The Life of Dogs in China

July 3, 2019

Thought Co says, “Dogs are known the world over as man’s best friend. But in China, dogs are also eaten as food.”

While it is true that dogs are still food for some, most Chinese do not eat dog meat. In fact, ltl-school reveals, “the simple fact is most Chinese adore dogs just like many western households do. The practice of eating dog meat in China is actually much less common than most expats think. …  One thing we can say for sure, eating dog is NOT common practice in China and Chinese restaurantstofu and pretty much anything else is much more common.”

I’m a vegan and visited China several times starting in 1999 and my last trip was in 2008. Not once did I see dog meat offered on any menu, and I also did not see dogs in cages in the farmers’ markets I visited. I saw ducks and chickens in cages waiting to be bought and slaughtered, but there were no dogs or cats.

In fact, China is more vegan and vegetarian-friendly than in the United States.

GBTimes reports China’s love-hate history with dogs. “China began domesticating dogs thousands of years ago, producing many of the breeds that remain popular today. Over the centuries, however, the Chinese have also developed a complicated love-hate relationship with its canine population.” …

“In ancient China, the dog was one of the most honoured and cherished animals.”

Then during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, “Dogs were seen as a symbol of the bourgeois, therefore they were involved in the class struggle,” Marina Shafir explained. “There was a mass extirpation of dogs, and many of the original Chinese dog breeds almost became extinct.”

Then once Mao died along with his Cultural Revolution, dogs made a comeback, not as food but as an honored and cherished family member.

What is it like owning a dog in China today?

The Culture Trip answers that question. “Walk down any street in Shanghai or Beijing and you’re sure to see little brown poodles dressed more extravagantly than their owners, schnauzers with impressive beards, and shiba inus that look like they’ve been ripped straight from a meme. Little old ladies are more likely to be seen with a dog buggy than a baby buggy, and Uncle Ma is able to impress his friends with his samoyed, as if it were a Bulgari watch.” … “Dog ownership is on the rise. There are an estimated 100 million registered dogs in China, with the real number being likely even higher.”

In addition, the BBC reveals that Taiwan has banned the selling and eating of cats and dogs and that in mainland China, “The practice of eating cats and dogs has become less common as pet ownership rises, and new generations have different attitudes to eating domestic animals.”

If you are a hardcore meat eater, hate vegetables and tofu, and want to try out dog, “Each year in June, the city of Yulin in southern China hosts a dog meat festival, where live dogs and cats are sold specifically for eating and an estimated 10,000 are slaughtered for their meat,” but you better hurry because in 2016 there were large protests against this festival throughout China.

However, if eating dog and cat ends in China, never fear, because there is a better country to visit if you want to chow down on dog. South Korea, according to the BBC, has an estimated 17,000 dog farms, and then there is Thailand and Vietnam.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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China takes the lead in growing indoor crops

June 26, 2019

I recently read a comment on another blog that said Trump was going to win his tariff war with China because of a crop eating pest known as the fall armyworm that is threatening China’s domestic food supply.

So far, this worm has only attacked crops in Southern China.

The flaw in this thinking is the fact that China imports food from other countries. In fact, in 2017, China bought more food products from France than the United States, and World Bank.org lists the countries China buys from and how much China spends. All you have to do is click the World Bank link in this paragraph to discover those facts.

The comment I read mentioned Inkstone News.com, “To compound matters, China’s food supply was already under pressure after it was forced to slaughter millions of pigs with African swine fever affecting all 31 autonomous regions and provinces within just nine months, trimming 20% of the national supply and driving up prices.”

First, China is not going to starve because they lost twenty percent of the country’s pigs, because the Chinese eat a lot more than pork. I’m a vegan and have never had a problem finding a variety of plant foods to eat when visiting China.

Second, Smart Cities Dive reports, “How China Leads the World in Indoor Farming. China is investing significant amounts of effort into developing vertical farming systems to feed its burgeoning urban population. It aims to become a world leader in industrial scale applications of these systems.” …

“Compared to conventional farming, a plant factory with natural solar light can increase productivity per unit area by between two and ten times. With artificial light, this rises to 40 times and by adding vertical farming this goes to 1000 times.”

To learn more, read what Next Shark.com reveals about China’s high-tech indoor farms where “5,000-square-meter (53,819-square-foot) indoor space, produces eight to ten metric tons of vegetables DAILY while requiring only four staff members to manage it. Conventional farmlands would require about 300 farmers to produce the equivalent amount which can feed almost 36,000 people.” …

“The smart farming method involves a strict system that regulates temperature, water source, humidity, nutrients and LEDs that replace sunlight in a confined indoor space. Such regulations allow the firm to significantly save on water, granting each plant only the right amount it needs.”

If bugs, African swine fever, and global warming continue to threaten China’s domestic food supply, how fast will it take China to convert most if not all of its outdoor farms to these high-tech indoor farms?

The answer can be found in China’s high-speed rail network. China’s first high-speed train service was introduced in April 2007. Twelve years later, China has the longest high-speed railway network in the world, 18,000 miles in length, two-thirds of the world’s total, with plans to increase it to 24,000 miles by 2025.

How does China’s high-speed rail development compare to the rest of the world?

Well, the first high-speed rail system started operating in Japan in 1964, and it took the rest of the world 55 years to build one-third of the world’s high-speed railroads. The United States only has one high-speed rail line linking Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC, but those bullet trains cannot take advantage of their maximum speed because some sections along that route are old rail lines that cannot safely support trains moving 150 mph.

When China needs to, it can move fast. For instance, the Chinese government made high-speed rail construction a cornerstone of its economic stimulus program in order to combat the effects of the 2008 global financial crisis and the result was a rapid development of the Chinese rail system into the world’s most extensive high-speed rail network. China moved up its timeline when twenty million Chinese lost their factory jobs because of the global financial crises … and let us not forget that the United States was responsible for that crises due to old fashioned capitalist greed.

One day, pork might not be on the menu in China, but there will still be plenty of fruits, nuts, and vegetables, and if I can survive for thirty-seven years as a vegan, the Chinese can do it too.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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How do you Define Freedom: Part 2 of 2

April 25, 2019

Slavery in China vs India, the democracy next door.

The Wall Street Journal reported, Of the 167 countries surveyed, India has the highest number of people living in slavery–more than 18 million, or 1.4% of the population. The 2016 Global Slavery Index from the Walk Free Foundation said modern slavery comes in many forms, from domestic to sexual to bonded and child labor. China has only 3.4 million slaves or 0.24-percent of the population. India, a democracy, has more than five times the number of slaves that China has.

USA Today reports, “There are 40 million slaves worldwide, most are women and girls. A United Nations agency warns 40.3 million people across the globe were subject to some form of modern slavery in 2016. Among them, about 28.7 million — or 71% — were women or girls forced into sex, marriage or labor.”

Freedom to Travel to Other Countries

Then there is the freedom to travel to other countries, but you have to have enough money to afford to become a globe-trotting tourist. The Economist reports, “China’s decision to let its people travel abroad freely is changing the world. … for much of the 1980s, the number of trips abroad taken by Chinese citizens was in the tens of thousands a year, the current figure is well over 130-million annually.”

For a comparison to the world’s two largest democracies, The Times of India said, “In 2015, more than 20.4-million Indians had the money to visit other countries.”

How about the United States? The PointsGuy.com said, almost 67-million US citizens traveled outside the country in 2015.

Food Production
How do you feed 1.4 billion people using only 10-percent of your land?

National Geographic.com reveals, “Sweeping reforms starting in the late 1970s have transformed China from an isolated, centrally controlled economy into an increasingly market-oriented juggernaut. Agricultural and industrial modernization has fueled continuing migration to cities, rising incomes, and a growing appetite for a more westernized diet among China’s 1.4 billion people. … Economic and food-production reforms have helped China’s growing population double its supply of daily calories.”

When U.S. Founding Father Patrick Henry, who was born a free man to a successful family, never lived in poverty and never starved said, “Give me liberty, or give me death,” did he mean freedom of speech was more important than living in slavery, poverty, starving, and/or going without medical care?

Improving Education in China

“After Deng (Xiaoping) took over in China (in 1978) and initiated a series of market-oriented reforms that led to explosive economic growth, the nation set out to reach parity with the West in education at every level—a truly daunting goal, given the very high rates of illiteracy in China, the extent of the prior destruction of its education infrastructure and teaching force, and the depth of poverty in this very rural nation.”  China’s agenda to improve its educational system at every level does not mean replacing public schools with private sector corporate charter schools that profit a few individuals like what has been happening in the United States for the last few decades. Instead, China has worked hard to improve its public schools from kindergarten through college. – Not replace them with public funded corporate schools.

In fact, Statista reports, “During the school year of 2017/18, over 363-thousand Chinese students were studying in higher education institutions in the United States.”

If China’s leaders were afraid of their people learning how to think for themselves, why allow them the freedom to attend colleges and universities in the United States and Europe?

The leaders of the United States seem to have forgotten: “I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” –Thomas Jefferson – 1820

Return to or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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What came first the soybean or tofu?

January 16, 2019

The answer to the question in the title is simple. Soybeans came first. Tofu-making was first recorded during China’s Han dynasty more than 2,000 years ago. Chinese legend credits its invention to Prince Liu An (179–122 BC).

We learn from Soya.be that “Soybeans originate from China. In 2853 BC, Emperor Sheng-Nung of China named five sacred plants – soybeans, rice, wheat, barley, and millet. Soybean plants were domesticated between 17th and 11th century BC in the eastern half of China where they were cultivated into a food crop.”

And Eating China reports, “But while those ancient farmers had discovered a new food source, only their descendants, almost 1,000 years in the future would begin to fully understand the nutritional value of the soybean. The long history of domestication resulted in a great variety of upright hardy soy plants that do well in a wide range of soil and weather conditions. The main types of soybeans are categorized by seed color: green, black and by far the most common, yellow, the variety that inspired the bean’s other name, Yellow Legume, Huang Dou.” …

“Making soy milk was one of the early methods. Soy milk is nothing more than a milky liquid that results from boiling and mashing whole beans, so we can assume that it was not long before soy milk was ‘invented.’ Initially it may have been eaten as bean meal soup. Even today in China soy milk remains a drink that is processed and consumed in simple ways, though it is often sweetened and occasionally salted.”

I can attest that fresh soy milk in China is much better than most soy milk you buy in supermarkets in the United States. When visiting China, I get up early to go to the nearest market that makes fresh soy juice and buy it without sugar or sweetener added. There is no comparison. It’s warm. It’s fresh. It’s China. It’s different from the genetically altered, American, factory-farmed soy juice sold in American markets. That stuff is “yuk” and I don’t touch it.

I’ve even made tofu chocolate pie at home. The Chinese invented tofu, but I was introduced to Chocolate Tofu Pie at Mother’s Market in Costa Mesa, California. Then I figured out how to make it at home by experimenting. You may find the recipe HERE.

Then there is stinky tofu, another of my favorites. When visiting Nanjing Road in Shanghai between People Square and the Bund, we always stop at the same shop, and I order deep fried, fresh chou dofu (stinky tofu) with peppercorn sauce that’s spicy hot enough to make me sweat.

Medical News Today.com says, “Tofu is made from soybean curds. It is naturally gluten-free and low in calories. It contains no cholesterol and is an excellent source of iron and calcium.” It is also an important source of protein, especially for vegans and vegetarians. “It also contains isoflavones such as phytoestrogens. Isoflavones may have both estrogen-agonist or estrogen-antagonist properties. These may help protect against some cancers, heart disease, and osteoporosis.”

Then there are the health benefits from soybean sprouts. Livestrong.com says, “Even though you can sprout seeds from any type of bean, the two most common types are mung bean and soybean sprouts, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension. Bean sprouts give you an easy way to boost the nutrients in your diet. Toss them onto your salad, use them in a sandwich or add them to soups and casseroles, and you’ll quickly increase the amount of protein, B vitamins and vitamin C.”

In fact, the Chinese learned how to sprout beans on their sailing ships to protect Chinese sailors from scurvy long before the west discovered that vitamin C prevented the disease. Our Everyday Life.com says, “Soy bean sprouts, which are germinated soy beans, have been used for human consumption for more than 5,000 years.” Just one of the benefits: “Soy bean sprouts provide the B vitamin, folate, which is essential for the synthesis of DNA and red blood cells. One cup of raw soy bean sprouts has 120mcg of folate. Adults need 400mcg of folate daily, according to the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine. Soy bean sprouts are also a source of vitamin C and pantothenic acid.”

Soy bean sprouts were not the only source of vitamin C for ancient Chinese sailors. Asian cultures have relied on fermented cabbage to survive long winters between fruit seasons for thousands of years. Kimchi, sauerkraut’s Korean cousin, was historically used during winter to stave off vitamin deficiencies, while early records show workers building the Great Wall of China ate fermented cabbage regularly when fruit was not available.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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The Most Popular Drink in the World originated in China and was stolen by the British

June 12, 2018

Tea is the most popular drink in the world second only to water. Its consumption equals all other manufactured drinks combined including coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, and alcohol, and China is still the leading tea producer in the world.

If you are interested in a real-life collision between the West and China early in the 19th century, I highly recommend reading Sarah Rose’s heavily researched nonfiction book For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History.

In this book, you will discover that the British Empire and its merchants were successful, because they were more ruthless and devious than anyone else on Earth. When China’s last Dynasty collided with the British Empire, the Qing Emperors probably had no idea who they were dealing with.

The British Empire was the largest in history, and it covered more than thirteen-million square miles (20,921,472 square kilometers), which is about a quarter of the Earth’s total land area, and it controlled more than 500 million people, a quarter of the world’s population at the time.

What financed the brutal expansion of this empire?  In the 19th century the British Empire was not only a thief, but the largest drug cartel in human history. After all, it was the British that forced Opium on China and fought two Opium Wars to make that happen. How do you think the British paid for the expansion of their empire?

The real-life main character in Sara Rose’s fascinating, true, fact-based story is Robert Fortune (1812 – 1880) who successfully pulled off one of, if not the largest, act of corporate espionage and theft in history. This nonfiction book is about how the British stole tea plants and the method of producing tea from China and successfully transplanted this industry in India where the British were also growing the opium they were selling to the Chinese.

If you drink Darjeeling Tea from India, you are drinking a product that was stolen from China by Robert Fortune in the early half of the 19th century.

But there is much more to this story than the theft of tea from the country that has the earliest records of tea drinking dating back to the first millennium BCE, because this nonfiction book reads like a spy thriller. If caught, Fortune would have been executed by the Chinese. To pull off the biggest heist of all time, he disguised himself as Chinese and traveled to areas of China that no foreigner had ever visited before, and his only companions were Chinese that he had bribed to work for him.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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For more than a thousand years, China traded tea for Tibetan horses

April 10, 2018

If Americans count the colonial era before the U.S. Revolution as part of their history (not counting more than 15,000 years of the native civilizations that were already here when the colonists invaded from Europe), we start with the first colony at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. That’s 411 years of history for the United States, but China’s recorded history stretches back more than 3,000 years.

What that means is China’s history is overwhelming rich with stories and one of those stories is about the ancient Tea Horse Road.

How many of you have heard of the ancient Tea Horse Road? I didn’t know about it until I first read about it in the May 2010 issue of National Geographic Magazine (NGM).

Tea from China arrived in Tibet as early as the Tang Dynasty (618- 906 A.D.). After that, the Chinese traded tea for Tibetan horses, as many as 25,000 horses annually.

But that isn’t what struck me the most about the NGM piece. For more than a thousand years, Chinese men fed their families by carrying hundreds of pounds of tea across the rugged Himalayan Mountains to Lhasa. Some froze solid in blizzards. Others fell to their deaths from the narrow switchbacks that climbed to the clouds.

This ended in 1949 when Mao had a road built to Tibet and farmland was redistributed from the wealthy to the poor. “It was the happiest day of my life,” said Luo Yong Fu, a 92-year-old dressed in a black beret and a blue Mao jacket that the author of the National Geographic piece met in the village of Changheba.

Did you know that the British stole the secret of making tea from China? That’s another story from China’s history.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Sipping Tea in China

December 6, 2017

The Chinese invented tea.  Then thousands of years later, the British stole the secrets of tea making, and you can read about that theft in For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History.

However, whenever I’m in Shanghai, I enjoy visiting this shopping area. Go early; it gets crowded.

The Huxinting Teahouse has been around for a long time, and the last time this pavilion was restored was in 1784.  Then it was turned into the tea house in 1855.

The area in Shanghai around the Huxinting Teahouse is a good place to shop. Hint, do not pay asking prices. Be willing to bargain.  Start low and meet in the middle. Don’t be too cheap either, because the business you are buying from has to earn enough money to survive too.

And if you want to read my review of “For All the Tea in China”, click the link in this sentence.

To learn more about Shanghai, also click and read:
Shanghai
Shanghai’s History & Culture
Shanghai Huangpu River Tour
Eating Gourmet in Shanghai
Chinese Pavilion, Shanghai World Expo

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline