Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Outrage over horse meat is horse shit

An outraged article by the usually-quite-sensible Gary Mason in the Globe today caused me to break out my trademark wry smile. His outrage is over the "unconscionable horse slaughter" caused by the continuing international trade in live horses for meat (a "delicacy to the rich", as Mr. Mason has it).

Canada does indeed export live horses for this purpose - 14,500 over the last 5 years, apparently - particularly to Japan, which seems to have a taste for raw horsemeat for some strange reason. Yes, as Mr. Mason points out, they are indeed stuffed into wooden crates and kept without food or water for long periods before slaughter. And yes, the Liberal government did promise to outlaw the practice during the 2021 election (to counter the Conservatives' promise  to outlaw puppy mills), and they have still not acted on that promise.

But I still can't help but find Mr. Mason's language a little rich. He talks of the "poor creatures" which are "undoubtedly screaming in terror" as they take their final plane ride. He calls out the "horrible, horrible practice" as "animal cruelty of the worst kind". He takes an extended flight of fantasy as he imagines what the outcry would be like if the Canadian public found out that "cute little dogs" were being treated this way.

I'm guessing that Mr. Mason is not a vegetarian. Does he think that cows, sheep and pigs are treated much better in the commercial marketplace and factory farming system for meat products? Does he reserve his outrage for horses (and cute little dogs) just because he personally has a soft spot for them, and no doubt considers them "noble beasts"?

As a vegetarian of 40-odd years, I am most definitely not in favour of shipping animals abroad to assuage the weird culinary tastes of foreign cultures (Western culture has, generally speaking, decided that horses should not be on the menu, for whatever reason). But there seems to be a fair bit of hypocrisy and pecksniffery at play here, don't you think? I mean, pigs are a lot more intelligent than horses (although admittedly not as "cute"), shouldn't we be more outraged by their treatment?

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