By now you’ve probably heard about the “beef” horse meat scandal going on in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and parts of mainland Europe. The public reaction has been swift and disgusted. I don’t get what the big deal is, and really I think it’s time for “westernized” countries and upper-middle class individuals to get over this whole weird meat thing.
Yes, it’s unfortunate that meat is being sold packaged incorrectly, and consumers reasonably expect when they buy one kind of meat to get only that kind of meat, but the outcry is more over the stigma around certain kinds of meat than anything else. Keep in mind there is nothing unhealthy about horse meat (it’s actually more lean than beef). Nobody had food poisoning from the meat. Presumably most people who ate this meat enjoyed their burgers. There’s no evidence to suggest the horses were slaughtered cruelly (as if the majority of beef and poultry eaters would have any moral high ground on that anyway). The meat was clear of parasites. Heck, some burger joints in the US could probably increase their overall meat percentage in their “beef” by adding horse meat. There’s nothing wrong with the meat…other than the fact that it came from a horse.
I’ve eaten horse. And whale. A wide variety of birds, deer, elk, bison and buffalo, bear, reindeer, raw fish, caviar, rabbit, and probably at least a few other “weird” meats that I just can’t remember right now. So far I haven’t met a meat I didn’t like (you can keep the jokes to yourself).
It’s odd to me that the affluent who can afford to scoff at certain meats seem to think that the rest of the world, or others in their own country, should share their disgust to the point of legislating against some meats. It’s one thing to protest cruelty to animals or to penalize eating an endangered species (though 77 years in prison seems really unreasonable), but it’s without reason to draw an arbitrary line between what meats are acceptable and unacceptable with no medical or scientific justification. It’s ultimately classist and culturally ignorant: you don’t have to eat it if you don’t want to, but who are you to tell someone else they can’t?