An even more modest proposal
Relieving hunger and solving the problem of stray animal overpopulation in one swoop
In 2009, 43.6 million Americans were living poverty, a number compounded by the effects of the recession. Of all the hardships of poverty, the most tragic is the lack of food. It saps strength and leads to listlessness and apathy, not to mention stunting growth in our still-developing youth. In 2009, 50.2 million Americans were at risk of hunger, and 17.2 million of them were children.
Statistics vary, but there are approximately 70 million stray cats in the United States alone and a correspondingly vast number of stray dogs, with many more born every day. Of those animals that have the good fortune to be brought to a shelter, 61 percent of dogs and 71 percent of cats are euthanized, their bodies rendered for use in soap, cosmetics, fertilizer, and agricultural feed.
Noting the mouths yearning to be fed on one side, and the vast excess of flesh on the other, may I suggest allowing the problem to resolve itself, accordingly? I have been assured on good authority that a dog will make for a lovely stir-fry, or soup, or cut of roasting meat, and a leg of mutt is by no means a dish to scorn.
This plan will also reduce the over $2 billion spent by the government to needlessly destroy useful livestock. Instead of being a drain upon our already attenuated budget, the surplus stray population will add to our national economy. No longer will people be forced to beg upon the streets due to lack of gainful employment when a whole new sector of work will be opened in the catching, meat processing and production of lovely fur hats, coats, and trimmings. I foresee an explosion of new restaurants and recipe books to take advantage of the hitherto unknown epicurean delights of the new food, improving our luxury trade as well as our basic sustenance.
For those concerned about whether the meat is fit for consumption, fear not. Dog and cat meat is documented in traditional Chinese medicine as a “warm” food that is most appropriate for the winter. Compared to chicken, dog meat has more calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin A, and more mass per carcass too.
Some of my dear readers may be overcome with revulsion over the thought of consuming their dear beloved Fido or Fluffy. However, fear not for the safety of your pets, for it is only the strays and unwanted that will have their flesh repurposed. And because one female cat’s descendants could total to 11 million in nine years, it is likely that our larders will be kept fully stocked for quite some time.
Others may aver that it is immoral to consume the flesh of our companion animals. With those soulful eyes and sleek or fluffy fur, how could we think of harming the creatures whose lives are in our trust? Yet many of us still consume meat from bovine and porcine animals with hardly a misgiving. Oh, you say there is a difference between a companion and a cutlet? That there is an inherent property to certain animals that preclude them from being food? Yet there are those who raise pigs as pets, and comment highly on their affection and intelligence. Hindus even venerate cows as sacred, yet we do not refrain from eating beef to soothe their sensibilities, as some try to sooth ours by lobbying Asian countries to ban the consumption of dogs. There seems to be some hypocrisy between acceptable behavior for us and unacceptable behavior for others.
In any case, I would regard it a greater cruelty to deny needy human beings a readily available food source and culinary delight over a cultural sense of unease. Hunger provides the motive, and hunger provides the seasoning.