Press Statement from the Vegetarian Society
Horse meat in beef burgers
17 January 2013
Meat eaters in the UK and Ireland were shocked to learn this week that horse meat had been found in a number of beef burgers sold in big name supermarkets, but many vegetarians wondered what all the fuss was about.
Food provenance is an important issue for vegetarians, of course, and no food should be sold with ingredients that do not appear on the label, but this particular case begs the bigger question: why do most of the UK population believe it is okay to eat cattle but not horses?
Cultures around the world create their own rules about which animals to classify as friends and which as food. The first group are loved and cared for as a member of the family; the second treated as a commodity to be reared and sold for maximum gain. All animals share the capacity to suffer, as reinforced by the Cambridge Declaration that all animals are conscious beings. However, pain, distress and, of course, death are all tolerated in particular species, in order to satisfy a cultural preference for eating animal flesh.
Liz O’Neill, Head of Communications at the Vegetarian Society, believes that the vast majority of meat-eaters prefer not to think about what they are eating. “Most people eat meat, but a survey in 2005 found that 96% would not eat meat from a cat or a dog and more than two thirds of respondents would not kill an animal for their own plate. Horse, dog and cat meat are eaten in other countries, while many cultures find the consumption of pig meat abhorrent. A vegetarian diet is delicious, nutritious and sustainable. More importantly, for me and many vegetarians, it’s also the only way to avoid causing unnecessary pain and suffering.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
- For more press information please contact Su or Liz on 0161 925 2012/2013 email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org mobile 07973 108 165/7. You can also find lots of information on all aspects of the Vegetarian Society and vegetarianism in general online at www.vegsoc.org/press.
- The Cambridge Declaration was signed by eminent neuroscientists at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference at the University of Cambridge, 7 July 2012.
- A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustacea, or the by-products of slaughter.
- Visit www.butcherscat.com for more on why we choose to treat some animals as friends and others as food.
- The Vegetarian Society is an educational charity founded in 1847. It is the oldest vegetarian organisation in the world.