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An American in Serbia: From a Writer’s Notebook

August 8, 2018

A Bajloni Market butcher store that sells horse meat has been bothering me every time I walk by. It advertises Serbian barbecue specialties made from horse meat. And also sells fresh horse meat.

So why would that bother me? I suppose because I love horses.

Take a look at me and Leo, for example, my neighbor’s horse in Hawaii. I used to feed him carrots and apples and take care of him when the neighbors were away. I cannot imagine eating a “Leo burger.”

But is such repugnance really rational? Because I care for all animals and animate and inanimate beings, not just horses. Yet I have no problem eating beef or fish or turkey.

Besides, there are many countries that eat horse meat. So what is the stigma about eating horse meat about?

Well, it’s mostly an Anglo-American thing even though both the US and UK slaughter and produce horse meat.  Here’s an excerpt from a Wikipedia report:

Horse meat 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. It is slightly sweet, tender, and low in fat.

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 meat. 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. (From Wikipedia:).

Yet if you look at these 10 countries that consume horse meat, you might find some surprising names among them – Nine countries that actually LOVE horse meat (Huffington Post, Feb 17, 2013).

Not surprisingly, China is the world’s biggest consumer of horse meat, followed by Kazakhstan.

Also this from Wikipedia:


Major Horse meat Production Countries, 2005 (Wikipedia)
Country Production
number of animals tonnes short tons long tons
USA 1,700,000 204,000 225,000 201,000
Mexico 626,000 78,876 86,946 77,630
Kazakhstan 340,000 55,100 60,700 54,200
Mongolia 310,000 38,000 42,000 37,000
Argentina 255,000 55,600 61,300 54,700
Italy 213,000 48,000 53,000 47,000
Brazil 162,000 21,200 23,400 20,900
Kyrgyzstan 150,000 25,000 28,000 25,000
4,727,829 720,168 793,849 708,794

Major Horse meat Production Countries, 2005 – Production in metric tons:
China 1,700,000 204,000
Mexico 626,000 78,876
Kazakhstan 340,000 55,100
Mongolia 310,000 38,000
Argentina 255,000 55,600
Italy 213,000 48,000
Brazil 162,000 21,200
Kyrgyzstan 150,000 25,000
Totals 4,727,829 720,168

In 2009, a British agriculture industry website reported the following horse meat production levels in various countries:

]Horse meat production levels 
as of 2009 in Country Tons per year 
Mexico 78,000
Argentina 57,000
Kazakhstan 55,000
Mongolia 38,000
Kyrgyzstan 25,000
Australia 24,000
Brazil 21,000
Canada 18,000
Poland 18,000
Italy 16,000*
Romania 14,000
Chile 10,000
France 7,500
Uruguay 8,000
Senegal 9,500
Colombia 6,000
Spain 5,000*

* Including donkeys.





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