Firstly, let me immediately clarify my question before I am sued to within an inch of my life by some nasty lawyers. I am of course in no way insinuating that McDonald’s have, do or will serve horse burgers. I am merely posing the hypothetical question that if they did, or any other fast food outlet for that matter did, would you try one or would you find it ethically and morally repugnant?
You see, I would buy one. Sorry horse lovers, but I see no problem in eating an equine product as long as a) the animal has been treated as any other edible farm animal would be and b) the product is clearly labelled as to what it exactly is.
Since the 1930’s, the consumption of horsemeat in the UK has been rare although the production has in fact never been illegal. However, since the recent scandals where cheaper horse meat has been substituted for more expensive beef, ironically its popularity now seems to be soaring. Indeed, even Princess Anne, who one might consider a major horse lover in the extreme, has come out to say that by eating horse meat it might mean the better treatment of horses altogether. As an interesting aside, did you know that in China, Wal-Mart had to withdraw the sale of their popular “Five Spice” donkey sausage last year after traces of fox meat were found in it…
The fact of the matter is that horse meat is about half the price of beef. It is leaner, has lots of iron and also lots of omega-3 too. The top 8 horse meat producing countries farm an incredible 4.7 million animals per year, including the likes of China (#1), Mongolia (#3) and Kazakhstan (#4), so it’s not just the gastronauts in France (#?) and Italy (#6) that are happy to consume it! Recent taste panels have suggested that horse steaks generally win over beef, being juicier, more tender and with a slightly sweeter, almost gamey flavour.
So what’s the problem? Horses for courses I say! I always remember seeing some animal rights protestors with placards outside a farm that was letting in families to come and play with the cute new born lambs. The placards said “Stroke them today, eat them tomorrow!” How true. Generally, we are happy to eat flesh, as long as it doesn’t look like a recognisable bit of an animal, as long as it’s in a nice plastic container with film over the top, and maybe even a picture of a happy pig on the label, then we’ll consume it! It’s all in our perception. So on this basis, is there potentially a market for any animal as a food source, as long as it’s farmed and labelled properly….? Oh dear, now that does throw up a lot of ethical questions…panda kebab anyone?