As CV Weekly’s theme this week relates to animals and given that Thanksgiving is next week, I thought I would mash the two together and look at some of the odder and more exotic animals consumed by humans worldwide.  The consumption of many of these animals is rooted in human survival and in response to abject poverty and starvation.  Faced with starvation, people learn to eat and often enjoy many foods that make you and me squeamish.

Let’s start with Fido.  Various groups in Nigeria as well as much of China believe that  the consumption of dog has medicinal effects.  In Ghana, the Tallensi consider dog meat to be a delicacy.  Here in North America, Canada has no law against the sale of dog meat while many Native American tribes in the United States include dog meat in traditional festivals.  As dog meat cannot be sold in the United States, some Chinese restaurants use imitation dog meat made with pulled pork flavored to simulate dog for a variety of recipes.  While there are efforts to ban the consumption of dog across Asia, it remains in the food supply.  For example, Japan imports five tons of dog meat a year from China.

Are you partial to felines?  Nearly 4 million cats are eaten worldwide each year with the greatest consumption occurring in southeast Asia.  It seems that cat meatballs or cat fried rice are two of the more common dishes.  In Guandong, cat meat is the key ingredient in the dish ‘dragon, tiger, phoenix’ better understood by us as snake, kitten and chicken.  In Peru, cat is used in stews among its Afro-Peruvian community while in Brazil, street vendors are known to serve “churrasquinho de gato” or cat barbeque.  In Switzerland, some eat cat with thyme.  I’m thinking a cabernet goes best.

Low in fat and high in protein, horse meat is eaten throughout the world. In France, there is a special butcher who sells nothing but this – a boucherie chavaline.  Approximately five million horses are eaten each year with China being the world’s top producer followed by Mexico, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Argentina.  In Kazakhstan, horse is a large part of their diet via an array of sausages.


When I was a child, my sister had a pet guinea pig.  Little did I know that many South American cultures eat these in a variety of ways similar to chicken.  Peru alone consumes 65 million guinea pigs or cuy a year.  This meat type is hoped to gain popularity in Africa as a way to combat starvation as guinea pigs breed quickly and take fewer resources than traditional livestock.

Enough on pets.  Let move on to the creepy crawly things.

Entomophagy is the consumption of insects as food.  Nearly 80% of the world’s nations eat insects.  Most popular are grasshoppers, ants, mealworms, beetles, caterpillars and spiders.

A confectionary delight, the French as well as many other cultures enjoy ants that are covered in chocolate.  Larger ants are baked or fried and said to taste like earthy bacon.

In Cambodia, spiders are considered delicacies.  People began eating them when they were being starved by Pol Pot nearly a half century ago.

Another animal eaten in countries where starvation is a real threat is rat.  Rat is considered a staple food in North Korea and China.

Indonesians eat bat meat while Koreans enjoy battered, crumbed and fried silk worms.

Lastly, across Africa gorillas and elephants continue to be eaten despite their endangered statuses.

While you and I may find these culinary tastes revolting, remember that many vegetarians, vegans and religious groups find the consumption of any animals equally unappealing.

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