The Horse Burger Saga

Beefburger --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisSo there has been all sorts of Brouhaha in the media over last 24 hours regarding the discovery of horse meat in burgers and other products sold in UK supermarkets (this wouldn’t raise a murmor in France).

Let me state here and now that I am not and never will be a vegetarian, nor am I a great animal lover. I live my life following the philosophy of Homer – “I’ve never met a animal I wouldn’t like to eat”. So, other than not being told that the burger contained horse and being given the opportunity to choose whether to consume it or not, I really don’t have a problem with a horse burger. It probably tastes like chicken.

However, there is something peculiarly British about our relationship with animals and our ability to rank one species higher than another. All those dog owners outraged by poodles being the main course in Korea yet will happily wolf down a steak come dinner time. If only cows were better at fetching sticks.

And, of course, that’s the difference. People build an emotional attachment to dogs, cats and horses but nobody builds the same attachment to cows, pigs and sheep (insert your own Welsh joke here). We re-enforce this in our children when seeing a fluffy white lamb galloping in the fields and they make a connection to last nights dinner we say “no, those are different lambs”.

So over the next few days the retailers such as Tesco will continue to eat humble pie, presumably without horse, as they try to win back customers disgusted that they might have eaten a bit of something they find distasteful.

But shouldn’t all animals be treated equally?

  • As a vegetarian, I have to say I agree with you. If you’re prepared to eat one dead animal, why not another? It should be an ‘all or nothing’ proposition. And from a Buddhist perspective, it’s not like you’re going to generate any more bad karma for eating a horse than you would a cow…