This is an audio version of the Wikipedia Article: Horsemeat 00:00:54 1 History 00:04:42 2 Taboo 00:04:51 2.1 Attitude of various cultures 00:07:44 2.2 Reasons …
Horse meat is the culinary name for meat cut
from a horse.
It is a major meat in only a few countries,
notably in Central Asia, but it forms a significant
part of the culinary traditions of many others,
from Europe to South America to Asia.
The top eight countries consume about 4.7
million horses a year.
For the majority of humanity's early existence,
wild horses were hunted as a source of protein.Because
of the role horses have played as companions
and as workers, and ensuing concerns about
the ethics of the horse slaughter process,
it is a taboo food in some cultures.
These historical associations, as well as
ritual and religion, led to the development
of an aversion to the consumption of horse
The horse is now given pet status by many
in some parts of the Western world, particularly
in the United States, United Kingdom, and
Ireland, which further solidifies the taboo
on eating its meat.
== History ==
In the Paleolithic, wild horses formed an
important source of food.
In many parts of Europe, the consumption of
horse meat continued throughout the Middle
Ages until modern times, despite a papal ban
of horse meat in 732.
Horse meat was also eaten as part of Germanic
pagan religious ceremonies in northern Europe,
particularly ceremonies associated with the
worship of Odin.Horses evolved on the North
American continent, and by about 12,000 years
ago, migrated to other parts of the world,
becoming extinct in the Americas.
The Hagerman horse, about the size of a modern-day
large pony, is one example, found in Idaho
at the Hagerman Fossil Beds, a national monument.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spaniards,
followed by other European settlers, re-introduced
horses to the Americas.
Some horses became feral and were hunted by
the indigenous Pehuenche people of what is
now Chile and Argentina.
At first, they hunted horses as they did other
game, but later they began to raise them for
meat and transport.
The meat was, and still is, preserved by being
sun-dried in the high Andes into a product
known as charqui.
France dates its taste for horse meat to the
With the fall of the aristocracy, its auxiliaries
had to find new means of subsistence.
Just as hairdressers and tailors set themselves
up to serve commoners, the horses maintained
by aristocracy as a sign of prestige ended
up alleviating the hunger of lower classes.
During the Napoleonic campaigns, the surgeon-in-chief
of Napoleon's Grand Army, Baron Dominique-Jean
Larrey, advised the starving troops to eat
the meat of horses.
At the siege of Alexandria, the meat of young
Arab horses relieved an epidemic of scurvy.
At the battle of Eylau in 1807, Larrey served
horse as soup and bœuf à la mode.
At Aspern-Essling (1809), cut off from the
supply lines, the cavalry used the breastplates
of fallen cuirassiers as cooking pans and
gunpowder as seasoning, and thus founded a
tradition that carried on until at least the
Waterloo campaign.
Horse meat gained widespread acceptance in
French cuisine during the later years of the
Second French Empire.
The high cost of living in Paris prevented
many working-class citizens from buying meat
such as pork or beef, so in 1866, the French
government legalized the eating of horse meat,
and the first butcher's shop specializing
in horse meat opened in eastern Paris, providing
quality meat at lower prices.
During the Siege of Paris (1870–1871), horse
meat, along with the meat from donkeys and
mules, was eaten by anyone who could afford
it, partly because of a shortage of fresh
meat in the blockaded city, and also because
horses were eating grain which was needed
by the human populace.
Though there were large numbers of horses
in Paris (estimates suggested between 65,000
and 70,000 were butchered and eaten during
the siege) the supplies were ultimately limited.
Not even champion racehorses were spared (two
horses presented to Napoleon III by Alexander
II of Russia were slaughtered) but the meat
became scarce.
Many Parisians gained a taste for horse meat
during the siege, and after the war ended,
horse meat remained popular.
Likewise, in other places and times of siege
or starvation, horses are viewed as a food
source of last resort.
Despite the general Anglophone taboo, horse
and donkey meat was eaten in Britain, especially
in Yorkshire, until the 1930s, and in times
of postwar food shortage surged in popularity
in the United States and was considered for
use in hospitals.
A 2007 Time magazine article about horse meat
brought in from Canada to the United States
characterized the meat as sweet, rich, superlean,
oddly soft meat, and closer to beef than venison.
== Taboo ==
=== Attitude of various cultures ===
Horse is commonly eaten in many countries
in Europe and Asia.
It is not a generally available food in some
English-speaking countries such as the United
Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, the United States,
and English Canada.
It is also taboo in Brazil, Israel, and among
the Romani people and Jewish people the world
Horse meat is not generally eaten in Spain,
except in the north, although the country
exports horses both live animals and slaughtered
meat for the French and Italian markets.
Horse meat is consumed in some North American
and Latin American countries, and is illegal
in some countries.
For example, the Food Standards Code of Australia
and New Zealand definition of 'meat' does
not include horse.
In Tonga, horse meat is eaten nationally,
and Tongan emigrants living in the United
States, New Zealand, and Australia have retained
the taste for it, claiming Christian missionaries
originally introduced it to them.In Islamic
law, consuming horse meat is Halal.
The consumption of horse meat has been common
in Central Asia societies, past or present,
due to the abundance of steppes suitable for
raising horses.
In North Africa, horse meat has been occasionally
consumed, but almost exclusively by the Christian
Copts and the Hanafi Sunnis (a common form
of Islam in Central Asia and Turkey), but
has never been eaten in the Maghreb.Horse
meat is forbidden by Jewish dietary laws because
horses do not have cloven hooves and they
are not ruminants.
In the eighth century, Popes Gregory III and
Zachary instructed Saint Boniface, missionary
to the Germans, to forbid the eating of horse
meat to those he converted, due to its association
with Germanic pagan ceremonies.
The people of Iceland allegedly expressed
reluctance to embrace Christianity for some
time, largely over the issue of giving up
horse meat.
Horse meat is now currently consumed in Iceland,
and many horses are raised for this purpose.
The culturally close people of Sweden still
have an ambivalent attitude to horse meat,
said to stem from this time.
Henry Mayhew describes the difference in the
acceptability and use of the horse carcass
in London and Paris in London Labour and the
London Poor (1851).
Horse meat was rejected by the British but
continued to be eaten in other European countries
such as France and Germany, where knackers
often sold horse carcasses despite the papal
Even the hunting of wild horses for meat continued
in the area of Westphalia.
Londoners also suspected that horse meat was
finding its way into sausages and that offal
sold as that of oxen was in fact equine.
While no taboo on eating horse meat exists
per se, it is generally considered by ethnic
Russians to be a low-quality meat with poor
taste, and it is rarely found in stores.
It is popular among such peoples as Tatars,
Yakuts, Kyrgyzs, and Kazakhs.
=== Reasons for the taboo ===
In 732 AD, Pope Gregory III began a concerted
effort to stop the ritual consumption of horse
meat in pagan practice.
In some countries, the effects of this prohibition
by the Roman Catholic Church have lingered,
and horse meat prejudices have progressed
from taboos, to avoidance, to abhorrence.
In a study conducted by Fred Simoons, the
avoidance to horse meat in American culture
is less likely due to lingering feelings from
Gregory's prohibition and instead due to an
unfamiliarity with the meat compared to more
mainstream offerings.
In other parts of the world, horse meat has
the stigma of being something poor people
eat and is seen as a cheap substitute for
other meats, such as pork and beef.
According to the anthropologist Marvin Harris,
some cultures class horse meat as taboo because
the horse converts grass into meat less efficiently
than ruminants.
Totemistic taboo is also a possible reason
for refusal to eat horse meat as an everyday
food, but did not necessarily preclude ritual
slaughter and consumption.
Roman sources state that the goddess Epona
was widely worshipped in Gaul and southern
Epona, a triple-aspect goddess, was the protectress
of the horse and horse keepers, and horses
were sacrificed to her; she was paralleled
by the Irish Macha and Welsh Rhiannon.
In The White Goddess, Robert Graves argued
that the taboo among Britons and their descendants
was due to worship of Epona, and even earlier
The Uffington White Horse is probable evidence
of ancient horse worship.
The ancient Indian Kshatriyas engaged in horse
sacrifice (Ashwamedh Yaghya) as recorded in
the Vedas and Ramayana; but within context
of the ritual sacrificial is not being 'killed'
but instead being smothered to death.
In 1913, the Finnic Mari people of the Volga
region were observed to practice a horse sacrifice.In
ancient Scandinavia, the horse was very important,
as a living, working creature, as a sign of
the owner's status, and symbolically within
the old Norse religion.
Horses were slaughtered as a sacrifice to
the gods, and the meat was eaten by the people
taking part in the religious feasts.
When the Nordic countries were Christianized,
eating horse meat was regarded as a sign of
paganism and prohibited.
A reluctance to eat horse meat is still common
in these countries even today.
== Production ==
In most countries where horses are slaughtered
for food, they are processed in a similar
fashion to cattle, i.e., in large-scale factory
slaughter houses (abattoirs) where they are
stunned with a captive bolt gun and bled to
In countries with a less industrialized food
production system, horses and other animals
are slaughtered individually outdoors as needed,
in the village where they will be consumed,
or near to it.In 2005, the eight principal
horse meat-producing countries produced over
700,000 tonnes of this product.
In 2005, the five biggest horse meat-consuming
countries were China (421,000 tonnes), Mexico,
Russia, Italy, and Kazakhstan (54,000 tonnes).
In 2010, Mexico produced 140,000 tonnes, China
– 126,000 tonnes, Kazakhstan – 114,000 tonnes.
As horses are relatively poor converters of
grass and grain to meat compared to cattle,
they are not usually bred or raised specifically
for their meat.
Instead, horses are slaughtered when their
monetary value as riding or work animals is
low, but their owners can still make money
selling them for horse meat, for example in
the routine export of the southern English
ponies from the New Forest, Exmoor, and Dartmoor.
British law requires the use of "equine passports"
even for semi wild horses to enable traceability
(also known as "provenance"), so most slaughtering
is done in the UK before the meat is exported,
meaning that the animals travel as carcasses
rather than live.
Ex-racehorses, riding horses, and other horses
sold at auction may also enter the food chain;
sometimes these animals have been stolen or
purchased under false pretenses.
Even prestigious horses may end up in the
slaughterhouse; the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner
and 1987 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year
winner, Ferdinand, is believed to have been
slaughtered in Japan, probably for pet food.A
misconception exists that horses are commonly
slaughtered for pet food.
In many countries, such as the United States,
horse meat was outlawed for use in pet food
in the 1970s.
American horse meat is considered a delicacy
in Europe and Japan, and its cost is in line
with veal, so it would be prohibitively expensive
in many countries for pet food.The British
newspaper The Daily Mail reports that every
year, 100,000 live horses are transported
into and around the European Union for human
consumption, mainly to Italy, but also to
France and Belgium.Meat from horses that veterinarians
have put down with a lethal injection is not
suitable for human consumption, as the toxin
remains in the meat; the carcasses of such
animals are sometimes cremated (most other
means of disposal are problematic, due to
the toxin).
Remains of euthanized animals can be rendered,
which maintains the value of the skin, bones,
fats, etc., for such purposes as fish food.
This is commonly done for lab specimens (e.g.,
pigs) euthanized by injection.
The amount of drug (e.g. a barbiturate) is
insignificant after rendering.Carcasses of
horses treated with some drugs are considered
edible in some jurisdictions.
For example, according to Canadian regulation,
hyaluron, used in treatment of particular
disorders in horses, in HY-50 preparation,
should not be administered to animals to be
slaughtered for horse meat.
In Europe, however, the same preparation is
not considered to have any such effect, and
edibility of the horse meat is not affected.
== Opposition to production ==
The killing of horses for human consumption
is widely opposed in countries such as the
U.S., UK and Australia.
where horses are generally considered to be
companion and sporting animals only.
Almost all equine medications and treatments
are labeled as being not intended for human
In the European Union, horses intended for
slaughter cannot be treated with many medications
commonly used for U.S. horses.
For horses going to slaughter, no period of
withdrawal, the time between administration
of the drug and the time they are butchered,
is required.
French actress and animal rights activist
Brigitte Bardot has spent years crusading
against the eating of horse meat.
However, the opposition is far from unanimous;
a 2007 readers' poll in the London magazine
Time Out showed that 82% of respondents supported
chef Gordon Ramsay's decision to serve horse
meat in his restaurants.
== Nutritional value ==
Preparation ==
Horse meat has a slightly sweet taste reminiscent
of a combination of beef and venison.
Meat from younger horses tends to be lighter
in color, while older horses produce richer
color and flavor, as with most mammals.
Horse meat can be used to replace beef, pork,
mutton, venison, and any other meat in virtually
any recipe.
Horse meat is usually very lean.
Jurisdictions which allow for the slaughter
of horses for food rarely have age restrictions,
so many are quite old, some even as young
as 16 to 24 months old.
IHDH did find that horses at the age of 6
months had lower value of moisture, and protein.
Horses who are killed have around 40 hour
long journey to the slaughter house becoming
deprived of starvation, thirst, and hypothermia.
Causing the horses to be weak and unable to
stand, walking out of the trailer."
In various countries ==
In 2009, a British agriculture industry website
reported these horse meat production levels
in various countries:
*Including donkeys.
=== Asia-Pacific ===
==== Australia ====
Australians do not generally eat horse meat,
although they have a horse slaughter industry
that exports to Japan, Europe, and Russia.
Horse meat exports peaked at 9,327 tons 1986,
declining to 3,000 tons in 2003.
They are at Peterborough in South Australia
(SAMEX Peterborough Pty Ltd) and Caboolture
Abattoir in Queensland (Meramist Pty Ltd).
A British agriculture industry website reported
that Australian horse meat production levels
had risen to 24,000 tons by 2009.On 30 June
2010, Western Australian Agriculture Minister
Terry Redman granted final approval to Western
Australia butcher Vince Garreffa to sell horse
meat for human consumption.
Nedlands restaurateur Pierre Ichallalene announced
plans to do a taster on Bastille Day and to
put horse meat dishes on the menu if the reaction
is good.
Mr. Redman said that the government would
"consider extending approvals should the public
appetite for horse demand it".Mr. Garreffa
is the owner of Mondo Di Carne, a major wholesale
meat supplier which supplies many cafes, restaurants,
and hotels in Western Australia.
He commented that no domestic market exists
for horse meat, but a successful export market
exists, of which he believes Western Australia
should have a share.This decision caused outrage
amongst some groups, limited reaction from
many, and enthusiasm from others.
Several local newspaper forums indicated that
the general public were not greatly biased
either way, in fact many voiced their openness
for alternative meats.Horse meat consumption
has continued as a niche market in Australia,
with further potential for growth as gourmet
interests develop.
==== China ====
Although it is generally acceptable to Chinese
people, outside of specific areas such as
Guilin in Guangxi or in Yunnan Province, horse
meat is not popular due to its low availability
and rumors that horse meat tastes bad or it
is bad for health.
Because the Compendium of Materia Medica written
during the Ming dynasty by Li Shizhen indicates
that horse meat is poisonous and may cause
folliculitis or death.
The Compendium of Materia Medica also asserts,
"To relieve toxin caused by eating horse meat,
one can drink Phragmites root jouce and eat
apricot kernel."
Today, in southern China, locally famous dishes
include horse meat rice noodles (马肉米粉;
Pinyin: mǎròu mǐfěn) in Guilin and horse
meat hot pot (马肉火锅; Pinyin: mǎròu
huǒguō) in Huishui County in Guizhou Province.
==== Indonesia ====
In Indonesia, one type of satay (chunks of
skewered grilled meat served with spicy sauce)
known as horse satay (Javanese:sate jaran,
Indonesian:sate kuda) is made from horse meat.
This delicacy from Yogyakarta is served with
sliced fresh shallot, pepper, and sweet soy
==== Japan ====
In Japanese cuisine, raw horse meat is called
sakura (桜) or sakuraniku (桜肉, sakura
means cherry blossom, niku means meat) because
of its pink color.
It can be served raw as sashimi in thin slices
dipped in soy sauce, often with ginger and
onions added.
In this case, it is called basashi (馬刺し).
Basashi is popular in some regions of Japan
and is often served at izakaya bars.
Fat, typically from the neck, is also found
as basashi, though it is white, not pink.
Horse meat is also sometimes found on menus
for yakiniku (a type of barbecue), where it
is called baniku (馬肉, literally "horse
meat") or bagushi (馬串, "skewered horse");
thin slices of raw horse meat are sometimes
served wrapped in a shiso leaf.
Kumamoto, Nagano, and Ōita are famous for
basashi, and it is common in the Tōhoku region,
as well.
Some types of canned "corned meat" in Japan
include horse as one of the ingredients.Aside
raising local draft horses for meat, Japan
imports living horses (from Canada) and meat
from several countries – five largest are
Canada, Mexico, Italy, Argentina and Brazil.
==== Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan ====
In Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, horse meat is
a large part of the diet, due mainly to the
nomadic roots of the population.
Some of the dishes include sausages called
kazy and chuchuk or shuzhyk made from the
meat using the guts as the sausage skin, zhaya
made from hip meat which is smoked and boiled,
jal (or zhal) made from neck fat which is
smoked and boiled, karta made from a section
of the rectum which is smoked and boiled,
and sur-et which is kept as dried meat.
==== Mongolia ====
Salted horse meat sausages called kazy are
produced as a regional delicacy by the Kazakhs.
Generally, Mongols prefer beef and mutton
(though during the extremely cold Mongolian
winter, some people prefer horse meat due
to its low cholesterol).
It is kept unfrozen, and traditionally people
think horse meat helps warm them up.Other
Asian nations import processed horse meat
from Mongolia.
==== Philippines ====
In the Philippines, horse meat (lukba, tapang
kabayo, or kabayo) is a delicacy commonly
sold in wet markets.
The method of preparation is very common which
includes marinating the meat in calamansi
or lemon juice, toyo (soy sauce), and patís
(fish sauce).
It is then fried and served, and often dipped
into vinegar to give the meat a tart flavour.
==== South Korea ====
In South Korea, horse meat is generally not
eaten, but raw horse meat, usually around
the neck part, is consumed as a delicacy on
Jeju Island.
It is usually seasoned with soy sauce and
sesame oil.
==== Tonga ====
In Tonga, horsemeat or lo'i ho'osi is much
more than just a delicacy; the consumption
of horsemeat is generally only reserved for
special occasions.
These special occasions may include the death
of an important family member or community
member or as a form of celebration during
the birthday of an important family member
or perhaps the visitation of someone important,
such as the King of Tonga.
In Tonga, a horse is one of the most valuable
animals a family can own because of its use
as a beast of burden.
Tonga has long lacked land area compared with
its population so the missionaries introduced
horsemeat in lieu of cattle.
Therefore, the slaughter of one's horse for
consumption becomes a moment of immense homage
to the person or event for which the horse
was slain.
Despite a diaspora into Western countries
such as Australia, the USA, and New Zealand,
where consumption of horsemeat is generally
taboo, Tongans still practice the consumption
of horse meat perhaps even more so because
it is more readily available and more affordable.
=== Europe ===
In 2013, horse meat and traces of horse DNA
were found in some food products where horse
was not labelled as an ingredient, sparking
the 2013 meat adulteration scandal across
==== Austria ====
Horse Leberkäse is available in special horse
butcheries and occasionally at various stands,
sold in a bread roll.
Dumplings can also be prepared with horse
meat, spinach, or Tyrolean Graukäse (a sour
milk cheese).
They are occasionally eaten on their own,
in a soup, or as a side dish.
==== Belgium ====
In Belgium, horse meat (paardenvlees in Dutch
and viande chevaline in French) is popular
in a number of preparations.
Lean, smoked, and sliced horse meat fillet
(paardenrookvlees or paardengerookt; filet
chevalin in French) is served as a cold cut
with sandwiches or as part of a cold salad.
Horse steaks can be found in most butchers
and are used in a variety of preparations.
The city of Vilvoorde has a few restaurants
specialising in dishes prepared with horse
Horse sausage is a well-known local specialty
in Lokeren with European recognition.
Smoked or dried horse/pork meat sausage, similar
to salami, is sold in a square shape to be
distinguished from pork and/or beef sausages.
A Flemish region around the Rupel river is
also famous for a horse stew named 'Schep',
made out of shoulder chuck (or similar cuts),
brown ale, onions and mustard.
Schep is typically served with fries, mayonnaise
and a salad of raw Belgian endive.
==== Bulgaria ====
Horse meat is served in some restaurants in
Bulgaria, as the preferred way of consuming
it is in the form of steaks and burgers.
Still being far from a meat for mass consumption,
horse beef is re-gaining its popularity, which
it had in the 60s and 70s of the past century,
when it was also consumed in sausages and
==== France ====
In France, specialized butcher shops (boucheries
chevalines) sell horse meat, as ordinary butcher
shops were for a long time forbidden to deal
in it.
However, since the 1990s, it can be found
in supermarket butcher shops and others.
Horse meat was famously eaten in large amounts
during the 1870 Siege of Paris, when it was
included in haute cuisine menus.
==== Germany ====
Although there is no taboo comparable to that
in the English-speaking world, German law
used to prescribe that horse meat be sold
only by specialized butchers (Pferdemetzgereien).
This prescription was abolished in 1993, but
only a small minority of ordinary butchers
have since begun to sell horse meat.
Most horse meat is still sold by the specialists,
some of whom also deliver by mail order.Many
regions of Germany have traditional recipes
that include horse meat.
In the Rhineland around Cologne and Düsseldorf,
restaurants often offer the traditional Sauerbraten
in horse meat, typically with a beef variant
to choose from.
Other traditional horse meat dishes include
the Swabian Pferderostbraten (a joint of roast
meat prepared similarly to roast beef), Bavarian
sausage varieties such as Rosswurst and Ross-Kochsalami
as well as Ross-Leberkäse, a meatloaf dish.
The 2013 meat adulteration scandal started
when German authorities detected horse meat
in prepared food products including frozen
lasagna, where it was declared fraudulently
as beef.
The mislabeling prompted EU authorities to
speed up publication of European Commission
recommendations for labeling the origin of
all processed meat.
==== Hungary ====
In Hungary, horse meat is primarily used in
salami and sausages, usually mixed with pork,
but also in goulashes and other stews.
These products are sold in most supermarkets
and many butcher shops.
==== Iceland ====
In Iceland, it is both eaten minced and as
steak, also used in stews and fondue, prized
for its strong flavor.
It has a particular role in the culture and
history of the island.
The people of Iceland supposedly were reluctant
to embrace Christianity for some time largely
over the issue of giving up horse meat after
Pope Gregory III banned horse meat consumption
in 732 AD, as it was a major part of many
pagan rites and sacrifice in Northern Europe.
Horse meat consumption was banned when the
pagan Norse Icelanders eventually adopted
Christianity in the year 1000.
The ban became so ingrained that most people
would not handle horse meat let alone consume
Even during harsh famines in the 18th century
most people would not eat horse meat, and
those who did were castigated.
In 1757 the ban was decriminalised, but general
distaste for horse meat lasted well into the
19th century, possibly longer, and its consumption
often regarded as an indication of poverty.
Even today horse meat is not popular (3.2%
of Iceland’s meat production in 2015), although
this has more to do with culinary tradition
and the popularity of equestrianism than any
religious vestiges.
==== Italy ====
Horse meat is especially popular in Lombardia,
Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto
Adige/Südtirol, Parma, Apulia, and the islands
of Sardinia and Sicily.
Horse meat is used in a variety of recipes:
as a stew called pastissada (typical of Verona),
served as steaks, as carpaccio, or made into
Thin strips of horse meat called sfilacci
are popular.
Horse fat is used in recipes such as pezzetti
di cavallo.
Horse meat sausages and salamis are traditional
in various places.
In Sardinia, sa petza 'e cuaddu or sa petha
(d)e caddu (campidanese and logudorese for
horse meat) is one of the most renowned meats
and sometimes is sold in typical kiosks with
bread – also in the town of Sassari is a long
tradition of eating horse steaks (carri di
cabaddu in the local dialect).
Chefs and consumers tend to prize its uniqueness
by serving it as rare as possible.
Donkey is also cooked, for example as a stew
called stracotto d'asino and as meat for sausages
e.g. mortadella d'asino.
The cuisine of Parma features a horsemeat
tartare called pesto di cavallo, as well as
various cooked dishes.In Veneto, the consumption
of horse meat dates back to at least 1000
BC to the Adriatic Veneti, renowned for their
horse-breeding skills.
They were used to sacrifice horses to their
goddess Reitia or to the mythical hero Diomedes.
Throughout the classical period, Veneto established
itself as a centre for horse breeding in Italy;
Venetian horses were provided for the cavalry
and carriage of the Roman legions, with the
white Venetic horses becoming famous among
Greeks and Romans as one of the best breeds
for circus racing.
As well as breeding horses for military and
farming applications, the Venetics also used
them for consumption throughout the Roman
period, a practice that established the consumption
of horse meat as a tradition in Venetian cuisine.
In the modern age, horse meat is considered
a luxury item and is widely available through
supermarkets and butcheries, with some specialised
butcheries offering only selected cuts of
equine meat.
Prices are usually higher than beef, pork,
or any other kind of meat, except game.
In the Province of Padua, horse meat is a
key element of the local cuisine, particularly
in the area that extends southeast from the
city, historically called Saccisica.
Specialties based on horse meat constitute
the main courses and best attractions of several
typical restaurants in the zone.
They are also served among other regional
delicacies at the food stands of many local
festivals, related to civil and religious
Most notable is the Festa del Cavallo, held
annually in the small town of Legnaro and
totally dedicated to horses, included their
consumption for food.
Some traditional dishes are:
Sfilacci di cavallo: tiny frayings of horse
meat, dried and seasoned; to be consumed raw,
can be a light and quick snack, more popular
as a topping on other dishes: ex.
pasta, risotto, pizza, salads, etc.
Straéca: a thin soft horse steak, cut from
the diaphragm, variously cooked and dressed
on the grill, pan or hot-plate
Bistecca di puledro colt steak, whose preparation
is similar to straéca
Spezzatino di cavallo also said cavàeo in
umido, small chunks of horse meat, stewed
with onion, parsley and/or other herbs and
flavours, potatoes, broth, wine, etc., usually
consumed with polenta, much appreciated also
is a similar stew made of donkey meat, served
in traditional trattorie, with many variations
for different villages: spessadin de musso,
musso in umido, musso in tocio, musso in pocio
Prosciutto di cavallo: horse ham, served in
very thin slices
Salame di cavallo or salsiccia di cavallo:
various kinds of salami, variously produced
or seasoned, sometimes made of pure equine
meat, sometimes mixed with others (beef or
Bigoli al sugo di cavallo: a typical form
of fresh pasta, similar to thick rough spaghetti,
dressed with sauce like Bolognese sauce, but
made with minced horse meat
Pezzetti di cavallo al sugo: horse stew, seasoned
with sauce, vegetables and various peperocino,
widely used in the Salento In southern Italy,
horse meat is commonly eaten everywhere – especially
in the region of Apulia, where it is considered
a delicacy.
It is often a vital part of the ragù barese
([raˈɡu baˈreːze]) in Bari.According to
British food writer Matthew Fort, "The taste
for donkey and horse goes back to the days
when these animals were part of everyday agricultural
In the frugal, unsentimental manner of agricultural
communities, all the animals were looked on
as a source of protein.
Waste was not an option."
==== Malta ====
In Malta, horse meat (Maltese: Laħam taż-żiemel)
is seared and slowly cooked for hours in either
tomato or red wine sauce.
A few horse meat shops still exist and it
is still served in some restaurants.
==== Netherlands ====
In the Netherlands, smoked horse meat (paardenrookvlees)
is sold as sliced meat and eaten on bread.
Zuurvlees, a southern Dutch stew, is made
with horse meat as main ingredient.
There are also beef-based variants.
Horse meat is also used in sausages (paardenworst
and frikandel), fried fast food snacks and
ready-to-eat soups.
==== Norway ====
In Norway, horse meat is commonly used in
cured meats, such as vossakorv and svartpølse,
and less commonly as steak, hestebiff.
In pre-Christian Norway, horse was seen as
an expensive animal.
To eat a horse was to show one had great wealth,
and to sacrifice a horse to the gods was seen
as the greatest gift one could give.
When Norwegians adopted Christianity, horse-eating
became taboo as it was a religious act for
pagans, thus it was considered a sign of heresy.
==== Poland ====
Live, old horses are often exported to Italy
to be slaughtered.
This practice also garners controversy.
Horses in Poland are treated mostly as companions
and the majority of society is against the
live export to Italy.
However, in Poland there exists a tradition
of eating horse meat (sausage or tartare steaks).
The consumption of horse meat was the biggest
in the times when other meat was scarce (in
the 20th century: WWII and the communist period).
==== Serbia ====
Horse meat is generally available in Serbia,
though mostly shunned in traditional cuisine.
It is, however, often recommended by general
practitioners to persons who suffer from anemia.
It is available to buy at three green markets
in Belgrade, a market in Niš, and in several
cities in ethnically mixed Vojvodina, where
Hungarian and previously German traditions
brought the usage.
==== Slovenia ====
Horse meat is generally available in Slovenia,
and is highly popular in the traditional cuisine,
especially in the central region of Carniola
and in the Karst region.
Colt steak (žrebičkov zrezek) is also highly
popular, especially in Slovenia's capital
Ljubljana, where it is part of the city's
traditional regional cuisine.
In Ljubljana, many restaurants sell burgers
and meat that contain large amounts of horse
meat, including a fast-food chain called Hot'
==== Spain ====
Cecina is cured meat made from beef or horse,
and it is considered as a delicacy.
Foal meat (carne de potro) is preferred rather
than horse meat, and it is easy to find in
supermarkets and usually prepared as stew
or steak.
It is a common practice to give it to children
with anemia.
Although no generalized taboo exists in Spain,
its consumption is minor compared to pork,
beef, and lamb.
==== Sweden ====
Smoked/cured horse meat is widely available
as a cold cut under the name hamburgerkött
(literally hamburgermeat).
It tends to be very thinly sliced and fairly
salty, slightly reminiscent of deli-style
ham and, as a packaged meat, may list horsemeat
(as hästkött) as its primary ingredient.
Several varieties of smoked sausages made
from horse meat including Gustafskorv are
also quite popular, especially in the province
of Dalarna, where it is made.
It is similar to salami or metworst and is
used as an alternative to them on sandwiches.
It is also possible to order horse beef from
some well-stocked grocery stores.
==== Switzerland ====
The ordinance on foodstuffs of animal origin
in Switzerland explicitly lists equines as
an animal species allowed for the production
of food.
Horse steak is modestly common.
A speciality known as Mostbröckli is made
with beef or horse meat.
It is also used for a range of sausages in
the German-speaking north of Switzerland.
Like in northern Italy, in the Italian-speaking
south, local salametti (sausages) are sometimes
made with horse meat.
It may also be used in fondue Bourguignonne.
==== United Kingdom ====
In the United Kingdom, the slaughter, preparation,
and consumption of horses for food is not
against the law, although it has been rare
since the 1930s and it is not generally available.
There is a cultural taboo against consuming
horse meat in the UK, although it was eaten
when other meats were scarce, such as during
times of war (as was whale meat, which was
never popular in Britain).
The sale of meat labelled as horse meat in
supermarkets and butchers is minimal, and
most of the properly described horse meat
consumed in the UK is imported from Europe,
predominantly the south of France, where it
is more widely available.Horse meat may be
eaten without the knowledge of the consumer,
due to accidental or fraudulent introduction
of horse meat into human food.
A 2003 Food Standards Agency (FSA) investigation
revealed that certain sausages, salami and
similar products such as chorizo and pastrami
sometimes contain horse meat without it being
listed, although listing is legally required.
The 2013 horse meat scandal involved multiple
products being recalled from shelves due to
unlabelled horse meat in amounts up to 100%
of the meat content.
The issue came to light on 15 January 2013,
when it was reported that horse DNA had been
discovered in frozen beefburgers sold in several
Irish and British supermarkets.Horse meat
was featured in a segment in a 2007 episode
of the Gordon Ramsay series The F Word.
In the segment, Janet Street-Porter convinced
locals to try horse meat, though not before
facing controversy and being forced to move
her stand to a privately owned location.
The meat was presented as having a similar
taste to beef, but with less fat, a high concentration
of omega-3 fatty acid and a safer alternative
in times of worry regarding bird flu and mad
cow disease.
The segment was met with skepticism from many
after broadcast for various reasons, either
because some felt the practice was cruel and
against social norms, or simply a belief that
if the taste was really on par with other
meats, then people would already be eating
==== Ukraine ====
In Ukraine, especially in Crimea and other
southern steppe regions, horse meat is consumed
in the form of sausages called mahan and sudzhuk.
These particular sausages are traditional
food of the Crimean Tatar population.
=== North America ===
Canada ====
A thriving horse meat business exists in Quebec;
the meat is available in most supermarket
chains there.
Horse meat is also for sale at the other end
of the country, in Granville Island Market
in downtown Vancouver, where according to
a Time magazine reviewer who smuggled it into
the United States, it turned out to be a "sweet,
rich, superlean, oddly soft meat, closer to
beef than venison".
Horse meat is also available in high-end Toronto
butchers and supermarkets.
Aside from the heritage of French cuisine
at one end of the country, most of Canada
shares the horse meat taboo with the rest
of the English-speaking world.
This mentality is especially evident in Alberta,
where strong horse racing and breeding industries
and cultures have existed since the province's
founding, although large numbers of horses
are slaughtered for meat in Fort MacLeod,
and certain butchers in Calgary do sell it.
The consumer protection show Kassensturz of
Swiss television SRF together with Tier Schutz
Bund, Zürich, reported on 19 February 2013
the bad treatment and brutal animal husbandry
in Canadian horse meat farms in Fort MacLeod,
Alberta, consequently the import from such
farms has been boycotted.CBC News reported
on March 10, 2013, that horse meat was also
popular among some segments of Toronto's population.
==== United States ====
Horse meat is generally not eaten in the United
States and holds a taboo in American culture
which is very similar to the one found in
the United Kingdom.
All horse meat produced in the United States
(up until the last quarter of 2007) was intended
solely for export abroad, primarily to the
European Union.
A thriving horse exportation business is going
on in several states, including Texas, mainly
exporting horses to slaughterhouses in either
Canada or Mexico.Restriction of human consumption
of horse meat in the U.S. has generally involved
legislation at local, state, and federal levels.
Several states enacted legislation either
prohibiting the sale of horse meat or banning
altogether the slaughter of horses.
California Proposition 6 (1998) was passed
by state voters, outlawing the possession,
transfer, reception, or holding any horse,
pony, burro, or mule by a person who is aware
that it will be used for human consumption,
and making the slaughter of horses or the
sale of horsemeat for human consumption a
misdemeanor offense.In 2007, the Illinois
General Assembly enacted Public Act 95-02,
ameding Chapter 225, Section 635 of the state's
compiled statutes to prohibit both the act
of slaughtering equines for human consumption
as well as the trade of any horse meat similarly
to Texas Agriculture Code's Chapter 149.
Other states banning horse slaughter or the
sale of horse meat include New Jersey, Oklahoma,
and Mississippi.
In addition, several other states introduced
legislation to outlaw the practice over the
years, such as Florida, Massachusetts, New
Mexico, and New York.
At the federal level, since 2001 several bills
have been regularly introduced in both the
House and Senate to ban horse slaughter throughout
the country without success.
However, a budgetary provision banning the
use of federal funds to carry out mandatory
inspections at horse slaughter plants (necessary
to allow interstate sale and exports of horse
meat) has also been in place since 2007.
This restriction was temporarily removed in
2011 as part of the Consolidated and Further
Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year
2012 but was again included in the FY2014
Agriculture Appropriations Act and subsequent
federal budgets, hence preventing the operation
of any domestic horse slaughter operation.
Until 2007, only three horse meat slaughterhouses
still existed in the United States for export
to foreign markets, but they were closed by
court orders resulting from the upholding
of aforementioned Illinois and Texas statutes
banning horse slaughter and the sale of horse
The taboo surrounding horse meat in the United
States received national attention again in
May 2017 when a restaurant in the Lawrenceville
section of Pittsburgh served a dish containing
horse tartare as part of a special event the
restaurant was hosting with French Canadian
chefs as guests.
The restaurant, which otherwise does not serve
horse meat (which is legal to serve and consume
in Pennsylvania), received an inspection and
a warning from the USDA not to serve horse
meat again.
A petition subsequently went up
to advocate making serving horse meat illegal
in Pennsylvania.From the 1920s and through
the 1950s or 1960s, and with a brief rationing
hiccup during WWII, horse meat was canned
and sold as dog food by many different companies
under many different brands, most notably
by Ken-L Ration.
The popularity of horse meat as dog food became
so popular that by the 1930s over 50,000 horses
were bred and slaughtered each year to keep
up with this specific demand.
==== Mexico ====
As of 2005, Mexico was the second largest
producer of horse meat in the world.
By 2009, it became the largest producer of
horse meat in the world.
It is only exported as it is not used or consumed
in Mexico.
=== South America ===
==== Chile ====
In Chile, it is used in charqui.
Also in Chile, horse meat became the main
source of nutrition for the nomadic indigenous
tribes, which promptly switched from a guanaco-based
economy to a horse-based one after the horses
brought by the Spaniards bred naturally and
became feral.
This applied specially to the Pampa and Mapuche
nations, who became fierce horseman warriors.
Similar to the Tatars, they ate raw horse
meat and milked their animals.
Although not nearly as common as beef meat,
horse meat can be readily available in some
butcheries throughout the country.
It is generally less expensive than beef and
somewhat associated with lower social strata.
==== Argentina ====
Argentina is a producer and exporter of horse
meat, but it is not used in local consumption
and is considered taboo.
== See also ==
Horse slaughter

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