Eating a dead horse: Five reasons why horse meat isn't such a terrible tragedy

perfect-aqha-horse.jpg
Just eat it.
By now we've all heard about the European horse-meat "scandal," with bits of Mr. Ed being discovered in processed frozen-beef products -- everything from Burger King hamburger patties to lasagna. But why the hell is everyone freaking out? It's horse meat, not poison, and if horse meat were sold at grocery stores here in the States, I might be nibbling on a haunch of roasted mustang right now.

Here are five reasons why eating horse meat isn't such a terrible tragedy.

See also:
- End of a ban on slaughterhouse inspections could have gourmands horsing around
- Meat with meaning at Whole Foods
- An open letter to militant vegans

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Beef? Nope. Ground horse.

5. Horse meat is perfectly edible.
I agree that it's wrong to falsely label horse meat as other kinds of meat. The consumer public puts a lot of faith and trust in food providers to provide them with products that are properly and accurately labeled to reflect the actual contents, and when that trust is broken, people have a right and a responsibility to hold the providers accountable. But horse meat is not inherently harmful, so some of the screaming could be unnecessary posturing: Horse meat is just as edible as beef, pork, venison or chicken. (It doesn't taste like chicken, though -- if it did, maybe no one would have noticed the switch.)

4. People in other countries eat horse meat regularly.
People in France, the Netherlands, parts of the Mediterranean, China, Russia, Mexico, Mongolia, Argentina and Japan eat horse meat. They makes soups, stews, sausages and even dumplings with horse meat -- and those dishes are reputedly delicious. Horse is consumed in other countries partly out of necessity (it's what's available) and partly out of choice: Without taboos, horse is just another edible meat, readily available and marketed like chicken fryer parts and legs of lamb are here. The Irish and Brits who seem most upset about eating horse aren't exactly known the world over for their haute cuisine, and I wonder how many of them would notice a difference in taste or texture if their shepherd's pie or bangers -- with mash -- were cooked with seasoned, ground horse rather than beef.

Or how many Americans would notice if they were gobbling up horse cheeseburgers or hot dogs? After all, the things that go in hot dogs would likely scare a horse to death.

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It's good enough for pets -- why not people?
3. Horse actually tastes pretty good.
I have eaten horse meat before, and I loudly proclaim it to be both delicious and in some ways superior to beef. It tastes a bit sweeter, is less fatty and a tad more gamey than beef, but far less exotic in flavor than goat or venison. Since it's leaner than beef, I prefer it braised rather than grilled -- grilled horse tastes a lot like grilled bison to me. It would a decent substitute for other red meats in every traditional dish I can think of -- except maybe holiday mincemeat pies, which will still be kind of gross no matter what goes in them.

If horse were available I'd regularly purchase it -- provided it wasn't tagged with the same high prices of specialty meats like veal. And old horses en route to the glue factory would be better served being butchered for supper: I'd treat the meat like stewing hens and toss it in a crock pot with a few carrots and potatoes for giddyup stew.


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31 comments
Ozzie Perch
Ozzie Perch

how's the taste compared to the Jumping Jack?

Barbara Calder
Barbara Calder

I do not understand the problem. I lived in Belgium (have Belgian citizenship) and I bought horse meat, cooked horse meat and we ate horse meat and we are all alive today.

Sean Gronbeck
Sean Gronbeck

Horse is good so is boar only christians, muslims and jews hate these favorites of the european peoples.

Daniel Wanush
Daniel Wanush

I've eaten horse jerky. I ate it before I knew what it was. I'd eat it again.

Jevan Russell
Jevan Russell

If push came to shove, I'll eat it. I will admit its a conscious thing and the fact that I wasn't raised eating has an affect on my outcome. So I won't voluntarily eat it just like I won't eat strawberries. But I totally agree with you that it is edible and it's no worse/better than beef. It's just another variety of meat except the taboo/stigma that we gave it for no apparent reason. I have a question to all that are against it, why are you against it? I've shared mine which I agree is dumb but at least I'm honest lol

Hillary Leftwich
Hillary Leftwich

This is the most idiotic thing I've read since you wrote about the elk vigil in Boulder. Trying to convince people it's okay to eat horse because other countries do it is an insult. Plus your persuasive tactics suck ass.

David Kotzebue
David Kotzebue

In OZ, they eat 'roos, their nat'l animal. U can buy it at the grocery.

mich.cannabisunivers
mich.cannabisunivers

I saw burghers distributed to a school in a North Denver suburb with kangaroo.

Suni Daze
Suni Daze

its wierd. and I wont eat at burger king again.

GFTW
GFTW

Jennstir is such a horse's ass!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Flicka ... it's what's for Dinner.

Trigger ... the other Red Meat.


ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve topcommenter

I remember in the 1970s or 1980s when Jack-In-The Box restaurants were accused of adding horse meat to their ground beef.  At that time, the restaurant chain was owned by Ralston Purina!  I can't remember what the outcome was, but since I used to run to JITB a lot back in those days, I may very well have consumed horse meat.

DenverDoughboy
DenverDoughboy

Putting aside the mislabeling issue, which is contemptible and criminal, I agree that eating horse meat should not be a cause of disgust.   I ate a horse meat steak as a child; my father took me to the Harvard Faculty Club which had horse meat on its menu for several decades.  It became a menu item, legend has it, from World War I, when beef was in short supply and the Faculty Club replaced cow meat with horse.  Can't say it was particularly appetizing; it seemed a bit drier and tougher than beef and I found it hard to force down, but I'm sure my reaction was influenced by the cultural taboo of eating horse as well.   

davebarnes
davebarnes topcommenter

Valid points.

I was with you until I read this:

"The UK's chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, has said there is a "limited public health risk" if the drug phenylbutazone, known as bute, is found in beef products that contain horsemeat."

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

@Fernanda Litt I'll miss you! : )

GFTW
GFTW

@Fernanda Litt Hahaha.....

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

@Hillary Leftwich Oh, this is faaaaar from the most idiotic thing I've ever written.......

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

@DenverDoughboy Thanks for the share--interesting as hell. : ) I first had horse meat from a neighbor when I was growing up in the midwest, and I found it to be a bit drier and sweeter than cow--which everyone told me it was because they were buttholes...lol--but not bad. These were the same jerk-burgers who fed me mountain oysters and told me they were actual oysters, too, until I had eaten a few.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

@davebarnes But does this drug come in the horse meat, or is it added into the beefy-horsey mixture?

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

@davebarnes Wait--I read the link. Interesting. When horses aren't meant for consumption, it's not too far-fetched to believe that certain chemicals they are given--presumably for medical or performance-enhancing purposes--could be harmful to humans. Yet another reason for honesty in packaging. But if I could get a few filets of Seabiscuit tainted with LSD.......

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