The Canadian Food TV Network, on their show Top Chef Canada, chose to utilize horse meat. This ignited an uproar across the media and in social media. Facebook has groups, there are posts and comments going around and around. The station issued a statement which, on the surface, seems to indicate sensitivity to the issue but does not actually answer any questions.
I have a singular issue with this and it is this: there are two types of horses going for meat in North America. One group of horses, like cattle, sheep, swine and poultry are purpose bred for meat. The second group are no longer wanted companion horses sold at auction or driven to the plants by owners.
New regulations are supposed to ensure traceabilty for horse meat for the use of non-approved drugs prior to slaughter. CFIA is supposed to ensure humane transport and killing. Provincial authorities are supposed to ensure animal welfare standards are met for the animals.
I don't believe for a minute that anyone outside of a small, vocal group cares that there are two types of horses going for meat. Everyone one sees horses the same and sometimes that isn't a bad thing.
So a horse, is a horse, except for when someone wants to eat it, of course!
When you see a horse being sold at auction you can safely bet it is going for meat.
You can tell when it has been a companion. Would you choose to send a loyal animal friend to a surely frightening end and do it willingly? Many do. Many do it when their horses are sick, old, injured, unable to work and too much bother. The take the out of sight and out of mind position. Once the horse is gone they forget it entirely.
If we are going to accept horse meat as food TV fodder then Food TV needs to accept that their choice isn't supermarket simple. It isn't a clear cut case of protein but often a case of a long, hard trip for an end that is not ensured to be humane at any stage. Not to say that all horses face this end but too many do.
I look at my horses, and I remember the one I couldn't save from slaughter and I won't forget him. He was deserving better of me and I was not in a position to save him. I know if he had to he would forgive me but animals always forgive. Shouldn't we be doing better by them? Yes! We should.
Tell the food shows, tell your friends with hobby horses and acreage companions that they have animals that deserve better. We have to ensure that their lives and their deaths are humane, caring and full of love. We cannot toss aside our animals and forget about our responsibilities to them. In life, and in death. We owe them that for unfailing loyalty and love with no boundaries or limits.
We cannot have a country that claims to care for animals when we toss them away like trash when we are done with them.