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I’m somewhat bewildered by the massive uproar of the European horse-meat ‘scandal’ currently being followed in the news. I absolutely, completely agree that consumers should be outraged at the obvious fact that current standards are not protecting them or assuring them of what products they are buying. But, what somewhat perplexes me is the ‘disgusted’ reaction people are having towards the possibility that they have been ingesting horse meat. Again, I think it is revolting that consumers who think they are buying beef are actually purchasing products against their intentions. And I would not willingly eat horse meat, either. However I do think that the reaction is a little exaggerated, perhaps?

Personally, I would much rather know the food I am eating has come from an animal that has lived a life as stress-free as possible, with its welfare monitored, and slaughtered quickly and humanely as opposed to an animal forced to live in conditions where welfare is lacking (such as, in my opinion, battery chickens or intensely-farmed crate pigs). I also find it more offensive when people eat certain animals ‘just because they can’ – such as an exotically-perceived species or ones with an aggressive status – especially when it comes to animals who do not have the strongest population numbers and there are conservation groups trying to preserve them. It comes hand-in-hand with me finding hunting as a sport absolutely unnecessary and unattractive. When we have easily accessible products at our disposal, the need to hunt is completely abolished. I know people who go overseas with the priority of killing massive, impressive beasts such as elephants – and, fully aware that my response is completely emotional; I find it absolutely egotistical and pointless. Several of my relatives commonly hunt in New Zealand. I find this less offensive because I know the non-native animals they target have lived 100% natural and free-roaming lives, they are killed skilfully, quickly and respectfully, and their meat is completely utilised. The attitude is completely different to heading overseas to kill some huge ‘beast’ for a trophy collection. And, in my opinion, it is better than supporting intensive farming.

I know the subject of eating animals viewed as pets is a massive issue for some. Again, personally, I would not eat horse meat knowingly. But nor would I eat duck – and this is because I have invested time raising them at home and in shelters – whereas I’m sure most meat-eating people would not have a problem with this. Many individuals are disgusted at the thought of others eating domestic cat or dog meat – and I would never do this either, but I again have less of a problem with this as long as they have been raised and killed with their welfare a top priority. Horses are incredibly well cared for in comparison to many other farmed species in New Zealand and overseas. I think people ought to consider the type of industry and slaughter they support when forming an opinion on what they find morally right and wrong.