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Yulin’s Lychee and Dog Meat Festival – What Is It? Why Is It Controversial?

Written by Larese
Larese is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Wednesday 19 August 2020
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
yulins lychee and dog meat festival
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The Lychee and Dog Meat Festival or the Yulin Dog Meat Festival is an annual food festival that takes place in Yulin, a city in the southeastern province of Guangxi in southern China. The festival has drawn controversy both at home and abroad.

It first took place in the summer of 2009, according to folklore, they believe that eating dog and cat meat brings luck and good health. Moreover, some think that it can also heighten men’s sexual performance and ward off any diseases. All around the world, animal rights activists have been gearing up to put Yulin’s dog meat festival to an end.

Warning – some readers may find illustrations in this article graphic!

What is the Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival?

The Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival is an annual ten-day event where it involves slaughtering over 10,000 dogs Cat meat, fresh lychees, and liquor are also available at the festival. It takes place in Yulin, a city in the Guangxi province of China, and runs from the 21st to 30th of June – during one of the hottest weeks of the year.


Yulin Dog Meat Festival began in 2009. During the summer solstice, festival goers eat dog meat, lychees, and even cat meat, believing that it will strengthen their bodies. Moreover, for some men, they think that it will boost their sexual drive. During the festivities, the citizens parade the dogs in wooden crates and metal cages where they will get slaughtered and cooked.

Dog meat-eating is not new to China, especially in Guangxi. It is just like the way most people eat pork and beef for them. For them, it is a tradition to bring luck and improve a person’s overall health. However, this activity has been drawing attention and criticisms both domestically and abroad. The difference is how Yulin’s Dog Meat Festival treats the animals. In 2016, 11 million people around the world petitioned to ban the festival. However, the Chinese government didn’t want to show any signs of weaknesses from the rest of the world. Today, citizens of Yulin are still celebrating this contentious festival.

Controversy Involved

yulin dog meat festival
The festival started in the summer of 2009.

The festival organizers claim that eating dog meat has no difference from eating pork and other farm animals. However, Yulin’s Lychee and Dog Meat Festival is highly controversial because of alleged public torturing and killing of dogs. Moreover, social media and news argued that the organizers intentionally torture and boil the dogs alive to improve the taste of the meat. Some witnesses also claim that it appears that they even steal household pets, judging by the dogs’ collars.

There are also complaints that some dogs came from across China in cramped conditions. What’s even worse is that proper hygiene practices at the festival do not fall in line with Chinese regulations. However, not all of these assumptions were already proven and lack evidence. Regardless, this level of cruelty and the fact that they eat dog meat is what most animal rights activists and campaigners duel over time.

Domestic Reaction

Not all Chinese eat dog meat. There are still some locals who are very vocal in dog meat consumption, especially in holding the Yulin’s Lychee and Dog Meat Festival. In fact, the local Chinese activists were able to save approximately 1,000 dogs from a slaughter facility in Yulin in 2017. A year after the Humane Society International did the same thing. During those times, the local police confirmed that there were stolen dogs and not allowed for consumption. It is because about 40% of the dogs carried infectious diseases.

In 2016, there were millions of Chinese voted to support the legislative proposal by Zhen Xiaohe. He was a deputy to the National People’s Congress of China, who proposed to ban the dog meat festival and trade. In the same year, there were 11 million signatures petitioned to the Yulin government offices in Beijing. A report from 2014 to 2016 stated the majority of Chinese disapprove of the festival. It includes famous local celebrities like Fan Bingbing, Chen Kun, Sun Li, and Yang Mi.

International Reaction

The US, along with the Humane Society International, has publicly condemned Yulin’s Lychee and Dog Meat Festival. US Representative Alcee Hastings, along with 27 original co-sponsors, introduced the Bipartisan Resolution (House Resolution 752) in 2016. It condemned the annual festival in Yulin and called the Chinese government to ban the dog meat trade immediately. The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, and Humane Society International supported the resolution in high spirits.

In the UK, the former leader of the UK Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, also deplored the festival as an Early Day Motion. The bond between animals and humans is the same with pork and beef, just like most of us do, especially on the Western side of the world. The Lychee and Dog Meat Festival is a transcultural phenomenon. Compared to poultry slaughter, the dog meat festival in Yulin is a form of animal cruelty. The article by Jill Robinson in The Guardian said that the dog meat trade is “steeped in illegality.” Moreover, she mentioned that dogs are unique and deserve love and kind treatment because they are both friends and helpers to humankind.

However, some are not happy with the petitions and resolutions that are happening around the world. For example, The Independent encouraged protests against the festival, but it also compared the dog meat festival with the 1.9 million animals brutally slaughtered in the UK every month. In Julian Baggini’s article, he mentioned that vegans are the only group who can oppose the festival without any fear of hypocrisy.

There have been millions worldwide, calling for “NoToDogMeat,” and “StopYulinFestival” campaigns. In the end, know that dog meat can make you very sick. Remember that dogs, even cats, have rabies that can spread more easily through consumption. Moreover, there is no proven scientific evidence that eating dog meat can significantly improve health or other benefits.

Animal Rights Activists

Animal Rights Activists have been trying to rescue dogs and cats every year in the festival. There also have several campaigns to spread awareness about the festival around the world. Moreover, many Animal Rights Activists and public figures take their protests on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with hashtags like #notodogmeat, “#stopyulinforever,” “#stopyulin2015”, and “#stopyulin2016” to spread awareness. These social media campaigns in and out of China decreased the number of dogs getting slaughtered brutally in the festival.

Animal Rights Activists have been very vocal about their thoughts and campaigns. They were able to reach the global audience through different social media platforms. While it has been a powerful tool for condemning the Yulin’s Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, it is still not enough for the local government of Yulin to ban the event. The law that aims to completely eliminate the dog meat trade must come from local authorities and the government.

animal rights activists against the yulin festival
There are multiple campaigns to spread awareness about the dog meat festival.

Government Reaction

With all the petitions, signatures, and protests both locally and internationally, Yulin’s Lychee and Dog Meat Festival still happens. The Chinese government says that it’s not an official event, so they can’t do much about it. In 2014, Yulin’s local government released a statement denying any official involvement or endorsement of the festival. Moreover, it describes that event is a local custom celebrated by a small percentage of Yulin’s residents. Neither the Chinese legal system nor the current Chinese public recognizeS dogs as “companion animals.”

Can the Dog Meat Festival be Stopped?

The Chinese government believes that there’s nothing they can do to stop the festival because it’s not an official event. Approximately 1.5 million people have signed a petition that calls for an end to the Yulin’s Lychee and Dog Meat Festival. There is international pressure, but is that really enough? The Yulin Municipal Government has consistently stated that it is not in a position to stop the festival. According to them, such celebrations do not happen as an ‘official event.’ Right now, the only hope to stop the dog meat festival is when the Chinese government officially bans dog meat consumption.

The irony of it is that during the Cultural Revolution, it was not possible to keep dogs as pets. It is the reason why dog ownership became popular among China’s growing middle-class. Today, there are about 62 million registered pets in the country. Dog meat consumption is not illegal in China. With or without the Yulin’s Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, there are approximately 10 to 20 million dogs killed annually for human consumption.

Animal advocates, actors, and younger Chinese people have become highly outspoken in social media about protesting dog food festivals and practice in general. Hopefully, in the future, these campaigns will be able to send the message to the dog meat festival organizers effectively. One day, we hope that they understand that dogs are not the same as farm and poultry animals.

Do All Chinese People Eat Dog Meat?

Most young generations feel disgusted by the Yulin’s Lychee and Dog Meat Festival. Not all Chinese eat dog meat because some can still understand that dog meats are not ethically suitable for human consumption. In fact, they have been joining the call to stop the dog meat trading completely. It is probably because of the influence of animal activists. Moreover, younger generations probably learn the fact that pieces of dog meat are not safe for consumption. Dog meat is not as nutritious as other people might think.

Eating dog meat has associated risks that can harm a person’s overall health. First, dog meat might contain parasitic worms that include Toxocara canis. These Toxins can lead to blindness, myocarditis, and respiratory failure. Moreover, rabies is another concern from dog meat consumption.

People can eat anything they want, but not anything is suitable for consumption. Dogs, cats, and bats are some kinds of dangerous meats because of rabies and other other elements that stream through their blood. These components are not suitable for people, and may only lead to other infections and viruses. Right now, we have the freedom to slaughter farm and poultry animals. Hopefully, people can understand how to respect other forms of living life.

is it legal to eat dogs in china
There is no law against eating dog meat in China.

Yulin’s Lychee and Dog Meat Festival – FAQs

This festival has gained attention and widespread controversies around the world. Most people are in favor of banning this celebration, some don’t, and others have a neutral opinion. Find what other people are asking about Yulin’s Lychee and Dog Meat Festival.

How many dogs are killed in Yulin?

Every year, there are about 10 to 20 million dogs killed in China for human consumption. In Yulin’s Lychee and Dog Meat Festival alone, there are as many as 10,000 to 15,000 dogs killed and cooked every celebration. In China, canine meat is a delicacy. It is almost the same as steaks and roasted turkey in other parts of the world. However, what other people don’t understand is that dog meat is not safe for consumption.

Eating dog meat increases the risks of having compromised health for some individuals. For example, dog meat can contain parasitic worms. Not to mention those sick dogs that add to the danger of eating its meat. These toxins can lead to impairment, myocarditis, and other breathing problems. Moreover, rabies is another risk of dog meat intake.

What is the purpose of the Yulin Dog Festival?

Lychee and Dog Meat Festival organizers believe that eating dog meat can improve overall health and boost sexual drive. Some also say that the original purpose of the Yulin dog festival was to boost the local economy.

When it comes to health, there are no scientific studies that prove the authenticity of their belief. Right now, the truth is that dog meat is not safe to eat for people.

Do all Chinese people eat dogs?

Not all Chinese eat dog meat. Most younger generations are still believers that such festivals and consumption should not happen. Moreover, they believe that dog meat is not suitable for human consumption. Some citizens even joined the call to stop the dog’s meat trade once and for all. It’s possibly because of the influence of animal activists.

Younger generations are also likely to know the truth that bits of dog meat are not suitable for consumption. Dog meat isn’t as nutritious as some people would think.

Is it legal to eat dogs in China?

Eating dog meat is not illegal in China, but there’s no law stopping the consumption of it. According to statistics, there’s an approximate of 10 to 20 million people who consume dog meat every year. While the festival is modern, Yulin’s Lychee and Dog Meat Festival is a tradition that may have started way back 400 years ago.

However, attitudes are shifting. Possessing dogs as pets became prohibited during the Cultural Revolution. Therefore, dog ownership has become common among China’s growing middle class. Today, there are now 62 million pets registered.

People worldwide have been fighting for the Yulin’s Lychee and Dog Meat Festival to come to an end. Dog and cat meat are not as nutritious as farm and poultry animals. Right now, Shenzhen became the first Chinese city to ban dog meat trading and consumption, as well as for cats. Hopefully, with the rise of the horrific pandemic coronavirus outbreak, people around the world will stop eating wildlife meat and respect other living forms. Learn more about the different Chinese dog breeds.

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