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Horse meat: No different from pork or beef?

Last week’s story on a Nebraska bill proposing the revival of slaughtering horses for food generated quite a flurry of strong reactions. Many readers found it easiest to express their emotions in just one word:

But the main point of tension seemed to be the ethics of consuming horse meat – how morally different is it, several people asked, from eating meat from a cow or a pig? On our Facebook page, Sarah questioned our sense of appropriateness when eating different kinds of meat:

How many of the people screaming about this eat pork? Pigs are demonstrably highly intelligent and sensitive, in many cases more so than dogs and children yet we gobble up bacon with no problem. What animals are appropriate to eat depends on culture. Ours has rejected horse meat as food. I personally would like to see us keep on that path, but it is interesting to see what animals we consider pets and what we consider food and the drastically different ways we allow them to be treated.

Another commenter, Jim, saw the economic benefits of allowing horse slaughter:

Horse is leaner than beef, tender and tasty. It is eaten all over the world already, to the tune of 700,000 tons annually. Staying out of the trade only serves to harm us economically. Why not give our farmers an alternate source of income to help lift up the economy?

And Lesa condemned the general killing of animals to solve an economic problem:

Reading this brings tears to my eyes. The idea that slaughtering horses is the solution to a human economic problem is so egocentric it shocks me. No animal should have to pay the price for what humans have done to ourselves; yet here we are debating at the state and federal level whether or not we want to kill horses for monetary gain.

Is horse meat on the same moral equivalent as pork or beef? Do you consider the Nebraska bill a viable solution to an economic problem, or a repulsive proposal?


  • Charlibryant

    I would eat it with no problem.

  • Kaysee_mae

    What about using horses who have to be put down for age, accidents, etc and not just raising them for meat?

  • Kim

    I would rather see them slaughtered than abused, neglected or led out to the swamps to be devoured alive by gators or even worse suffer in agony because the owner ‘Loves them too much’ to euthanize.
    I’ve worked in the horse industry for 15 yrs, and with at least 1000 horses in that time. I’ve met responsible and irresponsble owners, trainers, breeders and caretakers alike. Seems for every one genuine good ‘horsemen’ there are 20 dangerously ignorant or sadistically cruel idiots. So instead of slaughtering the excess horse population, we should first be considering how to limit the numbers. Most effective would be to require strict standards for breeding stock, Professional licensing of breeders and stiff fines for non compliance.
    Granted there will still be horses I’d just asoon eat on a kaiser roll with horseradish then have to deal with, but at least it won’t be because some human made them that way.
    Oh btw if you tell a horseman you “Love Horses” you’re telling them you don’t know jack shit about them and have never actually worked with any. Horses are like humans- some are sweet, some are just misunderstood and some are assholes by nature :)

  • Joe

    The double-standard that we apply to those animals which we eat vs. those which we do not (and in fact will harshly punish and condemn anyone who harms) is absurd. So yes, the slaughter of horses for food is perfectly permissable.

  • Jules

    Horse would never be on the menu at my house. We kill enough animals for their meat. No need to add another just because…

  • Growth is not sustainable

    The economy being what it is, thousands, perhaps 10s of thousands of horses are starving to death. Better to put them out of their misery.

  • Scott133


  • Cecilia Reyna1

    How do you know this? where do you get this information?

  • Sarah Ann

    I am completely against eating horse meat. I have worked in the animal industry for years so I am familiar with livestock production. People have the idea that slaughter will reduce the number of starving and neglected animals- this is not true. People who abuse animals will continue to do so, many times even with law enforcement involved, they will refuse to give them up without a court order. They would rather maintain ownership and let them starve, than give them away. These people are often times uneducated, delusion, or somehow mentally ill. Might as well start killing excess children in hopes of reducing child abuse and neglect. Does anyone really think that will work?

    The best meat animals are young (age 2-3), well fed animals. Ask anyone who raises cattle. Older animals are worth less, and starved animals worth practically nothing. Horses are also routinely given drugs that taint the meat, some drugs which are carcinogenic to people. In all other meat animals, drugs are strictly regulated, in horses they are Not. There is little to no enforcement to ensure the meat is untainted. Would you like some bute, steroids, or dewormer with your supper?

    If you have not worked in the industry, you have no idea how many medications are used routinely. Many trainers are even using drug concoctions that don’t show up on drug tests. Many common medications require the use of gloves and protective gear, as these medications are harmful if they get on your skin or clothing- Look at regumate (a hormone very dangerous for pregnant women), Furacin and bute (both may cause tumors), Dexamethasone ( a steroid), and DMSO (possibly neurotoxic).

    A single racehorse’s personal history of drug use almost certainly
    includes Banamine (an anti-inflammatory), Clenbuterol (a steroid),
    Ivermectin (dewormer), and Lasix (an anti-bleeding drug), and might also include snake venom (which deadens nerves in horses’ joints) and other steroids (which are banned but still sometimes used by unscrupulous vets).

    There is no medical history requirement at this time- a horse can go straight to slaughter, no questions asked.