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Friday, October 2, 2009

Slaughtering Horses

Eating meat is controversial to many people, resulting in an increase in the presence of vegetarianism in developed countries. For some people raising and then killing animals for personal consumption is wrong. But that's not what I want to discuss this time. A recent hot-button topic here in the US has been slaughtering horses for meat. In fact, there is currently a ban on slaughtering horses in the US or exporting them for slaughter.

Humans have been eating animal meat for as long as our kind has been around. For most of history it was never a big issue. However, the idea of "forbidden" meat has always seemed to be around. Usually it's cultural, such as a ban on pork among Muslims, a Hindu reverence for cattle, or an American aversion to eating companion animals. And while some cultures avoid certain meats, others may embrace it. Most Americans love hamburgers and porkchops, while many in Asia have no problem eating dog or cat meat. Really, the idea of banning certain animals from being food sources has little to do with biology and everything to do with cultural mores and standards.

So that brings up the idea of horse slaughter. Many Americans find this completely abhorrent because of the widespread use of horses as companions and work animals. For us, it would be the same as eating our beloved dog or cat. Yet in most of the rest of the world horse meat is perfectly acceptable, including in Europe, Asia, and South America (see this article). Horses are slaughtered humanely in the same way that cattle are, so there is little difference. Despite that, there are people extremely passionate about the topic, and the American Humane Society is completely against it (another article).

So that brings about this month's poll. I'm curious to see whether people find it acceptable for horses to be slaughtered for use as meat. Personally, I have no problem with the practice, and would even be willing to try it. I don't think I would ever be willing to eat dog meat, but I have no problem with people who do so as long as animals are killed humanely. What about the rest of you?