- Deadly love ... the Chinese and their weird food

Deadly love ... the Chinese and their weird food


Scientists suggest the emergence of the emerging coronavirus in a market for selling wild animal meat in China. The roots of love for wild animals in China go back to the third century BC! But how do Chinese animals eat meat of these animals? What are the risks?

First of all, it must be emphasized here that the transmission of viruses from wild animals to humans is well known in scientific circles, and it is not limited to China. Thus, we emphasize the mistake of prejudices or profiling, and the error of linking China and its cuisine to diseases. 

Each civilization and society have its own customs and traditions, and foods that are acceptable in a particular society may be repellent or rejected in another society. All traditions and cultures of societies and peoples are appreciated and respected.

The outbreak
The outbreak of the Corona virus began in Wuhan, China, last December in a food market that was selling wild animals illegally, the number of infections worldwide exceeded 1.6 million, deaths 100,000, and the number was on the rise.

The virus was named SARS-CoV-2, to distinguish it from the SARS-CoV virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) which spread in 2002-2003 and caused 774 deaths, mostly in Asia. The new disease was called Covid-19. 

The spread of the Corona virus is the biggest challenge the world has faced in decades. The World Health Organization declared a public health emergency on January 30, and declared the spread of the pandemic a disease on March 11.

After the spread of the Corona pandemic in the Chinese province of Hubei, and talking about its transmission from bats to humans, the Chinese government endeavored at the end of last February to ban the hunting, transport, trade and eating of wild animals, and animals such as yams and rabbits were excluded from the decision.

Not restricted to China
The transmission of viruses from wild animals to humans is well known in the scientific community, and it is not restricted to China. After the SARS epidemic spread, in 2008 a German virologist, Christian Drewsten, discovered the virus in German bats, as part of a laboratory experiment.

The problem lies in eating the meat of these animals, as well as destroying the environment in which they live, which causes them to flee to places inhabited by humans, which increases the risk of transmission of the viruses that carry them to humans.

That is why Elizabeth Maruma Mariama, the United Nations Executive Secretary to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, is asking that the common concern of humanity be the closure of all markets for the sale of wild animals in order to "prevent more pandemics in the future," the British Guardian newspaper reported.

And China is not the only country where this danger exists. The disease "Ebola" in Africa and the "Nipah" virus in Malaysia, also transmitted from wild animals to humans.

in Yulin, southwest China, have been holding a "dog meat" festival since 2009 on the annual Solstice Day.

The celebration sparked strong criticism of the city from animal rights defenders, which led to Yulin preventing the sale of dog meat in 2017.

But animal protection organizations still report cases of trade and consumption of these meats, which indicates the main problem in this matter: laws exist, but they are not always applied.

Measures to prevent eating this meat contradict Chinese traditions, as wild animals have been a part of Chinese cuisine since the third century BC.

The Chinese philosopher Mencius, considered the successor to the famous Chinese philosopher "Confucius", was speaking in his writings at the time about the difficulty of choosing his favorite food, saying "I like to eat fish, and I like to eat the bears 'slippers. If I cannot get the whining, I will choose the bears' slippers" ".

Bears are one of the favorite foods in Chinese tradition, and it is one of the eight Chinese foods that have also been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

Most of the results of treatment with these animals and plants are based on people's experiences, and most of them have not been proven effective in modern human medicine.

Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners gave this kind of treatment attractive and promising names to encourage its use. For example, bat secretions called "Yeh Ming Sha" or "sand treasure that lights up at night", but it was not called by that so they know, for example, that it transmits viruses to humans.

The general rule for those substances used in traditional medicine is: the more rare they are, the more popular they are, which is the manifestation of the illicit trade of centuries of rhinos.

but what is the cause of wild animal meat? Thanks to the Qing Empire (1644-1919).

It was the people of "Jurchen" who inhabited Manchuria at the time, who introduced wild animal meat to Chinese cuisine, according to Chinese ethnologist Wai Xuehua in his book on eating wild meat products in China.

In this book, Wai Shuehua quotes from the classic novel "Dream of the Red Room" of the eighteenth century, a section that tells of a spring party in which a feast of thirty doe, fifty muskies, fifty deer, twenty pigs, twenty wild goats, and twenty pairs of slippers were held. Bears, fifty pounds of sea cucumber and other similar foods.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the country experienced a three-year famine period, which was followed by political decisions by the founder of the Republic, Mao Zedong, which caused 45 million people to starve to death. In this difficult time people were eating anything they found.

A social symbol
The poverty rate in China has begun to decrease in the past thirty years due to the country's rapid economic growth. But despite the improvement in the economic situation, the demand for eating wild animals increased because the matter became a symbol of the prominent social status.

At the same time, the bodies that manage the commercial operations of this meat have the economic power to continue.

When the city of Shenzhen announced its ban on eating cat and dog meat from May this year, the most vocal voices on social media platforms were the voices of dog meat producers who accused the city of "giving up an essential part of Chinese culture".

The only hope is that laws will be firmly enforced by the authorities to prevent more pandemics in the future.

Source: Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle

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