China has much to answer for, but in Shenzen, one less thing. The city will ban the eating of cats and dogs from May 1st, becoming the first in mainland China to do so, as part of a wider clamp down on harmful trade and eating practices which helped create the global pandemic.
It’s believed that the virus originally spread in a Wuhan wildlife market, where snakes, bats and other animals were being processed and consumed by humans.
In February, China banned wildlife from trade and consumption as food at a national level in response to the rising crisis. But like many laws, loose interpretation was applied. Snakes and wild bats seemed obvious enough, but there were still grey areas.
What defined “wildlife” was broad, and in many parts of the country where the practice of eating cats and dogs is a ‘thing’, these city by city laws are designed to add clarity and finality to the matter. No more eating humankind’s best friends, or cats. As a concession to city dwellers, original plans to ban turtles and frogs was nixed and those are still just fine.
In the announcement of the new order, Shenzen made a point of telling locals that Hong Kong and Taiwan are already this progressive, and they do just fine with poultry, livestock and seafood.
For better, and much worse, China is home to one of the most diverse food consumption habits.
The country, and World Health Organzation (WHO) have faced harsh criticism from leaders around the world for secrecy and spreading inaccurate information in the lead up to the crisis becoming global, including a tweet promoting the notion that human to human contact was not believed to be possible.
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China🇨🇳. pic.twitter.com/Fnl5P877VG
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 14, 2020
Ingredients aside, food culture has already changed in China in the wake of the virus, with fewer communal tables, more hygiene around delivery and a general insistence on better spacing of tables.
When they finally reopen, eateries around the world will get the message that we don’t actually enjoy listening in on the conversations of our dining neighbors, we’re just forced to by proximity. At least cats and dogs won’t be on the menu in one more city…