Korean chefs offer vegan alternatives to dog meat for Boknal

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Encouraging to eat vegan dishes on Boknal
Chef Ahn Baek Rin. Photo by Han Sang-moo.

Vegan Korean chefs are urging Koreans to swap dog meat soup for plant-based dishes for Boknal – the three hottest days of the year according to the lunar calendar, during which dog meat soup is consumed.

Chefs like Ahn Baek-Rin are encouraging consumers to swap dog meat soup, or “bosintang”, for plant-based recipes instead.

She says, “On this coming Chobok, HSI/Korea and I will introduce a new dish called ‘Self-care Soup’ that not only takes care of our health, but of our planet and the animals as well. It will be a mutually-beneficial dish, and it will be a perfect solution for Boknal, as it is full of essential vitamins and nutrients from seasonal vegetables.

“They provide a great way to boost our nutrient intake and ensure we eat enough vegetables. The ‘My Healthy Diet’ campaign is a fresh new take on Boknal eating, perfect for those who originally ate dog meat for Boknal because this recipe is carefully designed so that anyone can take care of their health with quality food.”

Photo by Gyul Han/Weber Shandwick

Although the vast majority of Koreans neither consume dog meat nor intend to in the future, 70 per cent of those who do consume it over Boknal.

According to Humane Society International/Korea, “between 1 and 2 million dogs are still bred annually across the country in unsanitary and inhumane conditions in thousands of dog farms, most of whom will be slaughtered for the summer Boknal.”

HSI/Korea states that “laboratory tests have found that an alarming amount of dog meat can contain harmful bacteria such as E. coli as well as antibiotics used to combat sickness in dogs due to the low welfare conditions on farms.

“With the link between low welfare animal breeding and the spread of zoonotic diseases such as bird flu and SARS, swapping dog meat for plant-based alternatives is a sound choice for public health, too.”

Nara Kim as HSI rescues puppies at a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea

Humane Society International/Korea runs a scheme in the country working in partnership with dog farmers, to help them leave the dog meat industry and transition to a more humane livelihood. This approach has led to the closure of 17 dog meat farms in South Korea to date.

Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaign manager, says, “Although most South Koreans don’t eat dog meat, it still remains popular for some Koreans over the summer months, when the vast majority of dogs farmed for meat will be slaughtered.

“It’s a sad fact that millions of dogs are suffering miserable lives on dog meat farms largely to produce soup for Boknal. So our message is simple, by swapping bosintang for one of our delicious plant-based soups, we can keep cool and eat healthy while saving our canine friends at the same time.”

Nara Kim with one of the dogs rescued at the Hongseong dog meat farm

She adds, “I have been to many dog meat farms, and I believe that if consumers saw the unsanitary and inhumane conditions that I see, they would not wish to eat bosintang anymore.

“We all strive to eat healthier these days, and so our easy recipes are ideal to help us beat the heat and spend a refreshing summer. If we all make compassionate food choices for Boknal, we can achieve an end to the dog meat industry.”

A recent opinion poll commissioned by HSI/Korea and conducted by Nielsen shows growing support for a ban on the dog meat trade, with almost 60 per cent supporting a legislative ban on the trade, compared to just 34.7 per cent in 2017.

Images courtesy of HSI/Korea

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