Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

At a pop-up event on Ho Plaza on Oct. 2, satirical brand Elwood's Organic Dog Meat stressed their believed hypocrisy of meat-eating to students passing by.

October 4, 2023

Satirical “Dog Meat” Brand Sparks Controversy Among Cornellians at Monday Event

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Elwood’s Organic Dog Meat, a satirical brand created by vegan Molly Elwood to spread awareness about veganism, arrived on campus on Monday Oct. 2 — where they stressed their believed hypocrisy of meat-eating and virtues of veganism to students passing by the entrance of Willard Straight Hall.  

Elwood’s does not sell dog meat nor other products of any kind. The satirical brand made it a point to challenge many students’ views on veganism and the consumption of animals by using dog meat, a sensitive topic, as a vocal point for discussion on these topics. Monday’s event was sponsored by Allied Scholars for Animal Protection, an organization that aims to produce student activists for animal protection.

“I like to take the joke as far as I possibly can,” said Natalie Fulton — a YouTuber and animal rights activist who participated in the event — in an interview with The Sun. “Because one thing we’ve realized is that people don’t change unless they’re a little uncomfortable.” 

The Frequently Asked Questions page on Elwood’s website states its concept is not meant to evoke or be connected with a specific country — despite the consumption of dog meat being a documented pejorative stereotype for East and Southeast Asians, particularly for Chinese and Koreans. The brand claims that the goal is to correct what they believe to be hypocritical actions by those who justify eating animals but still believe in animal rights.

“The only reason we are doing dog [meat] is because most people on average care about dogs.  I have a dog, [and] I would never eat a dog even if it’s humanely raised and humanely killed and all that,” said Faraz Harsini, founder and CEO of ASAP, in an interview with The Sun. “So the whole point is to get people’s attention and bring attention to eating other animals.”

Fulton said the choice of dog meat was to highlight the difference in perception between animals such as dogs and cats — which are primarily kept as companions — and other domesticated animals, typically kept as tools.

“Society’s taught us that certain animals deserve respect and reverence such as dogs and cats but other animals are tools for us to use for resources and don’t even count,” Fulton said. “People are totally [in favor of] animal rights until they realize that they would have to change something about their lifestyle.” 

The comparison between dogs and other animals is a goal Elwood’s organic dog meat seeks to emphasize. They believe all animals have a right to life without having to suffer or be eaten.

“I think a lot of the reason [for] using dogs … is [to grab] people’s attention,” said Jessica Cohen ’25, the president of Cornell’s chapter of ASAP. “By showing that a dog is not really any different than a cow, and a pig and other animals we eat, it’s helping people realize how their food choices impact all these animals who go through pain and suffering every day.” 

Cohen and Cornell’s chapter of ASAP aim to make vegan food options more accessible and affordable on campus. 

“We are working hard on some initiatives in the dining hall,” Cohen said. “We are trying to get more plant-based options.”

Elwood’s presence caused mixed reactions from students, however, with many questioning the organizers’ motives and the views they represented prior to the event.

“I had heard of the event beforehand and then I saw some posts on social media about this event being racist,” Ryan Noonan ’25 said. “Why are people saying it’s racist? I wanted to come and see what I thought about it.” 

Although Elwood’s strategy drew many students to the event, some students found it to be ineffective in convincing students of the brand’s mission. 

“I personally think it’s failed,” Noonan said. “If you look at the backlash, it doesn’t really matter how good your arguments are if people aren’t receptive to them.” 

However, not all reactions to the event were negative.

“I just decided to stop by because it seemed really interesting,” said Owen Luo ’27. “I thought [the event] really stood out to me and kind of changed my perspective, because I would never eat a dog. But then on the other hand, I am going to eat all these other animals, and it’s like cognitive dissonance.”

Anthony Nagle ’27 is a Sun contributor. He can be reached at [email protected].