What’s So Gross About Eating Horses?

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Forgive me. I gave up eating red meat over a decade ago. It’s not a sentiment widely understood in the meat lovers’ haven that is Kansas pol_horsemeat13__01__630x420City. Okay. I still eat some fish and I still eat some foul. And I’m not criticizing anyone for their love of steak and bacon. I just personally decided a long time ago that I don’t have any desire to eat red meat. Mammal is just a little too close to home for me, genetically speaking. It’s environmentally more costly. It doesn’t make me feel good. I also go by the philosophy that if I would never be willing to kill and process an animal, then I shouldn’t partake of it. But many people do love red meat, and even vocally advocate for their right to eat it.

So my question to the meat-lovers is this: what’s so gross about eating horses?

The recent discovery of several supposed beef products tainted with horse meat has caused an uproar in Europe and a gossip ripple around the world that goes something like this: Ewww! HORSES?!

So my question to the meat-lovers is this: what’s so gross about eating horses?

I don’t really get it.

Okay sure. Lying about the food you are giving to someone is completely underhanded and potentially puts people’s lives in danger. I get that point. It’s deceptive and undermines the role of the consumer in the economic food exchange. (This is why I support greater regulatory oversight in our food systems  – a system in dire need of support.) And not to be dismissive, this deception is the source of much outrage.

But it seems the first reaction of many offended parties is to feel some moral pang of guilt and a physical disgust for having eaten the flesh which comes from a horse. It surprises me that so many people would not see the apparent contradiction in being okay with eating cattle but feeling immoral for eating horse.

Maybe it’s because of the way humans perceive horses. We actually develop relationships to horses because we use them for an entirely different purpose than cattle. We don’t breed them solely to be slaughtered and co-modified. So we don’t have to categorize them in our minds as disposable, intended for consumption, far away from anything relative to human.

Perhaps we like to identify with horses. Horses are strong and noble. Yet horses are so humble. Wellllllll…at least the ones who have been “broken” are humble and if you think a horse is more humble than a cow, then you’ve never met a cow. They have emotions in their eyes. They tremble when their noses are petted. They live and serve their whole lives just give you and your family one more thoughtless and thankless dinner. They’re pretty humble.

Perhaps it is the notion of an idyllic animal friend, one who accompanies us on our life’s journeys, which makes us conceptualize horses as too good for food. We feel the same sort of outrage when we hear that “they eat dogs and cats in Asian Country X.” Our beloved, domestic companions are simply treated as food stock. Certainly this can be categorized as nothing less than cruel and inhumane!

But again, I am confused. Does anyone remember Arnold the Pig? And what about Wilbur? I mean, c’mon!

I am mostly vegetarian and my boyfriend tells me that I should do more to celebrate the fact that we are omnivorous creatures. But then again, he doesn’t think there is anything gross about eating a horse.