Horsemeat scandal: flandersnews readers have their say!

Amid the widening European horsemeat scandal and on behalf of the VRT television programme Volt we asked you why many British people are horrified at the thought of eating horsemeat. Many of you, Britons and people of other nationalities, found the time to respond.

B Sollars reaction is typical of many:

I am British, living in Belgium since 6 years.
Actually I've never tasted horsemeat but not because of any reason other than it's never been on offer in a restaurant I've been to, and I wouldn't know how to cook it (and it's not cheap!) so I never bought any in a butcher's.

But I do find the whole reaction in UK to the meat scandal a bit ridiculous! I completely agree that food needs to be packaged correctly, especially as we have allergies in our family so it's important to know what's in the food we buy, but most of the scandal in UK has been about the fact that the meat is horse.

I can't tell you why British people don't eat horse other than I assume it must be because they keep them as pets so much. But this is just to let you know that many British people also think it's a ridiculous over-reaction!

Labirintus Egy from Hungary writes: I'm Hungarian and in my country eating horse is associated with war and starving. Especially during WW II people were forced to eat the dead horses because there was not much else to eat. You can still find some horse meat in sausages but horse steaks are extremely rare because people don't like the idea of eating horse meat.

Kevin Anderson of Texas, USA, says: As an American, we view horses as friends, not food. Being from Texas, horses are partners in work and companions, not a commodity to be consumed. Could a cowboy eat his quarter horse? I think not!

Eimear O'Brien of Ireland adds: I am an Irish national and like our British counterparts, we consider horses to be "noble beasts". Where I come from, many families in rural areas keeps horses and they are seen as pets rather than livestock. With many children growing up participating in activities such as horse riding and show jumping and not to mention famous horse racing events (The Grand National, Royal Ascot, etc. etc.), both my (British) husband and I would put eating horse in the same category as eating a pet dog after he has died.

Briton Keith Maudlin clearly has a healthy sense of humour: I am a Brit living in Belgium for many years. I like the Belgian way of life but I find some bits of my British culture hard to give up. I've never knowingly eaten horse meat, nor have I ever eaten parrot, tortoise, cat or polar bear only because my Mum and Dad told me it was not a 'nice' thing to do and no butcher's or restaurants where I've lived in UK has ever had any of these animals on their list.

I believe some Koreans enjoy eating domestic dogs without any apparent ill-effects and if I can find a Belgian restaurant which has horse, dog and tortoise on its menu, then I will be prepared to give horse a try (with frites and mayo of course !)

For American John Higgins rattle snake is OK, but horse is just a step too far!

I am an American living in Oostakker, Belgium. As long as I remember, it has been a taboo to eat horse meat. In part, because the family pets, such as dogs and horses, are not something that many consider desirable food. I do not feel any less for someone that does eat horse meat, but if I am not sure what a meat is I will not eat it fearing that it could be horse meat. So I would say that it is a cultural thing. I will admit that I have eaten frogs’ legs and rattle snake and alligator, so I don't think I am a difficult person, but it has been ingrained in me not to eat horse meat.


Briton Lisa Fryer has a practical approach: I'm British and I haven't tried horsemeat - this is just because I haven't got round to it yet! I have no problem with the idea, after all it's just a four-legged animal and why should it be different from a pig, sheep or cow? I guess it's a cultural thing; the British like the things they are used to and don't like to try new things much. I would say they are also quite emotional about animals and prefer not to think where the meat actually comes from.

We have only lived here for a few months, but one of the things we love about this country is the diversity of food and the good quality. But then, we are willing to pay for good food, while a lot of British people just want cheap food.

Many thanks for all your emails!