The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur. Since the establishment of a world fur market in the early modern period, furs of boreal, polar, and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued. Historically the trade stimulated the exploration and colonization of Siberia, northern North America, and the South Shetland and South Sandwich Islands.
The maritime fur trade brought the Pacific Northwest coast into a vast, new international trade network, centered on the north Pacific Ocean, global in scope, and based on capitalism but not, for the most part, on colonialism. A triangular trade network emerged linking the Pacific Northwest coast, China, the Hawaiian Islands (only recently discovered by the Western world), Britain, and the United States (especially New England). The trade’s effect on China and Europe was minimal. Furs from Russian America were mostly sold to China via the Mongolian trading town of Kyakhta, which had been opened to Russian trade by the 1727 Treaty of Kyakhta.
In the 21st century, dog meat is consumed in many parts of China, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as parts of the African continent, such as Cameroon, Ghana and Liberia.
Today, a number of cultures view the consumption of dog meat to be a part of their traditional and day-to-day cuisine, while others — such as Western culture — consider consumption of dog to be a taboo, although they have been consumed in times of war and/or other hardships. It has been estimated that worldwide, 25 million dogs are eaten each year by humans.
Selling dog meat for consumption is legal in China and approximately 10 million dogs each year are slaughtered for consumption. The eating of dog meat in China dates back thousands of years. Dog meat (Chinese: 狗肉; pinyin: gǒu ròu) has been a source of food in some areas from around 500 B.C. and possibly even earlier. It has been suggested that wolves in southern China may have been domesticated as a source of meat. Mencius, the philosopher, talked about dog meat as being an edible, dietary meat. It is thought to have medicinal properties, and is especially popular in winter months in northern China, as it is believed to raise body temperature after consumption and promote warmth. Historical records have moreover shown how in times of food scarcities (as in war-time situations), dogs could also be eaten as an emergency food source.
Livestock farming has grown exponentially in China in recent years, such that China is now “the world’s biggest animal farming nation.” In 1978, China collectively consumed 1/3 as much meat as the United States. By 1992 China had caught up, and by 2012, China’s meat consumption was more than double that of the U.S.
A 2005-2006 survey by Prof. Peter J. Li found that many farming methods that the European Union is trying to reduce or eliminate are commonplace in China, including gestation crates, battery cages, foie gras, early weaning of cows, and clipping of ears/beaks/tails. Livestock in China may be transported over long distances, and there are currently no humane-slaughter requirements.
Cooking animals live
In 2008, more than 40 animal activists in Beijing gathered to protest skinning and cooking live cats in Guangdong province. A 2010 article featuring content from Tiexue and Mop news sources showed pictures of skinned cats being submerged in boiling water.
“The worse you treat them the better they taste. It makes sure the blood gets into the meat and it tastes delicious.” —A cook referring to cats in the documentary San Hua
The 2010 documentary San Hua by Guo Ke is the first to depict China’s cat-meat industry. In one scene, Guo and fellow activists stop a transport truck and find “more than 300 cats crammed into cramped wooden cages, unable to move” — some missing tails and others “crushed into unconsciousness.” In another scene at Fa’s Cat Restaurant, Guo used a hidden camera to film cooks beating cats with a wooden stick, dumping them into a fur-removal machine, and then boiling them.
Pictures have also circulated featuring two dogs in boiling water in China. It is claimed that this is because some Chinese prefer the taste of adrenaline-soaked meat. In some areas, dogs are beaten to death in order to release blood into the meat.
Yin Yang fish involves deep-frying fish while it is still alive. The practice has been condemned by animal-rights activists. Many chefs in Taiwan are no longer willing to prepare it, but it is popular in mainland China.
Some chefs cook a carp’s body while keeping its head wrapped in a cloth so that it can keep breathing. In 2009, a video of Chinese diners prodding and eating alive a fried fish went viral on YouTube and provoked an outcry from PETA.
On streets in China, live scorpions are “scooped up alive and wriggling, skewered on a kebab, and deep-fried in oil.”