Anyone Want Some Horse Meat?

The US essentially pulled the plug on the killing of horses for human consumption a few years ago. Movement in a few states may be bringing it back, though, if Willie Nelson and others can’t persuade Congress to ban it completely.

The title above probably makes most of you (vegetarian or not) grimace or say: “What, do people eat horses!?” In Japan and Europe, people do (and horsemeat is actually a delicacy). And although horses don’t seem to be moving onto the menu in the US anytime soon, it is becoming increasingly likely that the US will slaughter horses for people in these other countries to eat…again.


Montana passed a bill last year that allows horse slaughterhouses to be built in the state. Now, similar bills in Missouri and Tennessee are moving forward.

“On April 8, a subcommittee in the Tennessee House approved a horse slaughter bill 7-6. A week earlier, the Missouri House approved 91-61 bill HR1741,” Alisa Opar of Audubon Magazine reports.

Previous Horse Slaughter in the US

In the past, approximately 100,000 horses were slaughtered for human consumption each year. But a few years ago Congress barred the USDA from spending federal funds to inspect horse slaughterhouses. And if meat cannot be inspected, it cannot be sold or eaten.

The last equine slaughterhouse in the US was closed in 2007.

Is Horse Slaughter Good or Bad?

Supporters of horse slaughter in the US say that it is important for dealing with horse cruelty and abandonment that occurs when a horse is no longer healthy or useful to an owner. Of course, others argue that this is just an excuse for an unethical money-making scheme. Willie Nelson is one of the most notable people against the slaughtering of horses in the US. He wrote, “We ride horses in America, we don’t eat them,” in a letter printed in the Tennessean. More words from Willie:

Rep. Niceley is sponsoring a bill (HB 1428) in the Tennessee General Assembly to allow a horse slaughterhouse in Tennessee. He wants folks to believe it is more humane to allow buyers to travel around our great country purchasing healthy, wanted horses, then haul them to Tennessee to be slaughtered for human consumption. Who benefits: foreign-owned companies and high-end diners overseas.

Nelson and others are now pushing for Congress to pass the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (HR 503/S 727), which would outlaw domestic horse slaughter for overseas food consumption.

It seems to me that if there is an issue with owners abandoning or mistreating old horses, that should be addressed in some more caring way. There should be stricter laws and enforcement regarding this matter. But maybe I’m just an idealist?

Why Do We Love Dogs (or Horses), Eat Pigs and Wear Cows?

The final issue this all brings up is one that always comes to my mind when people are grossed out by the idea of eating dogs, horses, cats or anything else they are not used to eating: how do people not think or feel the same way regarding cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and fish?

Dr. Melanie Joy delved into this issue in depth in her PhD studies and has written a book on the matter titled “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism”. This first video below is a brief introduction to the book.


This second video is an excellent explanation of “carnism” by Melanie Joy.


Image Credit: paul+photos=moody via flickr/CC license

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9 thoughts on “Anyone Want Some Horse Meat?”

  1. Everything they say today is bad to eat pork, beef, chicken, even now with fruits and vegetables. All the shit they feed to the livestock and chemicals on the produce. No wonder kids today are 14 and already 5 ft 9.

    But, People need to not overbreed, which is a huge problem with dogs and cats as well.

  2. Horse meat is unfit for humans to eat.

    Association of phenylbutazone usage with horses bought for slaughter: A public health risk
    Food and Chemical Toxicology, Volume 48, Issue 5, May 2010, Pages 1270-1274
    Nicholas Dodman, Nicolas Blondeau, Ann M. Marini read it for yourselves here:

  3. Your welcome Zachary,
    As the owner of twenty two horses as well as cattle and goats I know the different medications given to food animals and recreational/pet animals. Think about this the AVMA is pro slaughter knowing good and well that the meat is poison and yet they don’t try to stop people from eating it. They are accomplices to a crime of knowingly poisoning people. I think they should be prosecuted. Even the Pet Food Institute rates horse meat as unacceptable for dogs and cats to eat.

  4. What’s weird to me is that somehow horses seem grosser to eat than cows, to most omnis… wtf? tomayto, tomahto… neither is ‘food’ (to me) unless I’m more desperate for sustenance than I’ve yet been, in this life: blech, X 2!

    Melanie Joy is cool. Thanks for the links!

    PS: plants have no discernible personalities; you can’t ride them; they don’t come when you call them by name; they are hardly ever curious about what you’re doing in the yard; they don’t nuzzle you or enjoy ear-scratches. PLUS, they’re very tasty, and don’t seem to mind when you kill them. Unlike, for example, horses… just sayin.

  5. thank you for NOT making a distinction between these animals…i love people who champion the rights of horses and dogs, but then they go eat a hamburger and wear their leathers…what is that? it seems so obvious…humans should discontinue eating and wearing ALL ANIMALS,great and small.period.thank you for rising above the masses.non harmful.cruelty free. God Bless.steph,ca.

  6. As a animal lover and rancher, I see both sides to the issue. While I would not consider eating a horse, I do realize that other countries/ethnic groups have different dietary needs/wants.
    Since the ban, I have seen horses suffer so much worse than before. If you take away value from something then basically there is no need for it. The horse market is horrible. Horses are being starved to the point of death and the rescues are completely full. I have taken in as many horses as I can but still get several calls wanting me to take others in. As much as I love horses, I believe that the states do need to allow slaughtering. Horses would then be much better taken care of because they would be worth something.

  7. Carrie… what about the medications in horsemeat making it unfit for human consumption? That doesn’t bother you? As for the ‘ban’, even though U.S. horses are not being slaughtered for human consumption in the States, they are still being shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. Therefore by your logic the horses should still be valuable and none should be starving. After all, slaughter solves all these issues and it’s still available, so……

    By the way, the horse market sucks in Canada right now too… hmmmm.. could it be the economy??

  8. Willie Neslon is a fool who thinks his own cultural prejudices should hold sway. Horses are food animals just as much as cows or pigs. There is indeed a market for horse meat in the US not just overseas and Americans should have the right to choose their animal protein of choice.
    If contaminants in the meat are the real issue -and there’s not much evidence it is – then we should be working to ensure safe outlets for horse meat not banning folks from eating a tasty and nutritious meat.

    This is just the animal protest industry vegans nuts trying to take yet another animal off the table. Fight for food diversity!

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