thoughts on horse meat

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lucySo 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.

nuggetI 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? pig

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.

loveWhat 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.

12 thoughts on “thoughts on horse meat

    heartical said:
    February 27, 2013 at 5:54 am

    I think it’s all more a case of “No horse meat please, we’re British!” 😉 What I mean is the shock and disgust is more an English reaction because they don’t eat horse meat…here in the Netherlands there’s horse meat for sale in the supermarket. I chose rather for chicken and fish…but I’m originally English 😉 ….if I had to hunt for my food I would only eat fish…

      margosnotebook responded:
      February 27, 2013 at 8:39 am

      yes i agree, one man’s food is another man’s friend..human exceptionalism has created a strange human – animal relationship, one that i will be glad see upturned .. my personal choice to become an ethical vegan was based as much on the way factory farmed animals endure so many cruel experiences as the issue of eating them at all.

    Vicki said:
    February 27, 2013 at 12:26 am

    I didn’t know about this but must say that I would not willingly eat a horse, nor a deer,nor a rabbit but just my choice.. I agree with the above commenter that these objections were more to do with the deception.

      margosnotebook responded:
      February 27, 2013 at 8:31 am

      Yes the deception is probably what drives it however I havent heard anyone say they objected to being deceived they express they object to it being horse meat.. if it had been found to contain mutton would they have felt as strongly about being deceived.. its interesting isn’t it how our world views on these issues are formed out of our culturally influenced identity.

        Vicki said:
        February 27, 2013 at 8:55 am

        you are probably correct about the fact that they wouldn’t object to mutton. and you are certainly correct that culture influences what is appropriate and what is not..

        margosnotebook responded:
        February 27, 2013 at 9:13 am

        Maybe being vegan takes a person to a place as seeing all animals as the same, if i had not been a vegan i certainly would have tried the fried spider just to know what it tasted like .. they are the big black hairy ones! instead i settled for it to take a walk up my arm .. then across my chest.. i was baulking though when it approached my face and the little six year old girl calmly took it off! ‘D

    kiwiskan said:
    February 26, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    I think the objections were more to do with the deception

      margosnotebook responded:
      February 27, 2013 at 8:28 am

      Good point. The labelling issue rears its head again as many products are legally allowed without being mentioned on the label.

    Jane said:
    February 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I was a little surprised that people were surprised. I know horsemeat in food can be a problem due to bacteria issues but people seem happy to eat those frozen meat pies knowing that they can contain camel, goat, deer and whatnot as well as the more traditional beef. Or maybe they don’t know they cotain those thinigs. I don’t eat meat so it doesn’t bother me what’s in them and it does annoy me that people are happy to eat a cow but not a horse, as you say – no difference. I was really cranky when we went to China and people on the tour kicked up a fuss about them eating dog. I said well you eat kangaroo and emu – we’re probably the only people in the world who eat their national emblems. As you say it’s a cultural thing, people in China ate dog to survive during very harsh times to avoid starving.

      margosnotebook responded:
      February 27, 2013 at 8:27 am

      yes it often comes down to what food is available .. in Cambodia eating rats is very common, in fact our guide said if you buy a ‘meat/beef’ pie it is most likely rat. he explained that the rice crops which are the stable of their diet attract large numbers of rats which at first where seen as vermin however due to food shortages during the war their usefullness as a food source came to the fore and licenses were granted to rat catches. i saw a small truck stacked high with shoe-box size crates all filled with live rats on the way to market and at Skun the market was full of huge baskets of crickets, cockroaches and spiders amoung other things the western world wouldn’t normally eat.

        Jane said:
        February 27, 2013 at 8:34 am

        I like watching Luke Nguyen’s show on SBS – he eats all sorts of things, although even he baulked at first at the bbq’d rat.

        margosnotebook responded:
        February 27, 2013 at 9:09 am

        yes ive seen that its nice to see him exploring his cultural roots

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