As a horse lover, whenever the topic of horse meat comes up in conversation, everyone is always like “you must be really against that.” I don’t know where this idea comes from. Animal lovers can still be happy eating meat. We have pet chickens at home for the eggs, but I still enjoy eating chicken. I don’t really know where the idea comes from that horse owners are against horse meat.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I think horse meat is sad. I find the idea of sending old or ‘broken’ horses to slaughter for meat sad. That horse will have given a lot to their owners over the years and I feel that they deserve a better end than that. But at the same time, as long as they have had a good life and have a kind end, then there are worse fates for a horse. I also have no problem with the idea of horses being farmed for meat.
Today I stumbled across an article about the Dartmoor ponies being culled for their meat and how popular their meat (Taffety) has become. As with most wild horse breeds around the world, as we take over more and more of the countryside, the numbers of wild horses fall. The number of Dartmoor ponies has fallen by roughly 29,000 over the past 60 years! Conservation societies recognised that something needed to be done to save this breed and surprisingly, they were the ones to start marketing pony meat.
Farmers were struggling to stay afloat and didn’t have the resources to help keep the semi feral Dartmoor ponies on their land. This combined with the decrease in demand of riding ponies led to many of the farmers culling the ponies to keep numbers under control. This caused the Dartmoor pony population to plummet further, putting the breed at risk. Conservation societies recognised this, and instead of working against the farmers, they worked with them to give them an incentive to allow the ponies to stay on their land.
Being able to sell pony meat to a growing market means the farmers can afford to keep the ponies and allows the ponies to live as much of a natural lifestyle as possible. So in this case, promoting horse meat has improved the welfare of wild horses in the area.
Any issue I have with horse meat is the same issue I have with any meat, welfare. If the animal had a happy life and a quick death, then surely that is all what matters, not what the animal is. Schemes like this are fascinating and I think horse lovers should think about getting behind it, even if they don’t feel comfortable eating the meat themselves.
What do you think about the idea of horse meat?