Now here’s a question: why should eating horse meat be any more upsetting than eating any other animal? The recent headlines concerning the presence of horse DNA in Tesco’s own-brand frozen burgers is of course disturbing, mainly because it makes you wonder what else is in there. The issue here lies with Tesco mislabelling a product; you can’t call it a beef burger if some of it is horse.
I can’t honestly say I was surprised; at the best of times those cheap patties are mostly made up of the highly questionable and rather weird sounding “Mechanically Recovered Meat” – basically what’s left on a cow after the proper butchers take away all the good cuts of beef. There may be far worse horrors than horse meat lingering in that indistinguishable grey pulped matter …
The issue I am trying to get to is this: cows are lovely, dopey, rather docile mooing milk machines. They can be cute; they’ll even eat grass right out of your hand. So why should it be more socially acceptable to kill them on a huge scale and eat them than it is, say, to eat horses?
Cows can be cute. Photography: Honeycorn.
Yeah, you can say that horses are our perennial companions, and like dogs, we have forged too close relationships with the species to turn around and make them into sausages. But I think this is bollocks. Cows have been domesticated for just as long as horses and dogs, so we’ve been caring for them, feeding them and keeping them for years; it’s just that we have no problem with killing them either. Horses are all pretty and noble, sure, but that’s not to say we shouldn’t eat them.
We can’t arbitrarily draw the line at animals that we find physically endearing; to do so is a denial of nature, and of what we as a species do to survive. It annoys me that people have a problem with the killing of horses more than they do with the killing of say, pigs. Despite pigs being highly intelligent, they aren’t always the most endearing creatures, so there’s less of a problem with eating them. I have eaten horse many times; it is delicious, lean and very nourishing, with a much lower fat content than beef or pork.
Let’s just be clear about what meat is: if you feel strongly about animal welfare and do not eat meat, that is a perfectly valid opinion to hold, and is certainly worthy of respect. But I cannot help having very little respect for the people who eat any kind of meat, yet make a fuss at horses being eaten. It’s one or the other; you can’t have a problem with an issue that you actively perpetrate.