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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?