Could Horse Meat Be on Your Dinner Plate in the Near Future?

I have a friend in Oregon who owns a horse named Tabasco and she treats him like a child.

Although it’s odd, I find it endearing. She makes the hour-long trip out to visit him several times a week and even prays for him when he’s sick. So I could imagine that if she found out horses can now be slaughtered for human consumption, she might be a little upset. And more likely, appalled.

There was formerly a 5-year ban on horse slaughtering in the U.S., but that ban was lifted by the government last November. Beyond general feelings of disgust, no one took much notice, until now.

For the first time since 2007, someone is actually hoping to slaughter horses for sale. The slaughterhouse facility to last slaughter a horse was in Illinois, but was closed after animal welfare activists threatened widespread public outcry if it remained open.

The USDA issued a statement at the time of the ban’s lift saying there were no U.S. slaughterhouses that butcher horses for human consumption, but that if one were to open, it would conduct inspections to make sure federal laws were being followed.

The man hoping to open his horse slaughterhouse is Rick De Los Santos – a rancher in New Mexico who owns Valley Meat Co. His reasons for wanting to restart the practice are strictly economical. In an interview with the Albuquerque Journal, Los Santos said, “I’m going to try to do what I need to make a living, and that’s not against the law.”

Now that the ban has been lifted, the only step Los Santos is required to take is getting his application approved by the USDA to have his slaughterhouse inspected – at which time he can move forward with the process.

If you’re wondering what kind restaurants in the U.S. would serve horse meat, you’re thinking the wrong country. Los Santos says he plans to sell the horse in Mexico where eating horse meat is no different than eating a chicken leg. But horse is also commonly consumed in Europe, Asia and Canada.

People in opposition to the ban’s lift argue that horses are intelligent, lovable creatures, and that their slaughter is inhumane. Popular vegetarian and animal activist group PETA has even stated that the solution isn’t to start killing horses in the U.S., but to stop sending them abroad to be slaughtered as well.

But horse meat lovers say there’s nothing wrong with consuming the unlikely meat, especially since it reportedly contains 40 percent fewer calories and 50 percent more protein than lean beef. And the taste? Similar to beef but slightly sweeter. If you’re curious how horse is prepared, the Internet is aflood with how to’s and recipes. Check it out for yourself, if you wish.

It may no longer be illegal, but it’s still not our forte. I personally wouldn’t stand for horse slaughter, not only because I find the whole idea appalling, but also because my friend and Tabasco would be horrified if they found out I was all for eating horse. So in that case, I think I’ll be sticking to my chicken and fish.

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