Would you eat the cooked flesh of a labrador retriever if given the chance to try it? Just to see what it’s like? Just to say that you’ve had it?
Dozens of people were presented with this very moral quandary on Thursday evening in Toronto, some of them while out taking a stroll with their own furry, four-legged family members.
Like so many beer, cider and seltzer brands have been doing this summer, a company called “Elwood’s Organic Dog Meat” set up a booth in Christie Pits park to hand out free samples of what it billed as “dog meat, made from labrador.”
Representatives told passersby that the free range, humane, local and organic meat was sourced from a farm outside the city, clarifying to those who asked that this was not meat made for dogs, but meat made from dogs for human consumption.
“The official representatives of Elwood’s Dog Meat convinced quite a few people to taste the samples,” said Jenny McQueen, who was at the event.
“Their Toronto spokesperson, Eddie, admitted to being quite surprised at the response. Some were keen to try dog, and likened it to beef, others were horrified and became angry at the mere suggestion of eating beloved dogs.”
Promotional leaflets were handed out to those who passed by, sharing some information about the company and what it actually does.
“Delicious dog, since 1981. Set the table with man’s best meat!” reads the cover, which can be opened up to reveal that the entire thing is a spoof — that the “dog meat” being sampled at Christie Pits were actually just squares of the fully vegan Beyond Meat hamburger substitute.
McQueen, a noted animal rights activist, explained to blogTO that the reasoning behind the event was “to question the normality of eating some animals while considering others to be pets.”
This is what Elwood’s Dog Meat, as a company, actually does — it’s a campaign “designed to help non-vegan folks understand that their actions don’t align with their existing ethics.”
The company’s website is disturbing at first blush, promoting that “pups and dogs are available by the cut, quarter, half, or whole animal. Broth bones are available on a limited basis. Please contact us for breed availability.”
“If Elwood’s Organic Dog Meat upsets you, please consider that: Dogs on Elwood’s Organic Dog Meat farm were bred for food. Eating dogs is a personal choice,” reads another part of the website, drawing clear parallels with the animal agriculture industry and its defenders.
“Some people prefer the taste of dog. Dogs offer amazing nutritional benefits. Roasted lab has become a family holiday tradition. Dogs don’t really feel pain. This is our livelihood.”
The company’s Instagram page is similarly filled with satire and parody ads, promoting such products as pug bacon, boxer jerky and golden retriever milk.
“Bull terrier and golden retriever puppies have arrived! Like the chihuahuas, they’ll spend the first few weeks in the brooder where we can control the environment for them. Once they’re ready, they’ll spend the summer on our hay field, living their best life, helping us fertilize our soil & crops,” reads the caption of one post that features video footage of adorable newborn puppies playing.
“Puppies will be available fresh for Thanksgiving dinners—pre-orders will open in August, so mark your calendars.”
While disturbing, the posts are sometimes absurdly hilarious, but all serve the same purpose: to get Western audiences to consider an alternate world where man’s best friend is treated like a food product.
“Elwood Dog Meat presents dogs in the same way animal agriculture treats cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, turkeys, and fish. Our content mostly pulls directly from farmers’ social media posts websites, blogs, and ads (or comments from those defending them), but with a little more truth than the industry wants us to know about,” reads the campaign’s website.
”We want to draw attention to the similarities, to the ethical hypocrisy… The more conversation and thinking that we spark, the more people will realize that true respect and love for animals means extending it to all animals, not just the ones we have sentimental attachments to.”