Report on the 2017 Yulin Dog Meat Consumption Survey
Beijing Capital Animal Welfare AssociationDalian Vshine Animal Protection AssociationJune 12, 2017
From May 19 to 28, 2017, the Capital Animal Welfare Association (CAWA) and Vshine Animal Protection Association (Vshine), assisted by the Yulin city government, conducted a dog meat consumption in urban and rural Yulin. The results of the survey have been submitted to responsible national government agencies, Guangxi provincial authorities and the Yulin city government. Today, we release the findings of the survey for the public to understand the general situation of dog meat consumption in Yulin, particularly the commonalities and special features of local consumption.
Dog meat consumption has become increasingly controversial on the ever changing mainland China. The future of the dog meat industry is an issue that troubles the Chinese public and the Chinese government. For a longtime, the dog meat industry and its supporters have claimed that dog meat eating is traditional; it is part of the Chinese food culture; and the dog meat industry is legal and that it contributes to economic development and livelihood. If these claims could hold water, the natural conclusion would be that dog meat consumption is a mainstream dietary practice. The frequency of dog meat consumption should then be similar to the consumption of pork, chicken, duck, fish, beef and eggs. The dog meat industry should employ tens of millions of workers just like the livestock industry. These claims were rejected by the results of a nationwide dog meat consumption survey conducted by CAWA in 2016 through the Horizon Public Opinion Company. Nationwide, 69% of the mainland Chinese had never eaten dog meat. Those who ate dog eat were chance eaters. A considerable number of them ate it by accident when they dined at social events. Can dog meat consumption in Yulin be different from that across the country? Is dog meat similar in frequency of consumption as pork, beef, chicken and fish in Yulin? Is dog meat a daily food choice for the majority of Yulin residents as the local dog meat traders have tried to have us believe? Shouldn’t the frequency of dog meat consumption in Yulin reflect the size of the dog meat industry in local economy and its importance to the local residents?
Survey Design and Methodology
The survey was restricted to the urban and rural areas of Yulin (8 rural communities were picked). The team set 800 as the total sample size with half from the urban areas and half from the countryside. As it turned out, 703 valid questionnaires were received. A team of 11 researchers adopted interception method at marketplaces, rural markets, shopping centers, public parks, commercial centers and rural communities. The actual respondents were composed of 53.2% of males, 46.8% females; four age groups between 18-34 and 65-75; urban 56.61% and rural 43.39%; Han Chinese 89%, Zhuang minority 9.1%; different levels of education and income; and dog owning status.
1. Pervasiveness of Consumption: In absolute terms, those who have eaten dog meat account for 87% of the respondents. This figure may suggest that in Yulin one is more likely to be a dog meat consumer. Like the rest of the country, Yulin residents are likely or more likely to become a chance eater or to eat dog meat by accidents as the consumption frequency shows.
2. Consumption frequency: Those who have never eaten dog meat account for 12.66%. Those who consume 5 to 6 times a year represent 34.99%. Those who consume 3 to 4 times a month make up 16.36%. Those who consume at least once a week, the die-hard eaters, account for 11.81%. And those who rarely eat dog meat is 24.18%. A significant number of the rare eaters and those who eat 5 to 6 times a year are chance eaters who eat it by accident.
3. Age and gender difference: Dog meat consumption happens most often among the elders (66 to 75 years of age, 94.12%) and the middle-age group (35-45 years olds, 93.78%). More males (92.51%) consume dog meat than females (81.46%). Compared with the study on nation-wide dog meat consumption, Yulin females (81.46%) have more eating dog meat. Nationally, it was only 26%. Yulin’s high female dog meat consumption could be caused by the consumption location factor of Yulin’s dog meat consumption.
4. Location of Consumption: Traditionally, dog meat was rejected as a distasteful meat. It was not to be cooked in the kitchen of private homes. In Yanji, 75% of the dog meat eaters consumed it in restaurants or outside home according to a survey conducted in November-December 2015. In Yulin, 46.18% of the surveyed said that they consumed dog meat at home as opposed to 41.05% in restaurants. Consumption at home is more likely to involve all the family members, including females, in dog meat consumption.
5. Residence, education, income, ethnicity and pet ownership: The popular perception is that rural residents are more traditional, i.e., more likely to consume dog meat; that those who are lower in education are more likely to eat dog meat; that dog meat consumption is a Zhuang minority dietary tradition; and that dog owners are less likely to eat dog meat. The survey results contradict these popular beliefs. More urban (90%) respondents eat dog meat as opposed to their rural counterparts (83%). There are more less-educated dog meat eaters (90.59%). Yet, middle-educated (87.54%) are also a big eating group. More Han Chinese eat dog meat (87.54%) than the Zhuang minority (82.81%). And there is no difference between dog owners and non-owners in dog meat consumption.
Explaining the Results
1. Dog meat consumption is more pervasive in Yulin (87%). In contrast, the national percentage was 30% and the provincial (Guangxi) percentage was 56%. One explanation is that Yulin residents are more likely to be chance eaters. They are more likely to consume the meat by accident in social events and dinner parties. The pervasiveness of dog meat consumption in Yulin can be result of the aggressive promotion of the dog meat industry since 2009 and 2010 since the “Yulin DogMeat Festival” was launched. The “festival” could have created or reinforced a dog meat eating sub-culture. And the existence of this subculture could have neutralized the constraining impact of education, gender, pet ownership status on dog meat consumption. The higher consumption in urban Yulin may be attributable to the fact that urban markets and urban consumers are the target market and target consumers of the dog meat industry. After all, urban residents have a higher income level, the main target of all kinds of businesses. Two preliminary conclusions can be made: 1. The pervasiveness of dog meat consumption in Yulin urban areas is result of commercial promotion. 2. Despite its pervasiveness in Yulin, dog meat consumption has not entered the households of the general public. It has not taken roots in the rural areas. Dog meat consumption is in no way comparable to the consumption of pork, beef, chicken, fish or eggs.
2. If we use the die-hard dog meat eaters (28.17% of all the respondents) as the basis of analysis, the rest of the respondents are chance eaters or occasionally voluntary eaters. Those who consume dog meat 5 or 6 times in Yulin account for 35%. What should be pointed out is that this group (consuming 5 or 6 times a year) cannot just eat pork, fish or eggs 5 or 6 times a year.
3. From the frequency results of the survey, we can see that dog meat does not constitute a noticeable share in the total meat consumption of the Yulin people. The corresponding dog meat industry should not occupy a significant part of the local economy. The industry therefore does not have a significant contribution to local economy and local GDP. This suggests that Yulin authorities have no reason to fear the negative impact from effective law enforcement against illegal meat sales (meat from diseases animals and animals that cannot be traced to farms violate the national food safety law); against undocumented dog and cat transport over provincial boundaries. The dog meat trade is sustained by activities that violate people’s property rights (dogs are stolen pets); that violate the food safety laws and; that violate the national government policy requiring “one dog/cat, one health certificate” rule. Strict law enforcement actions by the Yulin authorities would not drive the majority of Yulin’s labor force out of jobs; would not slow Yulin GDP growth; would not impact people’s lives since they can do without dog meat.