Horses: Food or Not?

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Ever since the horse meat scandal in 2013, there have been uncountable debates and discussion on the topic of eating horses. It is a meat that has been eaten widely around Europe and the rest of the world since historical times and thought to be a delicacy in many areas, but, in some countries, such as the UK and parts of America, there remains a large sense of discomfort when it comes to the thought of eating horses.

When it comes to taste, horse meat is most similar to beef, although slightly sweeter with a more gamey flavour. In Europe it is commonly cured or used in sausages and stews, and sometimes eaten as steaks. It can be used to replace other meats in most recipes, and, unlike other meats, it becomes more tender the older the horse is. When mixed into a big dish with a boldly flavoured sauce, it can be hard to tell the difference between horse meat and the meat of other animals. In terms of nutrition, it is healthier than beef, and also cheaper. The fat on a cut of horse meat is a thick, easily removed layer, meaning that you can cook much healthier meals than with beef, where the fat is marbled with the meat.

One of the reasons that eating horse meat is considered a taboo for so many people, is due to the fact that horses are considered a companion animal, and many people equate eating horses to eating cats and dogs. As well as this, horses have played a huge part in our history, from farming the land to fighting in wars.

As with all animals headed for slaughter, care needs to be taken to make sure that they aren’t given any medication that can be harmful to humans. But, when it comes to horses, this isn’t always so easy. Many ex-racehorses, who are usually pumped full of anti-inflammatory medication and painkillers, find themselves in slaughterhouses, and these chemicals, when eaten by humans, can cause serious problems. Since horses trading usually involves a long chain of people with disclosure being voluntary, choose a butcher that knows where their animals have come from when buying horse meat. 

Following the 2013 horse meat scandal, Princess Anne spoke widely of the topic, sharing her opinion that people should start to consider eating horse meat. She claimed that if owners had the option of selling their horses for meat, they would take better care of their animals, and the horse welfare crisis that gets worse each year might finally start to improve. There was, however, a backlash against this, with many animal welfare advocates arguing that if owners could sell their horses for meat after they have outlived their ‘usefulness’, it would lead to more neglect.

There is no argument that horses occupy a special place in British culture, but with 30% of the land on earth already being used, either directly or indirectly, for raising livestock, it would make sense for the world’s growing population to start looking to other sources when trying to satisfy that craving for meat.