By now you have probably heard about the scandal that hit Europe last week when horse meat turned up in prepared foods that had been falsely labeled as beef. Though the food recall has been and will be extensive, it’s different than previous mass recalls that have been the result of health risks such as the mad cow disease, the bird flu, or E. coli. The horse meat recall, by contrast, is purely emotional.
My entire life (not simply my diet) is dictated by the belief that an animal is an animal is an animal– that a cow (or horse, chicken, trout, or rat for that matter) has the same right to life and respect as my feline, canine, and human friends. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that my universal respect for life is a rarity. But all of this outrage over the difference between consuming cow meat versus horse meat is laughable and it’s hard for me to take “scandals” like this seriously.
When it comes down to it, most meat-eaters hate to acknowledge that they are consuming the flesh of an animal that suffered its whole life before being horrifically and painfully murdered. In order to maintain dignity and an air of entitlement, they convince themselves that some animals are worth more than others. Cats, dogs– and to a lesser extent, horses– get put up on a pedestal while cows, chickens, and pigs are crammed into tiny cages to wait for death. The only difference is human attachment; the luck of the domestication-draw.
In several of the articles I read about the European horse meat scandal, people sited that their biggest concern was that they had been misinformed and didn’t know what they had been eating. One said “It’s a matter of disgust.You’ve been eating something you were not aware of.” Though that point is valid, and I certainly insist on knowing what I am eating, I wonder if this would have been such a scandal if the non-beef meat that had been found in the prepared meals had been another socially acceptable meat, such as turkey. I doubt it.
The silver lining to this story is that, despite the shortfall in bringing dietary thoughts and morals full-circle, there is discussion happening about the unethical treatment and murder of (some) animals. Perhaps in these discussion, a handful of these folks will ask “what is the difference between a cow and a horse?” and make dramatic changes to their lives and diets when they come to the inevitable answer of “not much”.
If you are still caught in a cycle of believing that some lives are worth more than others, I encourage you to research and transition to a vegan diet– a diet that truly values and respects all life.
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