Horse Meat Regulations Backfire

State legislatures recently banned the slaughter of horses for human consumption. The net result, according to The New York Times, is that rather than being turned into horse meat here, horses get subjected to “grueling travel” to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada. They are crowded into trains “where it’s difficult for them to keep their balance” and “they have no access to food or water while en route,” leaving them emaciated upon arrival. And rather than being put out of their misery quickly, as they are in the U.S., horses in Mexico are often slaughtered by workers “who disable them by stabbing them with knives to sever their spinal cords.”

This was all sadly predictable. After all, it is in foreign countries that people consume horses, not here in America.

Americans often don’t realize that horse meat is a typical source of the steak tartare consumed in France and other countries in Europe and Latin America. My French relatives do not understand why someone would make steak tartare using raw beef rather than horse meat, viewing horse meat as preferable to beef when chopped or ground raw (by contrast, they believe that raw beef tastes better as thinly-sliced or pounded carpaccio).

Even other cultures where horses are scarce do not share American inhibitions about eating horse meat. For example, in Japan, in response to tuna shortages, some sushi restaurants temporarily replaced tuna with raw horse meat.