Horses, Food and Moral Superiority

There have been some impassioned comments after my blog on the closing of horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. The general tone was that the arguments for stopping the killing of horses for food were not emotional but then the arguments used pushed most of those buttons.

Admittedly, a great deal of horse ownership these days is for social purposes and the animals are more like pets to many people and not really working animals. For those people, the thought of selling their pet to a slaughterhouse when it becomes injured or too old to function properly is an anathema. If they don’t have the facilities to simply put it out to pasture and let it die of old age, they will go to a veterinarian and pay whatever the going rate is to euthanize the animal and then dispose of the body somewhere (Where do you dispose of a euthanized horse?)

But the horse is still dead. Even though you held its hoof while the needle was being inserted, it is still dead.

So what is the argument?

That the animal needs to be shown respect? Fine and good, but do you legislate that?

Some people eat horse meat and others obviously find just the thought of that to be wrong. But even if you personally don’t believe that horses should be used as food does that give you the moral right to pass laws that effectively stop those people from eating horse meat?

Let’s face it. Whether you slice it or grind it, fry it or BBQ it, meat is meat. Whether it comes from a cow, or a pig or a chicken or a dog or a horse it logically makes no difference.

As a friend of mine pointed out, Arabs and Jews don’t eat pork and the Chinese love it. Hindus don’t eat cows. Some cultures eat dogs. Is any one morally superior because of their diet?

OK, I know that vegans think they are, but that’s just their opinion.


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4 Responses to “Horses, Food and Moral Superiority”

  1. vicki Says:

    You just don’t get it. We are not telling people what they can or cannot eat. The legislation we are trying to pass is not going to stop the Europeans from eating horse meat. The legislation will stop the transport of our horses to slaughter. The Europeans are eating the horse meat, not Americans. The Europeans are free to eat whatever they choose. The intent is to stop our horses from ending up on their plates. Animals are slaughtered for food. Our horses are not raised or bred for food. If the Europeans want to eat horse meat, they can slaughter their own horses. Are you suggesting that we start slaughtering dogs and cats for food in America? Or are you suggesting we let foreign countries slaughter our dogs and cats as they do with our horses? I don’t get your point on cultures in other countries. We are not trying to change anyone’s culture. China eats dogs and cats and also skins them alive for their fur. We would not allow them to start operations in the US to export dog/cat meat or fur. How do you think we would be received if the US set up shop in India and started slaughtering their cows? That’s no different than France and Belgium slaughtering our horses.

    Almost the same amount of horses die each year as those that are slaughtered so obviously, there is a way to dispose of the carcass. They can bury the animal if it’s allowed, they can have it picked up by a renderer or if they can afford cremation, that is also an option. The cost of humane euthanasia and disposal is no more than one month’s care. If they can afford to care for their horse, they can afford humane euthanasia and disposal.

  2. Linda Says:

    “But the horse is still dead. Even though you held its hoof while the needle was being inserted, it is still dead.

    So what is the argument?

    That the animal needs to be shown respect? Fine and good, but do you legislate that? ”

    So the argument is – that the anti-slaughter movement is not about what happens AFTER the horse is dead; it’s about the intolerable treatment it receives from the auction house to transport, feed lot, and slaughter house floor BEFORE it dies. To claim that the anti-slaughter movement is about eating or not eating horse flesh shows your lack of understanding that it is a much larger issue than you acknowledge.

    And yes, you most definitely legislate respectful treatment of animals. It’s very common and, in fact, expected in civil societies. This type of legislation is known as anti-cruelty laws. I’m surprised you have not heard of them.

  3. vicki Says:

    I think my understanding is right on target. The kill houses are not providing a service to the US of ridding us of unwanted horses. The amount slaughtered is based on the demand for meat. When the demand is low, they slaughter less. When it’s high, they slaughter more. You can verify this on the USDA website by the slaughter counts in a given year. If slaughter was the means of ridding us of unwanted horses, please explain what happened to all the unwanted horses when the slaughter counts dropped from over 400,000 to 77,000. If the horses slaughtered were unwanted and we slaughtered over 300,000 less per year, where did those 300,000 horses go every year? Don’t you find it strange that the amount of horses slaughtered in a given year is always equal to the number of unwanted horses? The kill houses existed in the US for one reason and one reason only. To make money for the parent companies in Belgium and France. They profited off the blood of our horses and laughed at the US all the way to the bank.

    The argument is simple. It is not a food issue. The issue is we do not slaughter companion animals; they are euthanized. Animals are slaughtered for food. Horses are viewed as a companion animal in the US and are not raised or bred for food. If Europeans want to eat horses, they can butcher their own. There is a market for dog and cat meat overseas. Would you approve of China opening a kill house to butcher and export dog and cat meat?

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