So what’s the big surprise about horse meat in human food? And why are so many people outraged about eating it? Has the lid blown off the fact that those plastic wrapped frozen meals from the supermarket or the burgers the kids ate on Sunday actually (shock horror) contain an intelligent animal capable of loving, feeling, loyalty, recognition, pain and fear? Anyone who has looked into the animal slaughter for human consumption industry knows there are all manner of atrocities at work and mixing up the animals in a batch of food is the least of our worries.
I have to confess that I find it a tad hypocritical to object on the bases that its horse meat .. I mean a horse is an intelligent animal but so is the cow, the sheep, the pig and the chook (yes numerous studies show how intelligent chooks are) yet people in the West eat them all the time. Every one of the animals humans eat are proven to be intelligent in their own right, capable of expressing love to their young and tribe, feel pain and suffer deprivation just like humans, and yes they even cry. Yet few are complaining about eating the cow or the little lambs or the pigs … and the latter has been scientifically proven to have the intelligence of a three year old child. Have you spoken to a three year old child lately?
Whether we view an animal as a ‘pet’ or ‘food’ really comes down to our cultural conditioning. In the western world horses have been regarded both as a ‘pet’ and a commodity. In the first instance horses have been loved as companions and recognised for their intelligence and loyalty and in the main it is the people who love them, from exposure via books, movies or experience, that object to eating them. In the second instance there are people who have relentlessly exploited horses by creating a multi-million dollar horse racing industry where thousands of horses are discarded and sent to slaughter in often appalling circumstances each year … after making them literally ‘run for their life’. Now if we don’t want horses slaughtered in mass numbers this is the industry to protest about.
What about dogs? Dogs in western society are generally considered companions and ascribed ‘human like traits’ yet in many parts of Asia it is perfectly acceptable for them to be food. In some parts of India people still regard the cow as a sacred being not dinner. Many Japanese eat whales and dolphins yet many other cultures find this heartbreaking. How we regard a particular animal is really a culturally constructed reality. Eating horse or lamb? Dog or cow? What is the difference? If you choose to see any animal as a commodity and think it’s ok to eat them then it doesn’t make any sense to be fussy about which one. By admitting that one animal is capable of love, fear and pain then logically one must admit that they all are capable of the same and that all bellow with fear and rage when dragged to their slaughter.