Could you eat horse meat?

Could you eat me?
Could you eat me?

Millions of “beef” burgers were removed from supermarket shelves across the UK because they contain horse meat. The nation is outraged and justifiably so when it’s reported some burgers contain as much as 29% horse! The nation is then informed, as I discovered in the Telegraph newspaper, “Horse meat in burgers ‘could be health risk’. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to believe!

If we stand back from this scandal and horse meat was readily available in supermarkets and restaurants, would we knowingly eat it? Or is eating horse, a cultural taboo in some countries?

Our French neighbours for instance, readily consume horse meat along with frogs, rabbits, snails and other unmentionables parts which I’m far too squeamish to even contemplate. The French don’t make a song and dance about it so why do the Brits? Or is it just the Brits?

I’m not sure if they sell horse meat in Portugal – and if they did how would I know?

In China eating cats and dogs is common practice. Now that I find that bizarre.

And why are we (well me at least) disgusted at the thought of eating bugs?

According to National Geographic News “For Most People, Eating Bugs Is Only Natural” If I think eating bugs is gross apparently I may be in the cultural minority because throughout history people have relished insects as food, and today many cultures still do.

So are our eating habits conditioned by our culture?

Please don’t forget to take part in the poll

Related newspaper articles:
Mirror News Meat factory closes after horse found in 9 of 13 burgers
The Telegraph Horse meat in burgers ‘could be health risk’

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86 thoughts on “Could you eat horse meat?

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  1. I haven’t (and I probably wouldn’t) but I could! There’s horse meat a-plenty in the supermarkets here! At the risk of upsetting your readers, it looks quite nice – dark red steaks… I’m still a “no thanks” though.

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  2. I have had horse 3 or 4 times while on holiday in France, i don’t mind it.

    It’s steak so why not eat it, although people might say ” oh no ” if they had to for some reason they would.

    If i cooked you a steak you may not be able to tell the difference.

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  3. No, because I am vegan. As a vegan I don’t want to be coresponsible in the sacrifice of animals, I wish to protect the environment, my health and my economy.

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  4. As I have been thru’ some wars when food oft was impossible to get, I am certain I have eaten horse meat, but at the moment would take a step back alongside consuming dogs and cats: too much like family members? However love using and eating snails and frogs and cook a lot of rabbit: my two daughters ate all and more from the time they took to solids πŸ™‚ ! Snails were a great family favourite and I knew if I turned away for a minute, half would have disappered from my plate πŸ˜€ !

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    1. Hi Eha, I never thought of a war situation where food is scarce so I suppose you eat what is available or go hungry. Rabbit is popular in Portugal however I’ve never tried it. Snails are a def “no no” for me which is a shame becuase there are so many in my garden I could feed an army!
      However, if I’d have eaten snails from a baby I probably would not be so horrified at the thought.

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  5. Yes, being a vegan also has it’s problems, namely pesticides. I live in the countryside and I search my vegetables by neighbours, who do not use them. But being a vegan has a few advantages, namely spare animals = sentient beings.

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  6. Great post! I am a meat eater but draw the line at horse. I moved to Sardinia 5 years ago and was shocked that it was on the menu in most of the restaurants, as well as in the butcher’s shop. I was more shocked when my soon to be Sardinian husband ordered it one night. He told me it’s been part of this diet since he was a child, for most Sardinians it’s part of their culture. There was a time when beef was too expensive and if people wanted to survive … they still had to eat. I also wrote an article on it last year … have a look here… http://laavventura.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/what-is-one-countrys-culture-is-anothers-taboo-horse-meat/

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  7. I don’t eat much meat either, but I don’t think I would knowingly eat horse meat! I do think they sell it in Portugal too, or at least there was also some debate about it many years ago…I think what we eat is very much a cultural thing, I don’t eat snails, goat or rabbits and certain entrails which are also part of the Portuguese “diet”, but then I am very squirmish.

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    1. Hi Sami, nice to meet a fellow “Sqeam” and there’s me under the impression Portuguese eat anything!
      I never really thought about why we not eat horse but we would eat say baby lambs until this whole problem reared it’s head!

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  8. Just a follow up – I forgot to say that in Australia they sell Kangaroo meat – I once tried minced, but could not eat it, as it had a strange taste. But then I also see kangaroos as these cute animals, so that could contribute to it.

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    1. @ Sami Veloso with the biggest of smiles: I can’t think of anything tastier than a lovely rare kangaroo fillet: every meat has a different taste, after all – and the kangaroos are killed ‘on the hoof’ and very humanely – they literally have to be culled becasue of numbers! It is also one of the healthiest of meats, so do try again another time πŸ˜€ !

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        1. Believe it or not, amongst most of my friends it is the most sought after meat and is so often served at dinner parties! [It is slightly gamey, but if you love venison the way I do, you will most certainly like it!!] Emu is less available and may be a tad tougher when not well cooked! Crocodile is wonderful!!

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  9. I’ve had the same experience with horse meat like you did – eating without knowing what it was. Quite a few years ago back in Germany. After I found out the feeling was a touch…odd. Would I buy it intentionally so to speak? Most probably not.

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  10. It would be easy to say that if you eat meat, then you eat meat, regardless of its shape or form. There is a lot of hypocrisy out there and with me too. I will happily eat pork but on discussing whether we wanted to keep pigs ourselves I said I wasn’t sure if I could kill a creature I had built a relationship with. I would rather let someone else do the dirty work. For me it is more how the animal was reared and at the end, how it was slaughtered. Would I eat horse? If they were free range, cared for and the meat tasted good, I probably would but to be honest I am not a big red meat eater.

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  11. Nope, can’t bring myself to eat any of those things. 😐 Been considering switching to another grocery store, no thanks to the fiasco over here.

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  12. When I was growing up horse meat was suppled to feed dogs,in fact there were specialist horsemeat suppliers. Once I came home from school, took some meat from the fridge, cooked and ate it, my mother was horrified when she found I had inadvertantly eaten the dog’s meat! (I enjoyed it though). We kept 100 chickens, all had names and came when called, but we couldn’t eat them. Ostrich, crocidle, rabbit and venison are delicious (also offal, you just need to keep an open mind)- snails with garlic are yummy. When went on holiday to Mozambique it was normal to eat goat, here in Portugal it isn’t easy to find.

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      1. Am really smiling now: thank God there is just one other person reading/writing who has the same palate as I πŸ™‚ ! I eat and love all of the above, but especially offal: I mean, even using European recipes [I normally cook Asian fusion] what could be more delightful than ‘rognons a la moutarde’ [kidneys, mustard sauce] or ‘tripes a la mode de Caen] [honeycomb tripe in wine sauce’ πŸ˜€ ! ? Or wonderful sweetbreads or calves liver or brains in black butter???

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          1. Yup, one sautees them and ‘black butter’ is the usual ‘other name’ for ‘browned butter: the kind you pour over steamed cauliflower πŸ™‚ ! And this is a European recipe too; I ate it already as a child in estonia!!!

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  13. I could not eat horse meat and would be very upset if I discovered that I had eaten it unknowingly. Call me a food hypocrite but I won’t eat rabbit either and really don’t like the taste of the little bit of venison I have had. I also don’t eat prawns or any shellfish and would never eat snails or frogs legs. I think it’s mainly a cultural thing – I view horses as intelligent domesticated animals and bunnies as pets. The thought of eating dogs or cats is simply repulsive to me.

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    1. Hi Optie, I never used to be able to eat prawns, mussels or clams. I don’t like things on my plate that stare back at me. Snails forget it – the texture is yuck and they look at you as well!

      I suppose if we were all faced with starvation we would eat anything!

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  14. I seem to be the only veggie who has voted. I am not an animal lover but do not want to eat any meat. I feel the same about eating any animal as some people feel about eating bugs, snails, dogs and cats. In the western world it is totally unnecessary these days to eat meat . Just like wearing furs and killing elephants for ivory. I agree with vasco Reis we should respect our environment.

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    1. Hi Clara, I did not realise you were a veggie. I tried once but found it impossible when I was cooking for a family. I often think of it now, but I do like chicken and turkey. the thing that worries me is that so many pesticides are used on crops and they GM soya now as well. At the end of the day I sometimes wonder what we do eat and wish my little horta was more productive!

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  15. I’ve read about this on the wire services and thought, disgusting! How could this have happened? Don’t they have rules? I know Britain does have rules but how does this happen? I have eaten frog legs, snails, and rabbit and these don’t bother me. Horse (and cat and dog) do. It’s a cultural thing. I ate rabbit and frog legs growing up. Snails is an acquired taste. But horses, cats, and dogs are domesticated animals, pets, really. It’s cultural for me.

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    1. Hi Maire they do have rules but somehow they got round them I bet Tescos were horrified when they discovered this. What a PR disaster! I also think it is cultural. I wnet to someones house for dinner the other night and they were tucking in to chicken’s feet. I nearly had to bolt from the table!

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      1. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ ! By the bye, it is a very common Australian dish too πŸ™‚ ! Honest injun, but I better stop it ere i make half the readers turn away!!!!

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  16. Here in Switzerland it is also quite common to have horse on the menu but it is always labled and in Sion (e.g.) exist a butchers shop specialised in horse meat. From a rational view I think it doesn’t make a difference if you pet your pet and eat a cow or doing it vice versa. I also think it is not the fact that elsewhere people eat horse or dog that makes us upset, it is the fact that we know how animals that supply our meat consumption are treated. For this reason I am trying to live on a vegetarian basis – like I’d tried before and failed, because meat is tasty, I can’t deny that…

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  17. I just voted ‘no’ because I don’t like the idea of it, but I freely admit that this is a cultural thing. I think if I ‘bonded’ with any animal it would be difficult to eat. After owning chikcens for 18 months I have finally got over the struggle to reconcile the chicken curry with the little ‘garden girls’, as we call them!

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    1. Hi Michelle,
      I think a lot of what we eat is a cultural thing – if you are brought up to eat chickens feet from birth you will eat them. Otherwise probably nothing will persuade you to eat the delicacy πŸ™‚ If I kept chickens I could not eat them πŸ™‚

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  18. I marked the poll Yes, but only out of necessity. Out of choice, no , I would not eat it.
    But I believe this is all cultural. My daughter refuses to eat Lamb, yet has no qualms eating beef.Odd. I reckon a cow looks just as ‘cute’ as a lamb
    I refuse to eat veal. I do not agree with the methods used to raise a calf for slaughter.
    If I knew it wouldn’t cause major headaches in my family I would easily go vegetarian – my folks are and have been for 30 years.

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  19. From what I remember, eating horse meat wasn’t very taboo in Pagan Europe until Christianity. I’d have to double check on that, but I’m pretty sure it was common in, for instance, Scandinavia before then.

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  20. Yep, I’m an omnivore, but I do have my standards, By choice I wouldn’t utilize horses, dogs or cats as a food-source, but I would if it was a matter of survival to feed my family.

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  21. At least in Lisboa there are horse meat butchers, they are identified as “Talho de carne de cavalo”. I’m one of the portuguese that eats almost everything, but as far as I know I’ve never eaten horse meat. I don’t eat rabbit because I don’t like the taste and snails because when I tried they felt like “a piece of rubber”, so not interesting.

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  22. Hi…i saw this post a while back but only read it today. I was born in Lisbon in 54 and emigrated with my parents to Canada in 66. As a kid my father and I feasted many sundays on horse meat steaks. Both my parents were from the north and my mother was the picky one but my dad adapted well to a lot of different fods available in the city. It is a fact that horse meat is richer in iron than beef and more tender and as far as I know, it has always been sold in speacilty butcher shops. I also enjoyed snails that were sold seasonally by street vendors…now obsolete. The city where i live now, a British settlement less than 200 yrs ago, and where over one hundred languages are currently spoken one can find a large selection of food from all over the world, horse meat included.
    My favorite meat still is a delicious frango, raised free range style and cooked with arroz malandro! πŸ™‚

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    1. Hi Carmen, thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It’s amazing that the more we travel the more it opens our mind to new foods…however, things like snails will never temp me. My daughter lives in France and we are surrounded by snails!

      I am not sure I would out of choice eat horsemeat, but then I don’t eat beef steaks. I just don’t like the texture of red meat anymore.

      I love chicken and like the sound of arroz malandro. Just checked out on Google images and it looks my kind of recipe! But there seems lots of variations. Do you have a recipe you could share please?
      https://www.google.com/search?q=arroz+malandro&hl=en&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=uq0YUcvmD5SChQfFxYCYDw&sqi=2&ved=0CD0QsAQ&biw=1024&bih=605

      Incidentally, the chicken in Portugal is far superior to those sold in the UK. I’ve noticed meat in the UK is pumped with water which is apprent when you cook it πŸ™‚

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      1. Well in this case it’s a direct connection. I love eating horse, I just want a horse that is raised to eat, and not one that is raised to race and pumped full of drugs to keep it “healthy”.

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