Posts Tagged ‘horse meat’

The ban on the commercial slaughter of horses: More unintended consequences

August 15, 2008

All of the concerns of abandoned horses and the other consequences of the US laws to shut down the commercial slaughter of horses seem to be coming to pass.

There is a national epidemic of “surplus” or “unwanted” horses. Domestic horses are being abandoned as never before. Some are being released as “strays” on public lands. Others are being left to starve in pastures denuded of grass. The reasons are various and excruciatingly complex.

There are, to begin with, too many horses in the USA: 9.2 million as recently as 2005, up from 5.3 million in 1999. Indiscriminate breeding leads not just to too many horses, but also to too many with physical or behavioral faults that render them unsuitable for domestic uses.

Then there’s the economy. Horses are not cheap to keep. Factor in training, vet care, tack and feed, and the expense averages $1,800 to $2,400 per animal, per year — and rising, as grain and fuel costs increase. According to the American Horse Council, a third of horse owners have household incomes less than $50,000 a year. When it comes to feeding your horses or putting gas in the car, the choice is simple, if painful.

But the single overriding cause of “surplus” horses is the movement to ban the sale of horses or their meat for human consumption. Activism forced the last three horse slaughter plants in the U.S. to close last year. They had hitherto processed about 100,000 horses annually, mostly for meat sales to France and Japan, where horse meat is considered a delicacy.

Not that facts and common sense carry any weight where emotional issues are involved.

Horses, Food and Moral Superiority

April 3, 2008

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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