will do the same.
Muslims don't eat pork, Indians and Buddhists don't eat beef. Eating habits may be strongly linked to the way you see the animal and the relationship you have had with it since you were a child.
So no, I don't have a complete answer to this question, but officially boycotting a country may not be officially adopted as policy. Boycotting countries where human beings' fundamental rights are violated, should maybe come first...
Heiwa Ma, Thai, Japan
Around the world, dogs are generally not farm animals raised just to be eaten. If we stick to that kind of standard, dogs should not be consumed. But in Viet Nam, are dogs raised specifically to be eaten as food just like pigs? What per cent of Vietnamese people eat dogs as part of their daily meal?
If dog meat is something people there eat just like fish, pork or chicken, nothing can be done unless the authorities ban people from consuming dogs and encourage other types of meat so that popularity of eating dogs gradually disappears. I personally wish that it will be like that.
I don't think tourists will stop going to Viet Nam, China or South Korea because some people in these countries are dog eaters. Tourists will travel to these countries, anyway. People will still use products made from this countries, anyway.
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi
Considering how fat westerners are, and how much fast food garbage and snacks they eat and export... they are the last people in the world to be telling skinny Asians what to eat.
Dogs are great animal companions if they are well trained. But put them on the menu and you would think human babies were being eaten!
Humans shoot trophy animals for sport, stuff them for display and hang antlers on walls. That's uncivilised and cruel.
Dogs go to the toilet everywhere and wake me from a good sleep. Unless you are a cop or you are blind, you don't need a dog. If you're lonely, join a book club.
I say fire up the BBQ and stop eating mass-produced mystery meat hot dogs. It's time to eat the real thing, especially your neighbour's dog that ruins your sleep and your garden.
Jaycee Jayair, Filipino, Ha Noi
No! Tourism industries are not at risk just because these countries eat dog meat. There are a lot of factors that boost tourism; it's not singularly dependent on what they do and don't eat. The reason we visit other countries is to explore whatever culture, traditions and beliefs they might have and they should be treated with respect. If one's perspective or point of view is offended by a certain country's way of life, then just turn your back and never come back! These countries have a lot to offer and should be judged accordingly; look at the bright side…
Boss Charn, Thai
Dogs are like friends and family; they are loyal to humans. Some, however, still regard them as food. I expect people in a civilised world to be against this crazy tradition. I just feel it's not right. We have plenty of food. We're not supposed to eat pets. Just put morality first.
Hana Nguyen, Ha Noi
The amount of eaten dog meat reflects only a small group who often eat dog; not all Vietnamese, Chinese or Korean eat dogs.
Each country has its unique culture. In many countries, they also kill cattle in festivals. I think it is analogous to some Asian countries where they slaughter dogs.
Indians do not eat beef, yet eating beef is popular in the world. Should Indians boycott all the countries in the world?
I have seen many foreign visitors in Viet Nam eat dog; of course, they are curious. But, it also proves that they are not completely against eating dogs.
Today there are many kinds food to choose from, so many people have given up eating dogs.
With more cultural exchanges with the world, and more access to civilisation, many people have given up eating dogs. Now they also love animals more.
In my opinion, a boycott of dog-eating countries is not recommendable. We travel to other places to explore different cultures.
Michiharu Honda, Japanese, HCM City
I am a Japanese living in HCM City. When I read British Parliament member Steve McCabe's remarks about how Asian countries where dogs are eaten put their tourism sectors at risk, I recalled an experience I had while studying in the West.
As you perhaps know, my country has a long tradition of hunting and eating whales. It is part of our culture and we utilise every single piece of the whale, nothing wasted. However, nations like USA and in Europe severely criticise our hunting of whales, despite the fact that they have no qualms whatsoever about eating beef and other animals. In fact, they hunt animals like deer and fox purely for entertainment.
I wish to tell Parliamentarian Mr Steve McCabe that our hunting of whales is not the same as what members of the upper class in his own nation do when hunting foxes. What we do is not done for entertainment.
I wish to make clear that the practice of eating dog, as observed in Viet Nam, China and South Korea, is a phenomenon linked to their cultures and hence is entitled to some respect.
Comments such as. "the tourism industry is at risk," are ridiculous. They indicate a person who is incapable of appreciating differences among peoples and cultures.
Yet, tourism authorities in Viet Nam do need to make efforts to convince such obstinate Westerners to realise that the practice is intrinsic to their nation's lengthy history and culture.
I'm proud to affirm that I'm from Japan, where whale hunting is part of our nation's history and culture. I hope the people of Viet Nam do the same and proudly announce that eating dogs is linked to their culture. Some visitors hearing this may depart in disgust, but in time the nation will profit and people will return to beautiful Viet Nam. — VNS