The US essentially pulled the plug on the killing of horses for human consumption a few years ago. Movement in a few states may be bringing it back, though, if Willie Nelson and others can’t persuade Congress to ban it completely.
The title above probably makes most of you (vegetarian or not) grimace or say: “What, do people eat horses!?” In Japan and Europe, people do (and horsemeat is actually a delicacy). And although horses don’t seem to be moving onto the menu in the US anytime soon, it is becoming increasingly likely that the US will slaughter horses for people in these other countries to eat…again.
“On April 8, a subcommittee in the Tennessee House approved a horse slaughter bill 7-6. A week earlier, the Missouri House approved 91-61 bill HR1741,” Alisa Opar of Audubon Magazine reports.
Previous Horse Slaughter in the US
In the past, approximately 100,000 horses were slaughtered for human consumption each year. But a few years ago Congress barred the USDA from spending federal funds to inspect horse slaughterhouses. And if meat cannot be inspected, it cannot be sold or eaten.
The last equine slaughterhouse in the US was closed in 2007.
Is Horse Slaughter Good or Bad?
Supporters of horse slaughter in the US say that it is important for dealing with horse cruelty and abandonment that occurs when a horse is no longer healthy or useful to an owner. Of course, others argue that this is just an excuse for an unethical money-making scheme. Willie Nelson is one of the most notable people against the slaughtering of horses in the US. He wrote, “We ride horses in America, we don’t eat them,” in a letter printed in the Tennessean. More words from Willie:
Rep. Niceley is sponsoring a bill (HB 1428) in the Tennessee General Assembly to allow a horse slaughterhouse in Tennessee. He wants folks to believe it is more humane to allow buyers to travel around our great country purchasing healthy, wanted horses, then haul them to Tennessee to be slaughtered for human consumption. Who benefits: foreign-owned companies and high-end diners overseas.
Nelson and others are now pushing for Congress to pass the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (HR 503/S 727), which would outlaw domestic horse slaughter for overseas food consumption.
It seems to me that if there is an issue with owners abandoning or mistreating old horses, that should be addressed in some more caring way. There should be stricter laws and enforcement regarding this matter. But maybe I’m just an idealist?
Why Do We Love Dogs (or Horses), Eat Pigs and Wear Cows?
The final issue this all brings up is one that always comes to my mind when people are grossed out by the idea of eating dogs, horses, cats or anything else they are not used to eating: how do people not think or feel the same way regarding cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and fish?
Dr. Melanie Joy delved into this issue in depth in her PhD studies and has written a book on the matter titled “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism”. This first video below is a brief introduction to the book.
This second video is an excellent explanation of “carnism” by Melanie Joy.
Image Credit: paul+photos=moody via flickr/CC license