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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?


  1. This has almost nothing to do with your post but Bubba's Hilltop Shamrock Station in Albuquerque NM used to have a crock pot of the best real tamales, always hot. I was always going through there with my husband in the truck and joked they were dog meat tamales because the meat was unidentifiable.
    I REALLY couldn't eat dog meat unless I was starving and if there was any protein available besides horse meat I'd have to pass on that too.

  2. I am absolutely divided on this issue. I love horses, always have; and had horses when I was young. On that note, I would hate to see horses slaughtered for meat. On the other hand, they would be a valuable protein source for those who did not feel a cultural aversion to eating it. When in Europe, I frequently saw the traditional horse-head sign outside restaurants, meaning that horsemeat was served there. I do not know that I could eat it though, any more than I could eat dog or cat; even though I've tried some unconventional foods, such as alligator, rattlesnake, ostrich, and just this past summer, kangaroo.

  3. There is a difference between eating meat bred for slaughter and eating an animal that may have been someone's pet.

    I won't eat rabbit because I've had them as pets, but when my dad conned me into a mouthful when I was a kid I really liked it.

  4. So long as the horses are raised and slaughtered in a humane manner, I see no problem with horses as a food source on principal. I don't think I, personally, could eat a horse (or a dog or cat for that matter), but that doesn't mean I would tell someone who didn't share my emotional reaction to it that they couldn't do it.

  5. I love horses and it's hard to think of eating an animal that was probably once loved. But there is an overpopulation of horses that people don't want, are not sound or healthy and would be difficult to rehome. It's better than letting them suffer. So I guess I would say I'm divided. I wouldn't send my horse to slaughter when he's old but other people have different circumstances. I only eat chickens, turkeys, cows, and pigs. Just thought I'd add that as others where sharing what they eat!

  6. Does horse meat have a special name? Pig is called 'pork,' cow is called 'beef,' and deer is called 'venison.' What do they call horse meat?

  7. I don't know that I've ever heard of any other special name, though there might be one.

  8. Horse slaughter is very much available in the States... it's as close as your nearest auction. Thousands have already been shipped up here to Canada to be slaughtered and thousands more to Mexico. Bravo Packing is an example of one slaughter house in the States still slaughtering horses as animal feed as well. There are a few problems with horse slaughter for human consumption. A biggy is that they are not being raised as a meat animal. Starting in April 2010 the EU has demanded that all the horses of ours that they want to eat, now have to be quarantined in a feedlot for 6 months completely drug free. Also certain drugs like anabolic steroids have been banned completely. Another issue is that slaughter via captive bolt the way it is done in a slaughter house is NOT humane. The head of the animal must be restrained to be humane. Chances of that happening are slim to none. Just google horse slaughter on youtube to get an idea of what a horse goes through during the slaughter process. If you want to see what happens during transportation go to: These are USDA pictures... not animal activists. The majority of horses in the US and Canada are raised as athletes, recreational, pet, therapy, police, rescue animals. It is the ultimate betrayal. If the Europeans and others want to eat horse, they should raise their own. It only exists in North America because people are getting money to dispose of their 'unwanted' animal. If we were given money for unwanted dogs and cats too, I'm sure there are people that would sell these pets to slaughter as well.
    Starvation and neglect are illegal. Can't afford to keep a horse? Give it away or euthanize it. A bullet to the head at home is much more humane than the trip to the slaughter house all for a lousy couple hundred bucks... if that. If you're concerned about it being a waste of meat, eat it yourself or butcher it up and donate it to a zoo.
    And yes, I eat meat...grew up on a beef farm actually.


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