I heard this story from a fellow backpacker I met in Cambodia. During the inevitable talk about food in Asia we came to the grim topic every backpacker will find themselves both discussing and witnessing: the consumption of cats and dogs. While that shit wouldn't stand back home in North America/Western Europe (even though Western countries justify eating other animals) it certainly is common in Asia. While I think the killing of any animal can and should be avoided I also try and not judge cultures that are both different/less affluent than where I am from. Who knows? Roll the dice a little differently and that could be me living on the streets of Hanoi, doing whatever I must to keep my family fed and secure. Anyway, this story is a bit gruesome. C'est la vie.
A young women was backpacking around Vietnam when she found herself in Hanoi. A beautifully chaotic city, she ended up strolling up and down the Old Quarter, peaking down narrow alleys and into bustling stalls while avoiding the millions of scooters zipping every each way. After a while the woman came to a run-down, hole-in-the-wall restaurant, open to the street. There were a few local patrons peppering the sidewalk on those tiny Vietnamese stools, clogging the flow of pedestrian traffic in typical Hanoi fashion. As for the restaurant itself, it sold dogs. For eating. Like lobster tanks in the West, you simply walked up to the counter, pointed at the dog you wanted, and the owner would cook it up for you, or perhaps you could take it home and cook it up yourself. There was but one dog remaining in the cage – a little puppy.
Now, this woman loved animals. Ok, perhaps not all animals but certainly dogs. And super certainly puppies. Who the fuck doesn't love puppies? The view before her eyes tugged at her heart strings with a savage force and she immediately approached the counter and tried to communicate with the vendor. Unfortunately he spoke no English and she spoke no Vietnamese. Dedicated to freeing this soon-to-be-eaten pup, she did her best to gesture to the man in hopes of trying to convey that she wanted to buy the last remaining baby dog. He caught on quickly and figured out this woman reallllly wanted that puppy, and so they bartered out a reasonable price. They agreed on said price and the woman happily paid the man a fistful of Dong, knowing she had just saved the life of a small, cute, and helpless animal. What she would do with this little puppy, she had no clue. She was in the middle of a backpacking trip and really couldn't take a puppy with her...but that wasn't the point. The point was to prevent this dog from being killed. And she succeeded.
The man tucked away the handful of bills and grabbed the cute little puppy from the cage. He then quickly snapped its neck, tossed it in a bag, and handed the meal to the horrified woman. Because to him it was a meal – not a pet – and she was going to just cook it at home, right?
The girl wept.