So what exactly is the defining factor of eating certain animals? Are they all on the menu? Why are some taboo? Why are we AGAINST eating horses, but not cows (we're not vegan out here)....
To me, the answer is simple. While my answer may seem very "American", it is the truth and my experience. I cannot answer in another way. I define animals acceptable for consumption under two categories- intelligence, and "friend animals". Animals fitting in the "intelligence" category not fit for consumption would be horses, dogs, cats, dolphins, monkeys, donkeys, zebras, elephants.....all cat and dog species to be exact, all water mammals, humans, and birds of prey. Meaning, the list for me is simplified into "smart" vs "not as smart" animals. Fish, chickens, cows, buffalo, deer, elk, turkeys, doves, quail, shrimp.... those animals have a distinctly lower intelligence and range of emotions than the afore mentioned critters.
"Friend" animals not on the menu include my pet chickens, pet deer, pet cows, and my pet fish. I have a rapport with these creatures and simply would not betray their trust by eating them, despite them being otherwise "acceptable" menu items to me.
One grey area I have decided upon personally is pork. Pigs are SO DARN smart! If you've ever owned one, or been around one, they display an incredible range of emotions. Pigs can concoct elaborate schemes to get what they want. For these reasons, I try not to eat them. Aside from the fact pork is really not a healthy menu item.
Next to consider is religion. Many religions forbid the consumption of certain animals by Biblical standards, which does kind of align with my "intelligence" grouping. Other religions have standards forbidding the consumption of animals considered holy, or consuming animals altogether. I can respect those decisions whatever they may be.
I'm not sure most Americans think much about the animals they eat beyond whats "normal". We grow up eating fried fish, chicken nuggets, and hamburgers. It's just "what we do". However, since getting into the rescue horse business, specifically saving horses from slaughter, many vegans have asked me this question. And, it's a good one!
Since we raise cattle out here too, and they're beef cattle, I have pondered this question quite a lot. That's where I came up with my "intelligence" list. If you ever work cows, you'll soon understand why we eat them, and why they don't make the intelligence cut!
A big part of the takeaway of this is- YOU SHOULD BE PROUD OF YOUR CULTURE. As an American, it is taboo to eat dogs and horses. It's taboo to be a cannibal too! And it SHOULD be! I'm proud to be American, and proud of what we stand and do not stand for. Therefore, just like we don't send stray dogs and cats to Korea for consumption, we should never be allowing our American horses to be shipped across either border for that purpose. It is illegal to slaughter horses inside the United States, and has been since 2011. We should not be feeding our pets to Europe's elite for $45/lb! In fact, it irritates me as a conservative American Capitalist that some elite with odd expensive sicko tastes is dining on some American little girl's Christmas pony this evening grinning about it. Gross!
Lastly, all animals deserve a "good death". This applies even to the animals our culture deems as "food". They should have a happy, healthy life no matter what side of the charts the animal may fall on. In the end, just like your dog deserves a respectful and compassionate end, so does the chicken or cow about to be someone's dinner. That brings me to my last point on horse slaughter and the attrocities engulfing it. Horses do not receive a painless or respectful death when they are shipped off to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. Instead, they are starved, dehydrated, beaten, and taken apart before they are even dead. Some reports say this is done intentionally to make adrenaline course through the horses bodies, which many European chefs agree makes the horse meat they serve taste "finer". How can anyone in any culture be ok with animal torture like that? The sad fact is that many are, and they just don't care. The solution to this horrific crisis is to create further legislation in this country to stop all horses from being shipped across any border for food. We don't do it with dogs, so we darn sure can stop it for much larger horses. If you'd like to write the White House on this subject, please do so RESPECTFULLY. President Trump has already overhauled the system dramatically, cutting funding completely from tax payers to this enterprise. By that action, we already know he has a soft spot for the issue. You can write the White House at-
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500