Well, could you eat a horse? And if not, why not? Why is it worse to eat horses than it is to eat cows, pigs or sheep? Is it worse? Most people seem to think so, judging by the recent furore about horse-meat in burgers at Tesco
– and actually I feel the same: even though I don’t eat meat, the idea of chopping up horses for burgers is so much more repugnant than making them with the usual farmyard ingredients. But why? If you’re going to eat animals, why discriminate? Why not just go ahead and eat any animal? I guess we could make a case against consuming endangered species, but beyond that, does it matter? Isn’t it just sentiment that causes us to put, say, the giraffe and the camel in one category and cows and sheep in another? * And what about dogs and cats? They eat dogs in China, don’t they?
And then there’s the whole ‘free range’ issue. Obviously I think factory farming is repugnant: we only ever eat free-range eggs, for example.
I guess in the end it comes down to the relationship you have with those animals – and maybe that has partly to do with their perceived intelligence, and partly to do with their proximity to us in terms of development. How would we feel about eating apes, for example? Out of the question? I imagine so – and I suspect that this is because apes are quite close to being human, evolutionarily. It’d be like eating family. Horses and dogs, on the other hand, though not genetically close, have lived around us and worked with us since ancient times – in fact, according to Mark we have used horses since the Bronze Age and lived with dogs for even longer. So if apes are family, horses and dogs are friends and colleagues. But that’s never been the case with cows and sheep. People do say pigs are intelligent but I’ve never known any as pigs were few and far between in West London (apart from the Battersea flying pig, of course):
So I don’t know – are pigs intelligent?
And how about you? No, I don’t mean that – I know you’re intelligent. I mean, do you eat meat? And if so, could you eat a horse?
Oh, and here’s a link to Mark’s video on the subject:
*Lawrence Durrell describes tribesmen slaughtering camels to eat in one of his ‘Alexandria Quartet’ novels. I think it’s this one: