March 11, 2010, - 4:29 pm
Sad Sign of the Times or Natural Progression of Carnivores?: Horsemeat . . . It’s (Maybe Soon) What’s For Dinner
Is it really a sad sign of the bad economic times that a Missouri state legislator introduced a bill to circumvent federal rules barring horsemeat slaughter? Yes and no.
Horses – The New “Other White Meat”?
I’ve never understood the U.S. prohibition on slaughtering horses for human consumption. As an observant Jew, horses aren’t kosher. So, I’d never eat them even if I could. Still, while the thought of eating horses disgusts me–I love horseback riding and, because of that, have an affinity for the animal–why are horses any more special than any other animal we slaughter and eat?
Is horsemeat any less healthy than a steak or chicken? Not being a nutritionist or dietitian, I have no idea. I’d never eat dog or cat or snake (and none of those are kosher, so even if I wanted to, my religion prohibits it). But if you believe–as I do–that animals are here to serve man, that we can ride them, eat them, and use them for leather, fur, and feathers, then why are horses any more sacred than other living beings to which we do these things and gain these materials for our use?
They aren’t . . . unless you’re a PETA (or as I call it, PUTAh–People for the Unethical Treatment of Animals and humans) activist, since PETA likes to use things that normally disgust us, like the meat of horses, dogs, and cats to get us to transfer those thoughts of disgust to beef, fowl, and fish that we find acceptable to the palate and consumption.
Until a few months ago, I had two very cool pairs of high-heeled horsehair boots. They didn’t fit me anymore and so, downsizing and de-cluttering, I sold them. But does wearing horse hair boots make me less humane than someone who wears boots made of leather made from cowhide or lambskin? I don’t think so. So, why the difference in the attitude toward the meats, other than our sentimentalization of horses over cattle?
Now, Rep. Jim Viebrock, the Missouri Republican State Representative, wants Missouri to be allowed to slaughter horses for human consumption. I’m not sure how the bill, if passed, would get around pre-emption by the federal law, especially if the Department of Agriculture fights it.
But the bill has its merits.
Not only does it have the support of Missouri’s Director of Agriculture, Jon Hagler, but it would address the growing problem of an increasing number of unwanted and abandoned horses. In this tough economy, a number of horse owners can no longer afford to keep, feed, and properly care for their horses and, instead, set them free or–worse–allow them to starve and/or get sick. And, right now, many of these horses are being purchased and hauled off to Canada and Mexico for slaughter and meat, in those locations. Is there really a moral or legitimate reason that it shouldn’t be done here?
Some anti-slaughter advocates claim that abandoned horses should, instead, be euthanized, probably because they don’t want the creation of an easy supply for horsemeat.
But, if they’re going to be killed anyway, isn’t it better not to waste the meat and put it to good use–providing jobs and business for those who would slaughter it and food for those who would consume it?
Like I said, even if it wasn’t unkosher, for me the idea of eating horse meat turns my stomach. But that’s just my taste. And there are plenty who wouldn’t think twice about it.
In a tough economy, many can’t afford to think twice.
So, I ask: there are no sacred cows. When it comes to meat, why are there sacred horses?
Tags: consumption, horse meat, horsemeat, horses, Jim Viebrock, meat, Missouri, Republican, slaughter