There's been a minor brouhaha over the fact that some horse meat recently found its way into iKEA meatballs in Europe.
In America, because people get attached to their horses and dogs, there is a stigma against eating the meat of both. When we think of horses, we think of My Friend Flicka, or Black Beauty, or Seattle Slew. Eating one of those magnificent creatures -- or their brethren -- would seem almost sacrilegious.
Likewise, when we think of dogs, we think of Balto, or Lassie, or Rin Tin Tin, or our personal pets. Repaying the loyalty of man's best friend by consuming him would feel wrong. So we refrain.
India has its sacred cows; we have our sacred dogs and sacred horses. Are we being just as shortsighted as India? We eat cows, which are lovable creatures in their own way (think Elsie). And we eat venison (think Bambi). Once upon a time we slaughtered buffalo just for their tongues.
We eat sheep, which are sorta cute. We eat pigs, which are even cuter, at least when they're young. And we not only eat calves, we raise them in small pens so their meat is more tender.
We don't eat cats, partly because they're pets, but also because they're not supposed to be tasty and they don't provide much meat anyway. But dogs are reportedly delicious. (Just ask Barack.)
Horse meat, according to Wikipedia, is slightly sweet, tender, and low in fat. Sounds yummy.
We tend to shy away from eating animals we consider intelligent, like dolphins and chimpanzees. And those other brainiacs, elephants and whales, are endangered (despite their high IQ's).
(Question: if an mammal is more intelligent, should that exempt it from consumption? Are less intelligent creatures, like cows and sheep, less sensitive to pain than dolphins and chimps? Do they have fewer nerve endings along with their less advanced cognition? And if this is a relevant criterion, why do we eat pigs, which are more intelligent than dogs?)
We eat all sorts of birds, though we don't eat eagles. But eagles, though once endangered, are now plentiful, and the population currently numbers over 100,000 in this country. They were traditionally a game bird, and there was even a bounty on their heads in Alaska from 1917 to 1952. So why not? Because it would be unpatriotic? Turkeys are still plentiful, but a Thanksgiving bald eagle would be a feast to remember.
These taboos have always struck me as a little silly.
For you pet owners who object, think about it: what better way is there for you to honor your departed pet than to eat it? Your horse or dog will actually become part of you. How could you be any closer than that? (In fact, much horse meat is not healthy because of the medications they're given over their lifetimes; but I am talking theoretically, about "organic" horses.)
If you prefer to bury your pet in the backyard, be assured that it will just gradually rot and be eaten by worms.
It's time to reconsider.