Dog Meat Restaurant Owners Open Vegan Eatery Sabay Vegilicious in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

A new vegan restaurant has opened in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, named “Sabay Vegilicious.” The business is owners Syna and Mong’s second catering venture — the pair previously owned a dog meat restaurant just outside the city.

Across Cambodia, the dog meat trade is rife, despite being considered bad luck and in stark contrast with Buddhist beliefs, the dominant religion in the region. Many restaurants in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and other Cambodian cities and towns specialize in the cuisine. However, as noted on the Sabay Vegilicious Facebook page, the trade is cruel, and it is one that Syna and Mong now wish to distance themselves from.

“In this grim environment, fearful animals were handled in make-shift slaughterhouse[s] to be turned into a 2$ curry snack or a plate of sausage and BBQ meat,” the page notes. It continues, “[Syna and Mong] are striving to leave behind what was often sad and violent in their previous business, and trade it for a friendlier and more compassionate way to earn a living and to support their young children’s education and their own lives.”

The duo was offered financial support to start their new venture from Marc Ching of the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation — an organization that works globally to end the dog meat trade. Both kitchen equipment and professional training with a vegan chef were also provided by Ching and the foundation. “Thank you for giving me something to be proud of, and the chance to do right by my family,” Mong said. “The dogs are so friendly and loyal to humans, and yet they are treated in a poor way. Here at this restaurant, though, they are welcome to join their caregivers at the table!”

The pair decided to extend their compassion to all animals, not just dogs, by leaving animal products off the menu altogether. There is no difference between a dog and another animal, they note. The page continues, “if one generalizes this concept of compassion and of not inflicting unnecessary harm to any living being, then not just dogs, but any animal species should be left off the plate.” 

The dog meat trade has been in the spotlight recently due to the Yulin Dog Meat festival, held in June in China. The festival prompted many people to speak out against its cruel nature, including celebrities such as Ricky Gervais and Evanna Lynch.