Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana tells a simple three-point story: Eating horsemeat is wrong. Slaughtering horses is cruel. And the meat’s not fit to eat. Let’s learn from her example how to talk about this legislation to our representatives, friends, neighbors and family.
Her speech sponsoring the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act in the U.S. Senate was pitch perfect. Here’s the video on YouTube
First, she says that most Americans believe eating horsemeat is taboo. She herself raises cattle, pigs, chickens; and she owns horses. We don’t have the same relationship to food animals as we do with our horses. Horses are more intelligent, they trust us implicitly, we ride them for recreation, sport, and enterprise. That sets them apart.
Then, there is cruelty. She recounts how a truckload of 30 horses bound for Canada overturned on a New York State throughway, the truck caught fire, and while families with their children, helpless to put out the fire, watched and listened to horse screams and smelled burnt flesh in smoke-filled air, all 30 horses burned to death. She reminds us that owning horses is not inexpensive. And part of the cost of ownership is paying for euthanasia when your horse’s time is come.
Finally, the public health issue: We humans have extensive medical records that show what medications we receive over time. Horses don’t have that, and the very same equine pharmaceuticals that keep our horses healthy and pain free make their meat unfit to eat. The FDA bans it in this country, as have authorities in the European Union.
So let’s put this together: If you’re an American, you probably think eating horsemeat is wrong. If you think animals should be treated humanely, you’re against horse slaughter because it’s inherently cruel. And unless you’re a criminal, you don’t want our food supply contaminated with tainted meat. So I don’t think we’ve left anyone out, everyone can find a reason to support the SAFE Act. It will ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption. It will also ban the transportation of horses for purposes of slaughter for human consumption.
“Horses have been raised for sport, transport, security and companionship, but never for slaughter and consumption,” Sen. Landrieu said. “There are very few regulations on the drugs given to horses, and we cannot risk introducing dangerously toxic meat into our food supply here at home or abroad. We must stop the slaughter of these beloved animals and protect the public’s health.”