‘Shadow Trade’ – A Film That’s Hard to Watch, But See it Anyway

Improv lunch; my husband’s leftover Brussel sprouts, a just-ripe avo from the kitchen, and some oranges from a friend.

The best meals always seem to emerge from improvisation. Last night, my husband gave me some of the Brussel sprouts from his dinner. I put them in the fridge for lunch today. An avocado ripened to perfection this morning. A friend was giving away oranges this afternoon. Put them all together, sprinkle with some Himalayan pink salt, and lunch - which I thought was going to be dull - is a chewy, creamy, sweet and salty vegan win.

Today is December 1, and it’s like a very early spring day. If winter keeps doing this, I won’t dislike it as much as I used to. In a month, we’ll be in the new year, and the slow stroll to spring begins.

Now, I’m going to recommend the documentary l saw last night because it’s important, but not because it’s easy to watch.

‘Shadow Trade’ is a grim but critical film about the illegal and thriving dog meat trade in Thailand. Director Richard Elsen withstood some hellish filmmaking to bring this documentary to us. Brave man.

The dog meat trade in Asia is shrouded in secrecy but bustling, and millions of dogs are slaughtered each year for their meat, which some Asians believe imparts sexual vitality and fertility, particularly to men.

The dogs that are killed are acquired from two sources: the poor, battered street dogs of Asia, who are gathered up during the night by butcher trucks; and people’s beloved pet dogs, who are stolen from their homes, yards, and dog houses every day.

Many of the dogs filmed for this story are still wearing the collars their owners bought them. In many cases, desperate owners wander the streets with pictures of their dogs, asking people to help them find the animals they love. But they’re never found.

The family dogs that are kidnapped are especially prized for their meat because they have been loved and well-fed; hence, their bodies are stocky and healthy. Street dogs are less desirable, but their meat is just as available.

I’m going to gloss over the barbaric methods of killing the dogs, who die screaming – actually screaming - as it’s believed that the fear adrenaline in the meat of an animal that’s panicked as it’s dying contains more of the aphrodisiac properties that dog meat eaters seek. So, the more terrified a dog is at the moment of his death, the more potent his meat. The procedure, then, is to drive him to a state of profound terror before administering the fatal blow or cut. Try to imagine that.

I’m also going to spare you the spectacle of the dogs as they wait to be slaughtered. They know what’s happening around them as other dogs are beaten to death and carved up in front of them. There’s not much to say except that they spend their last hours in abject terror, and then are brutally killed.

Look, there’s nothing fun about this film. But this idiocy of killing animals in order to eat their flesh will one day be an embarrassing part of our past. And one way to reach that happy day is by facing the hell on earth that we have created for animals like the dogs of Asia. I promise you, once you see this film, you won’t be able to un-see it. Traveling out of the comfort zone like this doesn’t feel good at all, but do it anyway.

Shadow Trade is available on Netflix. Go to shadowtrade.org for information and ways to help end the dog meat industry.

Live in peace.

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