'Let Them Eat Dog'

Vegetarian novelist Jonathan Safran Foer has a modest proposal

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AUTHOR: Jonathan Safran Foer

FORUM: The Wall Street Journal

OTHER WORKS: Much-celebrated novel Everything is Illuminated, modestly celebrated novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a forthcoming book about vegetarianism

THESIS: "If we let dogs be dogs, and breed without interference, we would create a sustainable, local meat supply with low energy inputs that would put even the most efficient grass-based farming to shame. For the ecologically-minded it's time to admit that dog is realistic food for realistic environmentalists."

NEW MEANING TO 'BEGGING' DOG: "But unlike all farmed meat, which requires the creation and maintenance of animals, dogs are practically begging to be eaten."

GREAT DOG-EATERS IN HISTORY: Hippocrates, Dakota Native Americans, Hawaiians, Captain Cook

LINGUISTIC EVIDENCE: "The Sino-Korean character for 'fair and proper' (yeon) literally translates into 'as cooked dog meat is delicious.'"

RECIPE HELPFULLY INCLUDED: "Stewed Dog, Wedding Style" from the Phillipines

DISGUSTING ANECDOTE: "In America, millions of dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters every year become the food for [livestock and pets]."

WISDOM FOR THE AGES: "Don't fiddle with your crap, kiss your sister, or eat your companions"

FOER'S ARCHNEMESIS: Chef Gordon Ramsay, who "once said he'd electrocute his children if they became vegetarian" yet refuses to cook dogs

QED: "The French, who love their dogs, sometimes eat their horses. The Spanish, who love their horses, sometimes eat their cows. The Indians, who love their cows, sometimes eat their dogs."


Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving and identity. Responding to factory farming calls for a capacity to care that dwells beyond information. We know what we see on undercover videos of factory farms and slaughterhouses is wrong. (There are those who will defend a system that allows for occasional animal cruelty, but no one defends the cruelty, itself.) And despite it being entirely reasonable, the case for eating dogs is likely repulsive to just about every reader of this paper. The instinct comes before our reason, and is more important.
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