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I’d be a bit uncomfortable eating horse, only because I work with them during the summer.. but I do think they have feelings.
Very true, every country holds certain animals in a different respect than the later. It is interesting that, that restaurant did allow dogs inside, today in most cities nearly all dinning establishments do not allow any type of animals inside other than the occasional “seeing eye” dog. It is quite an eye opener, I agree that coming from a country that holds dogs and horses in the “highest” respects, and going to a country like Russia (or Japan) were they are considered a delicatessen.
Discerner said on March 24th, 2005 at 5:24 pm :
“forgoing the sentiments of the animal and imposing instead oneâ€™s own decision on what might be best for the animal” Anybody who’s ever seen smooshed skunks, coons, possums, dogs, cats and rabbits on the roads and expressways will realize that animals (whom I prefer to humans any day, btw) do not have enough understanding to avoid the perils of human contraptions.
Ultimately, the whole question goes back to whether or not animals and humans are “equal” to each other.
profoundly disturbed said on March 26th, 2005 at 11:52 am :
this is a real big issue… the whole animal thing. in ww2 the italians went around my grans neighbourhood confiscating the peoples cats and eating them. my grans mom hid theirs and after the war they were the only house in the area with a cat. sad. also ………..U ATE A HORSE! i really feel a strong feeling of dislike towards you right now rio….. seriously. ive worked with horses as far as i can remember. i ride them every week and i clean them and take care of them. its really obvious to me that they each have a personality of their own and each needs to be approached in a different way. this is coming from a person who has worked with horses in 4 countries on 2 continents and has been a member of over 9 clubs. i really could never ever accept to eat one of these amazing creatures. but then again……….when my mom lived in tunisia she was fed a puppy without her knowledge. after the meal she asked what the strange meat was. when they told her, she passed out. it was the same puppy she had been playing with in the garden the week before.
Profoundly disturbed, I understand your viewpoint, but it also sadly illustrates what I’m trying to say here. That’s because saying that “I despise those who eat horses and dogs because they are my friend” is like saying cows, fishes, chickens, and ducks aren’t my friends either. Are all farmers who think like you vegetarians? The very fact that your mother ate a dog and then fainted upon learning it was such afterwards is sad, and I empathise with her shock. However, notice that it was also a psychological thing- had those around her told her it was cow instead, she wouldn’t have fainted. Nevertheless, told or not, the fact of the matter is that she had eaten a dog without so much as vomiting.
I always like comparing different societies and trying to derive explanations for their differences. New Zealander Badaunt, a English teacher now in Japan, talked about the differences between the US and Japan in how their saws are shaped in such a way that in Japan saws cut on the pull rather on the push.
In Japanese class we talked and read about some other notable and interesting differences:
1) Dogs: In Japan dogs are extremely unruly, bark all the time, and are generally considered a nuisance by foreigners and residents alike (i.e. no dogs in restaurants). This is compared to the English (perhaps a stereotype?) environment where dogs are tame, less wild, and more pleasant to be around. (A nearby chic brasserie allowed dogs to come in when I was there). It seems that the weather has a bit to do with this, in that the heat and humidity in Japan meant dog-owners did not feel compelled to keep their dogs at home; rather, they kept them loose in the backyard, unlike in England, where the prevalent colder weather would force dog owners to keep them inside. Wild and unruly dogs indoors would wreak utter chaos in a home, and thus strict supervision would be necessary.
Moreover, it seems “putting dogs to sleep” in England (or in Europe, for that matter) is an accepted solution for getting rid of stray and unwanted dogs, and that it would be cruel or even inhumane to leave dogs to fend for themselves in the wilderness only to be driven over by cars or to die of starvation. In Japan, dog owners would much rather let the dogs go free, in the hopes that the dog would at least have some possibility, however remote, of surviving. Perhaps this difference is reflected in the language of similar organisations: in Japan, the equivalent of the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty against Animals” is the “JSPCA Doubutsu Aigo Kyoukai” or, literally translated, “Japan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals Animal Lover’s Association.” Interesting, no?
2) Horses: It is well-known that horses are important to English society, with frequent sightings of horses (in the past, pulling carriages) and in the ubiquitous horse-racing. Yet you would be hard-pressed to find horse meat (even in the US) at the butchers. (They’re a delicacy, believe me, I’ve eaten them). In Japan, even when horses are seen and used in everyday society, “Baniku” is not hard to find, and you wouldn’t get a piercing stare should you ask for three pounds of it at the nearest butcher.
Why the difference? The author suggests the prevailing sentiment in England that horses are man’s friend and eating them would be akin to cannibalism and unparalleled cruelty.
They say you can’t know about a foreign culture until you go there, but there are also cases where the “hidden culture” cannot be observed even by those who have lived in a certain country for relatively long. Perhaps it takes that desire to actually observe such phenomenona to actually “see” it?
It’s interesting to note how “cruelty” is seen in a different light by East and West. (Obviously this is a generalisation; not all Westerners think like their peers).
Cruelty as defined by the Japanese would involve forgoing the sentiments of the animal and imposing instead one’s own decision on what might be best for the animal. In the West, however, that same “priviledge” of assuming that animals have sentiments or decision-making abilities is considered foolish or even useless, and that mankind would obviously have the capability to decide what would be best for an animal. Moreover, letting go of unwanted dogs is seen as an irresponsible and reckless act.
There may also be a religious explanation to this: predominantly Anglican and Roman Catholic England did not see the necessity to attribute feelings to animals (although this site claims otherwise); on the other hand, Japan, with a history of diverse religions including those that had shamanist ideals integrated, would see not reason not to give such abilities to animals. (Read the famous story of Hachiko, the most famous and loyal dog, who has a statue erected in his form in Tokyo).
For further reading, consult Edmund Leach’s “Animal Categories and Verbal Abuse” in the book “New Directions in the Study of Language” ed. by E. Lenneberg and Suzuki Takao’s “A Semantic Analysis of Present-day Japanese Characters” published by Keio University.