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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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142 Responses

  1. Jadey
    Jadey October 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm |

    In Quebec, where our chef is from, the presence of horse on a menu is unremarkable. Canada is far from the only culture where eating horse does not rise to the level of taboo.

    Whoa, depends on what part of Canada you are in, I think. I have lived here my entire life (mostly in Ontario, but on the west coast and in the prairies too) and have never seen horse meat on a menu ever or even heard of it here. I’m pretty sure people I know would freak the hell out to see that (personally, I don’t see it being more or less problematic than any other kind of meat, but I’d probably at least hesitate just because it is culturally taboo here, in my experience). It might be a Quebec thing; it’s definitely not a “Canada” thing.

    I eat meat because I really miss it when I don’t and because my eating habits have been really screwed up by our shame-y food culture and for me to deal with that I am trying to re-learn to trust my ability to feed myself by following my cravings and not over-thinking it right now. Intuitive eating, yada yada. I see that as an intermediate step to getting to a place where I can make more deliberate choices about what I what to eat and why. I don’t see myself giving up meat, but in the absolute ideal scenario I would like to eat meat I have raised/caught and butchered myself. Failing that, I prefer to eat venison or local farm-raised animals, although realistically that option is often not available. The point for me though is that if I’m going to eat it, I want to know where it comes from and be honest about that. I could just as well go into an industrial slaughterhouse before eating meat that came from it, but I do suspect that if I did I wouldn’t be able to go through with it.

    So I want to know the meat I eat, but I also think if it were an animal with which I had formed a bond, I wouldn’t want to eat it. I can’t imagine eating the family pet, for instance, except perhaps out of unavoidable need. It would feel like cannibalism, though I suppose it wouldn’t technically be (then again, having sex with your adopted sibling wouldn’t technically be incest, yet many people would consider it to be – sometimes the social category is more important than the biological one). Yet cannibalism isn’t always taboo either – it has occasionally been practiced for a number of reasons throughout human history.

    For all that it’s a very basic fact of life (or maybe because it is), eating is an enormously complicated, culturally-laden issue.

    1. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl October 7, 2012 at 12:20 pm |

      I would venture a guess that horse being a less uncommon food item in Quebec is in large part because of its frog roots. Horse meat is pretty common eats in countries like France and Italy even today. Horses take a lot less room for pasturing and raising, and cows are often kept around more long term for their milk (to get all the yummy cheeses and butter they are also so well known for in Western Europe.)

      1. chava
        chava October 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm |

        Does anyone raise horses FOR the meat? I had the impression that horsemeat usually came from horses who had finished out their life working, racing, etc and were then sold for slaughter. It’s not like you can buy foal meat like you can veal…

        (Which, I think, is another reason why it bugs people–it seems like a betrayal)

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl October 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm |

          In Europe they definitely do raise horse solely for eating purposes. Mostly to insure that the meat does not contain added hormones or other medications that might be harmful to humans.

        2. Axiomatic
          Axiomatic October 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm |

          Perfectly true…if you’re in the 1800’s.

      2. Esti
        Esti October 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm |

        Even in Quebec, I don’t think it’s all that common — I have a lot of friends from different parts of the province, and I don’t think any of them have ever eaten horse meat.

        And no, horses are usually not raised for meat. The ones who get eaten are primarily cast-offs from the racing world; almost all of the horse meat produced in North America (I believe the last horse slaughter plant in the U.S. was shut down under pressure a few years back, so washed up race horses are shipped to Canada or Mexico for slaughter now) is shipped to Europe because consumption in North America is so rare.

        1. kungfulola
          kungfulola October 7, 2012 at 1:40 pm |

          Horse meat can be found at grocery stores in Montreal. There is at least one in the West Island that has it on a regular basis, because one of my co-workers buys it weekly, to make their own dog food.

        2. LC
          LC October 8, 2012 at 4:07 pm |

          Yeah. I don’t think it is super-common, but I can find it at my grocery store here in Montreal, certainly at the butcher’s, and in a few restaurants.

      3. Andy
        Andy October 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm |

        “Frog roots”??

        1. Jadey
          Jadey October 7, 2012 at 4:12 pm |

          “Frog” = slang term for French, owing to their alleged fanaticism for eating frogs’ legs (technically derogatory – originated from the enmity between the French and British back in the empire-building days).

        2. Andy
          Andy October 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm |

          I know what it means. Just…yeesh. There’s enough tension here between the French and the English without having to throw around terms like that.

        3. Schmorgluck
          Schmorgluck October 8, 2012 at 2:22 am |

          For the record, I’m French and it didn’t really shock me to read the phrase “frog roots”. But I aknowledge how it can tread on touchy matters in the specific context of Québec. If there’s one significant thing the European unification has accomplished culturally, it’s that old nationalistic slurs have become friendly jokes. Which is quite unique historically, when you think about it.

      4. Dominique
        Dominique October 7, 2012 at 6:00 pm |

        If you’re not one of us, you don’t use that word. And that way I won’t call you an English pig :)

        1. Schmorgluck
          Schmorgluck October 8, 2012 at 2:53 am |

          Come on, we maudits Français actually call them “rosbifs”. Which is a weird slur coming from Frenchies when you think about it: there are plenty fouler English food items than roasted beef.

          Plus, most of the French-speaking population of Canada originates from Charentes, which is the region in wich frog is actually a not-uncommon dish (for the record, it kinda tastes like coney). So, sorry, this specific slur is based on actual facts.

      5. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl October 8, 2012 at 8:32 am |

        “Frog roots”??

        Andy, I am French (well 50% French)!

  2. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl October 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm |

    I’m sure there will plenty of other people who will jump all over me in disagreement, but I think it’s rather silly to differentiate between what different animals are ok or not ok for eating by humans. Vegetarianism aside, the reasons behind that disagreement are largely socially constructed ones that such and such animal is too ewww gross to eat, but that other one is totes ok.

    A really good book that deconstructs many of our socially constructed approaches to food and eating here in the U.S. is The Foie Gras Wars, by Mark Caro. There are definitely parallels between the knee jerk reaction against horse meat as there are against foie gras, which is another food item that inspires the eww gross, who would ever eat that! reaction from a lot of people.

    1. SaraC
      SaraC October 7, 2012 at 12:33 pm |

      I completely agree. It’s arbitrary and really comes down to cultural conditioning. That being said, I fall on the vegetarian side of the spectrum because I can’t handle eating any animals, period. It all looks like Thumper and Bambi and Babe to me.

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl October 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm |

        Maybe I’m just not that sentimental? They all just look like dinner to me.

        Funnyish aside, when I’ve been pregnant I crave stuff like offal, strongly flavored foods like smoked fish, as well as a nice, bloody steak. In every day life I’m kind of a functional vegetarian, but mostly because cooking meat takes more effort that I care or have to the time to dedicate towards preparing it. Now that I have kids I have less time, but more need to cook something other than cereal or pb&j for us to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

        1. SaraC
          SaraC October 7, 2012 at 12:57 pm |

          I don’t think I’m sentimental so much as traumatized: I saw a documentary about the living conditions of bred-to-eat animals when I was really little, and I never touched meat again. That being said, I still think it’s pretty silly to distinguish between which animals are “ok” to eat and which aren’t on criteria other than how the animals are treated (i.e. free range vs. never let out of cage, etc.)

    2. Lyndsay
      Lyndsay October 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm |

      Well, from what I know about how foie gras is made, it sounds terrible though arguably not worse than the factory farming that makes the animals more people make. I’ve had it at two Christmases in France and must admit I like it a lot.

      I went from being vegetarian to mostly vegetarian. I am mostly vegetarian for the standard reasons people give but also because, like the article mentions, I am one of those people who is tired of the standard chicken, pork and beef. Also, once I tried a really good moist chicken, it made it easy for me to avoid most chicken as it’s too dry. On the other hand, I can find a huge array of interesting vegetables and legumes at the supermarket. I eat meat when on vacation and on special occasions.

    3. Kristen from MA
      Kristen from MA October 8, 2012 at 10:38 am |

      I agree, which is why I’m a vegetarian. ;)

    4. LotusBecca
      LotusBecca October 9, 2012 at 6:23 pm |

      I think foie gras is more like veal. People object to it based off ethical reasons because the animals who are raised to produce it are treated especially cruelly–basically tortured. Not that any factory farming conditions are good. . .but things like veal and foie gras seem to be in a special category to me.

      I see the objection to horse meat as more emotional and less logical. It’s basically about people in many cultures feeling a special connection to horses and not being accustomed to seeing them used as food. So it’s based more off of a visceral revulsion to the idea than an ethical commitment toward reducing suffering.

  3. chad
    chad October 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm |

    A horse has personality. And personality goes a long way.

    1. ABlogofTheirOwn
      ABlogofTheirOwn October 7, 2012 at 12:54 pm |

      Pigs often have more distinct personalities (and greater intelligence) than horses; humans are simply less likely to discover these qualities, since we’re more likely to think of pigs as “food” animals and horses as “companion” animals.

      1. chad
        chad October 7, 2012 at 3:26 pm |

        Tell that to Jules:

        1. djf
          djf October 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm |

          Win.

    2. MrRabbit
      MrRabbit October 8, 2012 at 2:33 am |

      So do cows. Anyone who saw the footage of export cattle from Australia to Indonesia earlier this year (and the mistreatment some of those cattle recieved) could see intelligence and personality in those animals. I’m a vegetarian for ethical reasons. But I now have cats and am buying meat for them. This makes me feel horrible and sometimes makes me put animals in a hierarchy: feeling less bad about chickens and fish than about cows, horses, kangaroos, deer and pigs. I still feel bad about the chickens and fish, though. So I can understand people balking at eating certain kinds of animals but I agree it’s mainly cultural. People are used to thinking of cows as meat but not horses. It jolts them out of complacency and they have to think for a moment where the meat is coming from. And that makes them uncomfortable.

      1. MrRabbit
        MrRabbit October 8, 2012 at 2:35 am |

        I meant cows are intelligent, not more intelligent than horses or pigs.

      2. Schmorgluck
        Schmorgluck October 8, 2012 at 7:34 am |

        Yeah, it’s irrational. Catching on your nick (that makes me think of the Japanese singer Moon-Kana, by the way), let’s talk abour rabbits for example. I’m uncomfortable eating rabbit meat because I find rabbits cute. But for some reason, I feel even more uncomfortable eating horse meat, and I can’t tell why. Maybe because I’m culturally conditioned to consider a live horse as having some kind of majesty, or something like that.

        I don’t think I’ll ever become vegetarian, but I’m more and more concerned by the way the animals I eat the flesh of are treated during their lifetime. As a result, I’m trying to go flexitarian. Eating less meat, and doing my best to make sure the animals it comes from were treated decently.

        1. Tamara
          Tamara October 8, 2012 at 10:31 pm |

          It’s definitely cultural. I’m in New Zealand and rabbits are an horrific pest here. This makes me feel OK about eating them, no matter how cute pet rabbits are.

      3. Kerandria
        Kerandria October 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm |

        I am a vegetarian for ethical and health reasons. I am also a caregiver for two very spoiled cats. Feeding my cats meat doesn’t bother me because they cannot be sustained on a vegetarian diet like a human can. When I supplement their fish kibble, I make sure the meat is ethically raised/organic.

        I think it’s a workable compromise.

  4. chava
    chava October 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm |

    We tend not to eat animals we’ve formed a working and/or companionate bond with over hundreds, if not thousands, of years (herding dogs, mouser cats, donkeys and mules). Horses bother us because they’re in a weird in-between space–most cultures eat them, or used to, but they’re also work animals, pets, etc.

    Yes, it’s a bit of cognitive dissonance, but I guess those species we’ve bred to work alongside us over the years have gained a little human status as time went on.

    1. Kristen J.
      Kristen J. October 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm |

      That’s where I draw my imaginary line. If an animal might under other circumstances consider me family, I won’t eat it. I don’t know my friends who are horse people tell me that horses bond with people, so they are on the do not eat list.

      1. Jadey
        Jadey October 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm |

        An on the idea of “companion vs. foodstuff”, I have a friend from a Caribbean country who recently moved to Canada and one of the things she has been boggling at is our relationships with cats and dogs. Where she is from, they are not considered pets and would not be allowed to roam about and live in the house like we do. Dogs are for protection and cats are for pest control. She likes cats in a general way (dogs not so much – she prefers animals that take care of themselves better), but she found our habit of allowing these animals in our beds and around our food to be fairly repulsive and unhygienic. So they definitely don’t see them as companions or family, but I am not sure if they also consider cats and dogs as acceptable food, though. Eating and delicious food are what we’ve bonded over and she’s described a lot of really fantastic dishes to me (which I can’t reciprocate because she rightly finds typical Canadian cuisine mushy, bland, and boring as hell), and she’s never mentioned anything other than the more conventional chicken, beef, fish, pork, goat, etc. Horse has never come up either, but I don’t think there are a lot of horses on the island anyway.

        1. chava
          chava October 7, 2012 at 2:10 pm |

          Well, I think ‘companion’ extends to having dogs and cats as work animals. I was trying to get at both sides–people probably developed the aversion from years of working with certain species, and the shift to cats and dogs being largely nonworking pets/members of the family in US culture has just strengthened it.

          It makes some sense to me, in any case–if you develop a partnership with another species over such a long time, it seems somehow worse to chow down on them at will.

    2. Rhoanna
      Rhoanna October 8, 2012 at 11:21 am |

      Cattle are also used as draft animals, and have been for thousands of years. Yet that has not stopped most cultures from raising them for meat as well.

  5. Treebeard
    Treebeard October 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm |

    I want to justify the difference by saying that horses and dogs are much smarter than cows and chicken, but then my understanding is that pigs are very intelligent also.

    1. SophiaBlue
      SophiaBlue October 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

      Right, pigs are the big animal I point to in these kind of arguments. Pretty much any reason you could give to not eat a dog is just as true of pigs, if not more so.

      1. Partial Human
        Partial Human October 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm |

        Yep, pigs are extremely intelligent, and very quick learners.

        My girlfriend is obsessed with them. It’s hilarious to see a 40 year old (and fairly butch!) woman squeeing and cooing over pet pigs on tv or YouTube. She insists that if she ever acquires a substantial amount of money, she’ll be buying a gaggle of micro-pigs.

        The BBC did a great documentary called “The Private Life of Pigs”. Anyone interested in finding out more about them would do well to hunt it down.

    2. Chataya
      Chataya October 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm |

      Rats are highly intelligent, empathetic, and social animals, but we kill them by the thousands. *shrugs*

      1. Kristen J.
        Kristen J. October 8, 2012 at 11:07 am |

        Self defense, i would think. Otherwise they are fairly cute…i would think if they weren’t so disease ridden we’d likely make them pets.

        1. Chataya
          Chataya October 8, 2012 at 11:34 am |

          My pet rats aren’t any dirtier or disease-ridden than my cat or your dog.

        2. EG
          EG October 8, 2012 at 11:45 am |

          That’s not the point though; the point is that rats on their own when they’re not pets do carry disease. And compete with us for food.

        3. Kristen J.
          Kristen J. October 8, 2012 at 12:03 pm |

          That’s what I meant. I should have been more clear. They are cute and if it weren’t for concerns about disease s that non-domesticated rats have we probably wouldn’t call pest control when they wander into the house.

    3. E.
      E. October 9, 2012 at 12:38 pm |

      Evidently pigs also can have 30 minute long orgasms.
      Not that that says anything about whether or not we should eat them..

  6. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable October 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm |

    The bright side to eating non-traditional animals is that you can be reasonably sure they haven’t been raised in conditions akin to pig/cow/chicken farms, no?

    That said, I was super sad the one time I found out I had eaten rabbit. They’re rabbits. :(

    1. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl October 7, 2012 at 1:06 pm |

      Apparently this sort of conventional wisdom does not apply to eating horse raised for racing. The article I linked to upthread discusses some of the medications given to racing horses that are actually quite harmful to humans. That actually seems like the most cogent argument against eating racehorses, and in favor of raising eating horses separately.

    2. SaraC
      SaraC October 7, 2012 at 1:08 pm |

      That’s an interesting point. I’ve never heard of horse/ alligator/ squirrel/ duck farms, but who knows? I’m a huge proponent of either eating free range/ organic meat and dairy or going vegetarian, but I realize how expensive (and therefore impractical) this can be for a lot of people.

      1. chava
        chava October 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm |

        There are alligator farms, loads of them.

        1. SaraC
          SaraC October 7, 2012 at 2:39 pm |

          Wow, I had no idea. I’m surprised that there’s a big enough demand for it, at least in the US. I’m from the south, but even so I’ve only seen alligator on a menu once.

        2. Alexandra
          Alexandra October 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm |

          Alligators are farmed primarily for leather, I believe (ie, suitcases, handbags, boots…)

        3. chava
          chava October 7, 2012 at 6:21 pm |

          Actually, a lot of those farms sell the meat on the side, locally. I’ve eaten plenty of it in LA and Mississippi. But yes, the primary commercial object is leather.

        4. Bloix
          Bloix October 9, 2012 at 7:20 am |

          Also duck farms. Traditionally on Long Island, although a lot of them have become subdivisions. Indiana is the biggest producer now.

  7. mh
    mh October 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm |

    It’s true, in the US passions were so high against horse slaughter (which did end in consumption) that old horses have to be shipped to Mexico. The last place to close down was near Chicago, and, having both been a “horse girl” in elementary and high school and having eaten horse in Europe, I followed the story with interest.

    Unfortunately, the alternative to humane slaughter is sometimes not-so-humane-let-nature-take-its-course. It’s not so easy to put down or dispose of a creature that is bigger than a truck (cremation, for instance, is usually priced by the size of the animal.) Sometimes dead horses are sent off to rendering plants, in which case they aren’t made into food but into industrial products instead.

    In other words, I don’t really get it, either. Totally on board that nobody should have to eat horse if they don’t want to – also on board that nobody should be surprised by finding it on their fork the way Jill inadvertently was (no hiding horsemeat in ground beef.) I still think horse slaughter is more efficient than what we do now, and probably more humane.

    I’ve never been in a position to eat dog or cat, and I certainly wouldn’t eat MY dog or cat, but I don’t have a problem with that, either. (I have both owned and eaten rabbit, though – but, again, not the same one.)

    1. chava
      chava October 7, 2012 at 2:14 pm |

      Yeah–unlike a dog or cat, a horse is both a hell of a lot of good meat to waste, and difficult/unsanitary to dispose of. I can see being appalled at wasting that much food, in times when access to meat was an issue. Actually, I’m kind of appalled at it now.

      I hadn’t thought about the issues around euthanasia and medical care of older horses, but that’s a really good point. I still strongly dislike the racing culture that treats horses as disposable toys to abuse while they’re alive and then sell for food when dead.

    2. Esti
      Esti October 7, 2012 at 4:35 pm |

      Horse slaughter is absolutely not more humane than what we do now. If you think racehorses with broken legs or rotated coffin bones are benefitted from traveling 12+ hours on a packed truck (and remember, if they’re aimed at human consumption, they can’t have any drugs in their system) and going through the far from painless slaughter process, then you need to do a lot more research about the horse slaughter process.

      No slaughterhouses for houses =/= “let nature take its course” while older/sick/injured animals suffer. Responsible horse owners, which are thankfully the vast majority, have their animals euthanized when it becomes necessary, the same way that dog or cat owners do. I’ve assisted with that process a number of times — it’s not pleasant to watch, but it’s quick and about as painless as we can make it. The idea that slaughter is a better alternative is laughable.

      1. Alexandra
        Alexandra October 7, 2012 at 4:51 pm |

        Thank you for saying this. I don’t understand where this idea is coming from that you can’t euthanize a horse!

      2. chava
        chava October 7, 2012 at 6:19 pm |

        Yeah, but the problem is with the racing industry and the slaughter process/transportation, not the slaughtering per se. It isn’t done well now, but I can see how it could be.

        1. Alexandra
          Alexandra October 7, 2012 at 7:08 pm |

          I mean, chava, what you’ve just said is that the problem is with the entire system as it exists today, not with the vague amorphous concept of what humane horse slaughter might be. Humane horse slaughter does not exist in North America because North America’s horse industry (the industry, rather than keeping horses for pleasure and sport) revolves around producing enormous surpluses of young stock, and then culling that stock through a variety of means, including slaughter (but also more indirectly through breakdowns during training/at the racetrack, or for the fortunate few, through sales into the homes of casual rather than competitive horse owners). The oversupply of horses in the US because of a culture in racing, but also in the AQHA and other breed organizations, that does not care how many young animals are used up young and thrown away; slaughter has historically served as a way of getting rid of unwanted horses, and we’re now in a situation where either we need to produce fewer horses, or else find better ways of killing them, because there are not homes for all of the mentally and physically injured byproducts of the horse industry.

          And I am really, really not sympathetic to the notion that the best solution is to find the best possible way of killing lots of unwanted animals, rather than just producing fewer animals in the first place. I would be very happy to see thoroughbred racing in the US just disappear, given the damage it does to the horses and people in it.

        2. chava
          chava October 7, 2012 at 8:30 pm |

          Well, yes. The OP was more on the philosophical side, though–why is it ever ok to eat horses vs cows vs dogs?–so I was responding to that question more than “In the US today, why is it ok or not ok to eat horses?”

          That aside, yes, I agree with you on the giant structural problems with breeding and slaughter today.

        3. Esti
          Esti October 8, 2012 at 9:53 am |

          That’s true for every kind of animal slaughter we currently have — there are (probably) ways it could be made more humane, but it currently is not. Horses are in no way unique in that regard.

          Your post made it sound like in the status quo horses can either be humanely slaughtered or can go through a slow painful death out in a field somewhere. That’s just not the case. The reality right now is that horses can either be painfully slaughtered, or can be humanely euthanized. If you want to advocate for better slaughter conditions, by all means do so — but please don’t do so by misrepresenting either the current slaughter process or the alternatives to it.

          (And I’m a meat-eater myself, but that doesn’t mean I stick my head in the sand about what current slaughter conditions are.)

  8. gratuitous_violet
    gratuitous_violet October 7, 2012 at 2:27 pm |

    I’ve always thought there’s a very real class/racial element here that shows up in very strange ways. I’m pretty much veg now but I will eat special occasion meat dishes and have eaten all kinds of stuff many mainstream Americans would consider odd, including horse. I have to say, the fries done in horse fat in Belgium are some of the greatest things in the world.

    But it’s true, emotions run high sometimes. One of my East Coast cousins lost a girlfriend over one of our traditional holiday dishes: rabbit on Easter. True, she did wander into the garage while my uncles were skinning them, which prompted her to bolt from the house in tears while calling us “ghoulish.” I’ll never forget my old great-aunt breaking the awkward silence after she left with (roughly translated): “Who the fuck is the Easter bunny?”

    1. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl October 7, 2012 at 2:43 pm |

      I’ve always thought there’s a very real class/racial element here that shows up in very strange ways.

      I agree with this, correlation v causation and all that, but the only people I know who insist their food come deboned and lying in plastic covered trays in such a way that it is nearly impossible to discern the animal of origin are all more well to do. The reality is that poorer people are more likely to eat cheap and/or free (read, hunted) meat and to stretch whatever meat they have creatively. Of course another reality is that these foods that come out of poorer groups of people are often also quite delicious.

      Which is why a lot of nice restaurants are putting these kids of recipes on their menus. Who would have eaten braised oxtail, or short ribs, or headcheese, lengua, etc 20 years ago? The very people who are shelling out lots of dough to do so today, and with great gustatory delight.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve October 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm |

        I agree with this, correlation v causation and all that, but the only people I know who insist their food come deboned and lying in plastic covered trays in such a way that it is nearly impossible to discern the animal of origin are all more well to do. The reality is that poorer people are more likely to eat cheap and/or free (read, hunted) meat and to stretch whatever meat they have creatively. Of course another reality is that these foods that come out of poorer groups of people are often also quite delicious.

        Which is why a lot of nice restaurants are putting these kids of recipes on their menus. Who would have eaten braised oxtail, or short ribs, or headcheese, lengua, etc 20 years ago? The very people who are shelling out lots of dough to do so today, and with great gustatory delight.

        I agree with your point about learning how to get the best flavors out of cheaper cuts of meat (it’s not just fancified offal recipes at Michelin Star restaurants, Buffalo style chicken wings are just a way of serving up a part of the bird that used to be thrown out.)

        However, here in New York, and in other cities I’ve been to, the grocery options available to the poorest communities serve little more than processed packaged food, and something freshly hunted would not be free, or even cheap, and in fact, something like fresh venison would be a premium luxury meat that probably costs 5-10 times per pound as cheap hormone laden ground beef or processed chicken nuggets.

        1. Chataya
          Chataya October 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm |

          This. Deer costs a couple of hundred dollars just to process, then factor in hunting permits, licensing, hunting materials, and most of all the time involved. I grew up very poor in a rural part of the country, and the only time we ever had hunted meat was when a family friend gave us some.

        2. gratuitous_violet
          gratuitous_violet October 7, 2012 at 6:05 pm |

          Bingo, Steve. The other side of this is what happens when traditional foods become trendy. As a person from an Azorian-Portuguese family, I’ve been eating sardines (the fresh, whole fish, not from cans) my whole life. I don’t appreciate the price increase now that they’re a hip sustainable food item, and I’m not even eating on poverty wages anymore. The very same things we used to eat for survival get co-opted as luxuries for the wealthy and suddenly become out of our reach (as a fun case study, look into the history of lobster as food in the US, if even available in our neighborhoods at all. Same story with stuff like pigs feet, trotters, sweetbreads (or thymus glands, if you will); our food can gentrify just like neighborhoods.

        3. gratuitous_violet
          gratuitous_violet October 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm |

          and those parenthesis were supposed to close after “at all.” oof.

        4. ks
          ks October 7, 2012 at 6:54 pm |

          This. Deer costs a couple of hundred dollars just to process, then factor in hunting permits, licensing, hunting materials, and most of all the time involved. I grew up very poor in a rural part of the country, and the only time we ever had hunted meat was when a family friend gave us some.

          I grew up poor in a rural area and I had almost the exact opposite experience. My dad hunted and there were some times when the only reason we had meat at all was because he did. He would skin it outside and then my mom and us girls would butcher and process it ourselves at the kitchen table. We usually had deer, and sometimes wild boar and/or wild turkey that Dad hunted in the freezer.

          And as an aside, there is absolutely nothing in this world as tasty as fresh venison.

        5. William
          William October 7, 2012 at 9:31 pm |

          This. Deer costs a couple of hundred dollars just to process, then factor in hunting permits, licensing, hunting materials, and most of all the time involved. I grew up very poor in a rural part of the country, and the only time we ever had hunted meat was when a family friend gave us some.

          Thats going to depend pretty heavily on where you live. If you live in Wisconsin, for instance, you’re looking at under $50 in permits for antlerless. You can get a serviceable rifle that will outlive you for under $200 (I know a fair number of people who hunt with old Russian military surplus rifles). The cost of ammo is negligible. If you can process the carcass yourself and you live in an area with game you can easily get high-quality protein for far less than even the cheapest meat in a store. The same holds for wild hogs (although you need a little more skill), fowl, and small game as well.

        6. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve October 7, 2012 at 9:58 pm |

          …you can easily get high-quality protein for far less than even the cheapest meat in a store.

          That depends on how you value your time. Having to hunt food for your family is as much of a second job as taking a weekend job at a convenience store in order to afford an extra couple hundred dollars for food per week.

        7. Henry
          Henry October 8, 2012 at 4:03 am |

          Depends where you live. People with no jobs/underemployment in rural areas have plenty of free time and put it to use hunting food, which they process themselves. They already own the guns anyway, if you live on a farm it’s a tool you own. It’s a way to double up on income, you don’t pay taxes to earn it, if you are on assistance no one knows you are supplementing with hunting. They don’t just kill deer either…everything from squirrel to turtle is on the menu.

        8. (BFing)Sarah
          (BFing)Sarah October 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm |

          Yea, in my experience, hunting is kind of a family thing so you grow up owning a gun (esp if you live on a farm, where the gun is most definitely a tool of the trade). In rural Mich the hunting permits are obtained at a min cost (if they are obtained at all). Hunting is done on weekends or during the week if the school gives time off for that. Most everyone I know that hunts loves it and the meat it brings for minimal cost; they don’t consider it a chore at all, rather a hobby that brings in food…kind of like gardening for some people is a chore and for others it is relaxing, I guess. Processing is done at home or done by a friend at home in exchange for some meat. And, like Henry above, my experience is that turtle soup, squirrel, and deer are all on the menu. As a prissy eater and a general PIA, I balked at the turtle soup and squirrel, but I’m not a great example of a open-minded or ethical eater. Its one of the many things I could stand to improve on.

        9. William
          William October 9, 2012 at 8:12 pm |

          That depends on how you value your time. Having to hunt food for your family is as much of a second job as taking a weekend job at a convenience store in order to afford an extra couple hundred dollars for food per week.

          A lot of people enjoy hunting and, again, depending on where you live the time output can vary a lot. Feral hogs aren’t that difficult to find in many places in the US and deer herds are pretty healthy in a lot of areas. Hunting smaller game is something I’ve known a lot of people to do in their spare time.

          I worked with someone not too long ago who grew up relatively poor. His father had come from a big, rural family and all the brothers saved up enough money to go in together on a largeish tract of forested land way out in the boonies for twenty thousand dollars or so. By the time I met this guy something like 20 cousins and all the surviving cousins rotated time and hunted deer on the land. He gave up a few weekends and a week or so a year to what he viewed as a basically free vacation, spent some time with his extended family, and ended up not having to pay for meat the rest of the year. I wouldn’t do it (because its cold and early and fuck that), but I get why a lot of people are drawn to the lifestyle.

  9. abra
    abra October 7, 2012 at 3:00 pm |

    I grew up on a farm with a fairly wide array of farm animals. We had cattle, pigs, some chickens to butcher (some to lay eggs), the geese, and turkeys. The farm was in the business of raising the first 2 for the dinner plate and the chickens were an economic experiment (ended up being cheaper to buy chicken than raise it on the household scale). The last 2 were a hobby but so mean there was no love lost when they met their end (you have not lived until a tom turkey chases you across the yard and you have a designated turkey stick to keep it at bay).

    However, twice we got animals to raise with no clear end in mind — we had rabbits and I had a lamb. They weren’t exactly pets but having pet and cuddled them and gotten up in the middle of the night to bottle feed the lamb, they weren’t at the same level as the butcher chickens and beef cattle.

    So, twice, my parents butchered (or had butchered) these quasi-pets and then my mom fixed and served them, not telling us what they were… until after we ate them. I lived but I was pretty livid both times.

    Looking back, there really wasn’t another good solution — both kinds of animals are not particularly easy to contain and thus are hard to keep and they don’t serve any other purpose — the sheep wasn’t Merino and the rabbits weren’t Angora — in any case, we didn’t have enough of either to do anything with them. And all of the other farm animals, including the pet cats and dogs, do something. For example, one of the dogs kept Tom away so you didn’t have to keep the stick in hand while you were working outside and pruning fruit trees makes you vulnerable to a rear attack.

    I am vegetarian now — and I like to tease my dad by telling him it is from the scarring events of eating my childhood “pets” — but it is just that, teasing.

    1. number9
      number9 October 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm |

      My grandma kept both geese and turkeys. I’d be afraid to go outside if one the turkey was out in the yard, and they all were very well aware of the fear they inspired! The geese weren’t much better.

  10. Alexandra
    Alexandra October 7, 2012 at 4:43 pm |

    The main objections I have to horse slaughter in and out of the US is that horses react differently than cattle do to slaughter and the days leading up to it, and because the horses that go to slaughter are often going to it in appalling, barbaric conditions that do not respect the temperament of the animal and instead treat them as a cheaper version of cattle.

    I admit, this is emotional and not terribly rational of me to object so strongly, because I eat meat from the grocery store; but I rode horses as a kid, including horses that were rescued from situations that might have led to them going to slaughter, and none of those horses deserved to die slowly and in terror. The notion that somehow slaughter is an acceptable alternative to humane euthanasia is sickening. Euthanasia is not that goddamn difficult in horses. If you can’t afford a vet (in which case, what the hell are you doing keeping horses, some of the most fragile and money-intensive livestock around) a bullet through the brain will do it far more quickly and kindly than sending a horse to slaughter. The only reason to slaughter a horse rather than to euthanize it is out of greed.

    Rather than talk about slaughter as a supposedly humane method of population control, why don’t we have the same effort to geld colts and otherwise not breed horses that we have with companion animals like cats and dogs? Horses are massively overbred in the US right now because any idiot with two intact animals can produce a foal, and because there simply isn’t a market right now for low-end horses, and not much of a market for medium-quality horses, due to the down economy and also the multiple droughts in recent years which have driven up the price of hay in various parts of the country.

    1. abra
      abra October 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm |

      I would tend to agree with you about the conditions being the main problem with horse slaughter — well, livestock conditions in general but I digress.

      However, I think you’ve misdiagnosed why some/many people end up selling horse for slaughter. They are expensive and fragile, so if you got a horse in good times and have since lost income, you may have to get rid of the horse.

      Unfortunately, most of the rest of the country is not in the position to be buying or adopting horses for the same reason (the few who are are more likely to be naming their horses Raffalca and writing their expenses off than getting a horse listed in the classified).

      So these owners are presumably in a tight spot and selling Ranger for slaughter (possibly through a less-than-scrupulous middleman) offers a little relief. Not to mention, though euthanasia is relatively cheap, disposal is not a simple matter. It takes a big hole or a big fire if you aren’t going to pay someone to haul it off.

      1. mh
        mh October 8, 2012 at 8:38 am |

        Thank you. This is what I meant.

      2. Esti
        Esti October 8, 2012 at 10:15 am |

        Maybe some people are doing that, but the vast majority of horses who end up at slaughter come from the racing industry. Those aren’t single-horse owners who got down on their luck and didn’t have another way to get rid of Dobbin (and fwiw, it’s generally pretty easy to give a horse away, and meat prices are usually lower than you would ever get for selling a horse unless it was injured in some way — we’re talking a few hundred dollars). These are relatively large operations who have a lot of horses that aren’t profitable for racing anymore, and don’t want to spend the time looking for buyers to re-home their animals with when the meat guy is right there and will take all of them at once. There are charitable organizations that have sprung up to make sales to non-meat buyers easier for trainers — the groups take care of all of the marketing (taking pictures, writing ads, keeping an online database of available animals for prospective buyers to browse) and sometimes handle showing the animal to prospective buyers — and they’ve had enormous success re-homing ex-racehorses with people looking for riding animals. The problem is less that meat buyers pay lots of money and the seller desperately needs it, and more that an enormous industry churns out a lot of excess horses and wants to find the easiest way to get rid of them when they’re no longer profitable.

        I think there are also some misconceptions here about how euthenasia/disposal works. Most people I know bury their horses on their farm — because if you own a bunch of horses (or board them at a stable with a bunch of other horses), you need a fair amount of land to keep them, and you (or your neighbor) have the big machinery needed to dig a hole. There are places where that’s not true (Southern California, for example), but it’s so expensive to keep horses there that anyone who does should be able to cough up the money for disposal. If you take the horse in to a big large animal clinic, euthenasia + cremation will run you about $400-500. That may sound like a lot, but your horse is likely eating $200 worth of food a month with hay prices the way they are these days — horses are just expensive, and part of being a responsible owner is having a plan to humanely end their life when the time comes.

      3. abra
        abra October 8, 2012 at 11:57 am |

        Esti – I am sure you are more familiar with the situation than I am. I was hypothesizing from personal experience. My family lives in the Ozarks and there are a lot of people who live on farmlets (~20 acres) that don’t actually produce anything except maybe a steer from time to time. But a lot of people keep a horse — these are low-end horses, even in the good time would sell for low thousands, I think I bought a Fox Trotter for $800 in my teens. These farmlets don’t have equipment to dig a big hole and it isn’t easy ground to dig in.

        My brother-in-law commented a couple of weeks that you couldn’t give a horse away down there because they have been hit so hard with the drought that they’ve had to switch to hay earlier and didn’t have a good hay season this year.

        1. Esti
          Esti October 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm |

          Yeah, as I said, it definitely happens. It’s just a small fraction of the number of horses sent to slaughter.

        2. Alexandra
          Alexandra October 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm |

          Is it that small? I’d be interested to see the numbers. Because most of the horses who end up at auction, depending where you are in the country, are not OTTB (off-the-track thoroughbreds), but are, depending on area, the unwanted castoffs from pleasure homes (ie, ordinary horse homes) and perhaps Amish horses or other working horses toward the end of their useful lives.

          Here’s an example auction report: sales figures with KB next to the dollar amount mean the horse went to a kill buyer – a buyer who will ship the horses to a slaughter facility in Canada or Mexico.

          I don’t disagree that racing is responsible for a lot of slaughter, but the whole horse industry is responsible for slaughter: America has a horse culture that over produces young stock and doesn’t provide for old stock, and while no doubt some of the horses at the auction were there because their owners couldn’t give them away (who wants a broken-down, ill or injured hay-eating machine, after all) or afford to Euth, plenty of the horses were there because they’re considered disposable.

          Companion animals in general are considered disposable; the euth rates for cats and dogs in America are extraordinarily high depending on region, because of a culture that values young, cute problem-free animals and treats older, unattractive, or “problem” animals as disposable, that prefers to sweep ‘em under the rug and send them to shelters where volunteers can put them to sleep by the truckload.

          It’s the same in the horse world: we over produce, and throw them out when we no longer want them. We treat living, breathing, thinking, feeling creatures that have lived with us and served us and carried our children around sometimes for decades like trash. And it’s us who are the trash.

  11. Patu
    Patu October 7, 2012 at 5:12 pm |

    The one that always confuses me is the outrage people feel when confronted with rabbit meat. It’s always struck me as odd because I know from experience that the rabbits you eat are not the ‘bunnies’ most people keep as pets. Whereas oftentimes, eating horses are pretty similar to pet horses.

    Then again, thought I only meat meat three or so times a week, I am an enthusiastic and unapologetic omnivore. I don’t enjoy offal in the slightest but I’m always happy to try different meats.

    1. EmbraceYourInnerCrone
      EmbraceYourInnerCrone October 8, 2012 at 9:37 am |

      Just my own opinion but honestly some of it seems to be looks, as in rabbits and squirrels and racoons are “cute”, horses are “beautiful”, little lambs are cute and fluffy. To a lot (though certainly not all) US residents that colors how they think about eating those animals. The same people might not have the same reaction to eating say buffalo or wild boar, or domestic cattle.

      There is also the fact that for many people who were raised in the city or the suburbs, meat comes wrapped in shrinkwrap from the market, they don’ t want to be exposed to how their meat became meat. They are OK with eating pork chops but they don’t appreciate being reminded of how the pig got turned into pork chops.

      For most of the time he was raising his 4 kids my uncle hunted every fall: deer, wild ducks, wild geese, turkey. His work was seasonal, he lived in northern New England and hunting put food on the table for the winter.

      1. (BFing)Sarah
        (BFing)Sarah October 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm |

        There is also the fact that for many people who were raised in the city or the suburbs, meat comes wrapped in shrinkwrap from the market, they don’ t want to be exposed to how their meat became meat.

        I think this is so true and I am 100% a guilty party here. I hate thinking about the realities of my meat, even though I have been exposed to it before (via deer hunting, turtle soup, crab traps, etc. as I wrote above) it makes it easier for me to eat when I forget. When I really think about it, though, there is no ethical reason why I eat a few types of animal (chicken, turkey) and not others (rabbit, turtle, horse, etc.). Its a taste preference born of exposure and silly squeamishness (is this a word?).

    2. Wiley
      Wiley October 8, 2012 at 11:47 am |

      I can’t speak for everyone, but the reason I get upset about (non wild) rabbit meat being served is that rabbits are affectionate, intelligent animals who require intellectual stimulation and can form strong bonds with humans. Much like pigs, rabbits raised for food do not live very good lives and it hurts my soul to think about them languishing in tiny cages and mistreated and neglected only to be eventually killed.

      Wild rabbits are a different story. Although *I* would never eat them because they look too much like my pets, I have less ethical concerns about their consumption, because eating game is different from eating poorly-cared for domesticated animals.

    3. Computer Soldier Porygon
      Computer Soldier Porygon October 9, 2012 at 1:46 am |

      I’ve always thought of rabbit as rich people food. I don’t really know why.

    4. Bloix
      Bloix October 9, 2012 at 7:23 am |

      Thirty years ago, my family visited Montreal. We went to a restaurant that had rabbit on the menu (“lapin”) and I ordered it. My mother still hasn’t forgiven me.

  12. Tami Baribeau
    Tami Baribeau October 7, 2012 at 5:39 pm |

    There are other reasons why some people are against eating horses other than just the sentimental “aww they’re so cute” reasons. I’m a horse lover myself, I own and ride and show horses and I’ve grown up with horses all my life.

    One big reason is because of horse theft in the U.S. People’s pet horses are stolen then transported over into Mexico or Canada to be slaughtered because they bring a decent price per pound. That is not something I’m okay with. It’s also sad because you’ll see malnourished and mistreated horses at auctions alongside riding horses, and there are “kill buyers” there who bid on these horses. Everyone knows who they are, and when you see them win a horse at auction you get a sick feeling in your stomach. Imagine if dog and cat slaughterers were allowed to go into a pet store and get a dog for low cost so that it can be killed and served at a restaurant.

    It’s not as if we’re raising horses for slaughter here. They’re a byproduct of an industry where people are breeding their ugly horses in their backyard and then not being able to find a home for them or be able to pay to take care of them so they sell them at auction for pennies on the pound to be able to recoup some expenses. Horses that have spent their lives dedicated to carting people around on the streets of NY, taking children around on pony rides, at trail riding stables, or used in the circus end up on a dinner plate in another country, and that just doesn’t feel right to me.

    1. chava
      chava October 7, 2012 at 8:38 pm |

      Horses that have spent their lives dedicated to carting people around on the streets of NY, taking children around on pony rides, at trail riding stables, or used in the circus end up on a dinner plate in another country, and that just doesn’t feel right to me.

      That right there is what bothers me. Animals aren’t machines, and (especially) if they’ve dedicated their lives to serving and working with you, they deserve some basic respect and humane treatment. I don’t see anything intrinsically wrong with eating a horse that would have to have been put down anyway, but what we do now? Ugh.

      1. Alexandra
        Alexandra October 8, 2012 at 12:21 am |

        I don’t think I would have an issue ethically with horses at the end of their lives being eaten by people or dogs/cats, EXCEPT:

        all meat for human or animal consumption must be free of antibiotics and other drugs.

        In other words, if you want to use the meat from horses which have had long and honorable lives (or short and ignominious lives) as riding horses, carting horses, race horses etc — you must deny them medical treatment should they become ill. Which is inhumane.

  13. Henry
    Henry October 8, 2012 at 3:49 am |

    Ok first where are they getting horse meat in the USA link pls … You can get lion meat more easily here than horse (this is why wild cat shows suck, not all lions bred look good enough for the circus, you can guess the rest)

    The only place I have heard of legal horse meat in the USA is on a family friend’s ranch in California, and they did made their own after having to put an old animal down, which they could not sell.

    I do possess a tin of horse baby food, sold in grocery stores all over Italy. It has a horse cartoon picture on the front.

    sorry all meat for human consumption need not be antibiotic or drug free. we routinely treat farm animals destined for the table – you can buy antibiotic free meat, which means basically the animal never got sick, if it had it would be moved to the regular meat category.

    1. Ledasmom
      Ledasmom October 8, 2012 at 10:09 am |

      Not all drugs are legal for use in animals that are in the human food chain (meat, dairy, eggs), and those that are have a withdrawal period within which it is not legal to use products from that animal. For cattle, the withdrawal time for bute (phenylbutazone, an NSAID commonly used in horses) is apparently 45 days. Bute is not approved for use in humans at all.
      In other words, horses that may have been maintained on bute for pain control would have to be off it for an extended period of time before slaughter. I have nothing against eating horses in theory, but eating cast-off pets and racers is problematic.

      1. Henry
        Henry October 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm |

        True, I’d never eat such animals here unless they went through USDA inspected facilities or their foreign equivalent.

  14. Jennifer Frances Armstrong
    Jennifer Frances Armstrong October 8, 2012 at 5:52 am |

    Why compel yourself to submit ? Eat the animals you are accustomed to eating and don’t eat the ones you like. Why the hair shirt and the blind force of harsh consistency that would demand that you also eat those animals you like?

  15. Jill
    Jill October 8, 2012 at 8:09 am |

    I have two horses. I’ve owned one of them for 14.5 years and the other for 13. I love horses, and because of that, I support horse slaughter, even for *gasp* human consumption. The US ban on horse slaughter has been a nightmare for the equine industry and for the level of equine welfare nationwide. There are numerous reasons why horses end up at the slaughter plant- its more than just old racehorses. Since the ban, horses have starved, been turned loose (to get run over, etc), and otherwise suffered as a result of people not being able to or willing to care for them. If that animal can be humanely slaughtered and then used for something worthwhile (like food), then by all means, go for it. Do I like it? No. But then, I don’t really like thinking about the pigs, cows and sheep that go to slaughter either. That doesn’t change the fact that I fully support humane slaughter of those species as well. To be totally frank, I would even support the humane slaughter and distribution of dog and cat as food grade meat.

    I don’t want to eat horse, so I won’t. My horses are both old and lame, but I don’t want to see them end up at slaughter, so I won’t sell them. Not everyone has the income to make that choice, and slaughter makes the most sense for some situations. People need to get over the discrimination between ‘acceptable’ meat sources and realize that meat is meat. I wish people would focus more on the production and slaughter practices. That would create a much more positive impact on animal welfare nation (and world) wide than worrying about pony ending up on the plate.

    1. pheenobarbidoll
      pheenobarbidoll October 8, 2012 at 10:53 am |

      That all hinges on the word humanely. The US doesn’t humanely slaughter anything, I don’t know why you believe horses will be an exception. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a US slaughterhouse, but the word humane does not come to mind. There’s no real way to humanely slaughter large numbers of intelligent animals. They can see, hear and smell the death coming. Even done humanely, that’s pretty stressful.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve October 8, 2012 at 11:13 am |

        That all hinges on the word humanely. The US doesn’t humanely slaughter anything, I don’t know why you believe horses will be an exception. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a US slaughterhouse, but the word humane does not come to mind. There’s no real way to humanely slaughter large numbers of intelligent animals. They can see, hear and smell the death coming. Even done humanely, that’s pretty stressful.

        Pheeno, though I really value your contributions around here, I do feel like you tend to stick to this argument of ‘the system is fucked up, so there’s no point in trying…’ I’m not saying you’re wrong, but it is a bit of a rhetorical stand-still and quite frankly, a bit depressing, in my view.

        1. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll October 8, 2012 at 11:45 am |

          Fat Steve- you’re the one who interprets it as ” so why bother”. Another way would be..oh…I dunno…CHANGE IT.

          Instead, people point to “heathen” countries like Mexico, and their inhumane practices. As if ours differ in significant ways. As long as we have mass slaughtering going on, it’s not going to be humane. And it’s not just those “uncivilized” Mexicans doing it.

          People are already slowly moving towards” buy local”. Expanding that to our slaughter animals would not only greatly improve the conditions for the animals in life and death, it would greatly improve the quality of our food. But that’s going to take a concentrated effort, and simply lifting a ban isn’t going to cut it. Especially when the main reason of lifting that ban because those awful Mexicans use slightly different just as inhumane methods.

        2. doberman
          doberman October 8, 2012 at 2:23 pm |

          Meh. I think inhumane slaughtering is just a fact of life now. ‘Business’ and ‘humane’ are fundamentally opposed notions. If one business decides to do something humanely, another business will just do it inhumanely, allowing them to cut costs and undercut the prices of the other business. Simple math in the end.

        3. Kerandria
          Kerandria October 8, 2012 at 11:19 pm |

          Meh. I think inhumane slaughtering is just a fact of life now. ‘Business’ and ‘humane’ are fundamentally opposed notions.

          What Pheeno said plus this:

          Bullshit. You mean free market, multi-national capitalist business, not _all_ businesses. Keeping food production/distribution to small areas actually HELPS to keep food prices, carbon emissions related to factory farming and transport low.. while providing people with fresher (and consequently, better-tasting) food.

          A system of capitalism that puts financial profits above ethics, respect for life, and environmental longevity IS THE PROBLEM.

          But really, I don’t see why I should bother going any further since you’ve already decided that ‘simple math’ precludes your ability to give a shit about the suffering of other creatures.

        4. doberman
          doberman October 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm |

          A system of capitalism that puts financial profits above ethics, respect for life, and environmental longevity IS THE PROBLEM.

          Got any other ideas? How do you force a capitalist system to be ethical? Profits rule, full stop. Otherwise you’d have to implement regulations and such like. And we all know where that leads… didn’t turn out so good for a lot of people.

        5. EG
          EG October 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm |

          Got any other ideas? How do you force a capitalist system to be ethical? Profits rule, full stop. Otherwise you’d have to implement regulations and such like. And we all know where that leads… didn’t turn out so good for a lot of people.

          Whereas laissez-faire capitalism where the Market Determines All is just awesome for almost everybody! Good point.

      2. MrRabbit
        MrRabbit October 12, 2012 at 9:55 am |

        Completely agree. There is no “humane” slaughtering of animals in abbotoirs.

  16. Codi Johnson
    Codi Johnson October 8, 2012 at 12:28 pm |

    To my thinking, it really comes down to two arguments: killing and eating animals is OK so let’s do it, or killing and eating animals is wrong. Most people commenting here seem to be in the cake-and-eat-it-too category. Sorry, you can’t do that. Either killing and eating animals is right or it’s wrong. Pick a side and stick with it. The vast majority of non Hindu, non Buddhist people eat meat as well as a growing percentage of those religions. The only Christian religion which doesn’t is the Seventh Day Adventists.

    As for hunting among rural peoples, no, it’s NOT cheaper to hunt. It’s traditional to hunt. Take all the money for guns, ammo, vehicles, fuel, licensing & fees, etc., and figure out how much food you could buy for that. The problem is, American’s definition of poor is not the world’s definition of poor. “Why, I couldn’t possibly afford to buy 100 pounds of meat at the store! If I didn’t hunt, I’d have to do without!” They never seem to count up all those expenses though. No, you couldn’t take the hundreds of dollars you spend on getting your deer and go buy as much meat with it, but you could buy much more non-meat food–a hundred dollars doesn’t buy that much steak, but it buys a helluva lot of beans and potatoes–enough to feed you much longer than the meat would.

    Bottom line: don’t eat it and people won’t kill the animal and sell it to you.

    1. pheenobarbidoll
      pheenobarbidoll October 8, 2012 at 1:52 pm |

      I don’t know where you live, but here a hunting license will run you 25 bucks, and leases are close enough that fuel isn’t an issue anymore than running any other errand is. Hunting rifles aren’t expensive, and ammo is laughably cheap. You can drive 5 minutes and be in the county where you can hunt rabbit, deer and hog. For free. Some landowners are even paying people to come hunt hog. I’m not a gung ho wooo let’s go blow off some animals face person, but hunting isn’t expensive here. I have family members who supplement their income and their pantries with hogging.

      1. Lauren
        Lauren October 8, 2012 at 2:16 pm |

        I’m in the rural Midwest, and while hunting *can* be expensive, that’s largely due to one’s individual retail choices. Land, distance, availability of game, access to guns and ammo, all are cheap and available. The deer population is so out of control in farming areas that they pay people to come shoot and haul away whatever they can.

        I’m not a hunting person. I’d rather be out there looking for mushrooms, personally.

        1. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll October 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm |

          Mushroom hunting sounds like fun. Though I wouldn’t do it here because of rattlesnakes lol, but the idea of it sounds lovely.

        2. Lauren
          Lauren October 9, 2012 at 12:07 pm |

          Oh, it’s the best. I could have died happy the day I found a mushroom the size of a basketball.

        3. Kara
          Kara October 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm |

          I totally agree. I also live in the rural midwest, and most of my hunting is done with guns that my family has owned for years, while walking the land that my family also owns. Very little $ outlay. Actually, my only up-front expense is the ammunition. 100 pounds of meat (meat for the whole winter!) for the cost of a box of shells is a pretty good deal.

          And the deer population is so out of control here that they practically give the permits away. (And, strictly speaking, those are only necessary if you will be hunting on public land or someone else’s privately owned land. You don’t need a permit to hunt your own land.)

      2. Henry
        Henry October 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm |

        pheeno is right. I personally know many people who were fed off wild game that lived nearby because their parents could not afford the grocery store. Don’t buy the anti-meat crowd’s argument that hunting is some sport for the wealthy here. If you are not doing the trophy stuff it isn’t.

        And like it or not we have a deer problem in this country. Our county paid marksmen to clear the forest of excess deer, the meat going to the homeless shelters. This was done to prevent the deer from eating their forest reserve down to nothing. Before the cull there was not a tiny bit of underbrush, no saplings etc. – the deer had mowed the place to bits and were starving.

        If you feel bad about it, when you die you’ll be eaten by animals too, unless you pull a King Tut.

    2. number9
      number9 October 8, 2012 at 9:23 pm |

      Man, this “poor people are too dumb to know that beans and potatoes cost less than meat” argument inevitably pops up in all such discussions, and it’s old and tired. Vegetarianism is only easy and cheap when you have the time to plan varied meals, access to various food shopping options, and the spices to flavor your food. I love both beans and potatoes, and can plan a week’s worth of meals around these items, but I have a full pantry; otherwise that shit would get pretty dour, and quick. But I guess poor people shouldn’t feel all entitled to any flavor or joy in their food, right?

      Maybe hunting is traditional, maybe it’s cheap, or maybe people just like it. It’s quite frankly none of your business to lecture people about alternatives. People who are not you can also figure out how to feed themselves.

      1. pheenobarbidoll
        pheenobarbidoll October 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm |

        Right? And it’s always beans and potatoes too. I love my refried beans, don’t even get me started on their wonderful-ness, but the whole ” poor people should buy more beans” thing is old and insulting.

      2. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl October 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |

        Yep, I also grew up with plenty of poor people who would live off the deer they hunted in the fall well into springtime. Hunting is not expensive at all, especially if you already have the firearms for it, permitting is pretty cheap and the overpopulation of deer is causing a real nuisance situation in plenty of areas here in the Midwest.

        Overall, I just really find the paternalistic policing of other people’s omnivorism by the veg crowd to be pretty annoying. Be a vegetarian/vegan/whatever if you want. But don’t dismiss the reality that it isn’t for everyone, and that finding good sources of non-animal protein can get pretty tricky (especially if you have a dairy, soy or nut allergy.) And telling poor people to just buy more beans, like this has never occurred to them before?

        Well, I don’t have anything polite and non-insulting to say in response to that.

        1. Kara
          Kara October 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm |

          Overall, I just really find the paternalistic policing of other people’s omnivorism by the veg crowd to be pretty annoying. Be a vegetarian/vegan/whatever if you want. But don’t dismiss the reality that it isn’t for everyone, and that finding good sources of non-animal protein can get pretty tricky (especially if you have a dairy, soy or nut allergy.)

          Word.

          Eat what and how you want to eat. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking your way is the only way, and that all people should eat what and how you eat.

          Because it doesn’t work that way.

        2. doberman
          doberman October 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm |

          +1

          In fact I’d go even further and say that these vegetarian and vegan types should just shut up and eat meat. I have no time for this sentimental rubbish about animals or “ethical concerns” and such like. They’re there to be eaten, that’s one thing that even science and religion can agree on for once!

        3. Rhoanna
          Rhoanna October 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm |

          That’s not “going even further”; that’s the exact opposite of eat what you want, and let other people eat what they want.

      3. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve October 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm |

        Vegetarianism is only easy and cheap when you have the time to plan varied meals, access to various food shopping options, and the spices to flavor your food. I love both beans and potatoes, and can plan a week’s worth of meals around these items, but I have a full pantry; otherwise that shit would get pretty dour, and quick. But I guess poor people shouldn’t feel all entitled to any flavor or joy in their food, right?

        Maybe hunting is traditional, maybe it’s cheap, or maybe people just like it. It’s quite frankly none of your business to lecture people about alternatives. People who are not you can also figure out how to feed themselves.

        Yes, if only there were a traditional way to produce vegetables, fruit and legumes…like perhaps planting some sort of seed which grows in soil.

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl October 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm |

          Steve, do you not realize that hunting and growing one’s own food often go hand in hand with one another?

          Depending on one having access to the land upon which to grow food, lots of poor folks do grown as much as they can when they can. But just because you can grow some beans and greens on your own land doesn’t mean you somehow forfeit the right to hunt or buy meat to eat as well if you want.

          Or is this somehow not what your arguing?

        2. EG
          EG October 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm |

          My understanding, poor as it is, is that in order to grow beans and vegetable and such like, you have to have some arable land. I remember learning that in social studies.

          Subsistence farming is not the life to which I aspire; I don’t see why poor people should be expected to do so.

        3. number9
          number9 October 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm |

          Fat Steve, I am impressed. Usually, the “poor should eat more beans and potatoes” brigade are either clueless about 1) subsistence farming (have a vague idea that it must be as easy as dumping some seeds into some type of soil) or 2) cities and landownership (think it’s easy to find a plot of land in the city or buy one in a rural area). You, however, seem to have failed to give any thought to the logistics of either.

        4. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve October 9, 2012 at 5:38 pm |

          teve, do you not realize that hunting and growing one’s own food often go hand in hand with one another?

          Depending on one having access to the land upon which to grow food, lots of poor folks do grown as much as they can when they can. But just because you can grow some beans and greens on your own land doesn’t mean you somehow forfeit the right to hunt or buy meat to eat as well if you want.

          Or is this somehow not what your arguing?

          That’s exactly what I’m arguing, but you seem to enjoy disagreeing with me, so feel free.

          Also, despite the fact that I am pro-hunting, and eat meat, I am arguing against the idea of equating a sincere belief that it is wrong to kill animals with ‘paternalism.’

        5. Alexandra
          Alexandra October 9, 2012 at 6:39 pm |

          The folks I know who eat a lot of hunted meat (primarily deer and squirrel) also eat a lot of fresh produce from various family members’ land. But even keeping a garden that’s going to provide a substantial amount of food (rather than the so-called $60 tomato) requires enormous time and effort relative to hunting.

        6. gratuitous_violet
          gratuitous_violet October 9, 2012 at 11:59 pm |

          TBH Steve, I think there is no way that believing the way other peoples maximize food resources available to them in often limited circumstances is “immoral” can be separated from paternalism. It’s a direct affirmation that your beliefs trump their reality.

          And I don’t want to sound like I’m beating up on strawvegetarians. I’ve been one and known many, and even though I’m sure not all of us believe that other people in other circumstances are bad people. But whenever someone starts prattling along about how anyone anywhere could go veg if they REALLY! tried, it sure sounds like paternalism to me.

        7. Henry
          Henry October 10, 2012 at 1:50 am |

          Anyone on this thread actually know a farmer? Go find one and ask how many rodent & larger animals they kill to grow those “cruelty-free” veggies you are scarfing down. Traps, poison, shooting out of season “out of season control tags”, it all happens regularly.

          If you want to eliminate killing animals for your food, well I suppose suicide is an option… and no you cannot relocate a cornfield full of cute groundhogs someplace else, there’s no place to put them all – because the very act of growing food increases the wildlife population. At some level it really is us versus the groundhog.

        8. Rhoanna
          Rhoanna October 10, 2012 at 6:27 am |

          Only a deluded vegan/vegetarian believes that no animals were killed to raise their food. And only a deluded omnivore thinks that more animals were killed to raise plants than to raise animals. (Caveats in both cases for people raising/killing their own food, who know and can control exactly what goes into it.)

        9. gratuitous_violet
          gratuitous_violet October 10, 2012 at 11:57 am |

          There’s a reason why one of my favorite pastimes in college was trying to hand out UFW stickers to the sanctimonious wads at the campus veg group/co-op. After time spent working with migrant workers in Watsonville, CA, I figured out pretty fast that anyone who has one of those “my diet is cruelty-free!” stickers should really just wear a shirt that says “my diet prioritizes cute animals over oppressed fellow humans!” Cruelty-free for who, exactly?

        10. LotusBecca
          LotusBecca October 12, 2012 at 3:04 am |

          gratuitous_violet, I don’t know if you were just critiquing the specific rhetoric or what. . .but it’s a bit of a stretch to say a vegetarian diet prioritizes cute animals over humans, if that’s what you were implying. People who work at slaughterhouses don’t usually enjoy great working conditions, not to mention all the pollution and environmental destruction caused by industrial animal agriculture. . .pollution and environmental destruction that negatively affects human health. Obviously, most vegetarian diets are ALSO linked with industries that cause large amounts of oppression and human suffering, as you correctly point out. . .but this isn’t a problem unique to vegetarians.

      4. gratuitous_violet
        gratuitous_violet October 14, 2012 at 11:53 am |

        No, Becca, I get that, and like i said I don’t want to construct straw vegetarians only to knock them down. It’s a specific problem I have with the marketing phrase “cruelty-free!” I have seen it far too often and I find it gross for the above reasons. If it sounded like I was painting all vegs with the same (synthetic!) brush, that was not my intention. However, ALL vegetarian diets in the West are linked with oppressive industries, unless you happen to grow your own soybeans and not buy any soy products from beans grown on land stolen from indigenous Brazilians (or land owned by Monsanto!).

        However, I often feel very odd in these discussions because nobody ever talks about the ocean. I was born on an island in the Atlantic, where we’ve been fishing/gathering for ourselves since the 1400’s. I am descended from whalers who did it with six guys and a bunch of harpoons. The Azores are not an agricultural bread basket, so the “almost anyone anywhere can go veg!” line annoys me out of proportion. The same forces that have made small-scale livestock production less accessible are the same forces that disrupt traditional fishing communities and replace them with tourism + industrial fishing (see also: SE Asia, post-tsunami), and yet certain folks from the Global North seem to think that the poor should give up their diets to atone for a system they didn’t begin in the first place.

    3. William
      William October 9, 2012 at 8:31 pm |

      Take all the money for guns, ammo, vehicles, fuel, licensing & fees, etc.,

      I’m guessing you don’t really know what you’re talking about here. You can buy an old Mosin Nagant for around $100. How old? Well, the first war these rifles were used in was the Boxer Rebellion, but they were already eight years old at that point. The ones you’d buy today are probably only seventy years old or so. Even so, you’re talking about a highly reliable rifle thats accurate enough to make an ethical shot out to a hundred yards or so for a decent shooter and shoots a bullet thats capable of taking all but the largest game on the continent. Your grandchildren (if you have them) will likely still be able to use it. How expensive is the ammo? Military surplus ammo for training is going to run you about twenty cents a round. Good hunting ammo will cost more (probably around $25 a box, but that will last you awhile if you’re taking smart, ethical shots) unless you’re able to drop another hundred bucks on a basic reloading set up. Fees are going to run you between nothing and $50, depending on where you live and where you plan to hunt.

      There are some good arguments against hunting. I get them, I really do. Cost isn’t one of them.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve October 9, 2012 at 8:58 pm |

        There are some good arguments against hunting. I get them, I really do. Cost isn’t one of them.

        Agreed. There are some good arguments against battery farming and slaughterhouses. I get them, I really do. Cost isn’t one of them.

      2. Alexandra
        Alexandra October 9, 2012 at 9:05 pm |

        I’ve actually had a chance to fire a Mosin Nagant. Compared to a modern .22 meant for hunting deer, those things have a massive kick! I’m not a hunter or really a gun person, but I’ve had a chance to go shooting with folks who are, and that’s a gun that reminds you it’s a GUN, not a toy. It’s awesome to get to hold a piece of history like that, though, and see the craftsmanship that keeps it working decade after decade after decade.

        1. William
          William October 9, 2012 at 10:59 pm |

          The Mosin is a fine rifle, but its definitely punishing in the recoil department. Dirt cheap, too, thanks to being on the C&R list.

          That said I’m not so sure about a .22 to hunt deer. Maybe .223, but I wouldn’t call most common chamberings in that caliber range ethical for hunting anything larger than a rabbit. I’m sure its possible if you’re an excellent shot and make your own very precise, very hot loads but…I just wouldn’t be comfortable with it. The last thing you want is to shoot an animal and have it run away to bleed to death or die of an infection. If you’re going to hunt you really should strive to do it responsibly, that means only taking shots you’re confident about and using bullets/loads that are likely to give you an instant or near instant kill even with imperfect shot placement.

  17. The Meat We Eat | Horse Owners Info
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  18. The Meat We Eat | Why Horse
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  19. Stella
    Stella October 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm |

    How does an American end up all the way in Sicily to be a nanny?

    1. EG
      EG October 9, 2012 at 6:59 pm |

      Damn good luck!

    2. Alexandra
      Alexandra October 9, 2012 at 7:48 pm |

      Being an au pair has been a traditional way for well-educated middle class white American women to travel while working. And vice versa, of course.

  20. MrRabbit
    MrRabbit October 12, 2012 at 10:19 am |

    Most people in the global south could be vegetarian if they wanted to. Please note I said most. I live on below poverty line income in Australia and I’m vegetarian. But I don’t have children to support.

    If someone chooses to eat meat, that’s their business. We all make choices about how to live a “good” or ethical life. We don’t all agree what that is. I don’t judge meat eaters. I would like them to be honest, though, and say that it is a choice they’ve made (and there can be understandable reasons for that choice, even “I just like the taste of meat too much” not to mention medical reasons). And within that choice there are uncomfortable truths. Don’t blame vegetarians for those truths.

    Vegetarians and vegans are aware that animals still die for their food, for their lifestyle. Pesticides are used on food crops, on cotton, etc. Every single person has an impact on other living things. We all choose, within our means, within our priorities, within our situations, how much of an impact we have. Some of these impacts are so systematic it is difficult to find alternatives. Sometimes we are just trying to survive ourselves. And we all make compromises. No one is pure. Because we live other living things die. It’s about to what extent we can accept that. To what extent will we accept the suffering of animals.

    Finally, I can care about humans and animals. It’s not either / or.

  21. MrRabbit
    MrRabbit October 15, 2012 at 10:36 am |

    Woops, that should be “most people NOT in the global south”.

    Apologies for a very vexing absent “not”.

  22. Mac
    Mac October 27, 2012 at 7:46 am |

    Tripe like this is why I rarely read Feministe. “ZOMG meat tastes good” is the kind of boring sentiment I would expect from a men’s rights blog, but given this site’s history of sneering at veganism, I can’t say I’m very surprised. For many people, animal rights is a very important point of intersection on a lot of feminist and social/political/environmental issues. Perhaps you could actually learn a little bit about topics before sitting down to write about them in such a dismissive way. Or you could just keep doing what you’re doing.

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