In Depth

Vietnam’s capital Hanoi urges people to stop eating dog meat

Officials say the popular dish is tarnishing the city’s image and risks spreading rabies

Officials in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi are urging residents to stop eating dog meat, saying it could damage the city’s reputation and lead to the spread of diseases such as rabies.

The Hanoi People’s Committee said the practice risked tarnishing the city’s image as a “civilised and modern capital”.

“The trading, killing and use of dog and cat meat has brought on a negative reaction from tourists and expatriates living in Hanoi,” the committee said.

Roasted, boiled or steamed dog meat “can be found in markets and food shops across the capital city famed for its tasty street food, and the meat is traditionally eaten with rice wine or beer”, says Channel News Asia.

A growing number of people in Vietnam disapprove of eating dog meat but it still remains “very much a deep-rooted habit”, according to the BBC’s Linh Nguyen.

The committee also urged residents to stop eating cat meat, often dubbed “little tiger” on Vietnamese menus, which is less popular than dog but still readily available in rural areas.

The committee highlighted the fact that many of the animals were cruelly killed.

There are said to be about 493,000 dogs and cats in the city, the vast majority of which are kept as domesticated pets, and about 1,000 shops open for selling the animal meat.

The government’s appeal also warned about the spread of rabies and other animal-borne diseases. According to the Associated Press, the move is part of a national program to stamp out rabies by 2021. Three people have died from the disease in the city this year and two others were confirmed to be infected.

Hanoi is known for its vibrant street food culture, “which was highlighted in 2016 when President Obama and the late chef Anthony Bourdain shared a $6 meal of bun cha for an episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown”, says Time magazine.

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