Chinese people eat some types of feces

"Eaten by China" - eaten by China. According to a bitter joke among China's animal rights activists, the slogan could soon compete with the more well-known "Made in China". Yes, there are animal rights activists in China. But there are also many omnivores who are equally indifferent to global conservation and the bans of their own government. How did these people come to mistake the Red List of Endangered Species for a menu? There are mutliple reasons for this:

Food is medicine, food is even better medicine. The Chinese have lived by this principle for thousands of years. Healing through bitter herbs is good, but at least as good is alleviation or prevention through the consumption of all kinds of flora and fauna. Tiger penis, turtle soup, snake blood and rhinoceros powder - the belief in the sometimes invigorating, sometimes healing power of such recipes is old, passed down from mouth to mouth, not infrequently in the works of classical Chinese medicine such as "Ben cao gang mu".

The Chinese rhinoceros has therefore long been exterminated

In the 16th century, its author raved about the miraculous effect of the rhinoceros' ground horn - but also only took up what its predecessors had described 1700 years earlier. The powder was mainly used against poisons, allegedly it could neutralize blood poisons. It was also used against paralysis, fever, headache, nosebleeds and all sorts of other ailments.

But above all, it has always served as an aphrodisiac. The horn of the rhinoceros is one of the examples of the magical thinking of the ancient Chinese that has remained in remnants to this day. It manifested itself in that superstition that, among other things, the body parts of strong and powerful animals have a special effect on corresponding body parts in humans. Specifically: Because the rhinoceros horn is reminiscent of a protruding penis, it is said to have an effect against impotence. And the tiger penis anyway. This is placed in schnapps or dried, soaked and then cooked in a herbal soup. On the other hand, ground tiger bones - bottled in wine - are said to help against rheumatism and arthritis. Tiger dung for hemorrhoids.

The Chinese rhinoceros has therefore long been exterminated. The pangolin, once widespread in southern China, has also almost disappeared. His undoing was the fact that it is a talented construction and hole digger, from which old authors in turn constructed an ability to "pierce" obstructions and closures in the human body. For example, pangolin soup is recommended for postpartum women when their mammary glands are clogged.

"Don't let your stomachs turn into pet cemeteries"

One thing is important: the overwhelming majority of Chinese people have never indulged in the most extreme of these customs. She could never have afforded the rare animals. The tiger recipes, for example, used to be reserved for the emperor and a small elite. The fatality for the animal world is now: China's economic boom has created a layer of thoughtless new riches in recent years who can easily afford - and want to - the old imperial recipes.

But there is a glimmer of hope. Awareness in China is growing. The government is issuing bans, sports stars like basketball player Yao Ming are committed to protecting species, and the major online department stores are cleaning their pages of tiger penis and pangolin. "Don't let your stomachs turn into pet cemeteries," said a newspaper in the Cantonese city of Shenzhen.