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Horse v cow: what’s the difference? by Susan Walters

Image coutrtesy of Grant Cochrane

Image coutrtesy of Grant Cochrane

What’s the difference between eating a cow and a horse? No it’s not one of the many bad jokes doing the rounds on Twitter today, it’s a genuine question. Maybe it’s because I’m a vegetarian but I’m finding the whole furore over horse DNA being found in burgers a little bit odd. If you eat meat, as the majority of people do, why is the type of animal such a big deal? Surely if you are happy to eat cows, sheep, pigs, deer and ducks then a horse shouldn’t be such a big deal?

Image courtesy pf Tina Phillips

Image courtesy pf Tina Phillips

‘Oh but they’re such lovely animals, so majestic’ people complain. Well yes, they are, and I don’t believe they should be eaten, but then again I happen to think cows are beautiful animals with their huge brown eyes and just because you can’t train one to jump over hurdles and win races (has anyone ever tried?) I don’t see why they should be viewed as less important. I love ducks and think deer are beautiful but they are eaten every day. What’s the difference?

People in other countries across Europe view horse meat as a normal food. I can remember going to Paris 13 years ago and struggling to find anywhere serving veggy food (apart from good old Pizza Express.) We had a meal one night where my husband had a steak and was pretty certain it was not beef and was more likely to be from the horse family. But as he said then, ‘if you are willing to eat meat you can’t really complain.’

Image courtesy of Stoonn. All images from Freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stoonn.

Some people have commented that it is the fact that the packaging didn’t state there was horse in the product that is the problem. I doubt that very much. According to one report I read, out of 27 burger products tested, 10 contained horse DNA and 23 included pig DNA. I haven’t seen anyone all het up and stressed about the fact their burger had a bit of pork in it despite the fact that pigs are apparently highly intelligent creatures. There has also been little mention of the fact that of 31 other beef products, such as cottage pie or lasagne, 21 tested positive for pig DNA. Again where is the outcry? Oh, that’s right, no one minds eating pig.

So to everyone who is outraged about the horse issue I agree it was wrong, but maybe you need to look at what you normally eat. If you are happy to eat other meat what is the real difference?

All images from Freedigitalphotos.net

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About K

YA writer. Voracious reader. Feminist. Home educator. Addicted to tea and Twitter.

6 comments on “Horse v cow: what’s the difference? by Susan Walters

  1. Positive Sarah
    January 16, 2013

    Gotta agree with you there Keris. I’m not a veggie and when I read the bit about horse meat I thought – Hmmm. But then I rationalised it pretty much as you have done. To be fair, given that I probably only eat a burger once or twice a year, I’m not too stressed. The thing I was more concerned about was ‘DNA’. OK, I don’t understand why a different animal DNA is in the meat product? If it was ‘pig meat’ I’d think – oh yeah, right, I see. Beef burgers made on the same processing machines as sausages. Makes sense. But the mysterious ‘DNA’ sounds a bit…odd. Sounds like there’s been some mad experimentation or GM piggery/beefery going on somewhere. Or maybe I just read too much into it?…

    • Keris
      January 16, 2013

      Gah! It’s not me, it’s Susan Walters. I’ve cocked up and posted it as myself. I do completely agree with her though. (No idea re the DNA, though I guess it could just mean ‘traces’ of horse, like they say with nuts?) (I don’t mean traces of horses’ nuts, btw.)

  2. clodaghm
    January 16, 2013

    I agree, it’s just a cultural thing or squeamishness about eating certain animals. People are just more sentimental about some animals than others, and most people would probably baulk at the idea of eating animals they have as pets – cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs – but they’re commonly eaten in other parts of the world, as is horse meat. However, I do think people should have the right to decide for themselves what they want to eat, even if it’s irrational, so something that’s sold as beef should be beef.

    (I did wonder about you being a vegetarian, Keris. Strangest vegetarian I’ve ever seen.) 😉

    • Keris
      January 16, 2013

      Haha! I was a vegetarian for 15 years. When I fell off the wagon, I fell hard.

  3. Stella
    January 16, 2013

    Yep, I agree too. Look at the lovely little fluffy lambs in the field. Delicious! But I am a fan of horse steak anyway. I didn’t eat rabbit for a long time because of squeamishness that they’re often kept as pets but I’m well over that now. Not sure I could try guinea pig though.

  4. Susan Walters
    January 16, 2013

    Had everyone disagreed with me I might have said ‘me? No I didn’t write it!’
    It just seemed so odd that everyone was complaining. Although I do agree re DNA. not sure if they were using that as a technical term rather than saying meat.

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