Beijing Beat blog with Mark Godfrey

Beijing Beat

PETA Protecting Animal Rights In China

Sep 6

Written by:
9/6/2008 7:55 AM  RssIcon

Controversial animal rights groups PETA is treading softly into mainland China, starting by pointing the best places not to eat meat in very-carnivore Beijing

Lately, during the 29th Olympic Games, animal rights action group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Asia-Pacific (PETA) went around the city checking out “healthy, humane” restaurant options in china’s capital. Not easy, given that the Chinese brag about eating everything with four legs and its back to the sun, besides tables.” Dog and donkey meat are easily found in Beijing: vast suburban dog markets are often blamed for supplying back street butchers on quieter days. Seeing shivering kittens, puppies and even ducklings for sale on the streetside in Beijing’s commercial areas I know this is not the most animal-friendly country in the world.

To show there are better dining options than bull’s testicles (available in many Beijing eateries) PETA selected three city vegetarian restaurants and ranked them gold, silver and bronze. Its number one choice was what it says is China's oldest Buddhist vegetarian restaurant: Godly Vegetarian at No. 58 Qianmen Street, which specializes in dishes like King Kong Huo Fang (stewed mock pork), sweet-and-sour mock ribs and fish, lion's head (mock meatballs) and preserved leafy vegetable steamed stuffed bun. Pure Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant took PETA’s silver ranking: run by Tibetan monks who use only natural organic ingredients to make creatively named dishes such as "hot tears fill the eyes glazed noodles" and "countenance of mercy, words of love stir-fry." Third ranked is Still Thoughts, a newer establishment inside the Meijuan Hotel in an old-town laneway. PETA claims an increasing number of world-class athletes are chucking cholesterol-packed meat and dairy products from their diets including former track-and-field star Carl Lewis, winner of nine Olympic and eight World Championship gold medals.

In Beijing to push the organisation’s operations here – it’s not clear if he’s actually managed to open an office - PETA's Jason Baker asks “who needs heart attacks, diabetes, and obesity, which are all linked to meat consumption?”
More interesting than the ranking is PETA’s activism in mainland China, which is sensitive to criticism of its animal (not just human) rights standards lest it effect its ambitions to become a regional champion of the clinical trials and cosmetics testing industries: testing new products against nasty things like toxicity. It’s very hard to get anyone in either government or industry to go on the record on this subject this summer. Partly because a new EU law outlawing sales of animal-tested cosmetics coming into force next year will make it very hard for cosmetics made in China (which makes testing on animals compulsory for cosmetics sold in the country) to be marketed in the EU. PETA, which has for some years had a presence in more liberal Hong Kong, has been trying to engage the Chinese government, to at least make conditions at testing labs better. We wish them well, but they’ve got their work cut out for them in China. I’m also looking forward to trying some of Still Thoughts’ spicy mock-pork intestines dry pot and shredded veggie duck pancakes. 

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